2022 NBA Free Agency: Least favorite deals so far
The 2022 NBA Free Agency has been underway for just about four days now. After a rather frenetic start, free agency has hit a standstill amid the trade discussions surrounding Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Donovan Mitchell. I did a few of the deals I did like, but now let’s discuss a couple that I haven’t been a fan of:
(Note: I tried to include just deals involving new players signing with new teams, not players re-signing with their respective teams.)
P.J. Tucker, Philadelphia 76ers — three years, $33.2 million
Full disclaimer: Anyone who follows me on social media (don’t recommend it) or has somehow seen my tweets about P.J. Tucker knows the affection I have for P.J. Tucker.
As a Miami Heat fan, he’s on my Mount Rushmore of favorite Heat players since the Big 3 and an absolute joy to watch on a night-to-night basis. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Tucker was the quintessential Miami Heat player and perfectly embodied #HEATCulture™ and what the organization was about.
All that said, I don’t love this deal from Philadelphia’s perspective. And that’s not because I’d rather have him on my favorite team — because I would; I’d happily give him every dollar for a lifetime deal — but it’s a risk for Philadelphia financially.
Burning your full mid-level exception for a 37-year-old offers tremendous risk. That’s especially the case for the Sixers. Miami could’ve offered him a three-year deal for $27 million because they didn’t own his bird rights, but the decision was ultimately out of their hands in the end.
Depending on how much Harden signs for per year, the Sixers — who are hard-capped due to this transaction — will likely be within $10 million of the projected ~$156 million tax apron. They can still get off of Matisse Thybulle ($4.4M), Georges Niang ($3.5M), Furkan Korkmaz ($5.0M) and/or Tobias Harris ($33.6M) at any point during the season to become more financially flexible, so it might not be that big of an issue anyways.
I also worry about how different his offensive upside will be with Philly as opposed to Miami — Erik Spoelstra used him way differently as a screener, hand-off initiator and rim-runner than Houston and Milwaukee. Stationing him in the corner shrinks the floor and limits the team’s offensive upside. Doc Rivers isn’t Spoelstra and vice versa, so I wonder if his role is reverted back to what it used to be. They’re tougher with Tucker, so I’m interested to see how this pans out.
JaVale McGee, Dallas Mavericks — three years, $20.1 million
McGee was a good backup center for Phoenix a season ago, tallying 9.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 15.8 minutes per game — translating to 20.9 points, 15.2 boards and 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes. He was making $5 million per season and will only make approximately $6.5 million this upcoming season. So, it’s doesn’t make a huge difference.
But it makes it hard for me to love this deal for Dallas when they already have an influx of bigs: Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, Davis Bertans and now, Christian Wood. I admittedly don’t have a great feel for what their big rotation will look like, but I presume McGee gets about 10-15 minutes per game. But I feel like Dallas could’ve made a more worthwhile investment with their taxpayer mid-level exception — though it’s not the worst possible deal I’ve ever seen.
McGee, even at 34, is more athletic and offers more rebounding/shot-blocking capabilities than any of their other bigs and is an additional rim-runner (that isn’t Dwight Powell) for Luka Doncic. So, there’s room for upside!
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