Community Shootaround

Community Shootaround: Eastern Conference Outlook

The Nets and Bucks will enter the 2021/22 season as the clear favorites to win the Eastern Conference next spring. The betting odds at sites like BetOnline reflect Brooklyn’s and Milwaukee’s standing atop the conference, as does the analysis of experts like ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who places the two teams first and second overall in his rankings of all 30 teams for the ’21/22 season.

As Lowe acknowledges, Kyrie Irving‘s availability – or lack thereof – is a major wild card that could affect the Nets this season, but every non-Irving critique of the club essentially “amounts to nit-picking.” The Bucks, meanwhile, have been the NBA’s best regular season team across the last three seasons and reached new heights in the 2021 postseason. With a healthy roster heading into this season, they look like a safe bet to be one of the East’s top seeds.

After those top two teams, Lowe’s next tier of Eastern clubs includes four talented clubs with some question marks: the Sixers, Heat, Celtics, and Hawks.

The Ben Simmons standoff hangs over Philadelphia’s season — if Simmons’ holdout extends into the regular season and the 76ers still haven’t found a trade they like, they’ll essentially be down an All-Star for the foreseeable future, which will limit their ceiling. The Hawks, the team that eliminated the Sixers from the playoffs in 2021, are deep and should be able to count on continued growth from their young players, but a team’s improvements aren’t always linear. As for the Celtics and Heat, they’ll be looking to bounce back after relatively disappointing 2020/21 seasons that ended with quick postseason exits.

While those four teams may be the favorites on paper to fill out the top six in the East, Lowe expects at least one of them to slip into play-in territory. He identifies the Knicks, Bulls, and Hornets as the next-best bets to crack the East’s top six.

The Knicks, of course, were the No. 4 seed in the East last season and will bring back a very similar group, along with new additions like Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier. They outperformed expectations in 2020/21 and may experience some regression, but they’re a deep, well-coached team looking to prove that last season’s breakthrough was no aberration.

The Bulls are one of the East’s most fascinating teams — they could have one of the NBA’s best offenses, but there are concerns about their defense and depth, so a wide range of outcomes are possible. As for the Hornets, Lowe acknowledges there are some red flags, but views young cornerstones LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges, and P.J. Washington as good candidates to take another step forward in 2021/22.

The Pacers, Wizards, and Raptors are part of the next tier for Lowe, who consider all three clubs legit contenders to make the play-in tournament. Early-season injuries may hold back Indiana (T.J. Warren, Caris LeVert) and Toronto (Pascal Siakam, Chris Boucher), but both clubs were perennial playoff teams up until 2021 and still have plenty of talent on their rosters. Washington lost some star-power by trading away Russell Westbrook, but the team’s depth is stronger than it has been in years.

Lowe places the Cavaliers in a group of their own, noting that executives around the league have wildly varying opinions on Cleveland’s roster. Some people are high on the Cavs’ collection of young talent, while others think they could be the very worst team in the NBA. Although they’re not a clear play-in contender, they could be in that mix if things break right.

The Pistons and Magic, meanwhile, project to be the East’s bottom two teams, despite the presence of rookie guards Cade Cunningham and Jalen Suggs.

After we broke down the Western Conference on Wednesday, I’m curious to get your thoughts today on the Eastern Conference. Do you view the Nets and Bucks as the East’s clear top two finishers? Which clubs will clinch top-six playoff seeds, and which four will end up in the play-in tournament? Of the 12 teams with realistic playoff expectations, which two (or more) will finish outside of play-in range?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts on the Western Conference!

Community Shootaround: Western Conference Outlook

The Lakers are set to enter the 2021/22 season as the betting favorites to win the Western Conference, but they’re not viewed as the overwhelming frontrunners, with several talented teams expected to give them a run for their money.

In his preseason rankings of all 30 NBA teams, ESPN’s Zach Lowe places the Lakers in the West’s first tier along with the Jazz and the Suns, suggesting that he doesn’t view Los Angeles as being in a tier of its own atop the conference. Lowe isn’t necessarily sold on the supporting cast to the Lakers’ stars, and thinks Phoenix’s young core has room to continue improving.

If the Lakers, Jazz, and Suns all finish in the top six of the West, that leaves just three more teams that can claim a playoff spot without participating in the play-in tournament. Lowe’s next tier of Western teams features five strong candidates for those three postseason spots: the Nuggets, Clippers, Trail Blazers, Mavericks, and Warriors.

As Lowe observes, it’s hard to know what to expect from some of these teams that are missing a star player. Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard and Nuggets guard Jamal Murray are recovering from ACL tears and may not play at all in 2021/22, while Warriors swingman Klay Thompson, coming off an Achilles tear, seems likely to miss at least a couple months or so and may not be at 100% when he returns.

All of those teams still have stars more than capable of carrying the load in Paul George, Nikola Jokic, and Stephen Curry, but it remains to be seen whether they’ll reach their ceilings without a fully healthy lineup. Still, Lowe considers Denver and Golden State good bets to crack the West’s top six, along with Dallas, potentially leaving the Clippers and Blazers to earn their postseason berths in the play-in tournament.

While those may be considered the top eight teams in the West, there are several more clubs with playoff aspirations. Lowe places the Grizzlies a notch above a tier that includes the Pelicans, Kings, Timberwolves, and Spurs, but acknowledges that at least one club – and possibly two – from that latter group figures to qualify for the play-in.

All five teams of those teams are young and will count on recent lottery picks to make major contributions. All but perhaps San Antonio – which lost several productive veterans – are expecting to take a step forward and make some noise in the West in 2021/22. However, three of those clubs could be left on the outside looking in, unable to even qualify for a play-in spot.

The Rockets and Thunder are in Lowe’s bottom tier, viewed as at least a year away from becoming play-in contenders.

While I think Lowe’s evaluation of the West is reasonable, I’m curious to know what you think. Which teams will claim the top six playoff spot in the conference? Which four will make the play-in tournament, and which two will escape that tourney with the final two postseason berths? Which teams in the West do you expect to exceed or fall short of expectations in 2021/22?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts on the Western Conference!

Community Shootaround: Who Gets Traded First, John Wall Or Ben Simmons?

Sixers star Ben Simmons has been in the NBA’s oddest situation all summer, but Rockets guard John Wall may have surpassed him this week.

Wall and Houston management have reportedly reached an agreement to work together to find him a new team, and he won’t play in any games until that happens. Wall will report to training camp and will remain around the team, but there are no plans for him to have any on-court action. Wall reportedly hasn’t asked for a trade, but at age 31 and with his history of injuries, he’s not in the long-term plans for the rebuilding Rockets.

The major impediment to dealing Wall is his contract, which will pay him $44.3MM this season, with a $47.4MM player option for 2022/23. Wall could theoretically make himself more tradable by agreeing to turn down the option in hopes of working out a long-term contract with his new team, just as Chris Paul did with the Suns.

Also limiting the market for Wall is his sparse playing time over the past three seasons, brought on by heel surgery and a ruptured Achilles tendon. He managed to play 40 games last season, averaging 20.7 points and 8.7 assists in 32.2 minutes per night, but wasn’t ever used in both games of back-to-back situations and was shut down in late April with a hamstring injury.

The Rockets are reportedly unwilling to part with multiple first-round picks as an incentive for a team to take Wall and are reluctant to take on unwanted long-term salaries, which further limits their options for finding a trade partner.

Simmons, of course, has been the subject of trade rumors since his baffling performance in the playoff loss to Atlanta. He took offense to comments made by coach Doc Rivers after the conclusion of that series and has threatened to hold out of training camp if the team doesn’t trade him by then.

The Kings, Timberwolves and Warriors have been among the teams most prominently mentioned as potential landing spots for Simmons, but sources say Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has set a very steep asking price. Simmons is reportedly “in step” with Philadelphia’s efforts to move him, but has expressed a desire to go to the Lakers, Clippers or Warriors rather than a rebuilding organization.

Numerous reporters have expressed doubt about whether Wall or Simmons will be traded any time soon, but we want your opinion. Which of these players do you expect to wind up with a new team first? Please leave your answer in the comments section.

Community Shootaround: 2022 Most Improved Player

When Knicks All-Star Julius Randle won the 2020/21 Most Improved Player award in May, several intriguing names trailed him in voting: Detroit’s Jerami Grant (second place), Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. (third place) and Houston’s Christian Wood (fourth place) being among them.

Randle deserved the award, however, as the 26-year-old averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and six assists per game, shooting 46% from the field and 41% from deep. The season before, he held per-game averages of 19.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists, shooting 46% from the floor and 28% from deep.

The competition was tough — Grant, Porter and Wood all put forth respectable campaigns — but that tends to be the norm with the league’s awards. Predicting the Most Improved Player before the season starts is an extremely difficult task, however.

This year figures to have much of the same. Players such as Porter (with Jamal Murray injured), Zion Williamson (featured with a new Pelicans lineup) or Deandre Ayton (coming off his first playoff experience) could be good places to start.

What do you think? Will one of the players who received votes last year reign supreme, or will a surprise name win the award? Feel free to voice your predictions in the comments section below!

Community Shootaround: 2022 NBA MVP

Injury issues may have factored into the MVP race more than usual during the pandemic-shortened 2020/21 season, when Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic remained healthier than several other All-NBA talents en route to earning his first MVP award.

Regardless, Jokic turned in an incredible and worthy MVP season. The three-time All-Star center played in all 72 regular season games and averaged an eye-popping 26.4 PPG, 10.8 RPG, and 8.3 APG, on .566/.388/.868 shooting splits, for a Denver team that finished third in the crowded Western Conference with a solid 47-25 record. Can the 25-year-old superstar repeat as the MVP for the 2022 season?

Sixers center Joel Embiid, Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (the eventual 2021 Finals MVP), and Suns point guard Chris Paul rounded out the list of the top five players receiving the most votes. Prior to incurring significant mid-season injuries, Embiid and Lakers forward LeBron James, a four-time winner, appeared to be the frontrunners for the award last year, alongside eventual victor Jokic.

Antetokounmpo has already won the award twice, in 2019 and 2020. As the best player on the reigning champion Bucks, the 26-year-old appears likely to vie for the honor again next year. Curry was also a back-to-back winner, in 2015 and 2016.

Through the first month of the 2020/21 NBA season, there was a different MVP favorite among media members. Nets All-Star Kevin Durant enjoyed a terrific comeback year in 2020/21 after an Achilles tear kept him sidelined for the entire 2019/20 season. Injuries and load maintenance limited Durant to just 35 regular season games with Brooklyn, however. He certainly looked like the best player on the planet during the Nets’ injury-impeded 2021 playoff run, plus a subsequent march to his third Olympic gold medal with Team USA. The 32-year-old was previously the 2014 MVP while with the Thunder.

Durant’s All-Star teammate James Harden, the 2018 MVP, is normally quite durable, but he missed an unusual amount of time last year with a nagging quad injury. Given that the Nets will field perhaps the most loaded roster in the NBA between Durant, Harden, All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, and significant depth, one of Durant or Harden seems like a very viable MVP candidate next year.

With 2021/22 returning to an 82-game schedule amidst a much-lengthier turnaround time between seasons than last year, it appears likely that many veteran All-Stars will again be in the running for MVP honors. The aforementioned players all seem like safe bets to be in the mix for the award again this season, assuming good health. James and Paul, the two oldest players among that group, could see their MVP chances hampered by minutes management.

Beyond these usual suspects, other players may find their way into the MVP conversation. Depending on team record and player health, Lakers big man Anthony Davis, Suns shooting guard Devin Booker, Hawks point guard Trae Young, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and center Rudy GobertHeat swingman Jimmy Butler and center Bam Adebayo, Clippers forward Paul George, Knicks forward Julius Randle, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard and Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic all seem like fringe candidates for MVP consideration.

The crowded Eastern Conference could also see a surprise MVP contender (or, at least, a conceivable top-five finisher in media voting) emerge from several teams hoping to vault up the standings, thanks to active offseasons. Bulls All-Star guard Zach LaVine, Celtics All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and Pacers All-Star center Domantas Sabonis seem positioned to benefit the most from their teams’ summer makeovers, should those changes lead to top-four conference finishes for any of their clubs. In the case of the Pacers, the biggest personnel upgrade may have been on the bench, where the team added longtime Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle to replace one-year Indiana coach Nate Bjorkgren.

We want to hear what you think! Which of these players we mentioned is your way-too-early favorite to win the 2021/22 MVP award? Which young All-Star could move into being a top-five MVP vote-getter for the first time? Is there anyone we haven’t mentioned that you think could work their way into the conversation? Weigh in below in our comments section!

Community Shootaround: 2022 Rookie Of The Year

With a star-studded NBA draft and the 2021 Summer League in our rear view, it’s high time for a still-way-too-early Rookie Of The Year Community Shootaround! The three top picks this season are widely considered to be the players with brightest long-term futures in the NBA, but that doesn’t preclude someone else from swooping in for 2021/22 Rookie Of The Year award honors.

Top pick Cade Cunningham, selected by the Pistons out of Oklahoma State, is a lead ball-handler with the size of a forward (6’8″), beloved by scouts for his shooting ability and passing acumen.

Long-term, the Rockets are hoping No. 2 selection Jalen Green can replace ex-Houston All-Star James Harden as an All-NBA caliber shooting guard with a versatile offensive portfolio. Green opted to spend his post-high school season with the NBA’s G League Ignite rather than in a collegiate program. How much Green produces during his inaugural NBA season remains an open question, though he at least will see plenty of looks for a presumably lottery-bound Houston team.

Though the Cavaliers frontcourt is crowded between $100MM man Jarrett Allen, pricey former All-Star Kevin Love (owed $60.2MM over the next two seasons), and new addition Lauri Markkanen (signed to a four-year, $67MM deal), exciting USC big man Evan Mobley, the third pick in the draft, is a good bet to get major rotation minutes.

The top five selections were rounded out by two other intriguing prospects this season. 6’8″ FSU forward Scottie Barnes, selected with the No. 4 pick, will join a seasoned Raptors team loaded with forward depth and should have ample time to develop as a bench player.

The Magic chose 6’4″ Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs with the fifth pick in the draft, and subsequently added 6’9″ swingman Franz Wagner with the No. 8 pick. Suggs should receive significant scoring opportunities on an Orlando team not expected to compete for the playoffs.

The Thunder drafted 6’8″ guard Josh Giddey from NBL club the Adelaide 36ers with the sixth pick in the draft. The Thunder appear poised to continue their rebuilding project in Oklahoma City after trading away Chris Paul to the Suns during the summer of 2020, and as such should be able to find extended playing time for Giddey.

New Warriors lottery selections Jonathan Kuminga (the No. 7 pick), a 6’8″ forward out of the G League Ignite, and Moses Moody (the No. 14 pick), a 6’6″ guard out of Arkansas, are likely in line for smaller roles on a club trying to return to title contention this year, though of course that could change should Golden State opt to move them for veteran depth during the season.

6’2″ Kings guard Davion Mitchell, chosen with the ninth pick out of Baylor, will likely begin the 2021/22 season in a reserve role behind incumbent backcourt starters De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, but after proving he could score in bunches during the 2021 Las Vegas Summer League (where he was named co-MVP), it seems clear he’ll get plenty of run for Sacramento. Mitchell averaged 10.8 PPG, 5.8 APG and 1.4 RPG.

Grizzlies forward Ziaire Williams, Hornets guard James BouknightSpurs guard Joshua Primo, and Pacers guard Chris Duarte rounded out the lottery picks this season. All will suit up for teams who appear hopeful to at least qualify for the play-in tournament.

Beyond the lottery, Mitchell’s Summer League co-MVP Cameron Thomas, who averaged 27 PPG, 2 APG, 1.75 RPG, and 1.25 SPG, may yet carve out a role for himself on a star-studded Nets team hoping to compete for a title. That said, it’s tough to see the 6’4″ LSU alum getting enough touches in the backcourt, playing behind two All-Stars, to warrant Rookie Of The Year consideration.

Wizards rookie swingman Corey Kispert, Rockets rookie forward Alperen Sengun and Pelicans rookie wing Trey Murphy III also look like contenders to log serious minutes this season.

We want to hear what you think! Who among these contenders is your pick to win Rookie Of The Year honors for the 2021/22 season? Will anyone else we haven’t mentioned sneak in to the conversation? Please weigh in with your own early predictions in the comments section below.

Community Shootaround: Central Division

The Bucks will enter next season as the defending champions. They’ll be a heavy favorite to at least top the Central Division again and enter the Eastern Conference playoffs as one of the top seeds.

Every team in the division has made significant moves this offseason with the hope of eventually getting to the Bucks’ level.

The Bulls made the splashiest acquisitions, bringing in Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso to fortify a core group headed by Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine.

The Pistons hit the lottery and now have a potential franchise player in Cade Cunningham. Their biggest free agent signing was big man Kelly Olynyk, who will help Detroit space the floor. Jerami Grant blossomed in an expanded role and they also possess a strong young core with Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey and Killian Hayes.

The Pacers brought back Rick Carlisle to coach a team that was hit hard by injuries last season. They added guard Chris Duarte as a late lottery selection and signed defensive specialist Torrey Craig. They have a solid starting five in Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner and T.J. Warren.

The Cavaliers drafted the top big man prospect, Evan Mobley, acquired Ricky Rubio and engineered a sign-and-trade for Lauri Markkanen. They also locked up center Jarrett Allen to a long-term deal. Rubio will help out the young guard duo Collin Sexton and Darius Garland.

On paper, all those teams have improved.

That leads us to our question of the day: Which Central Division team will emerge as the biggest threat to the Bucks?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in on this topic. We look forward to your input.

Community Shootaround: Where Will Ben Simmons Land?

We’ve reached what is generally considered the slow point of the summer, and while there are still some free agents available on the market, there’s really only one domino left to fall to wrap up this offseason: the resolution of the messy, public deterioration of the relationship between the Sixers and Ben Simmons.

Today’s news that Simmons doesn’t plan to report to training camp kicked off a fresh frenzy of speculation, with beat writers for multiple teams, most notably the Kings and Timberwolves, exploring those teams’ respective chances of landing the three-time All Star.

The Kings currently hold the best odds of landing Simmons, according to MyBookie.ag, at +275, followed by the Wolves (+400), the Warriors (+550), Blazers (+900), Spurs (+1200) and Wizards (+1900). Meanwhile, PointsBet has the Kings and Blazers at +150 each, with the Warriors at +250.

As befitting a player as complicated to build around as Ben Simmons, there are tricky questions facing each of his prospective suitors.

The Kings are desperate for a move that significantly alters the trajectory of the franchise, but are reportedly unlikely to include De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton in a deal. That leaves Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley, and possibly this year’s ninth pick Davion Mitchell, as well as future picks, as the foundation for a deal.

Hield’s shooting would undoubtedly help the Sixers, as would Barnes’ all-around game, but both offer similar skillsets/roles to Seth Curry and Tobias Harris, respectively. Bagley is only a few years removed from being the number two pick and has flashed some interesting potential, shooting 34% from three this season while being an athletic rim roller and rebounder at 6’11. But his defense remains questionable and his overall game hasn’t progressed much in three years, partially due to a series of injuries that have kept him from getting a rhythm.

Mitchell, on the other hand, offers something the Sixers could desperately use. A tenacious defender with the ability to hit pull-up threes or function off-ball, thanks to his time playing alongside Jared Butler at Baylor, Mitchell could hold interest for the Sixers. But is he ready, as a rookie, to be the main point guard on a team with championship aspirations? At 22, he’s more ready-made than some rookie point guards, but that’s still a tough ask, as well as a tough sell for cornerstone Joel Embiid.

The Wolves could put together an interesting package, with D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jaden McDaniels, Patrick Beverley, and possibly Leandro Bolmaro as pieces that could go into a deal. If the team were to trade Russell, Beasley and picks, it’s not hard to see the appeal of surrounding offensive star talents Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards with lockdown defenders Beverley, Simmons, and McDaniels. Not to mention, McDaniels, Beverley, Towns and Edwards represents the most shooting Simmons would have been surrounded by in his career.

But is it enough? Theoretically the shooting and playmaking of Russell, combined with the shooting and attacking of Beasley, fit what the Sixers need, but it’s hardly the king’s ransom Morey has been asking for. Bolmaro is an interesting, but unproven piece, and the Wolves have their first-round picks moving forward. Wolves president Gersson Rosas also has a longstanding relationship with Morey, having worked under him for years with the Rockets.

The Warriors are perhaps the most interesting team on this list, as they have both the contracts and the young talent to make a deal work. Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green are both making upwards of $24MM per year, while James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and even young breakout wings like Jordan Poole and Juan Toscano-Anderson could be interesting trade chips.

Now, it’s almost unthinkable the Warriors would trade Green, and with Harris at the power forward spot, it’s unclear how much the Sixers would value him. Wiggins, Wiseman, one of their other young players, and future picks might not be the prettiest package for the Sixers, but there is clear value to Wiggins manning the small forward spot in Philly, and to adding depth on the bench. The problem is that would leave the Sixers without a starting point guard, which would likely necessitate a third team entering the mix.

The Blazers could see Simmons as the move to keep semi-disgruntled star Damian Lillard in the fold, though outside of CJ McCollum, Portland has little by means of assets. It’s also unclear how much a clean McCollum-for-Simmons swap would significantly change the Blazers’ trajectory, and the fit with newly-acquired Larry Nance Jr. isn’t the cleanest.

The Spurs have a good amount of solid young players, but none with the blue-chip luster that the Sixers would likely be seeking in a deal. Additionally, outside of Dejounte Murray, another poor-shooting defensive guard, and Derrick White, none of them are ready to be key members of a championship run.

Lastly, the Wizards have an interesting collection of talent, but the Sixers are unlikely to get Bradley Beal in a trade, and almost all of Washington’s other appealing players are young big men, with the exception of this year’s 15th pick, Corey Kispert. Any trade of Simmons would mean the team’s top two players are a center and a power forward, meaning it’s unlikely they would be interested in any of the Wizards’ combo forwards.

There are undoubtedly going to be more teams that enter into the discussion as the bidding war heats up, but we want to know what you think. What team is going to end up with Ben Simmons? What will they give up for him? And most importantly — will Simmons give his new team the bump they need to get where they’re going?

Take to the comments to let us know!

Community Shootaround: Best FA Value Signings

In a Community Shootaround discussion earlier this month, we asked you to identify the best and worst of 2021’s biggest-money free agent contracts. Today, we’re expanding our focus to encompass all of this summer’s free agent signings, then zeroing in on the good rather than the bad.

In other words, we want to know which of this year’s free agent signings represented the best value from a team’s perspective.

[RELATED: 2021 NBA Free Agent Tracker]

Dennis Schröder‘s one-year deal with the Celtics figures to be a popular choice for the best value of the summer. After all, Schröder was reportedly offered $80MM over four years during the season. It’s hard to argue that getting him for one year worth $5.9MM isn’t a worthwhile investment.

Schröder’s deal was one of a handful of guard signings I liked. The Nets‘ one-year, $4.7MM deal with Bruce Brown was another — perhaps getting him locked up to a longer-term deal this offseason would’ve been Brooklyn’s preferred option, since he’s now on track to reach unrestricted free agency in 2022. But I thought he might end up signing a deal similar to Alex Caruso‘s (four years, $37MM), so $4.7MM for one year looks pretty good.

The Knicks‘ signing of Kemba Walker to a two-year, $17.9MM contract was another move I liked, though New York was able to get that team-friendly rate in large part because Walker is still being paid big money by Oklahoma City for the next two years after being bought out by the team. The buyout caveat also applies to the Nets‘ one-year, minimum-salary deal with Blake Griffin. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that those signings represent good values for Walker’s and Griffin’s current teams.

Like Brooklyn with Griffin, the Bucks and Clippers benefited from the fact that Bobby Portis and Nicolas Batum weren’t seeking a change of scenery. Both players only received modest Non-Bird raises from their respective clubs, so Portis is on the books for $8.9MM over two years with Milwaukee, while Batum got $6.5MM for two seasons with L.A. Both Portis and Batum have second-year player options, but if they play well enough to opt out, it means the Bucks and Clippers got a nice bargain for 2021/22.

Otto Porter, coming off a four-year, $106MM contract, reportedly turned down more lucrative offers to sign with the Warriors for the veteran’s minimum. He still needs to show he’s healthy, but even if he struggles to stay on the court, the risk for Golden State is minimal. If he’s back to 100%, he should significantly outplay his $2.4MM salary (and $1.7MM cap hit).

All the deals I’ve listed so far came in at under $10MM, but there was some value to be found among bigger-money commitments too. One of my favorites was the Kings‘ four-year deal with Richaun Holmes, which is worth $46.5MM. I expected a team in need of a center – such as Charlotte or Toronto – to make a more aggressive offer for Holmes in the range of $15-18MM per year, so retaining him at an annual rate under $12MM is a nice piece of business for Sacramento.

What do you think? Which free agent signings this month do you think were the best bargains and will provide the most value going forward?

Take to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!

Community Shootaround: Paul Millsap And J.J. Redick

As the dust settles on another free agency/trade market, there are two names conspicuously absent from rosters: J.J. Redick and Paul Millsap.

Redick’s absence is understandable, as he was vocally disappointed with how he was treated by the Pelicans, who traded him mid-season to the Mavericks in the midst of Redick’s least product year since the 2008/09 season. Redick has been clear on his desire to take his time, enjoy the summer with his family, and not make a decision until at least the fall.

Redick was also limited in the 2020/21 season by a heel injury that kept him out of the Mavericks’ playoff run and bothered him throughout much of the season. Teams interested in his service will be sure to do their due diligence on how his recovery has gone, and whether that will be a lingering issue.

Millsap’s lengthy free agency is a little more surprising. Though the 36-year-old forward is clearly slowing down a bit in recent years, he was still an important part of the Nuggets’ success over the last four seasons, as a versatile team defender who shot over 37% from three in his Denver tenure.

With defense and shooting a premium commodity from the power forward spot, Millsap’s skill set would be very useful to a number of contending teams, or teams looking to make the push into contention. In previous reporting, Millsap has been linked to the Warriors, Timberwolves, Hawks, Nets, Pelicans, and Sixers, which leads to an interesting philosophical question for the veteran.

If Millsap were to go to a team like the Timberwolves, he would likely play a relatively large amount of minutes, as second-year defensive standout Jaden McDaniels, Jake Layman and current RFA Jarred Vanderbilt are the only forwards on the team’s roster. He could join a young team desperate to start winning, and provide an ideal counterpart to the elite shooting of Karl-Anthony Towns.

But his lack of rush in signing a deal also points to a potential desire to do more than get minutes for a likely middling team. With the Warriors, Millsap could fill a role very similar to the one Blake Griffin provided for the Nets last season, and, depending on the growth and health of last year’s number two overall pick James Wiseman, could possibly even start alongside Draymond Green. Millsap’s IQ, defensive versatility and shooting prowess would make him an ideal fit in Golden State’s system, and helping Stephen Curry and the Warriors regain their contender status could hold a lot of appeal for a player who has only won two career Conference Finals games.

The Warriors still have their taxpayer mid-level exception, meaning they could offer up to $5.9MM to Millsap, though the tax bill from doing so would be immense.

With the Bucks, Millsap could provide a similar role. After losing P.J. Tucker to the Heat, the Bucks remain very shallow in the frontcourt, with Bobby Portis and raw second-year player Mamadi Diakite as the team’s only depth. Millsap could provide a similar role to Tucker, but as more of a threat from deep.

Meanwhile, the Nets are generally considered the most likely landing spot for Redick, who lives in Brooklyn already and loves New York. There have even been rumblings that Redick might consider retirement if he doesn’t land with the Nets or Knicks. But between Kyrie Irving, Patty Mills, James Harden, Joe Harris, and this year’s first-round pick Cameron Thomas, the Nets are already overflowing with hot-shooting guards who are defensive question marks, and it’s unclear what kind of role Redick would command.

The Knicks, who have also been mentioned as a team Redick could be interested in, have a similar guard log-jam, with Evan Fournier, second-year standout Immanuel Quickley, Alec Burks, and first-round pick Quentin Grimes all likely to see time at the shooting guard position.

So that brings us to the question of the day: Which teams will Redick and Millsap end up with? And will they sign before the season, or after the season’s already underway?

Take to the comments to let us know!