NBA Free Agency Grades: Best Deals of Thursday and Friday

NBA Free Agency Grades: Best Deals of Thursday and Friday

This article is part of our NBA Offseason series.

The onset of free agency has been filled with a flurry of signings and trades. Numerous players ranging from Nikola Jokic to Zach LaVine to Darius Garland have signed massive extensions. Other players such as Kevon Looney, Mitchell Robinson and Chris Boucher have signed pacts to remain with Golden State, New York and Toronto, respectively There have also been plenty of changes around the league. 

The following grades feature the best free-agency retainments and re-signings from a team and fantasy perspective.

Gary Payton signs with Trail Blazers – A+

3 years, $28M

The 29-year-old Payton graded as a top-five defender in the league last season based on real-adjusted plus-minus. Per 36 minutes, Payton averaged 14.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game. He's the perfect player to shift the defensive burden away from Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons.

However, it's not an ideal fantasy landing spot for Payton. On 1.5 3PA per game, Payton knocked down 36.3 percent across 81 games with the Warriors. Given his two-way ability, he could've been unleashed somewhere. Nonetheless, his only true wing competition is Josh Hart and Nassir Little. Perhaps Shaedon Sharpe gets more involved down the stretch. Still, Payton is due for his best statistical season yet. He averaged 17.6 minutes per game for the Warriors last season.

Jalen Brunson signs with Knicks – A

4 years, $104M

Brunson averaged 20.4 points, 7.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds in 17 games without Luka Doncic in 2021-22. He's accountable for similarly

The onset of free agency has been filled with a flurry of signings and trades. Numerous players ranging from Nikola Jokic to Zach LaVine to Darius Garland have signed massive extensions. Other players such as Kevon Looney, Mitchell Robinson and Chris Boucher have signed pacts to remain with Golden State, New York and Toronto, respectively There have also been plenty of changes around the league. 

The following grades feature the best free-agency retainments and re-signings from a team and fantasy perspective.

Gary Payton signs with Trail Blazers – A+

3 years, $28M

The 29-year-old Payton graded as a top-five defender in the league last season based on real-adjusted plus-minus. Per 36 minutes, Payton averaged 14.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game. He's the perfect player to shift the defensive burden away from Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons.

However, it's not an ideal fantasy landing spot for Payton. On 1.5 3PA per game, Payton knocked down 36.3 percent across 81 games with the Warriors. Given his two-way ability, he could've been unleashed somewhere. Nonetheless, his only true wing competition is Josh Hart and Nassir Little. Perhaps Shaedon Sharpe gets more involved down the stretch. Still, Payton is due for his best statistical season yet. He averaged 17.6 minutes per game for the Warriors last season.

Jalen Brunson signs with Knicks – A

4 years, $104M

Brunson averaged 20.4 points, 7.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds in 17 games without Luka Doncic in 2021-22. He's accountable for similarly awesome numbers in New York. Immanuel Quickley is the incumbent, ascending young guard on the roster. Quickley and Evan Fournier are quality shooters, setting the stage for sustained assist numbers for Brunson. The propensity of RJ Barrett and Julius Randle to dictate the offense is lessened, although both will need the ball to operate. Fortunately, Brunson can specialize as an off-ball asset.

Defensively, the backcourt will have troubles. Undersized and with limited wing defenders to back them up, the Knicks ranking as the second-slowest pace in the league limits opponent possessions and fits Brunson's niche. The slowest pace in the league last season? Dallas.

Isaiah Hartenstein signs with Knicks – A

2 years, $17M

Hartenstein is an underrated contributor on both ends of the court. He's less of a rim-dwelling presence than Mitchell Robinson, but a similarly hulking interior force. At 24 years old, Hartenstein is a candidate to continue developing his three-point shooting as well. Last season marked his first campaign attempting double-digit threes (30). Hartenstein knocked down 46.7 percent.

The timeshare between Hartenstein and $60 million man, Mitchell Robinson, will be worth monitoring, but the two-way talent exists for Hartenstein to be a fantasy producer. Across the final 10 games of the season, Hartenstein averaged 11.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.0 steals/blocks in just 23.6 minutes per contest. 

Bobby Portis re-signs with Bucks – A

4 years, $49M

Milwaukee retaining both Pat Connaughton and Portis is huge for the championship-caliber core. Continuity and winning prevail. Portis logged a .479/.393/.752 percent shooting slash last season. Across two campaigns with Milwaukee, Portis has hit 41.8 percent of his threes while attempting 3.6 per game. He's a quality rebounder, underrated defender and two-way energizer that is still just 27 years old. Brook Lopez will enter his age-34 season and Portis supplies skills or size that fresh faces Joe Ingles and Marjon Beauchamp don't. His path to playing time is encouraging.

Donte DiVincenzo joins reigning champs – A

2 years, $9.3M

Golden State has been stripped of its championship-anchoring second unit. With Gary Payton, Otto Porter, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Nemanja Bjelica all contracted elsewhere and Andre Iguodala potentially retiring, DiVincenzo could be an impact player in the Warriors rotation. He's a bargain at this price – a luxury for Golden State, earned by being a dynasty. 

A quality defender, DiVincenzo is gritty enough to play in three-guard lineups. After battling ankle injuries in Milwaukee, DiVincenzo bounced back in Sacramento. Across the final 20 games of the season, he averaged 11.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 27.5 minutes per contest. He connected on 39.8 percent of his threes over that span.

Victor Oladipo re-ups with Heat – A

1 year, $11M

Oladipo averaged 11.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 23 games across the 2022 regular-season and playoffs. He connected on 47.9 percent of his shots and 41.7 percent of his threes, while attempting 9.1 and 4.5 per game, respectively. While impressive, a full bounce-back campaign is on tap to solidify Oladipo's rebuilt value on the market. 

His athleticism and abilities to self-create are huge for Miami. The price is fair. Miami's backcourt remains crowded, but Oladipo is likely to command a share that's worthy of fantasy roster spots down the stretch. If injury strikes, his upside is sizable.

P.J. Tucker signs with 76ers – B

3 years, $33M

It's an overpay out of necessity – few defend 3-5 with elite floor-spacing abilities like Tucker. 

Freshly 37 years old, Tucker hit a career-high 41.5 percent of his threes over 2.7 attempts per game with Miami last season. 

Tucker will once again step into hefty playing time, but past shareholders of Tucker know that doesn't correlate strongly to fantasy output. He profiles as a decent source of threes and rebounds – although playing alongside Joel Embiid will hurt the latter.

Malik Monk signs with Kings – B

2 years, $19M

Monk joins former Kentucky running mate De'Aaron Fox in Sacramento. Still just 24 years old, Monk blossomed in Los Angeles last season, averaging 13.8 points on a stout 47.3/39.1/79.5 percent shooting slash. He's an excellent young player in line for another raise two years from now. 

Scoring and threes are his game categorically. With Fox and Davion Mitchell being ball-dominant, Monk isn't likely to grow as a facilitator. Additionally, Kevin Huerter was recently acquired by Sacramento. The cast of offensive-minded guards on the Kings is deep. Nonetheless, Monk can boom any given night and he's more versatile than Huerter. Similar production to 2021-22 with the Lakers is realistic.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Henry Weinberg
Henry is a sports writer and analyst, specializing in NBA analysis, CBB coverage and draft prep. He's a freelance scout, passionate baseball fan, elite fantasy football player and former Butler Bulldog.
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