While many teams with cap space have been active spenders in the first 24 hours of free agency, there’s been plenty of room to secure value on the market. Three deals stand out among the more intelligent, less-lucrative early agreements thus far. The Raptors retaining Fred VanVleet for two-years and $18 million, the Nets bringing in veteran rebounder Ed Davis on a one-year, $4.4 million deal, and the Pistons luring Glenn Robinson, a young wing player with room to improve, on a friendly two-year, $8.3 million deal. Let’s grade the moves.
(For constant updates on signings all over the league, check out The Crossover’s free agency live blog.)
Fred VanVleet, Raptors
After going undrafted out of Wichita State in 2016, VanVleet, 24, has become an increasingly essential piece for the Raptors off the bench, averaging 8.6 points and 3.2 assists as a Sixth Man finalist last season and playing a key role for Toronto in the playoffs. A source confirmed the terms of his two-year agreement. Retaining VanVleet, who was a restricted free agent, was of utmost importance to the Raptors, and ultimately there was incentive on both sides to get the deal done. VanVleet’s toughness and scoring pop will anchor what should remain one of the league’s better bench units, and as it stands the Raptors return all of their key pieces to contend in the Eastern Conference. He’ll be a free agent again at age 26 and could command a bigger payday in two years, when the salary cap is projected to rise to $116 million. The possibility of LeBron James heading west could create a clearer pathway for Toronto to reach the Finals, and while they’ll dip into the luxury tax to keep VanVleet, they’re not expressly overpaying to do so. It’s a smart move for both sides.
Ed Davis, Nets
The Nets have used their cap space sensibly thus far, keeping shooter Joe Harris at a reasonable price and now bringing in Davis, one of the league’s best rebounders, to help fill rotation minutes in the short-term. Davis, 29, has averaged a double-double per-36 in three of his last four seasons and was a key part of a consistently pretty good Blazers team, anchoring bench lineups with his energy and consistency. Brooklyn lands him at a totally fair price while Davis commands nearly double the veteran’s minimum, and there’s no long-term commitment from either side if he decides to join a playoff team in a year’s time. The Nets are working back toward respectability and hoping to keep financial flexibility over the next two summers, given how attractive their New York market and high-quality facilities should in theory be for star free agents once the ship begins to move in the right direction. This won’t move the needle in any drastic way, but there’s very little risk with this investment as Brooklyn shores up its rotation.
Glenn Robinson III, Pistons
Still just 24, Robinson was one of the more intriguing potential bargains among this group of free-agent wings. After starring at the University of Michigan, playing in familiar Detroit with a chance to win major minutes created an attractive situation for Robinson, who is finalizing a two-year deal with a team option that would include a small second-year raise, according to sources. After making 27 starts for the Pacers in 2016–17, Robinson was unable to find a foothold in Indiana’s rotation last season after an ankle injury limited him to just 23 games. He is a career 38% three-point shooter and should have a chance to be a key contributor for the Pistons, who return small forwards Stanley Johnson and Reggie Bullock under new head coach Dwane Casey. Robinson gains some financial security with the second year of the deal and can hit free agency again at age 26, while the Pistons get a potential starting-caliber wing on a team-friendly contract. This could be a win-win.