NBA

NBA Free Agency Weekend 2 Recap: The Neophytes

We’re at the point where we truly laud your capacity for distraction if you’re still keeping track of NBA Free Agency.

With the NBA’s three Summer Leagues (Orlando, Utah and Las Vegas) each taking place since the last publication of this recap, there are actual on-court attention grabbers to pay attention to; free agency is a speck within your mindscape at this point. Secondly, it’s nearly impossible to not take an entire day wincing as Tim Duncan announces his retirement. I’d never blame you.

However, we at Upside & Motor are here to fill you in on the comings and goings of the league’s youngest players: the NBA neophytes. These recaps focus specifically on players coming off their rookie contracts, signing their first NBA deals, or so young that they might as well be in that group. The players included came mainly from the CBSSports Top 100 Free Agents list.

Among the biggest takeaways were the Brooklyn Nets’ restricted free agency recoil, the Memphis Grizzlies going super unproven with their shooting guard depth, and Masai Ujiri continuing to efficiently do business. It’s been pretty fun.

Check back here daily as the rest of free agency unfolds; U&M will continue provide daily recaps of these signings including reactions, future implications and the like. Enjoy.

Langston Galloway – 24 years old- Unrestricted FA

Signed with the New Orleans Pelicans for 2 years, $10 million

Reaction: The Pelicans solid offseason continues with the return of Galloway to his home state of Louisiana (he is a Baton Rouge native). The team added depth behind Jrue Holiday and rookie Buddy Hield last week with the addition of E’Twaun Moore, and now adds a similar player in Galloway. None of these players are as outstanding from deep as the players Alvin Gentry has had the pleasure to work with in Los Angeles, Phoenix or Oakland, but sometimes, quantity is enough to outstand quality. New Orleans is counting on a plethora of average shooters and versatile players like Galloway to fill out their quick motion offense around their unibrowed star.

Dewayne Dedmon – 26 years old – Restricted FA

Signed with the San Antonio Spurs for 2 years, $6 million

Reaction: After losing David West and Boris Diaw only to replace them with Pau Gasol, the Spurs needed depth at the big positions badly. Now, with the news of Tim Duncan’s retirement, all of their guys will likely play pretty big minutes. Dedmon is the basketball equivalent to an innings-eating pitcher in baseball; basically, a replacement-level player. Unlike Pau, though, Dedmon has the potential to grow into more. He’s a mobile guy who will pair with Gasol to mend some of the broken levees on the glass.

Tim Frazier – 24 years old – Restricted FA

Agreed to return to the New Orleans Pelicans for 2 years, $4.1 million

Reaction: You’ve got to be happy for Tim Frazier; he escaped the mid-major super tandem in Portland for greener pastures in New Orleans, wowing at the end of a lost season for the Pelicans. Now, he gets two more years in a fun, free-swinging system to up his value and develop into a more double-edged and efficient player. One Timmay may be on his way out, another is stepping in to take his place. However, it’s hard to ignore the thought that he might’ve been able to get at least double what this deal will pay him, especially after the Pelicans butted so closely up against the cap this summer; a home run offer sheet could’ve gotten the job done. Alas, he’ll get downright paid in two years if his trajectory continues so sharply upward.

Festus Ezeli – 26 years old – Unrestricted FA (Rescinded Qualifying Offer from Golden State)

Signed with the Portland Trailblazers for 2 years, $16 million

Reaction: Woof. After saying no to the Dubs last summer, Festus now leaves as a victim of GSW winning the Durantstakes. In Portland, he’ll have the opportunity to play heavy minutes, diversify the rotation, and quite possibly start. His rim protection will definitely stave off the ineffectiveness of Lillard and McCollum on the defensive end, and his rebounding on both ends will be an upgrade over what was already a considerable strength for Portland last year. If he can keep his health in check in a deep rotation next to a bunch of fresh legs, he’ll earn himself a big chunk of cash in two seasons.

Troy Daniels – 24 years old – Restricted FA

Traded to and extended deal with Memphis for 3 years, $10 million

Reaction: I don’t have much to say about Daniels, because outside of some fun with Houston in 2014-15, we largely don’t know much in general. He can shoot, he’s undersized, and has the skill to grow into more. With Memphis continually lacking in wing depth, he’ll have a chance to play, and turned a small role across two seasons into more than $3 million dollars per season. As for earning such a deal, the work begins now.

Andrew Harrison – 21 years old – Draft Rights

Agreed to first official deal with Memphis Grizzlies for 3 years, $3 million

Reaction: After being traded for Jon Leuer last offseason instead of joining a roster full of Wildcats in Phoenix, Harrison spent a long season in the NBA Summer League and NBA Development League, providing prototypical two guard stats for the Grizzlies affiliate, the Iowa Energy. Harrison now represents a basketball manifestation of the American Dream; working hard got him where he is, and like Daniels, the dearth of wing talent in Memphis will give him an opportunity to keep on building. A tip of the hat to Mr. Harrison.

Meyers Leonard – 24 years old- Restricted FA

Agreed to return to Portland Trailblazers for 4 years, $41 million

Reaction: Leonard falls on the opposite end of the spectrum. A dazzling toolbox and unique skillset from the center position put Leonard atop the Blazers’ priority list during their player acquisition frenzy last offseason. After turning down a 4 year, $60 million deal last year, Leonard fought through injuries during Portland’s dream season and pushed his value considerably lower. Portland is seemingly all in with this core though, and locked Leonard up long-term anyway. The gifted stretch five will have four more years running the pick and pop with Dame to prove he’s worth another deal when this one runs out in the middle of his prime.

Allen Crabbe – 24 years old – Restricted FA

Tyler Johnson – 24 years old – Restricted FA

Portland and Miami match respective offer sheets

Reaction: If you read last week’s recap, you’ll know I was bullish on how Brooklyn GM Sean Marks had cleaned up in free agency up to this point, getting Crabbe and Johnson to agree to only slightly-above market value deals with a clear emphasis on versatility and shot creation in mind. Now, Marks emerges from week one of free agency with only Jeremy Lin to show for it. He’ll have a second go at the league’s second tier of free agent youngsters (Dion Waiters, Mo Harkless, retaining Markel Brown), but this is undoubtedly disappointing for a nucleus that shone bright after they appeared likely to nab both of these young wings last week.

Willie Reed – 26 years old – Unrestricted FA

Signed with Miami Heat for 2 years, $6 million

Reaction: As Las Vegas Summer League rages on across the country, the Heat made good on an opportunity they gave to the young big man Reed last summer on their LVSL squad. Reed will give the Heat young, cheap depth next to Hassan Whiteside and keep things rolling to the rim next to new chieftain Goran Dragic and this run n’ gun Heat team. A good signing on the cheap as Riley fills out the roster.

Jared Sullinger – 24 years old – Unrestricted FA (Rescinded Qualifying Offer from Boston)

Signed with Toronto Raptors for 1 year, $6 million

Reaction: This fall, Sully will check into a slightly unorthodox kind of rehabilitation center. It’s called the Air Canada Centre, and the rehab will be all ball, no rest, if it works. After a rookie contract dotted with weight concerns and ill-fated three-point upchucks, Sullinger can now work to give the Raptors the frontcourt depth they’ve been missing since this core came together. He defends, scores and rebounds well enough to play both big man positions well enough and will allow coach Dwane Casey to throw together some more creative lineups than he has been able to in years past; a potential one-year bargain if it works out.