After all the flurry of moves during July, NBA free agency has finally hit a slow point in August. Apart from the much-anticipated Carmelo Anthony trade and the Nerlens Noel situation in Dallas, there aren’t many notable moves left for teams to make. However, some teams are still signing up free agents to fill their rosters, and here’s a breakdown of the most recent ones that went down.
Ian Clark to New Orleans Pelicans
With so few shooters to surround Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins—not to mention Alvin Gentry planning to start Rajon Rondo alongside Jrue Holiday—the Pelicans’ spacing won’t be pretty next season. But at least Clark’s addition on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum now gives them another option off the bench who can spot up and knock down some shots. That’s what he did quite well as part of last year’s championship-winning Golden State Warriors as he shot 37 percent from beyond the arc.
However, Clark doesn’t offer much else aside from his shooting and some smart cutting off the ball. He’s a subpar defender—which was why he didn’t get to play more minutes for the Warriors last season—and also can’t create anything off the dribble. While Clark can be a solid bench contributor, he’s not the two-way wing who can play big minutes that the Pelicans desperately need to play along with their Big 3 of Davis, Cousins and Holiday.
Michael Beasley & Ramon Sessions to New York Knicks
The Knicks have rounded out their roster by acquiring a couple of veterans in Beasley and Sessions on one-year minimum deals.
The Beasley pickup looks like a pretty useful one. While Beasley hasn’t turned into the star that many thought he’d be when he went No. 2 overall in 2008, he’s finally embraced his niche in the league and has grown into a reliable bench player in recent years. After a strong year with the Houston Rockets in 2016, he averaged 9.4 points in 16.7 minutes per game in 56 games with the Milwaukee Bucks last season.
This move feels like it has Carmelo Anthony’s potential exit in mind. Beasley can play either forward position like Melo and would be able to make up for at least some of the massive offensive production the Knicks would lose if they finally do part with their All-Star forward.
As for the Sessions deal, it’s fine. The 31-year-old should provide some much-needed veteran leadership to a Knicks point guard rotation that was the least experienced in the league. Sessions should get a good share of playing time along with rookie Frank Ntilikina and Ron Baker, who was officially signed to one of the most head-scratching contracts of the summer.
Make no mistake, though, Sessions’ signing still doesn’t solve the Knicks’ problematic starting point guard situation, not by a long shot. The fact that Baker has a realistic shot at starting next season has to be very disconcerting to Knicks fans.
Luke Babbitt to Atlanta Hawks
Babbitt had a nice year with the Miami Heat last season, as he was asked to play a somewhat unusual role of stretch-four for most of the year. He did the best he could, averaging 4.8 points on 15.7 minutes and knocking down 41 percent of threes in 68 games (55 starts).
However, he’s likely not going to sniff the starting lineup or even get much playing time in Atlanta this season with the Hawks pretty much set at both forward positions. But when he does see the floor, he should provide the Hawks with added shooting, which is something no team can have enough of these days.
Vander Blue, Briante Weber to Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have just one spot left up for grabs on their 15-man roster, and Blue and Weber look set to slug it out for that final place during training camp.
Blue, who was a standout player in Summer League and was named MVP of the D-League in 2016-17 while playing for the Los Angeles D-Fenders, is a capable enough scorer. But he has been unable to break into the league for some time because of his shaky defense. Meanwhile, Weber is the opposite situation in that he’s gotten a few chances in the league because of his strong perimeter D, but his lack of an offensive games makes him a liability on that end of the court.
If Blue’s offense and Weber’s defense could somehow be combined into one player, that guy could’ve possibly gotten some playing time in the Lakers’ backcourt rotation this season. As it stands, though, both are flawed players and won’t see much time on the court even if they are signed. But for what it’s worth, Weber might have a better shot at getting the spot since the Lakers could use a third point guard behind Lonzo Ball and Tyler Ennis.
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