It was a pretty quiet Tuesday in the NBA's free-agency period, with talk of possible amnesties, mulled offers and a lockdown wing moving West earning more attention than potential free-agent agreements. ("Agreements," but not completed deals — we again remind you that no contracts can be made official until after the July 10 end of the league's annual moratorium on trades and signings.)
A couple of teams did do yeomen's work in filling out their rosters on Tuesday, though, so let's take a look at their locker-room additions:
• The Golden State Warriors agreed to terms on a three-year deal with free-agent big man Marreese Speights, according to Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Marc J. Spears. ESPN.com's Marc Stein first reported the two sides were closing in on a deal. Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports reported that the Warriors hold a team option on Year 3.
The financial terms of the deal remain unclear. According to Marcus Thompson II of the Bay Area News Group, Golden State's options for adding Speights include working sign-and-trade deals as part of Jarrett Jack's move to the Cleveland Cavaliers (with whom he will sign this week for a reported four years and $25 million) or in exchange for some chunk/combination of the several trade exceptions the Dubs have accumulated in deals that shipped out Jeremy Tyler, Malcolm Lee, Brandon Rush and Richard Jefferson. They could also sign the 6-foot-10, 250-pound forward/center outright using their non-taxpayer midlevel exception, starting at $5.15 million next season; doing so would put him on the books for about $16 million over the course of the deal.
Speights figures to slide into the top reserve big role filled brilliantly last season by Carl Landry and vacated this week when the Purdue product agreed to a four-year, $26 million deal to return to the Sacramento Kings. That won't likely constitute a major drop-off in terms of offense generated in the screen game, as Speights is a legitimate shooter off the pick-and-pop (45.8 percent from midrange last year, per NBA.com's stat tool, and 44.4 percent on spot-up shots, according to Synergy Sports Technology's tracking data). He's grabbed a slightly higher share of available rebounds than Landry throughout his career, providing especially solid work on the offensive glass, and can log time at both the center and power forward spots off the bench, offering some positional versatility behind Andrew Bogut and David Lee for coach Mark Jackson.
Speights is nowhere near as strong a scoring threat as Landry in the post and around the basket, though, and is also a subpar defender whose lack of quickness can be exploited by opposing big men; with the exception of the 2010-11 Philadelphia 76ers, every NBA team on which Speights has played has allowed more (and often significantly more) points per possession with him on the floor than off it. Still, guys who average about 20 points and 10 boards per 36 minutes of floor time don't grow on trees, and if Jackson can mitigate Speights' defensive deficiencies somewhat, he should provide a reasonable facsimile of Landry's production on a shorter deal.
• The Warriors have also agreed to terms with free-agent guard Toney Douglas, according to ESPN New York's Jared Zwerling. It's a one-year deal worth $1.6 million, according to USA TODAY Sports' Sam Amick, and I think that sounds like a pretty solid fit for both team and player.
Douglas spent the 2012-13 season trying to resuscitate his NBA career after completely bottoming out in his third season with the New York Knicks, a disastrous campaign in which he was forced, thanks to the pre-season amnesty of Chauncey Billups that enabled New York to sign Tyson Chandler, to start at the point and man the controls of Mike D'Antoni's spread pick-and-roll offense. This, to put it mildly, is not a role for which Douglas was suited; before long, an avalanche of stalled drives, missed passes and turnovers had completely swallowed his confidence, short-circuiting his perimeter shot and even submarining the dogged defense that had been his calling card since his days in the ACC. He found himself buried, first behind an ascendant Jeremy Lin, and then, under Mike Woodson's management and with Lin injured, behind veterans Baron Davis and Mike Bibby, hoping for changes of scenery and fortune.
He got both last summer when New York sent him to the Houston Rockets with Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan and two future second-round draft choices for Marcus Camby; freed from the responsibility of serving as his team's primary shot creator, Douglas began to look like an NBA player again, hitting outside jumpers and curbing his turnovers a bit while getting some of the defensive bulldog back. The bounce-back ramped up after Daryl Morey flipped Douglas to Sacramento as part of the pre-trade deadline Thomas Robinson deal — in 22 games in California, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Florida State product shot just under 39 percent from 3-point range, got his assist-to-turnover ratio up above 2-to-1 for the first time in a couple of seasons, and showed an ability to capably defend both point guards and smaller shooting guards with his quick feet and active hands.
Douglas is a definite downgrade from Jack as an offensive facilitator and midrange shot-maker, but he's a legitimate long-range shooter (37.9 percent from 3-point range in the three combined seasons that weren't the one from hell) and a much better defender than Jack, who — along with Klay Thompson and new import Andre Iguodala — will help keep Stephen Curry clear of just about any opponent's tougher backcourt covers. The one-year deal gives Douglas a chance to prove that he's back from the depths of two seasons ago and worth a longer look for a good team next offseason, and given how many other players on the Warriors can create shots and initiate offense, being able to get Douglas at a discount off last year's $2.07 million price tag to be a 3-and-D contributor for 15 or so minutes a game seems like another strong move for the Warriors.
• The Warriors rounded out their troika of moves by agreeing to terms with free-agent center Jermaine O'Neal, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein. It's a one-year, $2 million contract, according to Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com.
With rising sophomore center Festus Ezeli sidelined for six to nine months after undergoing right knee surgery last month, Golden State needed to add depth in the middle behind Bogut. The Speights signing helps provide that, but O'Neal's a superior defender, rim protector and perhaps even defensive rebounder, even as he nears age 35 and 29,000 NBA minutes spread over 17 years.
The Phoenix Suns were heinous with or without O'Neal on the floor last season, but gave up about four fewer points per 100 possessions when he played, according to NBA.com's stat tool. He remained a legitimate post defender, allowing the league's 14th-lowest number of points per post-up defended, according to Synergy, and continued to make life difficult at the tin, swatting shots on 5.7 percent of opponents' possessions, which would have been a top-five mark had he played enough minutes to qualify. (Remember how I said Jackson will need to find ways to help mask Speights' defensive deficiencies? This could be one.)
There is, of course, some irony in importing a creaky 35-year-old who hasn't played more than 55 games in three years as insurance for the creaky 28-year-old who hasn't played more than 65 games in three years. In terms of stopgaps to ride herd on Speights and hold the fort until Ezeli's ready to take back primary backup duties, though, it's a nice, cost-effective pickup that probably just about finishes up what appears to have been a very successful offseason for a Warriors team on the rise.
• Free-agent guard Will Bynum agreed to a two-year deal to return to the Detroit Pistons, according to his agent, Mark Bartelstein (via multiple reports). He'll earn $5.75 million over the course of the contract, according to Amick.
Bynum's found a niche in Detroit as an instant-offense playmaker off the bounce, especially in the pick-and-roll game, where he finished 2012-13 ranked 30th in the NBA in points produced per possession used as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, according to Synergy. At just under 6 feet tall, Bynum's lack of size helps him hide behind screeners (especially massive ones like Andre Drummond) in search of creases and driving lanes in the defense, and his speed, quickness and explosiveness helps him exploit those openings en route to the rim.
He's not a reliable heavy-minutes lead guard, due in part to the lack of size making him a defensive liability and his inability to provide reliable floor-spacing — Bynum's shot a just-below-league-average 38 percent from midrange and a well-below-league-average 27.1 percent from 3-point land in his five years in Detroit. But with the Pistons, for better or for worse, looking likely to once again rely on the Brandon Knight-Rodney Stuckey combo to handle the ball after Jose Calderon flew south to Dallas, Maurice Cheeks probably won't look for the 30-year-old Bynum to do much more than come off the bench for four to five minutes a quarter and just attack, attack, attack. In that role, anyone who can average just south of 19 points and seven assists per 36 minutes is worth a look, especially if he can get bigs like Drummond and Greg Monroe kickstarted.
I'm not wild about the dollar amount — yes, the figures reported are a pay-cut from the $3.25 million he made last season, but it still feels like a little much for a backup point guard on a fringe-y (at best) team. Still, it's probably a fair-enough value for the offensive contribution he provides and might still be a low enough number to keep Bynum a movable asset should a contender in search of a mini-Microwave come calling.
• Italian League MVP Luigi "Gigi" Datome — a 6-foot-8-inch, 220-pound small forward who has spent the last five seasons with Serie A club Virtus Roma — announced on his Facebook page that he'll join the Detroit Pistons this season. Datome had reportedly received a one-year, $900,000 offer from the Grizzlies, but Joe Dumars and company topped that with a two-year, $3.5 million deal for the Italian's services, according to Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski.
Luigi Datome attacks the basket. (Arturo Presotto/Iguana Press/Getty Images)
I have decided to become a player for the Detroit Pistons. I think it may be the right place for me to make a quantum leap in my career and to fulfill the dream of a lifetime. I am very excited to join the group of players in Detroit. I want to thank my family, [Virtus Roma team] president [Claudio] Toti, all Virtus Roma and its fans for their continued support and wish Virtus the best for the future.
How gifted a shooter Datome is depends on who you talk to, apparently. A DraftExpress scouting report (from four years ago, to be fair) references his "very smooth" form and calls him a "very solid catch and shoot option," and an estimate of more recent vintage from MLive.com's David Mayo says multiple NBA teams "considered [Datome] the top free agent in Europe this year." A scout quoted by Chris Herrington of the Memphis Flyer, on the other hand, projected Datome "as a 'replacement level' player [who] seems to be something of 'an Italian Austin Daye,'" which I'm guessing isn't the most thrilling thing Pistons fans have ever heard.
The truth may fall somewhere in the middle — we know that Datome shot 39.4 percent from deep in leading Virtus Roma to the Serie A finals this season, and that he hit at a 43.2 percent clip last season, and that several pretty well-regarded front offices (with the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets joining Boston and Memphis) reportedly expressed at least some interest in the Italian's services. If nothing else, it sounds like Kyle Singler's going to have some competition for minutes as Detroit's resident floor-spacing small forward alongside the Monroe-Drummond-Josh Smith troika up front.
- Sports & Recreation
- Golden State Warriors
- Marreese Speights
- Toney Douglas