What do we think of some of the latest offseason moves around the NBA? Our panel of experts breaks them down.
1. Good deal or bad deal: Brandon Jennings to Pistons for 3 years, $24M.
Henry Abbott, ESPN.com: Good deal if Detroit's goal is to improve. Bad deal if its goal is to contend. The Pistons have a chance to be special building around young and talented Andre Drummond. They have cheap, young players that fit that approach perfectly and would, in theory, let Detroit pounce on special free agents and high-value trades over time. But they pounced early and find themselves paying almost $40 million for Jennings, Rodney Stuckey, Josh Smith and Charlie Villanueva combined, which is a lot of outlay for zero franchise saviors.
Dan Feldman, PistonPowered: Good deal. Once the Pistons signed Josh Smith, an expensive move designed to get them into the playoffs this season, it became imperative they upgrade their starting point guard. Hoping Brandon Knight improved, Chauncey Billups still had gas in the tank, Will Bynum could play against starters or Rodney Stuckey suddenly learned the nuance of the position wasn't good enough. Not only did the Pistons get Jennings on the cheap, but they also retroactively made the Smith signing more tenable.
Andrew Han, ClipperBlog: Good (and bad) deal. Statistically, Brandon Jennings clocks in just below Ty Lawson and Jrue Holiday and was compensated accordingly, a reasonable deal for a perfectly reasonable player. But Detroit gave up their own Brandon in the sign-and-trade, Brandon Knight. One has to wonder if trading a former lottery pick a full and lockout season after drafting him for a guard the Bucks seemed to have little interest in retaining was good value.
Michael Pina, Celtics Hub: Good deal. Brandon Jennings is far from an elite point guard, but he's more than capable of steering a mediocre roster toward a 7- or 8-seed in the substandard Eastern Conference. No longer disgruntled (hopefully), Jennings will accompany a talented trio of big men in Detroit, playing on Jeremy Lin's contract instead of max money. It's a modest win-win situation for all involved.
Kyle Weidie, Truth About It: Good deal. The illusions of grandeur of both Jennings and Monta Ellis crashed back to earth, landing on a cushion of reason. Shall we thank the lockout and the collective bargaining agreement for this? Jury's still out on that, but the early verdict is that the Pistons made a safe, but necessary, gamble to give up assets for a still-promising point guard.
2. Good deal or bad deal: Wizards extend John Wall for 5 years, $80M.
Abbott: Good deal. It comes with risk: Wall has had injuries, and Wall-led teams have generally been terrible. However, he's in a tiny club of players whose most likely path -- owing to his evident skill, the path of young high-volume scorers (the best get much more efficient in time) and his most recent play -- is superstardom. You simply can't let players like that go.
Feldman: Bad deal. The Wizards probably have to -- and should -- give Wall the max, but they should have waited until next summer, when he would have been a restricted free agent. Wall almost certainly would not have taken the nuclear option, signing a one-year qualifying offer for $9,697,902 and becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2015, for the same reason the Wizards should have waited now: His injury history and at times sporadic play make it too risky. There are right and wrong times to stand up to an agent, and it seems a right time is when $80 million is on the line.
Han: Good deal. Dating to 2002, every No. 1 has received a max extension with the exception of Andrew Bogut, Andrea Bargnani and Greg Oden. Combine this recent precedent with the fact that, when finally healthy last season, Wall averaged 24.2 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds over his final 20 games and that the rookie max extension is not as large as a regular max contract and this seems like a fair gamble.
Pina: Bad deal. Instead of using their "Rose Rule" extension, the Wizards could have waited out the season, let a healthy John Wall display his worth in a contract year and gone from there. Some important questions remain about Wall's game, and giving him all this money before they're answered is unnecessary.
Weidie: Bad deal, but kind of a have-to deal. A premium on landing a first overall pick, if you will. All max-type contracts are gambles, the Wizards giving Gilbert Arenas a six-year, $111 million extension in 2008, for example. We all know how that turned out. Ironically, Washington flipped Arenas for Rashard Lewis and then him for Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, who helped establish an improved defense, which helped Wall look good during a brief run last season, which scored him this contract.
3. Good deal or bad deal: The Pacers trade for Luis Scola.
Abbott: Good deal, but only a game-changer if David West gets hurt, as it's hard to see Scola earning a ton of touches on this stacked roster. The Pacers were seriously good before this deal -- a step ahead of the Nets and Knicks for sure -- and this makes them a tad better today at the cost of some youth. But when you're going for it now, you're going for it now.
Feldman: Good deal. The Pacers' window to win a championship is open, so sacrificing young players and draft picks for immediate help is sound strategy. Not only is Scola a quality bench player, but his skill set mirrors David West's. Now the Pacers can rest West -- by far their oldest starter -- while maintaining their style of play.
Han: Good deal. To say that bench production was an area of weakness for the Pacers would be an understatement. Indiana ranked 29th last season in bench points, outscoring only the anemic Trail Blazers. In this transaction, the Pacers converted two noncontributors last season and a protected pick into a reliable 13 points a game from Luis Scola. A savvy move for a team looking to go for it.
Pina: Good deal. The Pacers need quality reserves who can score, and what they got with Luis Scola, at the absolute worst, is a trusty midrange shot who's smart and can rebound. He may turn 34 in April, but most parts of Scola's offensive repertoire remain ageless. He isn't the same low-post artisan who once worked magic in the pivot, but that's miles from saying he's Tyler Hansbrough.
Weidie: Good deal. Windows and how long they remain open are a funny thing in sports. Scola is a little bit older but doesn't cause a huge drain on Indy's future books. What the Pacers didn't want to do was get to the playoffs, fall to Miami again and then wonder what they could have done with Miles Plumlee and a midround pick.
4. Good deal or bad deal: Mike Miller chooses to sign with Memphis.
Abbott: A massive win-win. The champs used the amnesty clause on Miller despite his playing well, which had to hurt. But he bounces back nicely by not only joining a contender but also instantly becoming that team's go-to wing scorer. The Grizzlies get two great things: shooting and the implied endorsement of their approach that comes with landing a player who was sought after by virtually all the Grizzlies' top competitors.
Feldman: Good deal. The Grizzlies have at least a fighting chance to win a championship, and I'm sure Miller wants that. But championships aren't the only path to happiness, and after spending more than five seasons in Memphis, he should know more than anyone whether this situation will please him. Plus, free golf! I just hope Mike Conley is including a cart for the 33-year-old with a history of back injuries.
Han: Good deal. Oklahoma City is a legitimate contender for the title next season, but Mike Miller's decision to go to Memphis is a better fit. The Grizzlies have been notoriously bad from beyond the arc, something Miller's career 40.6 percent 3-point average will help bolster. And they have shallower wing depth than the Thunder, offering a potentially larger role. Plus, Miller spent the better part of his career in Bluff City.
Pina: Good deal. The Grizzlies were the seventh-least accurate 3-point shooting team last season, and no team averaged fewer attempts per game. They need shooters to space the floor for Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and, to a lesser degree, the incoming Kosta Koufos. Mike Miller isn't an every-day player anymore, but on the grandest stages, he's a marksman -- a perfect fit on a pseudo-contender out West.
Weidie: People may see Miller choosing Memphis over Oklahoma City as an indictment of the Thunder's chance to win it all. Not so much, as the teams have relatively equal chances right now. With Miller, it was partially the comfort of being a Grizzly before but mostly because his talents will benefit more with the inside-out play of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
5. Good look or bad look: The Pelicans' new jerseys.
Abbott: Bad look. Those uniforms are perfect for showing off Anthony Davis' jacked new arms, but in capturing the essence of the U.S. city with the most distinctive culture, it is crazy timid. The Crescent City has way more to say than a lump or two added to a font.
Feldman: Bad look. The Pelicans should have adopted Mardi Gras colors -- purple, green and gold -- and these bland uniforms with too-small type don't come close to erasing that original mistake. There's barely anything wrong with the new uniforms, but there's barely anything to like either. That's not a satisfying trade-off.
Han: Yawn look. The old Hornets were easily identifiable -- pinstripes on the home and road unis, teal secondary color, even the eclectic Mardi Gras alternates. But it seems like the Pelicans were more than cognizant of their former, flamboyant self. New Orleans' new duds could be "classic" or "boring"; it's in the eye of the beholder. The main qualm: lose the arc in the front name and increase the font size, please.
Pina: Good look. With a name like "Pelicans," these jerseys had serious potential to be unprecedentedly ludicrous. Instead, the design is minimalist, with basic colors and a timeless design. It could be worse.
Weidie: Bad look. It's rare to please in a uniform debut, and the Pelicans are no exception. I don't mind so much that the new look doesn't incorporate the word "pelicans," opting to represent New Orleans on both road and away. But NOLA is a bold city with great flavor, so why does the jersey font size have to be so meek?
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