The NBA offseason had its biggest day on Friday, with numerous free agents finding destinations. Of course, much of the league (and everyone else) waited in anticipation on the decision of Dwight Howard, and the ensuing dominos that would fall. If your head was spinning after a long day keeping up with all the news on Twitter, here is a recap of the action, and the fantasy ramifications.
(Reminder: none of these deals are official until July 10th, when the free agency moratorium ends).
Dwight Howard: Unsurprisingly, Howard had the basketball world on pins and needles for most of Friday. In the end, he picked the Houston Rockets (agreeing to a four-year, $88 million deal), becoming the most high-profile player to ever choose against re-signing with the storied Lakers.
Public relations issues aside, this was probably the right move for Howard from a basketball perspective. Despite spending the season recovering from back surgery, adjusting to a new system, environment, and (oft-injured) teammates, Howard was still a good fantasy player, averaging 17.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 57.8 FG|PERCENT|, and 2.4 BPG, although his 49.2 FT|PERCENT| hurt his value. He accomplished this, no less, in a system which clearly did not ideally fit his game, as he averaged only 10.7 FGA per game, and his Usage Percentage of 22.2 was his lowest since 2005-06.
In Houston, he should be better, and resemble the dominating force he was from 2008-12, when he averaged 20.6 PPG and 14.0 RPG. Howard is now in a place where the system will, for the most part, run through him, with James Harden balancing the offense. Head coach Kevin McHale will surely cater his offense to Howard (and hopefully teach him some moves). Clearly, McHale would like to play more inside-out, which was impossible with the offensively-limited Omer Asik at center, and Dwight will receive more post touches. Houston still needs more shooters, but with (seemingly) impending trades of Asik and maybe Jeremy Lin, they have an opportunity to fill that void.
Last year, Houston played one of the most up-tempo styles in the league, finishing second in the NBA in scoring. Howard has always thrived in transition, although that was not on display last year as he was limited athletically and played on a slow team. Now, depending on his back, those issues should be resolved and he should get many more easy buckets, which is crucial for a big man without dominating post moves.
Andre Iguodala: In the second-biggest move of the day, Golden State agreed to terms with Iguodala on a four-year, $48 million deal. Iggy has long been able to fill-up a box score, but his shooting percentages have always hindered his fantasy value. However, he is one of the most durable players in the sport, and since 2004-05, ranks second (after Dwight and ahead of LeBron) in games started. His scoring dropped a bit last year to 13 PPG, but he remains one of the more creative playmakers in the league for his size, dishing out 5.4 APG and grabbing 5.3 RPG. Also an elite defender, he has notched 1.7 SPG for his career. Iggy should fit nicely with the Dubs, where scoring will not be his priority. But, with plenty of transition opportunities and talent around him, he should be able to get points anyway, and could become a more efficient scorer, potentially improving his field goal percentage and fantasy value.
Paul Millsap: Apparently moving on from Josh Smith, the Hawks were able to find a solid replacement in Millsap, at the bargain of two years, $19 million. Millsap has been a steady contributor for the Jazz, averaging 14.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 51.7 FG|PERCENT| over his last five seasons. Millsap is also experienced playing alongside another big man, so he should fit right in with Al Horford. Expect Millsap to be a similarly productive player, under the radar, as usual.
O.J. Mayo: Milwaukee snatched up Mayo on a three-year, $24 million deal, and he will have an ideal opportunity to put up big numbers. Since his rookie year, in which he averaged 18.5 PPG and shot 88|PERCENT| from the line, his potential has stalled. Last year in Dallas, Mayo got his best chance to be the focal point of an offense (with Dirk Nowitzki battling injuries), and was decent, notching 15.3 PPG, 4.4 APG, with splits of 45/41/82. Much of his fantasy value will depend on what The Deer decide to do with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, but both are expected to move on this summer. Milwaukee seems to be in the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes, and Mayo will have the freedom to hoist up plenty of shots. He might never be an efficient player (career 43.6 FG|PERCENT|), but he has a chance to put up 20 a night.
Some Other Free Agency Deals:
Dallas agreed to a four-year, $29 million deal with Jose Calderon, who has a chance to begin camp as the starter. Calderon has been an underrated player for years now, with career averages of 10.1 PPG, 7.2 APG, and shooting splits of 48/40/88. He played nicely in Detroit for the 28 games he was there, putting up a True Shooting percentage of 65.4, while averaging 13.2 PPG and 7.5 APG. Under a smart coach in a winning environment, he could be a nice contributor in to fantasy squads. Unless, of course, rookie Shane Larkin is better than advertised (or the rumors of a Rajon Rondo trade come to fruition).
Swingman Matt Barnes re-upped with the Clippers for three-years, $11 million. His value is mostly away from the box score, providing floor-spacing, off-ball cutting, grittiness, and stingy perimeter defense. However, Barnes did average 10.6 PPG with a 15.5 PER last season. He will be backing up newcomer Jared Dudley.
Al-Farouq Aminu agreed to resign with the Pelicans for one-year and $3.7 million. Aminu started 71 games for New Orleans last year, but only contributed 7.3 PPG with poor shooting numbers in 27.2 minutes per game. He did a decent job on the glass (7.7 RPG), and could see a starting gig again this year, depending on what New Orleans decides to do with Tyreke Evans. Either way, Aminu is mostly on the court for his defense and athleticism.
In a sneaky-good move, the Indiana Pacers inked forward Chris Copeland to a two-year, $6.2 million deal, giving Frank Vogel some needed depth. Copeland had some nice moments for the Knicks last year, mostly from three-point range, shooting 42.1|PERCENT| from downtown in his 15.4 minutes per game.
The Bobcats agreed to terms with Josh McRoberts, bringing him back for two-years, $6 million. McRoberts averaged a solid 9.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG on 50.5|PERCENT| shooting in his 26 games for the Cats last year after a midseason trade. With the acquisitions of Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller, though, his minutes could dwindle.
The Hawks signed wing DeMarre Carroll for two years, $5 million. Carroll only averaged 6.0 PPG in 16.8 MPG for Utah last year, and his role will be that of a defensive-minded backup.
Finally, Brooklyn came to terms on a three-year deal with 2011 first-round acquisition Bojan Bogdanovic, who had been playing in Turkey for the past two seasons. He will most likely backup Paul Pierce at small forward.
There were also a couple reported trades on Friday, although the fantasy impact should be rather insignificant.
In order to clear cap space for Iguodala, Golden State unloaded the expiring contracts of Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, and Brandon Rush (and multiple draft picks) onto Utah. In return for taking on the $24 million in salary, Utah sent back Kevin Murphy, a shooting guard who played just 17 games last year. It?s likely that no one in this deal with be too impactful in fantasy, especially considering Rush is recovering from a torn ACL.
Houston also ended a stressful, disappointing year with 2012 first-round pick Royce White, who never made an appearance for the Rockets, by shipping him to Philadelphia in exchange for future draft considerations. White is a talented, versatile forward, but his anxiety issues leave his status unclear for next season.
As usual, the drama in the Association never seems to end.