10 best bargains of NBA free agency

By Vincent Frank
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

NBA teams literally threw billions of dollars at free agents during the first two days that the market was open.

There were some vast overpays. Just as the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks, two teams that found themselves as major losers.

On the other end of the spectrum, teams found some major value on the open market. It’s in this that we look at the 10 best bargains of NBA free agency thus far.

Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic

Acquired from the Toronto Raptors in the Serge Ibaka trade during the 2016-17 season, Ross has morphed into a core piece for a playoff contending Magic squad. Last season saw him average 15.1 points on 38 percent shooting from distance as one of the top reserves in the NBA. This ultimately netted Ross a mere four-year, $54 million contract with Orlando. During a free agency period that has seen the likes of Ricky Rubio net $17 million annually, this represented a major steal.

Jeremy Lamb, Indiana Pacers

The Pacers did some major work during the early stages of free agency, adding both Lamb and former Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon to a talented young core. Though, it’s the signing of Lamb to a three-year, $31 million deal that has to be seen as a major bargain. The former Houston Rockets first-round pick averaged a career-best 15.3 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 35 percent from distance with the Hornets last season. He can be the starting two-guard next to Brogdon before Victor Oladipo returns from injury. Again, this was a major steal.

Seth Curry, Dallas Mavericks

While some teams were holding out hope that Curry might be had for the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.6 million), he priced himself out of that market. The former Duke and G-League star shot a ridiculous 45 percent from three-point range with Portland last season and was the team’s best bench player during a postseason run to the Western Conference Finals. This ultimately netted Curry a four-year, $32 million deal with his former Mavs team. Given how the market has played out, this represents one of the biggest bargains of NBA free agency.

Rodney Hood, Portland Trail Blazers

Right there with Curry as a stellar bench option for Portland last season, it seemed reasonable to conclude that Hood would net north of $13 million on the open market. Instead, he took just $16 million over two seasons to re-sign with Portland. That’s less than the full mid-level exception. Still only 26 years old, Hood is just now entering his prime. Given that he shot 36 percent from distance and averaged north of 11 points per game in 2018-19, Portland made out like a bandit here.

DeAndre Jordan, Brooklyn Nets

It sure seemed to help that both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant took less than the max to help their best bud join the NBA’s latest super team. Even then, Jordan netting just $10 million annually over four seasons is a major steal for the Nets. While Jordan’s game has fallen off some recently, he’s still among the best defensive bigs in the game. Here’s a dude that has put up north of 11 rebounds per game each of the past seven seasons, including averaging 3.5 offensive boards per game. That’s going to be huge for the Nets.

Kevon Looney, Golden State Warriors

Following the acquisition of D’Angelo Russell in a shocking sign-and-trade with Brooklyn, these Warriors were up against the hard cap. That’s magnified by the fact that they traded former NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala in a cash dump. This seemed to suggest that a vastly improved Kevon Looney was next out the door. Instead, he signed a mere three-year, $15 million contract to be Golden State’s starting center moving forward. As tough as they come, Looney has morphed into a talented young big with mid-range ability and elite-level traits on defense. At $5 million annually, this was a massive score for the retooled Dubs.

Derrick Rose, Detroit Pistons

Rose might be a shell of his former MVP self. Even then, the veteran has turned around what was an injury-derailed career. The 30-year-old point guard averaged 18.0 points and 4.3 assists while shooting 48 percent from the field for Minnesota last season. These represented Rose’s best numbers since his MVP season of 2010-11. All of this netted him a mere two-year, $15 million deal with the Pistons. Given Reggie Jackson’s struggles at the point, we would not be surprised if Rose landed the starting job. If so, $7.5 million annually is a major steal for the Pistons.

J.J. Redick, New Orleans Pelicans

One of his generation’s best three-point shooters, Redick is coming off a two-year span in Philadelphia that saw him earn north of $35 million. Most figured he was in line for a similar pay day during what has been a robust market for shooters. That did not happen. Redick scored a two-year, $26.5 million deal from a retooled Pelicans squad. This comes with him having shot 40-plus percent from distance in each of the past seven seasons. Redick is also a tremendous fit with youngsters Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball in Nola. What a signing for new Pelicans general manager David Griffin.

Patrick Beverley, Los Angeles Clippers

Beverley’s tremendous backstory notwithstanding, we were surprised to learn that he decided to re-up with Los Angeles at just $40 million over three seasons. A two-time All-NBA Defensive Team performer, Beverley has actually morphed into a solid performer on the other end of the court. He’s shot better than 38 percent from distance each of the past four seasons. Those are some solid numbers for a defense-first guy. His veteran leadership is also going to help young guards Landry Shamet and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Enes Kanter, Boston Celtics

Kanter might believe he got the raw end of the deal in Portland. His former teammate, Damian Lillard, might disagree. No matter what the truth is behind the scenes, we can say that Boston landed a solid replacement for Al Horford on the cheap. Kanter signed a mere two-year, $9.75 million deal with Boston. Still only 27 years old, he averaged 13.7 points and 9.8 rebounds last season. Sure he’s a defensive liability, but paying less than $5 million per season for a starter-caliber center is a steal in today’s market.