Steals, sleepers of NBA free agency: Gay, Patterson among the best bargain signings

In literal terms, superstars always are the best bargains of free agency. If there were no such thing as a maximum contract, Stephen Curry would have been offered a deal much richer than the five-year, $201 million contract he signed at the beginning of free agency. Franchise players aside, plenty of free agents have signed team-friendly deals this summer, partially because the market wasn't as wild as last year and partially because compromises were made to join winning teams. Here are 10 of the best signings:

Patrick Patterson F / Oklahoma City (Three years, $16 million with third year player option)

The dude just makes teams better. In a league that increasingly values versatility, two-way play and basketball IQ, it is stunning that Patterson took a smaller salary than he did when he re-signed with the Toronto Raptors three years ago. The Oklahoma City Thunder will love his defense, screen setting and floor spacing, and he finally will be a full-time starter. Maybe the rest of the league was scared by his poor shooting in the playoffs or the knee trouble he dealt with during the regular season. 

C.J. Miles F / Toronto (Three years, $25M with 3rd-year player option to join TOR)

Underrated in Indiana, Miles is one of the league's better 3-and-D guys. He'll immediately become the most consistent shooter Toronto has had on the wing in years, and he comes at about half the price of the man he is replacing, DeMarre Carroll . The Raptors had to lose reserve guard Cory Joseph in the deal, but since the front office was trying to cut costs, this move made perfect sense. Depending on what happens with the rest of the roster, Miles could wind up playing more small-ball four in Toronto, too.

Nene C / Houston (Three years, $11 million)

He's turning 35 in September, but proved he has plenty left in the tank this past season. It's amazing that he can still capably switch onto guards, and his near-perfect offensive performance against the Thunder in the playoffs was just a continuation of his most efficient season since his Denver days. He's not the vertical spacer that Clint Capela is, but his screening and finishing ability will make him a favorite of Chris Paul and James Harden . The Houston Rockets are lucky another contender didn't outbid them.

Shaun Livingston G / Golden St. (Three years, $24 million with $2 million guaranteed in third year)

According to the Bay Area News Group's Marcus Thompson, this was in large part a result of Livingston settling down with his family. About a year ago, he bought a house in the Oakland area, deciding that regardless of what happened in free agency, he'd spend his offseasons there, per the San Francisco Chronicle. Livingston surely could have signed for more than $8 million per season on the open market, but instead quickly chose to stay with the Golden State Warriors , who offer the same comfortable role he's had for the past few years and the opportunity to win more rings. 

Omri Casspi F / Golden St. (One year, $2.1 million to join GS)

This is the sort of bonus that comes along with being arguably the best team ever. Casspi is an eight-year veteran who has never played in the playoffs, and going to Golden State virtually guarantees that unfortunate streak will end. He gives the Warriors yet another shooter with deep range and yet another forward who has the size and quickness to guard multiple positions. This is a fantastic fit, and he'll almost certainly play himself into a raise a year from now.  

Justin Holiday G / Chicago (Two years, $9 million)

Chicago's front office has (rightfully) been slammed this summer, so let's pass along a little credit: Getting a long, smart defender like Holiday at this price is a steal. He will be especially valuable if he regains the shooting form he showed when he played 27 games for the Chicago Bulls at the end of the 2015-16 season. His 3-point percentage dipped to 35.5 percent in New York's triangle offense, though it was encouraging that he shot from distance more frequently than at any point in his career. 

P.J. Tucker F / Houston (Four years, $32 million to join HOU)

The rich get richer again. Toronto reportedly offered Tucker three years and $33 million to stay, but he chose Houston because of the opportunity to play with Paul and Harden. He is capable of guarding four positions, and in Houston he will. Coach Mike D'Antoni surely use him as a smallball four and ask him to spend time checking star guards and wings. Given the amount of other talent on the roster, Tucker should get used to having wide-open looks from 3-point range. 

Andre Roberson G / Oklahoma City (Three years, $30 million)

If defense were valued as much as offense, then Roberson would be making double. I'd be surprised if more than two teams had a better defense than the Thunder next season -- putting him next to Paul George , Patterson and Steven Adams is scary. This was a no-brainer, even though his awful 3-point shooting hurts Oklahoma City's spacing.

Rudy Gay F / San Antonio (Two years, $17 million with player option on second year)

There is obvious risk related to Gay coming off a torn Achilles. Before that injury, he was having the most efficient season of his career. Gay probably expected a bigger contract when he turned down his $14.3 million player option with the Sacramento Kings , but he knew he wanted to go to a winning team. If he is healthy come playoff time, the San Antonio Spurs will have another bucket-getter at a low price. Who thought that Gay would get a smaller contract than his ex-Sacramento teammate Darren Collison ?

Jodie Meeks G / Washington (Two years, $7 million to join WAS)

A 40-percent 3-point shooter at this price? Sign me up, even with his history of foot problems. This allowed Washington to avoid overpaying Bojan Bogdanovic  -- if Meeks is healthy, he's an upgrade on both ends. 

CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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