Grading The Biggest Free Agents Signings of the 2018 NBA Off-Season

By: Ben Meyerson

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GettyImages-940293500.jpgvia Slam Magazine

This was a move that almost everyone knew and saw coming. The Cavaliers have not been able to put a good enough team around him and are depleted of cap space, LeBron had no chance to win with that team. In Los Angeles there is a lot to offer as far as off the court business ventures and being able to spend more time with his family as his kids are going to school there next year. As far as on the court this team can add a max player next year when guys like Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson and many more are free agents so they can build their team. While they only won 35 games next year this team will be much improved with LeBron, they should be a playoff team next year.

paul_george_marquee_13.jpgvia Sports Illustrated

While he was returning to his team this was a surprise, a year ago the worst kept secret around the league was Paul George wanted to play in LA. The Lakers decided that they would wait it out and try to acquire him as a free agent, that was clearly the wrong decision as he didn’t even take a meeting with them in free agency. Last season OKC took a huge risk trading for Paul George considering that George had 1 year left on his contract and could move on after the season. The risk they took paid off and they now have an All-NBA caliber player one their team alongside the 2016-17 MVP Russell Westbrook. This deal could ultimately lead to a 7 year/$290 million deal so while they are locking in a superstar this is a huge commitment by OKC. While they lost in the first round to an inexperienced Utah team, this was the first year of their team coming together and they should expect to finish as a top 4 playoff seed and lose in the second round this year.

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via NBC Sports 

This is an odd signing that sent NBA twitter in a frenzy and while he is a great player this isn’t a complete victory for the Warriors. The fact is he tore his achilles and he isn’t going to be back until at least December and even then an achilles tear is one of the hardest injuries to comeback from. DeMarcus Cousins is an elite All-NBA player but he is also a locker room nightmare. There are reports that Anthony Davis didn’t want him back as a teammate (according to Sporting News) and the Lakers passed on signing him according to Marc Stein. Since this is a 1 year deal the Warriors won’t be able to sign him to a deal next year since he will be commanding a bigger offer. Also, next year 17 teams will have $20 million or more in cap space and he will get huge offers even if he only plays 20 games. So while he is most likely gone in 2019 this is a low risk deal for the Warriors, they were going to win the NBA title anyways and adding him only gives them more of an advantage.

deandre_jordan_trade_fb.jpgvia Slam Online

Adding DeAndre Jordan is a good move for Dallas and since it is only 1 year it is a low-risk deal. I understand this move for DeAndre Jordan since there wasn’t a huge market this summer for free agents and next summer lots of teams will have cap space. This move is ironic since the last time he was an unrestricted free agent he agreed to a deal with Dallas verbally and then he was convinced by Chris Paul and the rest of the Clippers to stay and went back on the deal. Dallas wants to win now according to Rick Carlisle and with Jordan they will add a great defensive presence. Dallas has a bright future with Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. but with Harrison Barnes and DeAndre Jordan they will win games and they should finish around the 7-10 seed range in the west.

aaron_gordon_returns_to_orlando.jpgvia Sports Illustrated 

The Orlando Magic have been desperate for a star ever since Dwight Howard left in 2011 and while I don’t think Aaron Gordon is a superstar this is a smart move for the Magic. Gordon had career highs in points, rebounds, assists and three-point field goal percentage. There were teams who were very interested in Gordon like Indiana and Los Angeles (Lakers), ultimately even though he was a restricted free agent and the Magic could match any deal he would get it wasn’t necessary. The new contract he signed is very favorable for the Magic at $21 million per year and they could easily trade him if they want to. I don’t see him getting traded any time soon as new coach Steve Clifford and President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman speak highly of his work ethic and have high expectations for him moving forward.  The Magic are still re-buliding and adding Mo Bamba in the front court with Aaron Gordon is an interesting fit. I don’t expect them to make the playoffs next season but they should aim to be much improved under new coach Steve Clifford.

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