A busy Independence day in terms of signings, as Al Jefferson made the biggest splash by leaving the Utah Jazz and joining the Charlotte Bobcats, while Tyreke Evans joined the New Orleans Pelicans, in a deal that also involved the Portland Trail Blazers and obviously the Sacramento Kings.
There were more minor signings, as the San Antonio Spurs added another shooter to the mix in Marco Belinelli, while the Cleveland Cavaliers took a shot at a player they have quite a lot like on their team in Earl Clark.
Al Jefferson, From the Jazz to the Charlotte Bobcats
The Charlotte Bobcats won’t become a playoff team with Al Jefferson, but this is probably the best free agent they could have grabbed, giving the big man a $40.5 million, three-year deal, that includes an opt out option after the second season. In order to create room for his arrival, the Bobcats will use the amnesty clause on Tyrus Thomas, who is owed a further $18 million for the next couple of seasons.
Jefferson averaged 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds last season, and was waiting for someone to offer him more than $15 million a season, but decided to settle for less, fearing that waiting around too long is going to hurt the next deal he’ll get to pick up. He’ll certainly improve the Bobcats’ offense, which was ranked 28th last season in the NBA, but his defense won’t help them rise from being ranked dead-last in the NBA in defensive efficiency.
Tyreke Evans and the Three-Team Trade
The New Orleans Pelicans continue to add meaningful pieces to their backcourt, and on the way helped the Sacramento Kings deciding on who to get rid of, while the Portland Trail Blazers get a center they were looking for, although probably aren’t that pleased with Robin Lopez.
Evans, entering his fifth season in the NBA, averaged 15.2 points per game last season for the Kings, and will join a backcourt with Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and to a lesser degree, Austin Rivers, hoping to recover from his awful rookie season.
In return, they sent Greivis Vasquez to the Sacramento Kings, who might now enjoy a point guard who is a pass-first kind of guy, rather than continue to settle for Isaiah Thomas. The Kings also got two second-round draft picks from the Portland Trail Blazers, who ended up doing some center swapping with the Pelicans.
They gave up on Jeff Withey, who they didn’t really need with Meyers Leonard on the team, and got Robin Lopez in return. For the Pelicans, this means the two best blockers in college basketball over the last couple of seasons, Withey and Davis, are going to play together.
Spurs Add Another Shooter
Marco Belinelli is brought in to the San Antonio Spurs on a two-year deal worth $5.6 million after one season with the Chicago Bulls, in which he averaged 9.6 points per game while shooting a slightly disappointing 35.7% from beyond the arc.
With Belinelli arriving, it seems that Gary Neal, a restricted free agent, is on his way out from the Spurs, who aren’t planning on matching the offers given to him from other teams. This will mean we’ll see a rather tall backcourt for the Spurs with Ginobili and Belinelli coming off the bench, and the continuation of the international tradition in San Antonio.
Cleveland Cavaliers Add Earl Clark
So the Cavs have both Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett as 4’s who can also play as 3’s, but that hasn’t stopped them from adding Earl Clark, giving him a two-year deal worth $9 million, which seems like quite a lot considering he averaged only 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds last season for the Lakers.
Clark is a 6’10 power forward who doesn’t love playing on the inside, but the Cavs added him mostly for his length, athleticism and his potential to be a defensive stopper which they hope he can develop into.
New York Knicks Re-Sign Prigioni, Smith
While J.R. Smith had plenty of suitors and offers, he really wanted to stay with the Knicks after averaging a career high 18.1 points per game last season, winning the Sixth Man of the Year award. Eventually, through his early Bird-Rights, the Knicks were able to give him a four-year deal worth $24.7 million, which allows a team to offer the average player salary with standard annual raises of 7.5%.
They also brought back Pablo Prigioni, signing the 36 year old on a three-year deal for $6 million, with the final season not guaranteed. Prigioni surprised many with his passing, three point shooting and even defense; New York was markedly better on defense when he was on the court last season (100.9 points per 100 possessions) than when he was on the bench (104.7 points per 100 possessions).