Recapping the First Week of 2018 NBA Free Agency

CHICAGO, USA - NOVEMBER 4: DeMarcus Cousins (0) of New Orleans Pelicans in action during an NBA Game between Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Pelicans at the United Center in Chicago, IL, United States on November 4, 2017. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

July 1 has become something of a holiday for NBA fans, no matter what team you cheer for. The date marks the beginning of NBA free agency, a time of excitement and madness with players at the end of their contracts changing teams.

The 2018 edition of free agency is a week in, and there has been a ton of player movement around the league. You can see a comprehensive list of every free agent who has changed teams here.

Teams have spent a whopping $1.4 billion on free agents during the first week, with the average yearly salary being slightly less than $13 million.

Everyone knows that superstar players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant are worth every penny of their maximum deals, but let’s focus on other players. What are the best and worst value contracts so far this summer for free agents?

Recapping the First Week of 2018 NBA Free Agency

2018 NBA Free Agency

Best: DeMarcus Cousins, Golden State Warriors

Contract Details: 1 year, $5.3 million

Easily the most surprising move so far. Cousins was primed for full max offers with his stellar play this season (even if they weren’t from his incumbent team – the New Orleans Pelicans), and then disaster struck.

On January 26, Cousins tore his Achilles tendon against the Houston Rockets, a catastrophic injury for basketball players.

The enigmatic big man was in the middle of posting his finest all-around season to date, and his injury caused teams to stay away.

Enter the two-time defending champs. Seeing the $5.3 million dollar price tag for the Cousins-Warriors alliance was infuriating for fans across the league.

Cousins won’t be ready for the start of the season. If he proves he can bounce back in the second half of the season and the playoffs, it will allow him to regain some of the money he lost.

Worst: Kyle Anderson, Memphis Grizzlies

Contract Details: 4 years, $37 million

This is a puzzling move by the Grizzlies.

Anderson is a player best-suited for a different era. He’s a good defender with a suspect jumper and an all-around game that is best described by his own nickname of “Slo-Mo”.

Throughout Kawhi Leonard‘s absence, Anderson got the majority of starts at small forward for the Spurs. In almost 2000 minutes for the season, he only attempted 57 threes total for a team in dire need of floor-spacing.

Memphis wants to win 50+ games next season. Spending almost $10 million a year until 2022 on Slo-Mo does not move the meter much.

Anderson is definitely a player worth a flier, but the deal seems a little bulky for the former Spur.

Best: Julius Randle, New Orleans Pelicans

Contract Details: 2 years, $18 million

So the next pair of free agents goes hand in hand. Randle, a Laker for the entirety of his short career, had his restricted free agency rights renounced by the Purple and Gold.

After being renounced, Randle became an unrestricted free agent and could sign with any team that wanted the Kentucky product.

Where better than New Orleans to play with another Kentucky big man (Anthony Davis) and replace yet another Kentucky player (the aforementioned Cousins). There’s no shortage of former Wildcats in the NBA.

Randle had an unfortunate start to his Laker career, breaking his leg in his first-ever NBA game. Ever since then, he has steadily improved. His 2017-18 season showed his ability to get to the rim at will and finish in traffic (73 percent within three feet of the basket).

With his bull-in-a-china-shop mentality, Randle gives the Pelicans a three-man big rotation. He slots in seemingly well next to the sweet-shooting of Nikola Mirotic and the all-around dominance of Davis.

The 23-year-old Randle is an absolute steal at $9 million per, and the only way this contract could be any better is if it were for more years at this cost-controlled price.

Worst: Rajon Rondo, Los Angeles Lakers

Contract Details: 1 year, $9 million

Now for the flip side. When the Lakers renounced Randle, it removed his $12.5 million cap hold from their ledger. Many thought this move was to open up cap space to sign Cousins or further facilitate a trade for Kawhi Leonard.

NOPE. It’s Rondo time.

Remember, this is not necessarily saying Rondo won’t be at least a neutral contributor. He proved his remaining value during the recent Pelicans’ playoff run.

However, there is only so much success a ball-dominant, non-shooter can have next to LeBron James. If Lonzo Ball remains in Los Angeles, Rondo’s impact will probably be minimized.

With plus shooters like Wayne Ellington still unsigned, spending so much money on Rondo could come back to haunt the Lake Show.

Best: Jerami Grant, Oklahoma City Thunder

Contract Details: 3 years, $27 million

With the impending departure of Carmelo Anthony, Grant should take hold of the starting power forward spot in Oklahoma City for below-average starter money.

A starting five of Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Paul GeorgeGrant and Steven Adams is extremely short on shooting but should be stifling on the defensive end (four plus defenders around Russ).

Grant is an explosive leaper who can impact the game on both ends with his rebounding work. He is solid on the defensive end, blocking shots and switching across multiple positions.

While not really a plus passer, one can imagine a fun high-low passing combo with him and Adams. If reserve Patrick Patterson regains his Toronto-era shooting touch, Grant could feast in reserve lineups with a stretch big.

Worst: Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls

Contract Details: 4 years, $80 million

It was #KINGS to offer LaVine, a ball-dominant guard, 4/80 right after they passed on Luka Doncic in the draft to keep the ball in the hands of De’Aaron Fox.

Wait, the Bulls matched?

On one hand, it makes sense that the Bulls would want to keep one of the big pieces in last summer’s Jimmy Butler trade. He and the draft pick that became Lauri Markkanen were supposed to speed up the Bulls’ rebuild.

On the other hand, LaVine only played in 24 games with Chicago last season after recovering from a torn ACL. Those 24 games saw LaVine shoot an abysmal 38 percent from the floor. LaVine has never been able to stop anyone defensively, and an ACL tear never helps lateral quickness.

All of these factors don’t necessarily scream “Give him $80 million dollars.”

Maybe LaVine returns to his Timberwolves form and is a high-volume, efficient three-point shooter. The Bulls better hope so, because $20 million per until 2022 is a huge gamble.

Main Photo

CHICAGO, USA – NOVEMBER 4: DeMarcus Cousins (0) of New Orleans Pelicans in action during an NBA Game between Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Pelicans at the United Center in Chicago, IL, United States on November 4, 2017. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


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