On the first day of free agency, Dwight Howard prematurely tweeted that he was re-signing with the Los Angeles Lakers before they replaced him with Montrezl Harrell and Howard went to the Philadelphia 76ers; the Detroit Pistons have cornered the market on backup centers; and Fred VanVleet, Gordon Hayward and Bogdan Bogdanovic remain on the market.
If that one-sentence recap isn’t enough of a breakdown, here are seven thoughts on the deals that have gone down:
Harrell goes ring chasing
The Lakers got a discount on the Sixth Man of the Year, adding him for the midlevel exception (two years, $19 million, with a player option on the second season). This dismayed Clippers guard Patrick Beverley:
Harrell turned down more money from the Charlotte Hornets, according to the Los Angeles Times‘ Brad Turner. With the Lakers, he can compete for a championship next season and hit free agency again when more teams will have cap space.
Together with Los Angeles’ agreement to sign Wesley Matthews, who took the bi-annual exception (one year, $3.6 million) to slide into Danny Green’s role, the champs’ roster is taking shape. Harrell is an excellent pick-and-roll partner for the newly acquired Dennis Schroder, and his game has developed to the point where he can be another source of offense for the Lakers in the halfcourt. Frank Vogel’s coaching staff won’t have to worry as much about staggering LeBron James and Anthony Davis, both of whom might need their minutes reduced at the beginning of the regular season because of the quick turnaround.
But the fit could be cleaner. Harrell does nothing to fix the Lakers’ spacing, and it’ll be hard to use Davis as a roll man when he’s on the court. On defense, opposing teams will target Harrell in pick-and-rolls in the playoffs. When that happened to Howard, Vogel could just bench him and make Davis the lone big, but, as we saw with the Clippers a couple of months ago, that’s a trickier proposition when the player being targeted is this talented. If Doc Rivers wouldn’t sit a clearly diminished version of Harrell, would Vogel sit him when he’s contributing on offense like his normal self? Is it a little weird that I have to ask this question about Los Angeles’ biggest offseason acquisition?
Hello, Gallo; goodbye, Collins?
There’s a lot to love about Gallinari’s game. He’s always been crafty with and without the ball and able to get to the free throw line, a true threat from anywhere on the floor. At this stage of his career, though, he’s not as versatile or quick laterally as he used to be. The younger version of Gallinari could slot in as a small forward next to John Collins and Clint Capela, but this one should play at the four full-time.
Saying hello to Gallinari might mean saying goodbye to Collins. The 23-year-old big man is eligible for a contract extension, and maybe the Hawks want to avoid playing the restricted-free-agency game with him next summer. I am curious about what they might be able to get back for him, and if they do trade him, I wonder how we’ll look back at the Capela and Gallinari moves in a few years.
Collins paired extremely well with Trey Young in the pick-and-roll, and he’s been trying to develop into a do-it-all offensive player and a more reliable defender. From a certain angle, the Capela acquisition could be viewed as a bet that Collins would fulfill his potential, rather than a hedge against him doing so. It is much more difficult to frame the Gallinari acquisition that way.
Meet the new (but also old) Blazers
Coming off a torn Achilles, Rodney Hood re-signed with the Portland Trail Blazers for two years and $21 million, with a non-guaranteed second season. The Blazers also reached an agreement with forward…