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Ball Don't Lie

Judging the merits of 11 other NBA free agent agreements

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Josh Smith is going to make *this much* money (Getty Images)

Now that the noise behind Dwight Howard’s massive shift from Los Angeles to Houston has subsided, all manner of free agents both small, middling, and potentially franchise-shifting are bouncing around, agreein' to terms like it’s nobody’s business.

Well, dangit, this is our business. Click the jump to mull over 11 other NBA free agent agreements.

Josh Smith

The positives behind Smith’s agreement with the Detroit Pistons can’t be dismissed. Smith is finally out of Atlanta, and that alone could pay huge dividends for his new team. Coaches like Mike Woodson and Larry Drew weren’t exactly breathing down his neck to tame his shot selection with the Hawks, but it still has to be nice to get away from the only team you’ve ever frustratingly known. How long this honeymoon lasts – 2013-14 could be a career year followed by a horror show in 2014-15 – is up in the air.

The negatives are obvious. Four years and $56 million for a player working through his prime seems fine for someone with Smith’s statline, but Josh is about to become a full-time small forward -- at least for those moments before center Andre Drummond picks up his second foul and has to sit. His stats outside the restricted area (not just the paint, but the circle around the basket) were pitiful last year, and his long two-point shooting is not just annoying, it’s a destructive influence on the outcome of the game.

He can defend his tail off and handled himself reasonably well over the years through All-Star snubs and endless trade rumors, and it’s possible that his less active play (a lot more long jumpers, more passing to cutters) in 2012-13 was in reaction to the obvious Atlanta rebuilding that set in last summer. With Monroe’s contract extension looming and the team’s backcourt still unsettled, tossing nearly all the eggs in Smith’s basket is worrying.

Bottom line: Josh Smith’s talent is worth taking a risk on. That also means this is a risk.

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Carl Landry

Landry signed a four-year, $26 million deal with the Sacramento Kings, and while the Kings won’t be the sinkhole they were under the Maloof twerps, Landry using up his prime years for a rebuilding team doesn’t seem to be the best move for anyone but Landry’s bank account. It’s clear from the Kings’ attempted shot at Andre Iguodala that they don’t appear to consider themselves a rebuilding team, but this squad still has a long way to go.

Carl can really play his tail off, though. Teams are still weirdly scared of his undersized frame, while ignoring the fact that he mixes talent with smarts with doggedness on his way to contributing efficient play for every team he suits up for.

Bottom line: Great player, bad team, so here’s hoping the team’s end of things gets its act together.

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Darren Collison

What a strange, unfortunate case. Three years ago Collison looked like one of the NBA’s next top guards, another UCLA product that was hell bent on flying up and down the court, dishing and scoring with ease. That paint scoring acumen has gone away, for whatever reason, and Collison (and most importantly, Collison’s confidence) hasn’t been able to recover.

You’d think a nice three or four year deal would ease Collison into a sense of placement, but his two year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers has a player option for next year, so it’s very possible that Collison could well be on his way to his fifth team in 50 months next summer.

Bottom line: Potentially a great, depth-providing hire for Los Angeles, but only if Collison reverses his fortunes back in California. Because that’s where you go to do that sort of thing. Unless you’re Dwight Howard or most Steinbeck characters or 99 percent of the would-be entertainers that move to Los Angeles.

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Jarrett Jack after his last game with the Warriors (Getty Images)

Jarrett Jack

This isn’t a shot at the town of Cleveland, but the Golden State Warriors must have really low-balled Jack to force him into agreeing to leave the Warrior locker room, the team’s hoped-for continued playoff appearances, and the Bay Area. The Cavs are an up and comer, but Jack will now be assuming the same role he had last year for a team that has won 66 games over the last three years, for a coach in Mike Brown that likes to slow down the offense and call plays.

Jack turns 30 in the fall, so that makes the four-year, $25 million deal a little dicey a few years down the line. Though the Cavs will improve from here on out by the time they’re ready to make significant hay with Kyrie Irving leading the way, Jack will be past his prime. That’s my main frustration. At the very least, though, Jack will help the Cavaliers remain one of the league’s more exciting League Pass watches.

Bottom line: I’d feel better about this move if Jack were five years younger. Not because of the length of the deal (the Cavs own a team option after three years), but because I’d like to see younger versions of Jack work his way around Irving’s brilliance.

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O.J. Mayo

Securing O.J. Mayo through the first part of his prime – the shooting guard turns 26 in November – is a sound move. A sense of permanence could do Mayo wonders, as he dealt with trades (some agreed to, some backed out of at the last minute) and trade rumors throughout his entire stay in Memphis, and his year spent in Dallas never felt like a lasting engagement. The guy can shoot, and while the average yearly salary of his three-year, $24 million contract might be stretching it, I don’t think $8 million in 2015-16 for 29-year old O.J. Mayo will turn into a terrible thing unless something goes terribly wrong.

What’s gone terribly wrong is the Milwaukee Bucks. Apparently, once again, the team is just fine with shooting for 40 wins, a mark they missed by two in 2012-13 even before losing efficient scorers like Mike Dunleavy and J.J. Redick, and most likely the most inefficient of scorer of all in Monta Ellis. Nobody in the NBA seems to understand what Bucks general manager John Hammond is working his way toward, we just don’t understand why summer after summer he keeps throwing deal after deal at so-so player after so-so player.

Bottom line: Mayo’s a good player, so don’t take your wrath and the stasis of this franchise out on him, Milwaukee.

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Omri Casspi

The onetime Sacramento wunderkind has fallen off of late, which is why the second year of his deal with the Houston Rockets is a team option. It’s possible that the Rockets brought Casspi in to act as a stretch four, but the 25-year old absolutely has to chill on the three-point shot. He’s taken over five per 36 minutes of play over the last three years, while shooting well below the league average.

Bottom line: A good athlete with the potential to make the second half of his 20s a solid run, Casspi could turn this around while finally playing on a good team.

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Paul Millsap's career averages include seven rebounds in just 27.6 minutes per game (Getty Images)

Paul Millsap

Once Dwight Howard passed on signing with Atlanta it became clear that newish GM Danny Ferry was blowing things up a bit, and this is why it was a bit of a surprise to see in-his-prime forward Paul Millsap join the crew. Rebuilding teams need placeholders, I suppose, but it’s hard to see the Hawks guaranteeing much in the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes by handing minutes and shots to a damn good player like Millsap, as he lines up alongside Al Horford down low.

Bottom line: A fantastic fit at a nice, two-year and $19 million price. We just don’t know what Ferry’s endgame is. 40-some wins, again? We’ll see in October, I suppose.

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Dorell Wright

Wright is a good if not a lights out shooter from long-range, and he can get hot and score from all over on his loping moves to the basket. It’s not particularly clear what direction the Portland Trail Blazers are going in with their mix of in-prime guys like Wright and LaMarcus Aldridge alongside all these youngsters, but they’ll be fun to watch.

Bottom line: Even at an increased rate (Wright is only making $6 million over two seasons) this would be a fine move. He’s a good guy to have off your bench, regardless of context.

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Zaza Pachulia

Speaking of confused endgame, I guess Bucks GM John Hammond thinks that a more traditional center needs to go alongside Drew Gooden, Epke Udoh, John Henson, Luc Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, and Larry Sanders. Milwaukee’s spacing might be shot with Pachulia on the floor, and Hammond seemed to bid against himself in giving Zaza a three year deal (for over $15 million), but Bucks gotta Buck, right?

Bottom line: Zaza is 29 and figures to age well, and he can make (or at least shoot) a jumper from the top of the key, but we’re just more confused than anything.

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Devin Harris

Former All-Star Devin Harris is another strange example of a fall-off. His early-20s production was clearly superior to his late-20s production, and he’s looking for a re-boot as he joins the team that traded for him on NBA draft night nine years ago. Now 30, Harris signed a three-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks for $9 million overall. Seems like a suitable pairing for both sides, right?

Kind of. Harris isn’t very good at playing the shooting guard position, which is no fault of his because he’s not an outside shooter, and undersized. That price isn’t terrible for a pure backup point guard (especially if Harris plays the sort of defense we saw down the stretch of 2012-13), but it appears as if the Mavs want him to play mostly at the off guard slot, and that’s far from a suitable pairing.

Bottom line: Even the Mavericks will admit that they are a work in progress, so it’s probably best not to judge this move until the final 2013-14 roster is set.

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Ryan Hollins

Not only is the newest Los Angeles Clipper re-signee a terrible rebounder and position defender, he routinely ranks amongst the worst in the NBA in turnover rate, and his per-minute rate of blocks is nowhere near what you’d like from this ostensible help defender. On top of that, the guy fouls at an alarmingly-high rate, whines about every call, and I was shocked to see that he only had three technical fouls last season. I honestly would have guessed he’d hit double-figures, even in just 663 minutes played.

Bottom line: Why?

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