The other day, I took a look at five of the NBA’s biggest signings during the offseason and graded them based on how those players have produced so far. I talked about how the Rockets have gotten their money’s worth on Trevor Ariza and how the Andre Miller signing was a mistake from the beginning for Portland. Today, I evaluated five more players that scored contracts last summer.
David Lee, (Knicks, 1-years, $7 million):
Why they signed him: The Knicks have always been pleased with Lee’s hustle, good attitude and rebounding ability. But with the team trying to save as much money as possible to sign one of the elite 2010 free agents, they were certainly reluctant to give Lee the long-term deal (around $8-10 million per year) that he and his agent were seeking. After no other team stepped to the plate, Lee accepted a one-year deal from the Knicks.
What they’ve gotten: Lee has had an All-Star worthy season. He’s averaging a career-high 18.8 ppg, 11 rpg (seventh in the NBA) and shooting 57.3 percent from the field. He has improved his range and ball handling this season. The Knicks are also starting to come around and look like a decent basketball team. They’ve won six of their last 10. Grade – A minus
Brandon Bass, (Magic, 4-years, $18 million):
Why they signed him: Bass had a strong showing in last year’s playoffs as a member of the Mavs. GMs love the fact Bass is a big body and extremely explosive. His energy can really get his teammates and crowd going. Orlando probably envisioned Bass and Howard being one of the most athletic big man combos in the League.
What they’ve gotten: Bass went from playing over 20 mpg in the beginning of the season when Rashard Lewis was suspended to sporadically seeing time. Bass has already racked up 12 DNP-CDs (did not play – coach’s decision). While Bass is probably just a victim of the numbers game, it clearly hasn’t worked out for him so far. Grade – C minus
Rasheed Wallace, (Celtics, 3-years, $19 million):
Why they signed him: It’s no secret that Wallace is a talented player. He can shoot the three, pass out of the post, rebound and intimidate the s**t out of opposing players. His skills have declined a bit, but he can still be a valuable asset to a playoff team. The Celtics envision Wallace to being a perfect role player that will hit big shots and be a warrior during the playoffs.
What they’ve gotten: Wallace has definitely come in and earned his checks. He is averaging 9.4 ppg and 4.3 rpg and has had some big nights for the C’s. And here’s an interesting fact: In every single game that Boston has lost, Wallace didn’t score in double digits. He’s a huge part of their team and they need him to be even bigger come spring. Grade – B plus
Ben Gordon, (Pistons, 5-years, $55 million):
Why they signed him: B.G. can flat out fill it out. A modern-day Vinnie Johnson, Gordon can get buckets in a hurry and is not scared to take the big shots down the stretch. With A.I. and ‘Sheed departing over the summer, the Pistons needed another scorer.
What they’ve gotten: Gordon has dealt with some injuries through the year and the Pistons have been sinking in the standings as of late. He has done a decent job scoring the ball (18.2 ppg) but the Pistons probably expect more out of him, especially with that price tag. Grade – C plus
Lamar Odom, (Lakers, 4-years, $33 million):
Why they signed him: Lamar has been a Laker for half a decade. He knows the system and knows how to win. He’s extremely versatile, has All-Star abilities and can be effective as both a starter or coming off the bench.
What they’ve gotten: Lamar has been solid this season. Although his stats don’t jump out of the page (9.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg and 3.6 apg), he fills in wherever he’s needed. Last Friday’s game against the Kings was evidence of this. When the Lakers were down 15 at halftime and were struggling for offense, Odom came in and scored 12 points in the third quarter. That sparked a Lakers comeback and ultimately a Lakers win. Grade – B