NBA free agency news roundup: John Wall signs extension with Wizards, Mavs ink Devin Harris
It took a while to get the terms worked out and that period of time lent room for discussion about whether John Wall should be extended as a max contract type of player. The Washington Wizards officially inked their point guard to a five-year, $80 million extension Wednesday, making Wall one of few.
He joins Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose as the only point guards in the NBA who have max contracts. It's an important fact to exemplify why there's been so much discussion about giving a 22-year-old so much money after he failed to lead his team to the playoffs in his first three NBA seasons. Adding a wrinkle to the discussion, Wall is coming off a year of only 49 games played after he underwent knee surgery last offseason.
But there's no denying the Wizards needed Wall, even if he's yet to make an All-Star game.
Wall: "I can promise all of them that I will repay that belief by...doing everything I can to get this team back where it belongs." #wizards— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) July 31, 2013
Belief that Wall is worth a max deal could be irrelevant, BulletsForever.com's Mike Prada argued earlier this week, when the deal was everything but signed:
This isn't furniture shopping, where there are an abundance of useful options in the same price window. Anyone currently in the league that's on Wall's level won't be available on the open market. The Wizards' choice: either keep Wall ... or beginning a multi-year rebuilding process that hopefully yields a high draft pick sometime in the next half-decade that can be the next Wall.
Harris signs with Mavs but pays the price
Devin Harris agreed to a one-year, veteran's minimum deal with the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, but the newsworthiness is in the details of his contract rather than the signing itself. Dallas offered Harris a three-year, $9 million contract earlier in the free agency period, but a physical before inking that contract revealed a dislocated toe that required surgery.
That's a lot of guaranteed money to lose out on.
Now, Harris will make $1.3 million in 2012-13 and again hit the free agent market next summer.
Dallas had agreed to the initial contract with Harris before filling in some other free agent holes. The team signed shooting guard Monta Ellis and center Samuel Dalembert, both of whom will presumably become starters. They also filled in the depth chart with big man Brandan Wright and are on the cusp of adding forward DeJuan Blair.
With little more cap space to spend after the most recent deals, the Mavs didn't even have a choice to offer Harris more than the veteran's minimum.
Harris is capable, though not spectacular, when running the offense, boasts career averages of 13 and 5 and is only 30 years old, believe it or not. He's excellent at getting to the rim and drawing fouls, something the Mavs have been missing for years. He's apparently a good defender when he tries, so we'll see how that goes.
What to make of the Pistons' offseason moves
The Detroit Pistons fall into the category of weird. Weird offseason signings, a weird attempt to become mediocre rather than great and a weird inability to go along with the rest of the NBA, where teams either put all their chips in vying for a championship or tanking for the future.
Josh Smith signed a max deal with the Pistons and joins a frontcourt needing him most at small forward. There aren't all that many shooters on the roster, and the offseason was capped by trading young point guard Brandon Knight for less-youthful Brandon Jennings.
SB Nation's Tom Ziller sees a lot of frustration from Pistons fans about to boil over, but there is a good deal of entertainment value in this team. Coach Maurice Cheeks could help Jennings and Smith avoid their chucking habits by looking for the Pistons' young bigs.
Defense should be the calling card of the Pistons, and the offense should largely drive Detroit fans crazy. The best way for (Maurice) Cheeks to keep his charges reasonably sane in terms of shot selection is to challenge them to set up Monroe and Drummond as frequently as possible.
Monroe and Drummond need to be fed for this team to be good, and asking the two stars to do the feeding might keep them away from their worst habits.
Ziller easily sees Detroit as a sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. In terms of where the Pistons were last season, that's a pretty significant improvement, no matter how weird their offseason might have been.
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