NBA free agency is only a few hours old in 2022, even if it feels as if deals have been happening for a month. Of course, a lot of the big dominoes in the league are not free agency related, headlined by Kevin Durant’s trade request, the general mania with the Brooklyn Nets, and lucrative extensions for stars like Nikola Jokic and Devin Booker. Either way, there are still plenty of deals to sift through in the wee hours of June 30.
In this space, we’ll take a glance at seven deals (and kind of an eighth) that provide strong value, even in a world in which free agency doesn’t usually return sparkling value early in the process. Let’s take a look.
It isn’t as if Kyle Anderson earning a two-year deal for slightly less than mid-level money was going to make anyone go crazy, but that’s a great buy for Minnesota. The Wolves add another competent, two-way veteran at a very appropriate cost, and “appropriate cost” is not often a phrase uttered on the first night of free agency. Anderson famously plays at his own pace and that might be a little bit odd in Minnesota for a while, but he’ll figure it out and help the Wolves.
Batum will reportedly stick around L.A. for two years and $22 million, and that is a perfectly solid value for a player of Batum’s stature. For one, he is a versatile defensive piece that can dribble, shoot, and pass. Those players are in sky-high demand and, beyond that, the Clippers just continue to throw money around in admirable fashion. L.A’s depth is preposterous, and the Clippers have done a great job with Batum.
Milwaukee won’t be able to deploy Ingles for a while, as the veteran forward suffered a torn ACL in late January that will keep him sidelined into the 2022-23 season. However, that’s the reason he was actually available for a one-year deal on the taxpayer mid-level, and the Bucks can afford to be patient. Ingles has slipped defensively as he ages, but he is a wily defender that can really shoot, and unlike most of Milwaukee’s supporting pieces, Ingles can also run an effective pick-and-roll. This is a good move for a contender.
The best backup point guard in the NBA remains the best backup point guard in the NBA. Jones certainly could start in some places, but Memphis rightly understands the valuable of stability behind Ja Morant. Jones can play with Morant effectively and, with his aggressive style, Morant might be a player that misses time now and then. It’s a big price tag for his role at $15 million annually, but Jones is worth it and this deal won’t make anything else difficult for the Grizzlies.
Patty Mills and Nic Claxton
Listen, the Nets are in complete chaos. We get it. Kevin Durant wants out. Kyrie Irving is Kyrie Irving. Ben Simmons is Ben Simmons. No one knows how this is going to go. With that said, Brooklyn made good deals with both Mills and Claxton. Mills remains a highly valuable rotational guard on a cheap contract, and he fits anywhere with his shooting and experience. Claxton is now making real money at $10 million annually, but he is a starting-quality center who just turned 23 years old. Both players also offer potential value as matching salary in future trades, and in a vacuum, both moves make sense.
The Rockets didn’t have to find a new deal for Jae’Sean Tate, but it was a good idea to do so. Houston declined a team option in order to set up a three-year deal with Tate, and they picked up a strong value at a total of $22.1 million. Tate isn’t a star by any means, but he is a rugged defender that is productive and worth more than this in a vacuum. He might also be an interesting future trade piece when the Rockets want to kick things into high gear in a year or two.
Two years and $16 million is totally reasonable for Delon Wright. Why, then, is he on this list? Well, Delon Wright makes every team better. He makes winning plays. He does the little things. He can guard three positions. He doesn’t need the ball. He’s also a nice complement to new Wizards point guard Monte Morris, and Wright’s performance in Atlanta’s playoff loss to Miami this year was perhaps a national reminder of his effectiveness.