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2020 NBA free agency takeaways, day 2: Serge Ibaka fight for the Clippers; another side of Gordon Hayward’s story



Two days before the free agency, most of the big names are outside the board. This does not include Bogdan Bogdanovic, which is funny because on Monday it looked like he would not really get on the market.

As a follow up on my day 1 takeaways, here are seven thoughts on day 2:

Another big deal in LA

Serge Ibaka took MLE (two years, $ 19 million) to reunite with Kawhi Leonard, perhaps the most diverse move that any challenger has made this offseason. The contrast with Montrezl Harrell is inevitable, so let’s just get to it: They’re both good at this (identical) salary, but Ibaka fits the Los Angeles Clippers much better. Ibaka would also have fit in better with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Harrell had beautiful chemistry with Lou Williams on the other unit, and he can develop something similar with Dennis Schroder. Opponents will attack him and Schroder defensively in the playoffs, albeit in the same way they went against him and Williams. The 31

-year-old version of Ibaka is not the vertical spacer that Harrell is, nor is he the same kind of threat with the ball in his hands. However, he is a very superior defender and his shot is a game changer in the most literal sense.

Ibaka allows the Clippers to play five-out, as JaMychal Green did, without sacrificing size and rim protection. He is not the dominant shot blocker he was in his Thunder days, but his skills and feel have improved since then. Although he does not need to replace Ivica Zubac as a starter, he will definitely close out some playoff games. Ibaka and Marc Gasol had a similar peloton system with the Toronto Raptors.

One of the reasons the Raptors won a championship in 2019 and remained so resilient after Kawhi is that they did not have to play anyone who could not shoot 3s or could not keep themselves in defense. The Clippers are not quite there, but they are more versatile and less vulnerable in a playoff setting now that Ibaka is in Harrell’s place.

Another side of the Hayward story

I do not want to pile on the Charlotte Hornets for having paid too much Gordon Hayward. My colleague Sam Quinn has already set them on fire, and you probably do not need me to explain why a team in their position should not spend $ 120 million on a 30-year-old with this injury history. Take the price tag out of it for a moment, or even imagine if Charlotte would pay him something like $ 9 million a day. Season instead of $ 30 million.

Purely in terms of team needs, the Hayward Hornets help. Through several front offices and main buses – and a name change! – This is a franchise that has spent most of the last decade searching for a winger with his skilled set. Do you remember the Lance Stephenson debacle? What about the absolute revelation that Nicolas Batum seemed to be before he got paid? Hayward can create shots and place the floor, so defense must always account for him. Even more than his scoring helps his passing with LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges and PJ Washington.

However, Hayward would not have left Boston just to be the guy who makes the offense more organized. The Celtics originally recruited Hayward to be their best player, coming out of a season where he had a usage rate of 26.9 percent, slightly higher than Kemba Walker’s last season. Without any guilt of his own, he became a guy with 20 percent use. Every once in a while he had a big points night, but that was not his job. While going to Charlotte is not the same as going back to the Utah Jazz four years ago, he will have a chance to show that he can still fill it.

Let’s see.

(Warning: As it currently stands, the Hornets actually do not have much room for Hayward to stretch. I assume the list does not include all four of Hayward, Ball, Devonte ‘Graham and Terry Rozier when the season starts .)

The heat pulled it off

Strictly speaking, the Heat are not driving it back as they have replaced Jae Crowder and Derrick Jones Jr. with Moe Harkless (one year, $ 3.6 million) and Avery Bradley (two years, $ 11.6 million, with a team opportunity). Miami has, however, done what it set out to do: Keep Goran Dragic (two years, 37.4 million, with a team opportunity) and become a challenger without sacrificing 2021 flexibility.

The heat may have even improved. As versatile as the Heat were in defense last season, they never had anyone to disrupt point guards on the offense. Now they have Bradley, whose best trait is just that. In Miami’s system, he also gets his share of layups as a cutter.

One of the luxuries of having an elite coach like Erik Spoelstra is that you can count on him to mix and match his lineups as needed in a playoff series. Bradley gives him a different kind of defensive weapon, one that can be crucial to stars.

Spoelstra will also have to implement Harkless selectively, as he is a less willing and less accurate shooter than Crowder. Opponents ignored him in the perimeter when he was with the Portland Trail Blazers, and Jones hardly played in the playoffs for the same reason. However, Harkless came much cheaper than Crowder, and his length and foot speed make him a defensive upgrade in certain matchups.

Miami has 15 players under contract, but that may not be done. It has a trade exemption worth $ 7.5 million, a figure that is just low enough to avoid the luxury tax. The $ 3.6 million two-year exemption is still available if the Heat decide to split the MLE between Bradley and Harkless. And since most of their players are effectively about to expire contracts, they will have options to add reinforcements by the trade deadline.

The winning suns strike again

Crowder jumped to the Phoenix Suns on a $ 30 million three-year deal, and while his production has varied from team to team, there is no reason to expect him to be less efficient than he was in Miami. Phoenix was under the radar for months between its hot start and its bubble run, but it ran a beautiful, heat-like offensive system all the time. It’s Crowder’s favorite environment, and his presence will give the Suns a more Miami – like mix of veterans and young players.

Hours after the Crowder addition, Phoenix agreed with another tough customer: Jevon Carter would sign for three years and $ 11.5 million, which is robbery on the highway if his 42.5 percent 3-point shooting was not a fluke. It’s impossible not to love Carter’s defense, and the 6-foot-1 guard is robust enough for the Suns to be able to get away with playing him alongside Chris Paul, just as the Raptors use. Kyle Lowry and the recent storyteller Fred VanVleet. If Carter, Cameron Payne and the still unsigned restricted free agent Dario Saric click this season as they did in Orlando, Phoenix’s could have one of the league’s better second units, where either Crowder or Cameron Johnson played stretch 4.

Brooklyn fills a long-standing gap

For a team that used Quincy Acy, Trevor Booker, Luis Scola, Anthony Bennett, Andrew Nicholson, Justin Hamilton, Dante Cunningham, Timofey Mozgov and Tyler Zeller as stretch 5s in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, the Brooklyn Nets have been surprisingly devoid of them ever since. (Yes, I promise you, Mozgov and Zeller were encouraged to shoot 3s in Brooklyn. I was there.)

When backup center Ed Davis was injured against the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2019 playoffs, Jared Dudley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson stepped in to play smallball 5, but Dudley provided only a marginal stretch and Hollis-Jefferson delivered none. Last season, the Nets shared Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan in the middle, and the thin Rodions Kurucs pulled the backup duty as they were without Jordan in the bubble. In addition to reuniting with Kevin Durant, that’s why Brooklyn’s veteran minimum agreement with Jeff Green is important.

The 34-year-old Green could not find his place with the Jazz last season, but became an important part of the tournament after landing with the Houston Rockets. In Houston, Green realized his late career fate as a center, switching and shooting 3s more often than ever before.

If both Jordan and Allen are still nearby, Nets Green is not asking to play nearly as much center this season. He gives them possibility to play five out, though, and his role will not be that much different if he stands in the corner and plays power forward. Green’s work with the Rockets showed exactly how he can complement Durant, Kyrie Irving and the other acting actor.

There has been a lot of noise about Brooklyn trying to shop for a third superstar. However, like the other team linked with James Harden, the Nets do not have to make a huge effort for their offseason to succeed. Greens and other newcomers Landry Shamet and Bruce Brown have games tailored to support stars. And while it may have looked like a fait accompli, it also deserves to be applauded for keeping Joe Harris (four years, $ 75 million).

To the praise of the Grizzlies

Memphis is sneaky. Front office, which continues to steal good players in the draft, has also retained its young players on favorable contracts. De’Anthony Melton’s four-year $ 35 million deal is likely to be my favorite throughout the offseason, and keeping John Konchar for $ 9 million over four years could end up being a major steal. (It is still unclear if there are any options or non-guaranteed years on Konchar’s contract.)

Melton, a 6-2 combo guard with a 6-8 wing span, compensates for his shaky shooting with suffocating defense, reliable passing and ridiculous rebound for his height. Konchar, a 6-7 wing, has only a fraction of Melton’s NBA experience, but is just as much an analytical treasure. Clichés like “winning player” and “glue guy” do not capture the Konchar experience, but they do apply: He always pushes and always makes good decisions and makes games at both ends without being the center of attention of either of them. Do not be shocked if this mostly anonymous player earns a place in the Grizzlies’ rotation and establishes himself as a high-level role.

Konchar and Melton were both limited free agents. I am surprised that these contracts were enough to prevent them from signing offer sheets elsewhere.

Sink or swim in Atlanta

After adding Danilo Gallinari (three years, $ 61.5 million) on the first day of free agency, the Hawks reached agreements with Kris Dunn (two years, $ 10 million with a player option), Rajon Rondo (two years, $ 15 million) dollars) and still has about $ 20 million in capacity.

The Hawks could theoretically add Bogdanovic and / or move John Collins to a wing, or they could be more or less finished. Either way, it looks like it’s going to sink or swim time for their young wings.

While Kevin Huerter must remain a match in Atlanta’s rotation, there will be fewer backcourt minutes available now that Rondo and Dunn are nearby. As far as Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter are concerned, the free playing time they were given as a lottery pick on a rebuilding team should be a thing of the past, and they are likely to compete directly with each other.

Ideally, this will be healthy for their development, as will the increased expectations and experience of playing in meaningful games. When people like me encourage teams like the Hawks to be more patient, this kind of thing is often left unsaid.


For more on offseason player movement: CBS Sports’ free agent tracker.




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