Discussing some smaller NBA moves, Part 1

There has been so much focus on the big names in free agency that sometimes the complementary players are overlooked. Here’s a rundown of some of the mid-level names that have changed teams this summer:

Raymond Felton signs with the Knicks. (2/$15 M)
When life gives you lemons… Donnie Walsh managed to sign Amare Stoudemire, but struck out on LeBron, Wade and Bosh. So instead of overpaying for another big-name free agent, or even re-signing David Lee, Walsh signed a capable point guard in Felton to run Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system. Most importantly, he negotiated a short, two-year contract (with a possible third season as a team option) to allow the pursuit of Chris Paul if/when he becomes a free agent in two years. Felton averaged 12-4-6 and shot 46% from the field for the Bobcats last season. His numbers are sure to rise in New York assuming he gets the same run (33 mpg).

Jermaine O’Neal signs with the Celtics. (2/$12 M)
Rasheed Wallace is retiring, so the C’s needed to shore up its front line in order to contend with Dwight Howard, Carlos Boozer and Chris Bosh in the playoffs. O’Neal isn’t the player he used to be, but he averaged 14-7 and shot a career high (53%) for the Heat last season. He’s a big body and decent defender and he’s capable of hitting a face up jumper when given the opportunity. As long as he holds up, this is a nice signing by Boston.

Kyle Korver signs with the Bulls. (3/$15 M)
Chicago lacked three-point shooting last season and Korver fills that need. He hit almost 54% from deep last season and is a career 41% shooter. He should be a nice fit as a spot up shooter with Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer, but needs to shoot 40%+ from 3PT to justify a starting spot. He’s better defensively as a small forward than as a shooting guard, so it’s not clear how he and Luol Deng will play together. I expected Korver to get a full mid-level deal in this market so the Bulls got him for a relatively good price.

Tiago Splitter signs with the Spurs. (3/$11 M)
This deal happened rather quietly, but San Antonio finally has its 2007 first round draft pick under contract… at a bargain. Splitter is a 25-year-old, 6-11 center who was named the MVP of the Spanish League last season. He averaged 16-7 and shot 58% from the field in 28 minutes a game. While he’s not a great rebounder, he’s good defensively and can take some of the scoring load off of Tim Duncan. At under $4 million a season, he’s a steal.

Al Harrington signs with the Nuggets. (5/$34 M)
Harrington’s 18-6 line from last season needs to be taken with a grain of salt since he was playing for a pretty bad Knicks team that played at a very high pace. The Nuggets outbid the Mavs for Harrington’s services and Denver had to overpay to lock him up. The Nuggets will be without Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen to start the season and Nene is always a threat to miss time with injury, so Harrington gives the team a big body who can score when called upon. He’s 30, so this contract is not going to look very good in 2-3 years, but such is the market for big men.

Part 2: Tyson Chandler, Brendan Haywood, Tony Allen, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Kyle Lowry, Steve Blake

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