While the NBA offseason has provided some ground-shaking moves worthy of notoriety and headlines, there have been acquisitions that will alter the race for the playoffs this season that you may have missed.
Dwight Howard to the Rockets, Chris Paul re-upping for the “other” Los Angeles team, and Andre Iguodala moving to the Warriors has been covered thoroughly enough. We are not going to dive any further into them. Instead, we are going to look at the “other moves.”
Atlanta Hawks sign Paul Millsap for 2-years/$19 million.
The 28-year-old Power Forward signed with the Hawks after the Jazz refused to trade him for any assets at the trade deadline. Millsap’s scoring numbers have declined over the past two seasons from a career best 17.3 in 2010, but that can be misleading. Sharing time in a loaded front court with talented young big men Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter saw Paul’s minutes dip to just 30 a game last season.
In Atlanta, Millsap will be replacing Josh Smith, who received a 4-year/56 million dollar contract from Detroit. For 2/3rds of the cost, Millsap could be a better fit and a better player. In 2012-2013, his player efficiency rating (PER) was a full two points better than Smith’s, while their statistics per 36 minutes are virtually identical. The main difference is Smith’s prepotency of shooting long jump shots and struggles from the free throw line, 51% to Millsap’s 74%.
Teaming up Paul Millsap with Al Horford has the potential to rank as one of the top frontcourt duos in the Eastern Conference if not the entire league. Although undersized, both compensate their shortcomings through hustle and a reliable mid-range jumper.
Atlanta missed out on landing a big name, but through the acquisition of Millsap and re-signing of Kyle Korver, the Hawks should be making their 7th straight postseason appearance while maintaining their cap flexibility for the future.
Brooklyn Nets sign Andrei Kirilenko for mid-level exception
The trade that landed Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce received the headlines, but landing Kirilenko gives the Nets a versatile player on the perimeter. AK 47 opted out of his final year in Minnesota that would have netted him ten million dollars to sign with the Nets for 3 million. A Russian connection with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has many people crying foul.
Kirilenko was a forgotten player to the masses during his one season with the injury-riddled Timberwolves. However, the 6’9” forward had an effective season. For the Nets to be capped out with limited resources, landing AK-47 is a steal.
Chicago Bulls sign Mike Dunleavy Jr mid-level exception
A team lacking perimeter shooting was able to sign one coming from a 43% campaign in 2012-2013 for half of the price of Kyle Korver. If healthy, Dunleavy Jr should help space the floor for Derrick Rose’s return. On the bright side for Bulls fans, even if he is not healthy he will just be taking freshly released Rip Hamilton’s seat on the bench.
Cleveland Cavaliers sign Jarret Jack 4-year/$25 million
The move combined with the dice-roll for Andrew Bynum sends a message that the organization is serious about their draft night declaration of making the playoffs in 2013-2014. Signing Jack brings in a veteran that will provide toughness to the backcourt while providing mentorship to Kyrie Irving. Meanwhile, if Irving goes down to an injury, Jack has proven that he is a serviceable replacement.
Indiana Pacers sign CJ Watson 2-year/$4.4 million
The Indian Pacers took the Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals last season with questionable depth, most notably at the point guard position. D.J. Augustin being in the game and the Miami Heat performing very well had a direct correlation, and to spite the rules of statistics, I am going to go ahead and assume that there we can safely say there was causation.
Watson, boasting a 40% average from three-point range over the past two seasons, will provide a significant upgrade and combined with the return of Danny Granger (or whatever potential asset the Pacers will likely receive from trading him mid-season) should make the Pacers even more of a threat going forward.
Los Angeles Clippers acquire Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick
This move received attention, but the addition of Dudley and Redick will be magnified in the playoffs. Doc Rivers should slide JJ into the role of Ray Allen in his playbook, while Steve Kerr praised Dudley by claiming he was “born to be on a contending team.” Redick’s defense will set him apart from Jamal Crawford in crunch time while Dudley will battle with Matt Barnes, CP3’s close friend, over the course of the season.
Redick thrived in Orlando before struggling in Milwaukee playing with the black hole that is the Monta Ellis-Brandon Jennings backcourt. Upgrading Jennings to Chris Paul should have Redick back up into the 40 percentile range.
Memphis Grizzlies acquire Kosta Koufos via trade
The draft night deal that sent Darrell Arthur to the Nuggets in exchange for Koufus flew completely beneath the radar. The Grizzlies were able to land a cheap 24-year-old center that started 81 games for a 57-win team for Arthur, an often-injured power forward that relies primarily on outside jumpers.
The move creates an interesting bench tandem of Koufos and Ed Davis backing up ZBo and Gasol. In 22 minutes a game, Koufos scored 8 points and grabbed 7 rebounds a game on 58% from the field while registering a PER of over 17. Comparatively, Arthur scored 6 points and grabbed 3 rebounds in 16.4 minutes at a very inefficient rate of under than 12.
The Grizzlies needed to add a shooter and have yet to do so, but the sneaky acquisition will prove to have been a massive upgrade once the season rolls around. The Nuggets made the move to free the way for Javale McGee during their disaster of an offseason.