This year’s NBA free agency period started off with Bradley Beal getting a huge extension from the Washington Wizards. His $128 million deal for five years makes a ton of sense when you think about how important it is to lock up young talent in this league.
Timofey Mozgov signing with the Los Angeles Lakers for $64 million over four years right after was a little more indicative of where we were headed. That is a lot of money for a center in an era where pace and shooting have been prioritized over all else.
But, 12 games into the season, the Baby Lakers have exceeded expectations in every way. Their starting center is only averaging nine points and five rebounds but, he is first in the league in field goal percentage.
L.A.’s gamble looks less disastrous by the day. There were other strange signings that followed Mozzy and those teams have to hope for at least a decent return on investment to get their seasons back on track.
Here are three big free agents that can instantly help their team with their presence when they return from injury:
The former Golden State Warrior had a rough 2016 NBA Finals. He clearly wasn’t himself against the Cavaliers and his deficiencies manifested themselves during the worst possible times as the Dubs fell to King James and company.
But, that being said, you can’t teach height. Throughout last year’s magical season in the Bay, Ezeli proved to be a great piece of a team that won 73 games. He protected the rim, ran the floor well and was on the receiving end of many highlight alley-oop jams.
Portland saw this and decided to sign the young big to a $15 million contract over two years. The Blazers have been bad on defense this season with Mason Plumlee and Meyers Leonard in the middle.
Ezeli will help in that regard when he returns. The most important factor for the club will be getting more out of their other big signings in Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe to compliment Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Linsanty’s resurgence in Brooklyn was one of the fun stories of the first week of the season. He signed for $36 million over three years and looked worth that investment in the early going for the Nets.
He was averaging 15 points and six assists for the New York franchise before he injured his hamstring. Surprisingly, before he went down, the Nets were sitting at 2-3 on the year and looking better than predictions had allowed for.
But, they have crashed back down to earth in his absence. Here’s hoping that when he returns the Barclay’s Center can enjoy some more fun basketball with their marquee star.
Horford was one of the biggest free agents available this summer and it seemed like a coup when Boston got him for $113 million over four years. He would improve their team by giving them an injection of star power.
One of his teammates inadvertently elbowed the big man on Halloween in practice and he hasn’t played a game since. The Celtics have struggled in his absence and look less like the gutsy team from last year.
His return could signal a calm for the entire squad as they can focus their attack around Isaiah Thomas and their newest player. The clock is ticking though and the C’s can’t afford to fall too far behind.
Getting their best shooter back should put them back on track.