Grading some of the early moves:
Deals I loved:
Memphis resigning Rudy Gay: I know, I know everyone is saying the Grizzlies overpaid for Gay, but they had to retain him. They are a team heading in the right direction (despite not having the greatest draft) and can compete for a deep playoff run next season with Gay back in the fold. Sometimes Gay disappears from games, but part of that is the Grizzlies weakness at the point guard position which doesn’t set him up effectively. While they paid a steep price, Gay is just 23 and should continue to develop into a star.
Suns resigning Channing Frye: Frye will make more than $10 million less than (likely) former teammate Amare Stoudemire, and will be a bargain for the Suns as Amare heads to greener pastures. Frye might not have Stoudemire’s physicality or athletic ability, but he is a Forward/Center who can give them solid minutes. He also has 3-point range that makes him a tough defensive assignment for opposing big men. Frye is not a star but he should be well worth the money they are giving him.
Moves I really liked:
Bucks grabbing Drew Gooden: I have always been a pretty big Drew Gooden fan. He might not be a perennial All-Star, but he gets the job done in the paint and can play both the 4 and the 5. He is a good rebounder and has a solid midrange game. He isn’t going to average 20 and 10, but he will give you a solid 12-15 points and 7-10 boards a game. Gooden is also a consistent player and is still just 28 years old, which makes him a safe bet for the length of the contract. The Bucks filled their biggest need, and did so without completely breaking the bank. If Michael Redd is healthy the Bucks have a quality starting lineup.
Moves I am indifferent on:
Bucks resigning John Salmons: I like John Salmons and he is a good player but paying him over $8 million a year over 5 years is a bit risky. Two weeks ago this deal would have made more sense but in that time the Bucks announced that Carlos Delfino will return, traded for SF Corey Maggette and SG Chris Douglas-Roberts and drafted a pair of guys who can play the 3 in Sanders and Hobson. Now I understand the team being worried about the health of Michael Redd, but they could have gotten a solid 2-3 player in the $4-6 million dollar range which would have made a lot more sense. While Salmons might be worth $8 million+ a year if he was a full-time starter, he isn’t worth it on the Bucks.
Moves I didn’t like:
Raptors resign Amir Johnson: There are some things to like with Amir Johnson, he is a young big man with some upside, but not nearly enough things for me to justify paying $7 million a year over 5 years. Johnson averaged 6.2 points and 4.8 boards a game last year. And while yes his opportunities will go up next year with Chris Bosh likely moving on, Johnson averaged 18 minutes already and will now fight with rookie Ed Davis for time. Johnson is a good back up power forward, but they are paying him like a starter. I think Toronto will regret this deal pretty quickly, as they won’t get near the production they are looking for. Especially when you consider they could have had either Frye or Gooden for less, guys who can play the 5 and spread the floor.
Timberwolves resign Darko Milicic: Milicic is the ultimate bust story and while he is on his way to possibly resurrecting his career, he is not worth $20 million over 4 years. Yes Milicic is just 25 and is a 7 footer, but he has never showed he can be a legit starter or even significant contributor anywhere he has been. And Milicic has been given plenty of chances to do well, with some pretty solid supporting casts. While I do believe some upside is there, he shouldn’t be getting $5 million a year, and definitely not over 4 years. This contract eats up a good chunk of the Timberwolves cap space, at a time when there were still better options available. This is not the deal you were hoping for if you were a Timberwolves fan.