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NBA free agency: Grading every deal

Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

We can't grade LeBron James' move yet, but Boris Diaw's return to the Spurs earned high marks.

Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney grade every NBA free-agent contract agreement through July 8.

Note: All deals have reportedly been agreed upon. Contracts can't become official until July 10.

MORE: Early market trends | NBA free agent tracker | Latest buzz

Pacers re-sign Lavoy Allen (one year, undisclosed)

Grade: B-. Allen's salary is unknown, but Indiana's slim margin relative to its offer to Lance Stephenson and the looming luxury tax line hint rather strongly at the veteran minimum or a deal near enough. That's fair for Allen, whose physical brand of defense can be put to use with the Pacers.

Celtics re-sign Avery Bradley (four years, $32M)

Grade: C+. Valuable though Bradley's defense might be, this is a handsome payout for a player whose best current means of offense is staying out of the way. Not every player on the floor needs to be able to create, but it's important for even defensive specialists to project some kind of offensive threat. Bradley doesn't, not yet anyway. Should his sharp perimeter shooting from last season hold or improve, he'll earn defensive attention beyond the arc and register a more positive offensive influence through spacing. If not, Bradley's game could become couched in limitation – useful in the specific but more narrowly applicable than his pay grade would suggest.

Bradley, 23, has time to grow both into his game and this new contract. Just as important: His work ethic and attitude indicate that he can be trusted to do so. Bradley has already improved from his timid rookie season, panicking less on offense and making quicker decisions with the ball. Those little developments are crucial for a player bound for a minor offensive role, even as some of Bradley's bigger-picture offensive skills linger behind the curve.

NBA Free Agency: The Waiting Game

Sports Illustrated's Matt Dollinger explains why one week into free agency all movement hinges on the decisions of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, and until they're ready to decide the entire league will continue to wait.

Spurs re-sign Boris Diaw (three years, $23M)

Grade: A. The contract represents a pay increase for Diaw, who signed a two-year, $9.3 million deal with the Spurs in 2012. He certainly earned the bump, especially during the postseason, and there seemed little doubt he would return. The basketball fit between the pass-happy Spurs and the unselfish Diaw is as good as it gets, and the roster fit with the other personnel is just as solid. Diaw's comfort away from the hoop nicely complements Tim Duncan and starting center Tiago Splitter, and it helps that he is longtime friends with Parker.

Although age is usually a major consideration for a 32-year-old, especially one with a history of weight issues, coach Gregg Popovich played Diaw just 25 minutes per game last season, and has no major reason to increase that significantly. Any risk that Diaw might not deliver on this salary as this deal reaches its conclusion is mitigated somewhat by the partial guarantee on the third year. In any case, the key was to keep Diaw in place immediately to give the Spurs the best possible shot to win additional titles before Duncan retires, and this deal accomplishes that goal without requiring a vast overpayment. As Diaw will be re-signed into San Antonio's cap space, this contract also leaves GM R.C. Buford with a $5.3 million mid-level exception to continue shopping in free agency if he so chooses. 

The rest of the NBA might be anxiously awaiting decisions from LeBron JamesDwyane WadeChris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony, but everyone -- including those stars -- should take heed of this signing. When the Spurs went to their all-playmaker lineup that featured Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, Diaw and Duncan, they posted a whopping 123.4 offensive rating and a plus-18.8 net rating over 22 postseason games. That unstoppable quintet will now officially run it back next season. To rival teams weighing their options: Good luck. To the still-undecided stars: Pick your next home carefully, as these guys will be waiting for you sooner or later come next May or June.

Kings sign Darren Collison (three years, $16M)

Grade: D. Even before getting into the technicalities involved in Isaiah Thomas' restricted free agency, the idea that the Kings would pay this price to a player of this caliber is distressing. Collison is not preferable to Thomas or an appealing starter. Collison was one of the worst defenders at his position to receive significant minutes last season, as his quickness didn't translate to an ability to stay in front of ball handlers with the Clippers. And for all of his value as a pick-and-roll scorer, Collison's floor-reading skills leave much to be desired. He lacks the vision to see how plays might develop before they do, which in turn manifests as a relatively conservative playmaking style. He is not a pass-first point guard in the vein that a team with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay might need, erasing any stylistic justification involved in this move.

If Sacramento clears room and brings back Thomas, the damage here may be mitigated. But even then, why pay $5 million annually for an inferior player to reportedly replace a better, younger one?

Clippers sign Jordan Farmar (two years, $4.2M)

Grade: B+. The Clippers must be mindful of their dollars and cents as they work around the max contracts given to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and their decision to replace Darren Collison by snagging Farmar is a textbook value play. Here's a side-by-side look at the two players from last season, which show Collison owning a slight edge.

Collison: 25.9 minutes, 11.4 points, 3.7 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 1.7 turnovers, 46.7 FG%, 37.6 3P%, 16.2 PER
Farmar: 22.2 minutes, 10.1 points, 4.9 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 2.3 turnovers, 41.5 FG%, 43.8 3P%, 15 PER

The biggest difference between the two players is their durability, as Farmar missed more than twice as many games last season as Collison has missed in his entire career. If you were picking between the two as a full-time starter, regardless of any other factors, the choice would be Collison. In addition to being more reliable, he's also more experienced: Farmar has never started on a consistent basis in the NBA, while Collison led the Clippers to a 26-9 record last season when Paul was sidelined.

However, the Clippers didn't have the ability to make an apples-to-apples decision between the two players, as they were on track to be luxury-tax payers while also needing to fortify their frontcourt. Instead of paying up to keep Collison, they agreed to sign unrestricted free agent center Spencer Hawes with their mid-level exception before using their lesser exception to add Farmar. That looks like a savvy choice.

Magic sign Channing Frye (four years, $32M)

Grade: C. Coming off back-to-back sub-25-win seasons and without a clear-cut superstar in its developmental pipeline, Orlando was always going to struggle to keep up in free agency this summer. The A-list stars had no reason to give it the time of day, and its pitch to B-list players was focused on the ability to spend well above the mid-level exception rather than any shot at winning big in the near future.

After quickly and drastically overpaying Ben Gordon for no apparent reason, the Magic have now paid Frye, a good player, as if he were a very good player. So far, Frye's agreement ties him with Avery Bradley's contract as the third-largest expenditure of this summer, trailing only the contracts given to Marcin Gortat ($60 million over five years) and Kyle Lowry ($48 million over four years). By comparison, a similarly skilled player -- Spencer Hawes -- committed to the Clippers for nearly 30 percent cheaper. Ditto for Josh McRoberts and the Heat. Last summer, the Hawks added 2014 All-Star forward Paul Millsap for just $19 million over two years.

Orlando will justify its spending -- call it the "perennial loser's tax" -- by first pointing to Frye's reputation as a shooter. The Magic ranked No. 29 in offensive efficiency and No. 19 in three-point percentage last season, and their young guards, rookie Elfrid Payton and 2013 lottery pick Victor Oladipo, will benefit from extra room to work in the paint. The Suns' offensive rating soared from 102.5 when Frye was off the court to 110.4 when he was on the court last season, clear evidence of his team-wide impact. 

Although Frye has a soft touch for a player his size, he shot 37 percent from deep last season, which is closer to average than it is elite. His 13.2 Player Efficiency Rating is below average, placing him between the likes of Luis Scola (paid $4.5 million by the Pacers last season) and Glen Davis (paid millions to go away by the Magic, who bought him out). Frye has never been known as a physical presence; last season, he averaged fewer than one offensive rebound per game while taking more than 80 percent of his shots outside the basket area. Put that together, and his overall offensive game shades toward one-dimensional. He's nice as a complementary fourth or fifth option, like he was last season, but he is now set to be Orlando's highest-paid player in 2014-15. Perhaps this would make more sense if he were an impact defender, but he isn't.

This stands as an overpay, one cushioned a bit by Frye's sterling off-court reputation, the likelihood that he will age gracefully because of the nature of his game, Orlando's need for a veteran leader and the Magic's need to pay someone this summer given their minuscule salary commitments. Yes, Frye should make the Magic better in the short term, but his new compensation suggests that he is a core building block, and that's simply expecting too much if meaningful postseason success is the objective.

​Magic sign Ben Gordon (two years, $9M)

Grade: F. The last time Gordon posted a league-average Player Efficiency Rating was 2008-09! That should tell you everything about this signing, even though only one of the deal's years was guaranteed. Gordon has had a limited impact over the last two seasons, but the bigger issue at play is that any success he has in Orlando will come at the expense of the Magic's younger guards. Even if he were to magically resuscitate his career and return to his days as a No. 1 scoring option, that would mean fewer shots for Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton and Evan Fournier, and the Magic's young frontcourt options, including 2014 lottery pick Aaron Gordon.

And if Gordon's decline continues? Orlando just paid more than three times the veteran's minimum (the second year is not guaranteed) for a player whose recent track record suggests he should have been a September signing for a team looking to fill out its final roster spots. The Magic do have the need for a point guard, a low-cost veteran who can run an offense, but adding such a player now will only further crowd their backcourt. 

Wizards re-sign Marcin Gortat (five years, $60M)

Grade: B-. After investing a first-round pick to acquire him and then nearly making a surprise run to the Eastern Conference finals, Washington was highly motivated to keep Gortat. The Wizards put their money where their mouth is with this deal, going all in on a 30-year-old as their center of the present and long-term future. Gortat's contract is comparable in size to similar five-year, $60 million deals signed by Al Horford and Joakim Noah, and it's in the same ballpark on a per-year basis as those given to Tyson Chandler (four years, $47 million), DeAndre Jordan ( four years, $43 million), Larry Sanders ( four years, $44 million), and Al Jefferson (three years, $41 million). Gortat isn't totally out of his class among those names, but he's also not returning on anything remotely resembling a discount. 

Aside from a foot injury during the 2012-13 season, Gortat has been a model of durability and dependability. Although not really capable of serving as a lead scoring option, Gortat is a nice fit for the Wizards, who have two ball-dominant guards in John Wall and Bradley Beal. Gortat does a nice job of acting as an auxiliary scorer while focusing most of his energy on clearing the glass and protecting the paint defensively. The salary aspect is fair and in line with expectations given the lack of quality low-post players in this summer's class, but the deal's length does appear slightly problematic, especially if his good health luck starts to wane. This is a move for "now" rather than "tomorrow" for the Wizards, who surely don't want to take a step backwards next season after finally generating some positive momentum. A team option, or even a partial guarantee, on the final year would have merited a higher mark. Instead, Wizards fans should react to this deal with a fist pump and crossed fingers.

Heat sign Danny Granger (two years, $4.2M)

Grade: C. Miami has gone down this path many times before during the Big Three era, signing veterans like Ray Allen, James JonesMike MillerShane BattierRashard Lewis and Chris Andersen to low-cost contracts. Granger showed some flashes of his old scoring touch in March after joining the Clippers, but he spent most of the previous two years as an unreliable option who struggled to stay on the court because of injuries.

Even if he can remain reasonably healthy, Granger hasn't produced consistently since 2012 with Indiana, so it's probably safe to assume his contributions will be closer to those of Jones or Lewis rather than the bigger names listed above. Granger is a career 38 percent three-point shooter, though, and perhaps he can rediscover that touch if his primary task is to hit wide open shots set up by LeBron James.

It can be inferred from Miami president Pat Riley's reported plan to use the biannual exception on Granger that the options in that price range weren't overwhelmingly enticing, given Granger's obvious health red flags. Indeed, one wonders if Granger could have been had on a veteran's minimum contract had the Heat won the 2014 title or if they didn't have so many balls to juggle this summer. A team option would have also been far preferable to a player option, but the clock was ticking big time for Riley, who needed to have birds in hand to show James when they meet this week to discuss the four-time MVP's future.

Mavericks re-sign Devin Harris (three years, undisclosed)

Grade: Incomplete. Because of conflicting reports about the terms of the contract, Harris' deal will be graded later.

Clippers sign Spencer Hawes (four years, $23M)

Grade: B+. Clippers coach Doc Rivers should be close to ecstatic, considering the circumstances that have enveloped his franchise in recent months and his roster's lacking frontcourt depth. Hawes adds a new dimension to L.A.'s bench, and he is a vast upgrade over the endless cycle of frontcourt stopgaps like Ryan Hollins, Ronny Turiaf, Byron Mullens and Glen Davis that have been used in recent years. 

It's not clear how the Clippers could have made better use of their mid-level exception this summer if adding a center was their top priority. ​The only other 7-footers ranked above Hawes on SI.com's list of the top 25 free agents were Marcin Gortat (who re-signed with Washington for $60 million over five years) and Pau Gasol (who is generating interest from all sides, including multiple contenders). With Chris Paul and Blake Griffin both locked in for multiple years, adding a player like Hawes on a longer-term deal makes more sense than pursuing a lesser player like Chris Kaman, who agreed to a shorter deal with Portland at a similar price level. The best available names were Hawes and Channing Frye, who is five years older than Hawes and missed the entire 2012-13 season with a heart problem. (Frye later agreed to a four-year, $32 million deal with Orlando.)

There's no question that Rivers will need to get to work on masking Hawes' major defensive limitations immediately: The Cavaliers posted an atrocious 109.2 defensive rating when he was on the court compared to a 98.9 defensive rating when he was off the court, albeit in only 27 games. Hawes might not be a paint-protecting force defensively, but he does bring an element of raw size that the Clippers' reserves were missing last season. More important, Hawes' outside shooting should limit the amount of extra attention paid to Griffin when the two players share the court. He is also a capable free-throw shooter -- even if he doesn't get to the line that often -- which is handy given Jordan's major issues at the stripe.

A 7-footer with proven skills -- even one with proven weaknesses -- is a liquid asset, so L.A. doesn't need to fret too much over the length of the contract. Hawes has been very durable -- aside from missing a good chunk of the 2011-12 season with back and Achilles injuries -- and that likely played a role in the Clippers' willingness to go a full four years.

Blazers sign Chris Kaman (two years, $10M)

Grade: C-. Portland was in a tight spot this summer, wielding only a mid-level exception in its pursuit of a rotation-ready big man -- the NBA's most expensive position -- to add to coach Terry Stotts' rotation. Its decision to tap the 32-year-old Kaman has all the makings of a "something is better than nothing" backup plan: He's coming off a down year, he's missed tons of time since 2011 with assorted injuries and he's a full four seasons removed from his prime.

Kaman fits with the Blazers by only the most basic definition: He is an NBA-caliber center who is overmatched against starters but can hold his own against most second-unit players, making him an immediate upgrade over both Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard. No one will mistake Kaman for a defensive force or a rim protector, but he averaged more points (10.4) than any Blazers sub last season, including sixth man Mo Williams. The biggest issue at play is whether he can stay on the court: Kaman has appeared in just 59 percent of his team's games over the last four seasons. 

The tough reality facing Portland, which advanced in the postseason for the first time since 2000, is that its mid-level exception was its best weapon for taking a step forward next year. Kaman, even if he stays healthy, just isn't a game-changing talent. In both of his most recent stops, with the Lakers and the Mavericks, his teams were outscored by more than three points per 100 possessions when he was on the court. Portland's bench is so anemic that a talent infusion would have been welcomed at virtually every position, and Kaman doesn't quite fit that bill.

Coming off of a down year, Kaman should be thrilled with the size of his paycheck here, as he enjoys a fat raise despite not being able to live up to his previous salary ($3.2 million). Surely some of the blame for that falls on Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni, and Portland is banking on Stotts being able to find a better way to incorporate Kaman on both ends. Robin Lopez enjoyed a career year under Stotts in 2013-14, so maybe there is some reason for hope.

The partial guarantee of $1 million on the second year amounts to another win for Kaman, who has played for four different teams in the last four seasons. It seems more likely than not that Portland will find itself wanting to explore its options at the position again next summer; if that happens and Kaman must go, he pockets an extra million for nothing.

It's worth noting that Freeland is entering the third and final year of his contract. Kaman's addition should turn Freeland's $3 million expiring contract into trade bait. As for Leonard -- who has struggled to get a toehold into the rotation through two years -- his path to minutes just got that much more crowded. This move could be either a source of motivation or a confidence-crusher for Leonard, who lost his job to Freeland last season. All eyes in Portland will be on Leonard when he takes the court at the Las Vegas Summer League next week. 

Warriors sign Shaun Livingston (three years, $16M)

Grade: B. The Warriors might have exited in the first round of the playoffs, but they view themselves -- not absurdly -- as being title contenders. It can be difficult to add a player of Livingston's quality when your franchise's self-perception exceeds its accomplishments, and Golden State did well here to aggressively target and land an upgrade from its second-unit guards. The partial guarantee on the third year hedges nicely against the worst-case scenario -- another catastrophic injury -- and Livingston's reputation as a worker should dispel any concerns about how he responds after a contract year. Even with injuries to Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut, the Warriors finished with the West's No. 1 defense last season, and Livingston, 28, should help them defend that title in 2014-15. Even if glue guys like Livingston don't always command mid-level money, Golden State should feel justified in this expenditure.

Raptors re-sign Kyle Lowry (four years, $48M)

Grade: B+. Lowry performed like one of the league's best point guards last season, ranking No. 5 in Player Efficiency Rating for his position, and he was bound to be rewarded handsomely for that play. The terms are meaningfully short of the max-level money given to perennial All-Stars such as Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, but Lowry slides right into the second tier of compensation for point guards. His deal is identical to Ty Lawson's, and the contract puts him on a per-year par with Stephen Curry (four years, $44 million), Tony Parker (four years, $50 million) and Rajon Rondo (five years, $55 million). 

The Raptors were lacking an obvious alternative if they couldn't agree with Lowry, and this deal will run through his prime years. What's more, Lowry has been given the keys to Toronto's offense, and his aggressive style of play defined the Raptors' blue-collar reputation last season. The hope from Toronto's perspective is that Lowry has finally found the right fit, basketball-wise and organization-wise, and that he will continue to produce at this same level. With GM Masai Ujiri steering the ship, coach Dwane Casey recently signed to an extension, All-Star wing DeMar DeRozan locked in for multiple years and a number of young players still on rookie contracts, the Raptors have many reasons to feel justified in taking this approach. 

The inclusion of the early termination option after the third season was likely a compromise for not extending the contract to a five-year term. From Toronto's standpoint, the possibility of renegotiating in three years is preferable to committing to a guaranteed fifth year at this price. 

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Pistons sign Cartier Martin (one year, undisclosed)

Grade: B-. After splurging on Jodie Meeks, the Pistons quietly wrapped up a short-term, minimum-salary deal with Martin. He's a satisfactory 3-and-D player for a team with a painful need of both, and should catch limited playing time on the back end of Detroit's wing rotation.

Heat sign Josh McRoberts (four years, $23M)

Grade: B/C-plus. McRoberts is a quality get if all goes according to plan, though a four-year deal this rich will look quite different if it doesn't lure back LeBron James. Still, there's no real potential for disaster here; teams (like the Hornets, who were loath to see their starting power forward go) will still be interested in trading for McRoberts on a $5-6 million salary, so at worst the Heat will have acquired some new furniture for their sinking ship.

If the Big Three return, McRoberts does plenty of what the Heat need. He's enough of a shooter to keep defenses honest, a good enough passer to make up for two point guards ( Norris Cole and rookie Shabazz Napier) with limited playmaking skills and capable of filling power forward minutes to spare James the trouble. It needs to be noted, though, that McRoberts is an iffy defender and a miserable rebounder for his position; he is not without his faults, and those two in particular feed into preexisting team weaknesses. Still, by having the facilitating skills necessary to make an already explosive offense more buoyant, McRoberts should earn his keep.

Pistons sign Jodie Meeks (three years, $19M)

Grade: C-. Meeks directly addresses Detroit's biggest need -- perimeter shooting -- but he comes at an awfully steep price, as his new deal more than quadruples his per-year salary from his last contract. His shooting numbers have fluctuated during his five-year career, peaking last season with the Lakers in a contract year. Meeks' deal puts him on a similar per-year playing field as 2013 signees Kyle Korver ($24 million over four years), J.J. Redick ($27 million over four years) and Kevin Martin ($28 million over four years). Meeks, who has never posted an above-average Player Efficiency Rating, doesn't stack up very well next to those names.

Pacers sign C.J. Miles (four years, $18M)

Grade: B. Assessing this move without knowing Lance Stephenson's future isn't an easy task, and really this grade should be an "incomplete" for the time being. If Miles, 27, is being added as depth behind Stephenson, and Indiana is able to keep its starting lineup intact, then this looks like a fairly sound use of resources to fill a gaping hole with a player who is in his prime. If, however, Miles is to function as a Stephenson replacement, then the glimmer wears off a little bit. Miles is a steadier player than Stephenson, but also not nearly as dynamic. The good news: This agreement prevents Indiana from facing the worst-case scenario of scrambling to find a marginal replacement if Stephenson does leave as a free agent.

Although Miles isn't a particularly big name, he was one of the better mid-tier free-agent options at his position. Four years is a long time to commit to an average wing, but at least that time period should represent Miles' prime. Miles was a much better outside shooter during his two seasons in Cleveland than he was during his Utah days, and Indiana will be banking on that proficiency continuing.

Spurs re-sign Patty Mills (three years, $12M)

Grade: A. San Antonio's depth pays off in many ways, and you can add this deal to the list. A team with fewer talented players might get sucked into prioritizing the short term and fretting about the duration of Mills' shoulder injury. Instead, the Spurs have the luxury of turning to Tony Parker and Cory Joseph to open next season as Gregg Popovich goes about carefully managing his team's minutes while they wait on Mills to get healthy. Mills should be back on the court when it's time for the playoff push, and that's what counts for a team that dominated the competition last season. 

This deal is a nice buy-low move by the Spurs, but it really should be viewed as a win/win for team and player. Even if a healthy Mills could have earned far more than the reported $12 million, it's important to realize that this still amounts to a nice payday for him, as his previous NBA salaries totaled roughly $4 million during his five-year career. This deal gives him a new degree of comfort, a measure of long-term security and the chance to compete for a title next season. What more could a backup point guard -- even one who might be able to start for some teams -- possibly want? 

Mavericks re-sign Dirk Nowitzki (three years, $30M)

Grade: A+. This is easily the early pick for best contract of the offseason. Even though Nowitzki remains one of the best players at his position, this new deal is so heavily discounted that it's almost comical. Let's take a look at some comps to place Nowitzki's deal into context.

Here's a list of players who log minutes at power forward who are set to earn substantially more than Nowitzki's new deal: Chris Bosh (just opted out after four years of a six-year, $109.8 million deal), Blake Griffin (five years, $94.5 million), Kevin Love (four years, $60.1 million), LaMarcus Aldridge (five years, $65 million), Nene (five years, $65 million), Josh Smith (four years, $54 million), David Lee (six years, $79.5 million) and Carlos Boozer (five years, $75 million). 

Now, here's a list of players who log minutes at power forward earning around the same amount as Nowitzki's deal: David West (three years, $36.6 million), Zach Randolph (a new two-year, $20 million extension on top of four years, $66 million), Kevin Garnett (three years, $36 million),​ Andrea Bargnani (five years, $50 million) and Derrick Favors (four years, $48 million).

Even though Nowitzki has banked more than $200 million in salary during his career, his personal sacrifice can't be overstated here. ​Last year, Nowitzki earned $22.7 million, second in the league to Kobe Bryant. On pure talent, Nowitzki still belongs among the names in the first group listed above, even though he's in his mid-30s. A three-year, $40 million would still have qualified as a bargain, and yet Nowitzki reportedly went way under that in a move that will free owner Mark Cuban to aggressively pursue talent.

The most obvious comparison here is the three-year, $30 million contract that Tim Duncan signed with the Spurs in 2012, a deal that helped the Spurs construct one of the deepest benches in the league. That depth served as a key driver during their 2014 title run, and this looks like a case of the Mavericks watching and learning from the best. If Dallas is able to claw its way back into the top half of the Western Conference between now and 2017, we'll likely look back at Nowitzki's decision to leave perhaps $15 million to $20 million on the table as the turning point. It's now up to Dallas management to re-pay Nowitzki for his selflessness by putting that money to good use.

Raptors re-sign Patrick Patterson (three years, $18M)

Grade: B. Patterson's game is defined by doing the little things rather than by putting up spectacular individual numbers. While his 14.7 Player Efficiency Rating is mediocre, he posted a team-high plus-9.9 net rating, and Toronto was meaningfully better on both sides of the ball when he was on the court compared to when he was on the bench. Toronto's top-10 defense was a key driver of its success last season, and Patterson boasted one of the best defensive ratings on the roster. He gets it done with a good mix of quickness and strength, and he is essential for matchup purposes when opponents try to go small. 

The 2010 lottery pick was drafted by Houston and then traded to Sacramento at the 2013 deadline in the deal that sent Thomas Robinson to the Rockets. Although Patterson lacks Robinson's eye-popping athleticism, this contract is evidence that Patterson was able to make the most of his skills once he found the right roster fit. Patterson now goes down as one of the biggest winners of the Rudy Gay trade, as he swapped a crowded Sacramento frontcourt for a clear, defined role north of the border. Without that midseason move, it's unlikely that Patterson would have found this type of financial reward.

Still, the contract terms are reasonable for Toronto. Patterson compares favorably to the other players -- Jodie Meeks, Darren Collison and Shaun Livingston -- who have agreed to sign in this price range this summer. GM Masai Ujiri should have no trouble moving this contract if Toronto needs to change direction during the next few years.

Pacers sign Damjan Rudez (three years, undisclosed)

Grade: C. As a 6-10 shooter with sustained three-point range, Rudez's appeal to the Pacers is fairly clear. The question, though, is whether the rest of his game can come along. While playing in the Spanish ACB League (one of the best basketball leagues in the world), Rudez was amazingly allergic to grabbing rebounds and blocking shots. The exact terms of Rudez's full deal are not yet known, but Grantland's Zach Lowe reported that it will start at $1.1 million. Assuming Indiana gave Rudez 4.5 percent year-to-year raises, the total value would be in the ballpark of $4.8 million.

Hawks sign Thabo Sefolosha (three years, $12M)

Grade: C+. Sefolosha didn't exactly sign at a bargain price, but his size, length and potential to contribute as a shooter will solidify Atlanta's wing rotation.

Thunder sign Sebastian Telfair (one year, veteran minimum)

​Grade: C-. Telfair wasn't in the NBA last season and played to its margins for the Suns and Raptors the year before. His role with the Thunder, though, will be one of low stakes aided by playing alongside superstar talent. There are certainly worse ways to make a comeback.

Pacers sign Shayne Whittington (one year, rookie minimum)

Grade: C. Indiana took a flier on Whittington, a little-known big man out of Western Michigan with late-blooming shooting range. The one-year term and lack of guaranteed money in Whittington's deal protects the Pacers somewhat, though it will be interesting to see how the team evaluates the progress and standing of a player who isn't expected to play until around the contract guarantee deadline in January.

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  2. This will open the Bookmarks Bar. In the Bookmarks Bar, select your Sports Illustrated bookmark and manually edit the Address field.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 3 easy steps:

  1. Click the Firefox bookmark manager on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select Show All Bookmarks.
  3. This will open the library window. In the Library window, select your Sports Illustrated bookmark and manually edit the Location field.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.
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