Patience has paid off for the Boston Celtics and they just scored their biggest free agent signing since well maybe ever. Remember Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were both traded to the C’s. Anyways, Al Horford is coming to Boston on a 4 year, $113M contract when everyone on Twitter including the all mighty Woj. didn’t have an answer. Reports were circulating that Horford could possibly desire to return back to Atlanta and the Hawks were feverishly looking for a deal to trade Paul Millsap to create cap space. The Celtics and Washington Wizards were the two teams that were in contention for Horford from a free agency stand point with Oklahoma City being a wild card. The speculation and innuendo was put to rest when Al Horford announced on Twitter that the Celtics were his choice.
Celtic Pride!!!!!! 🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀
— Al Horford (@Al_Horford) July 2, 2016
This signing brings so much to the Celtics. It gives the team credibility, it puts the team into the next level of the Eastern Conference elite and it opens the door for possibly landing Kevin Durant. It’s a long shot but Celtics fans have to be somewhat optimistic at this point in time. Horford is a very good player and his presence in the paint will be huge. Last season he averaged 15.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 1.5 bpg on 50.5% shooting while playing in all 82 games. He’s a 4x All Star and getting better each season. This past year he blocked a career high 121 shots and his post defense was Top 10 in points per direct post-up.
After lighting $64 million fire signing Timofey MozGFOHov, the Los Angeles Lakers signed a solid veteran in Luol Deng for $72M. The contract will be for four years and while this seems like an astounding contract for a guy without a defined role on this team it’s a necessary and a solid move. Deng is a pro’s pro, his locker room and on-court presence will hopefully mold and mature the young pups on the team like DeAngelo Russell and Brandon Ingram. Deng’s still a very respectable NBA player who can contribute in a win now scenario so it’s not like the Lakers are paying him to be Kevin Garnett. They expect him to contribute 13 to 16 points per game and grab a handful of rebounds, play exceptional defense and stretch the floor with corner threes. At this price even if the Lakers sink further towards rock bottom, he’s a good asset and contenders will trade for him and his price today will be a “bargain” tomorrow.
The Utah Jazz continue to trend upwards and all signs point towards the playoffs in 2016-2017 in my opinion. The Jazz added a veteran presence by signing Joe Johnson on a 2 year, $22M contract. Hopefully after last season Johnson (34 years old) is prepared to take a 6th man role and give up his demands of being a starter. Utah has Rodney Hood and I can’t imagine JJ would start over him based on the strides Hood took last season. Johnson can still play and with limited minutes to keep his legs fresh he will be a nice addition off the bench.
Orlando Magic appears to be spitting in the face of small ball and the Magic Kingdom is now fit for the land of giants. The Magic signed free agent center Bismack Biyombo who spent last season with the Toronto Raptors. Biyombo’s deal will be worth $70M over four years and he’ll join the likes of Nikola Vucevic, Serge Ibaka, Aaron Gordon and Jeff Green in the team’s front court. Biyombo had a break out season last year with the Raps when he filled in as the starting center when Jonas Valanciunas went down with injury. In the post season he averaged 6.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.4 block and 58% shooting helping Toronto to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time. He’s only 23 years old and a raw talent and the Lakers should’ve gone after Biz instead of Moz.
In case you forgot or don’t care the Houston head coach is Mike D’Antoni so expect the Rockets to run a high powered offense with plenty of threes and a lot of scoring. The Rockets rotation just got more offensive with a pair of signings today. Ryan Anderson agreed to a 4 year, $80M deal and Eric Gordon accepted a 4 year, $53M offer from Houston. The starting rotation should be: Patrick Beverly, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson and Clint Capella. Not bad on paper and maybe a better 2K team than anything but I’m not holding my breath on the playoffs. Eric Gordon will assume a bench role and based on his history of constantly being injured it was wise for him to follow the money. Memphis and New York were both interested but the Knicks opted to go a different direction and Memphis couldn’t offer as much as Houston.
The New York Knicks starting five is also set and it’s an improvement on last season but I’m just not sure what to expect or predict. The shooting guard slot was filled by Courtney Lee who accepted a 4 year, $50M deal from the Knicks. A good signing and good value. It will be Rose, Lee, Melo, Porzingis and Noah with a young and inexperienced bench. Knicks fans are definitely optimistic and I guess they should be giving how bad their team has been for so long. I don’t think we can tell Phil Jackson ‘job well done’ but he doesn’t deserve to be blasted based on this line-up either. They won’t have Durant or Wade or any other mega stars but they’ve surrounded Carmelo with his best team since arriving from Denver.