The 2018 edition of NBA free agency is less than a week old, but don’t mistake its infancy for lack of excitement. In fact, it’s been beautiful chaos ever since it started. The entire league has either made a move or been altered by another singing.
Although the basketball world will be fixated on the superstars, such LeBron James signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, Chris Paul remaining with the Houston Rockets, or Paul George staying with the Oklahoma City Thunder, there have been some sneaky good moves with strong value for the 2018-19 season.
Here are the five biggest free agent steals so far in 2018:
5. PELICANS: Julius Randle (2 years/$18 million)
An up-and-coming big man who averaged 16.1 points on over 55 percent shooting and eight rebounds per game last season sure sounds like a nice asset to have on your team. Yet, when LeBron agreed to join the Lakers, the organization renounced his rights. Some lucky team was going to get Randle and it just so happened to be New Orleans, which was going to need a big man to replace All-Star DeMarcus Cousins. What the Pelicans are getting is a strong rebounder, a big with the ability to switch and guard multiple positions, and, most of all, a strong complementary piece to Anthony Davis. The Lakers kicked him to the curb and the Pelicans got the 23-year-old at what seems like a discounted rate.
4. WIZARDS: Jeff Green (1 year/$2.4 million)
Say what you want about the Cleveland Cavaliers roster last season or Jeff Green’s overall career. There is just no denying he looked solid all season and pieced together a nice campaign off the bench. He averaged below his career numbers, of course, but a lot of that is role and demand. So why is this a steal? It is a minimum deal with minimum risk and a great potential reward. Uncle Jeff is a true professional and has zero pressure again with John Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard (we think) as the primary options. Having Green come off the bench and provide a spark is a pretty nice luxury to have at that price.
3. PACERS: Tyreke Evans (1 year/$12 million)
After posting 19.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 5.2 assists with the Memphis Grizzlies last season, one would think Evans would potentially seek a longer and larger deal to have some security. However, it looks like Evans is holding out for more money next offseason. Regardless, this is a great get for the Indiana Pacers. Evans can either start or come off the bench, can easily be a secondary scorer to Victor Oladipo, and just might be an upgrade to Lance Stephenson for this particular team. It’s a nice raise from last season, but his performance would indicate he could have gotten more.
2. SIXERS: J.J. Redick (1 year/$13 million)
No matter how much young talent Philadelphia has on its roster, it needed a veteran to be a strong locker room presence and a big-time shooter last season. The 76ers got both in Redick and paid a pretty penny for it. Now, and still in the same situation, Philly got back one of its most coveted pieces at very discounted rate. Redick, who made $23 million last year, is still one of the best shooters in the league and already knows the offense. This is a huge win. Oh, has the massive discount been mentioned yet?
1. WARRIORS: DeMarcus Cousins (1 year/$5.3 million)
The NBA players reactions said it all. Adding another All-Star to a juggernaut which has already captured three of the last four NBA Finals definitely shook the league. How could a player of Boogie’s stature never get called for a deal? Is the Achilles injury that bad? Is the timetable different than expected? Nevertheless, if healthy, Golden State is getting an elite defensive rebounder, which it is not exactly good at, a good shooter, a strong passer, and just a general matchup nightmare. For only $5.3 million? This isn’t a steal. It’s highway robbery.