Andrea Bargnani

The busiest time of the year in the NBA is once the free agency period begins, which start off with a big trade between the New York Knicks and the Toronto Raptors with Andrea Bargnani at the center of it, while the Dallas Mavericks made their first signing of the new season with Israeli point guard Gal Mekel and the Houston Rockets traded Thomas Robinson, as expected, to the Portland Trail Blazers.

While the Knicks and Raptors still need to work out things as the NBA hasn’t approved the deal for cap reasons (a lot of moving parts in this one), the Clippers have also got a verbal agreement from Chris Paul to re-sign with them.

Knicks – Raptors & Bargnani

The Raptors have been trying to shop Andrea Bargnani, their disappointing number one draft pick from 2006 for quite some time, with his $22.3 million for the next two years not making it easy. Eventually, the got the Knicks to bite, with New York sending off Marcus Camby, Steve Novak and probably another player via a sign & trade.

Camby isn’t too happy about coming back to Toronto, the team that drafted him 17 years ago. His deal is worth $8.5 million for the next couple of seasons, but he said he’ll have to re-evaluate his options, hoping that he would be on a team thinking about the NBA finals, like the Knicks are, instead of spending his final seasons with a franchise that isn’t going to make the playoffs probably next year.

Steve Novak’s contract runs for three more seasons at a total value of $10 million. And yet the Knicks need to find someone to re-sign & trade, with Earl Barron and Quentin Richardson being the likeliest of players, while Kenyon Martin has declared he isn’t willing being part of that kind of deal.

Bringing in Bargnani is a bit of a head scratcher in terms of the salary cap, as the Knicks are already above the luxury threshold, but it does give them some offensive insurance if J.R. Smith does sign with another team (As the Knicks are limited in what they can offer him), while it will give them some cap flexibility in 2015, when Bargnani becomes a free agent,when also Anthony,Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler’s salaries all come off the books.

Dallas Mavericks Sign Gal Mekel

Gal Mekel

One of the hottest unknown players heading into free agency has been Gal Mekel (25), now officially the second Israeli player signed to play in the NBA. Mekel will sign a multi-year deal on a minimum NBA salary, and he was followed by quite a few NBA teams, very impressed with his workouts over the last couple of weeks. A former Wichita State player (2006-2008), Mekel has since gone on to win two league titles in Israel (With Haifa and Galil) while also playing an injury-riddled season in Italy. He will be joining Shane Larkin as the Mavs revamp their point guard situation for next season. He was also named the Israeli league’s MVP for the second time.

Houston Rockets Finally Move Thomas Robinson

For now, in his short NBA career, Thomas Robinson has been mostly used as a trade chip, first by the Sacramento Kings and now by the Houston Rockets, doing everything they can to clear some cap space for the arrival of Dwight Howard. Robinson was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers for two future second round draft picks and the rights to European players Kostas Papanikolaou and Marko Todorovic. Robinson averaged 4.8 points per game during his rookie season with the Kings and Rockets.

In more cap space clearance, Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks have been released, while both Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin have been made available for trade, with more on that later.

Chris Paul Re-Signing with Clippers

As expected, the signing of Doc Rivers got Chris Paul convinced, giving the Clippers his word he’ll re-sign with the team, agreeing to a five-year, $107 million deal. There wasn’t much of a chance Paul was leaving anyway, but he did have an idea in his head about playing with Howard for the Atlanta Hawks. Paul has been on the Clippers for the last two seasons, reaching the playoffs in both of them, averaging 16.9 points and 9.7 assists per game in 2012-2013.