In a wild NBA spending spree, these 10 free agents were actually a bargain
If ever there were a time when multimillionaires could be called underpaid, this is it
As soon as free agency officially started on July 1, the floodgates -- thanks to a $24 billion TV deal that raised the salary cap more than $20 million -- burst wide open and even mediocre players were receiving deals that had never been seen in the history of the league. Timofey Mozgov, who more or less didn't even play in the playoffs for the Cavs, somehow became one of the richest centers in the NBA, while Evan Turner got a massive $70 million deal from the Blazers and Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, who's never even been an All-Star, became the owner of the largest contract in NBA history at $153 million.
All of this is to say, it was pretty tough to find a bargain in this market. But for various reasons, they were out there. Here are 10 players who were actually underpaid this summer:
1. Jeremy Lin, Brooklyn Nets: Seeking a starting role and wanting to reunite with coach Kenny Atkinson, Jeremy Lin chose to sign with the Nets, despite being recruited by a number of other teams. Lin also likely could've gotten more money yet he agreed to a three-year, $36 million contract with the Nets. This is less than what the Bucks paid Matthew Dellavedova, who will continue to be a backup in Milwaukee.
Brooklyn also gets tremendous value from Lin, both from a basketball standpoint and a marketing one. Lin's popularity internationally and in the U.S. allows the Nets to instantly make him the public face of the franchise and guarantees them a huge windfall with merchandizing.
2. Festus Ezeli, Portland Trail Blazers: While teams threw big deals at a number of free agent centers, the Blazers waited patiently and once the market settled a bit, they were able to sign Festus Ezeli to a more than reasonable, two-year, $15 million deal. Ezeli's contract also has a team option in Year 2, so if he doesn't work out or if injuries become a concern, the Blazers can move on rather quickly.
The market for Ezeli may have soured after his poor Finals appearance and mid-season knee surgery yet if he is healthy, he should be a nice fit in Portland as he provides rim protection, rebounding and some interior scoring. And at just a two-year, $15 million deal, the Blazers may have gotten one of the steals of free agency with Ezeli.
3. Mirza Teletovic, Milwaukee Bucks: Teletovic is not a big name but the Bucks got a very solid player on a reasonable three-year, $30 million deal. This was less than the Pistons paid for backup big man Jon Leur and way less than what the Pelicans paid for the largely unproven Solomon Hill.
Also notable, Teletovic wanted to come to Milwaukee, which despite landing Greg Monroe last season is still not a free agent destination. For Teletovic, Milwaukee presented him with the opportunity to have a fairly sizable role in the rotation while also reuniting with Jason Kidd, who he played for in Brooklyn. But besides Teletovic's familiarity with Kidd, the Bucks have a definite need for his shooting (42.7 percent and 39.3 percent from three) and he should help stretch the floor in Milwaukee.
4. Langston Galloway, New Orleans Pelicans: With the Knicks bringing in Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings, Galloway became expendable and he didn't last long as the Pelicans quickly swooped in and offered him a two-year, $10 million deal. Not eye popping numbers by any stretch, let alone in this market, but the Pelicans should get tremendous value for Galloway, whose versatility and motor should make him a great fit in New Orleans.
Of course there wasn't much of a market for Galloway, as he is still a largely unproven NBA player. But in his short tenure with the Knicks, Galloway showed that he could be a reliable combo-guard off the bench, capable of running the second unit or playing off the ball while showing tenacity on defense. When you look at similarly unproven backup guard Tyler Johnson getting $50 million in Miami, Galloway looks to be vastly underpaid in New Orleans.
5. Brandon Jennings, New York Knicks: After splitting time between the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic last season, the aforementioned Jennings will get a shot at resurrecting his once promising career in New York. And he will be doing it on the cheap, as he agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal with the Knicks.
For the Knicks, Jennings gives them playmaking and scoring off their bench. Plus, if Jennings doesn't work out this will only be a one-year experiment. Jennings is basically a year removed from playing at a high level before suffering a devastating Achilles injury, and if he can approximate anything close to that level of play the Knicks are getting quite the value.
6. Marreese Speights, Los Angeles Clippers: It is pretty wild that with all of the money being spent in free agency, Speights agreed to a one-year, veteran's minimum deal with the Clippers. Speights is 28 years old and is still a productive player, at times even carrying a bench unit on the offensive end for stretches. Seems like he could've gotten more, but perhaps Speights just really wanted to be in Los Angeles and play for Doc Rivers.
Last season Speights averaged 7.1 points while shooting 43.2 percent and 38.7 from three. He has some defensive issues for sure, but he should be a fine, on-the-cheap replacement for Cole Aldrich in L.A.
7. Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets: Let's be clear, Williams is making a significant amount of money after agreeing to a four-year, $54.5 million deal to re-sign with the Hornets. But Williams was being courted by a number of other teams and he took less to stay in Charlotte, agreeing to the "Early Bird" exception which cost him some money but allowed the Hornets to fill out their roster with Roy Hibbert and Ramon Sessions.
Williams has really settled in since joining the Hornets in 2014, expertly playing his role as a stretch four. His free-agent decision shows that Williams clearly valued the role he has in Charlotte and playing for coach Steve Clifford, and the Hornets are definitely happy with this deal.
8. Jared Sullinger, Toronto Raptors: Sullinger believed he would get a large deal this summer and he was wrong. The Celtics didn't want to re-sign him and nobody else truly pursued him, so Sullinger had to accept a one-year, $5.6 million deal with the Raptors.
This is an excellent value, low-risk signing by the Raptors, though, as Sullinger is an upgrade over Luis Scola and should help Toronto on the boards, and if he doesn't work out, the Raptors can move on after a year. If Sullinger does excel in his role, the Raptors will have a rotational big on the cheap.
9. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs: Similar to Williams, Ginobili reportedly turned down "a very serious, big offer" to stay where he's comfortable. Ginobili's production has been on a noticeable decline over the last several seasons, but the fact that another team wanted to pay him handsomely shows that he is still a valued player.
The details of Ginobili's contract with the Spurs have still not been reported but according to his agent, it will likely be a one-year deal. He will still help the Spurs win games.
10. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks: For the umpteenth time in his career, Nowitzki took less money than he could have gotten on the open market to re-sign with the Mavs. Loyalty and comfort have been key for Nowitzki whenever he's become a free agent and yet again, he chose to take a discount to stay in Dallas. Nowitzki's decision allows Dallas to keep their cap space relatively fluid and helped the Mavs with the acquisition of Andrew Bogut, the signing of Harrison Barnes and the re-signing of Deron Williams and Dwight Powell.
As the franchise star in Dallas, Nowitzki has every right to ask for a larger deal but for him, money is not as important as the relationship he has with the Mavs, so once again he will play for less than his market value.
CBS Sports HQ Daily Newsletter
Get the best highlights and stories - yeah, just the good stuff handpicked by our team to start your day.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news.
There was an error processing your subscription.
The NBA handed out their regular season awards on Monday night
The Lakers owner commented on Magic Johnson's exit and Rob Pelinka's role as general manag...
The Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo took home the 2018-19 NBA MVP award
Gobert is the 10th player in league history to win the award multiple times
Mike Budenholzer led the Milwaukee Bucks to the best record in the NBA
This is the second straight season that Williams has been named 6MOY