Top 7 Signings of First 7 Days of NBA Free Agency
Top 7 Signings in First Week of Free Agency
A minute after midnight tonight marks one week since free agency opened for the NBA's 2013 offseason. Already we've seen big names commit to different teams than they were on the previous year, and that's exactly what this slideshow is going to be about.
It's easy to just pick the top seven players who were free agents this time around, but there are certain qualifications to making this list. The first is that they must have signed with a new team. Re-signings do not count here, which means no Ray Allen, Miami Heat fans. Also, sign-and-trades do not count, sorry to Los Angeles Clippers fans who wanted to see J.J. Redick. Only outright signings that transfer one player to a new team will be in this group. Lastly, this list will only include players who help their team get to the playoffs this season. And that means both if the team made it last season or did not, that doesn't matter.
See, it's not only a list of good free agent signings, it's one of players that can help the team improve the most in areas they needed to in order to make themselves more viable contenders. Because of that, I do apologize to Charlotte Bobcats fans as Al Jefferson -- though the third or fourth best player in free agency this year -- did not make the list. Even with him, they'll be lucky to win 35 games this year.
So, now that all of the rules are set, let's get to it.
7. Jose Calderon, Dallas Mavericks
Jose Calderon hasn't really ever played for a playoff contender. Sure, there were a couple of decent years with the Toronto Raptors, but they were never expected to make any noise in the postseason. Now that he's signed a four-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks, that has potential to change. He gets to team up with Dirk Nowitzki and co. to make that possible. There's even rumors that Andrew Bynum could land in Big D. The Mavs get a very good point guard in Calderon, who knows how to set up the offense and get guys the ball at the right time better than Darren Collison or Rodrigue Beaubois from a year ago.
6. Chris Copeland, Indiana Pacers
It was only about a month ago that the Indiana Pacers were a game away from stealing the series from the Miami Heat and advancing to the NBA Finals. One thing they certainly struggled to do consistently was shoot from beyond the arc and spread the floor for guys like Paul George, Roy Hibbert and David West. Chris Copeland gives them a reliable option to provide just that.
Copeland, a 28-year-old rookie last year for the New York Knicks, shot 42 percent from deep in 15.4 minutes per game during the regular season, and 47.8 percent from range in 10.3 minutes per game in the postseason. Even though he saw less minutes in the playoffs, that was mostly at the fault of Knicks coach Mike Woodson, who was criticized pretty heavily for not using him much early in their two-round playoff stint. Copeland will likely get more opportunity this year for the Pacers, especially if they end up trading Danny Granger at some point.
5. Kevin Martin, Minnesota Timberwolves
That's right, the Minnesota Timbewolves are going to the playoffs this year, even in a very tough Western Conference. With point guard Ricky Rubio and power forward Kevin Love at full strength, they have a real shot at making the postseason, and Kevin Martin is going to be a big part of that. He'll likely start at shooting guard for them, and we've seen him have plenty of success in that role in past years for the Sacremento Kings and Houston Rockets. If Martin can score 20 a game for the 'Wolves, that will go a long way for them winning enough games to make the playoffs as the seventh or eighth seed.
4. Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks
With Josh Smith not re-signing with them, the Atlanta Hawks knew their biggest priority would be finding a big man to replace him. They did just that by signing former-Utah Jazz four-man Paul Millsap. He's a very efficient forward, and pairing him with center Al Horford should be a great move as they're both technically-sound big men.
At this point, it looks like the starting lineup next year for the Hawks will be Jeff Teague, Lou Williams, Kyle Korver, Millsap and Horford, but their is interest from the organization in Monta Ellis, which would likely see Williams come off the bench in the role he served for the Philadelphia 76ers two years ago. They should also try to find a better small forward to start over or at least split minutes with Korver, but there just aren't too many options, perhaps Andrei Kirilenko. Nevertheless, this team was good enough last year to make the playoffs as the sixth seed, I expect them to still be able to squeak in this year even with the loss of Smith thanks to Millsap.
3. Josh Smith, Detroit Pistons
Oh yeah, another team that hasn't made the playoffs in years is also going back in the Detroit Pistons. Though a very young team, adding Josh Smith gives them one of the best frontcourts in the league with him, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Now, the Pistons may only be a .500 team this year, but in the East, that should be more than enough to be in contention for the sixth-eighth seeds. I expect Smith to play a lot of the three and the four, which will give the Pistons a big rebounding and rim-defending advantage most nights, which should help them win a good amount of games.
2. Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors
We saw how scary the Golden State Warriors can be a couple months ago as they beat a very good Denver Nuggets team in five games in the first round, and then won two against the San Antonio Spurs before getting knocked out in the second. The potent shooting combo of young phenom-point guard Stephen Curry and shooting guard Klay Thompson is enough to take down any team when they're hot. Adding a player like Andre Iguodala adds a veteran and defensive presence to the team moving forward. Now they can have Harrison Barnes, who is already a very good second-year player, come off the bench and provide valuable minutes at the two and three spot so that Iggy can start at small forward. With a strong starting lineup, and now an improved bench, the Warriors will be even more exciting to watch in 2013-14.
1. Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets
This was obviously going to be No. 1 on the list. Anyway you spin it, Dwight Howard switching teams to anywhere was going to make them strong playoff contenders, especially to a team that has guys like James Harden and Chandler Parsons on the outside that can knock down shots very efficiently. The Houston Rockets are going to be in contention every year during the tenure that Howard and Harden are together, which is going to be at least four years. As long as Howard gets along with everybody -- which there is no guarantee of -- the Rockets will be a formidable presence in the West for that duration.