Now that the dust has almost completely settled on what ended up being a rather lackluster free agency period, now is the time to do every blogger's favorite thing; declare winners and losers. While I'll put off a full free agency analysis until I get back home from my current trip, here is a look at the top five signings of the free agency period;
5. Jacque Vaughn
No, that is not a typo. The fact that Vaughn makes this list is an indictment of the ridiculous amount of fiscal irresponsibility that was exhibited during the free agency period. Between teams bidding against themselves, overvaluing players, and making just plain stupid deals, the Spurs showed why they have won four championships in nine years. They knew they needed a backup PG, they knew Vaughn fit into their system, and they paid very little in order to get him. (2 years, $2.5 million) In the current NBA landscape, with so many teams languishing in salary cap hell, moves such as getting a solid backup PG for near the league minimum can be much better than throwing a max contract at a so so talent. (See; Lewis, Rashard)
4. Darko Milicic
This is not to say that Darko is going to be some sort of star in Memphis; he likely won't be. The Grizzlies did make a good signing with Milicic on a number of levels. First, they filled a need. Everyone in the NBA knew that Memphis was looking to find a big man to compliment Pau Gasol, and the Grizzlies went hard after both Anderson Varejao and Andres Nocioni. They were able to get Milicic, who in spite of all of the criticism levied against him is actually turning into a pretty serviceable 7 footer. So the Grizzlies filled a need, added a young talent, and most importantly were able to do it without breaking the bank. The Darko deal was for three years and somewhere between $18-$21 million. When you realize that Darko was originally seeking about $9 million a season, this deal looks that much better.
3. Grant Hill
This was a signing that was great for both sides. For the Suns, they were able to add a veteran leader who also filled a need (are you that crazy about Boris Diaw or Raja Bell?) for a low price. (2 years, $3.8 million) For Hill, going to the Suns gives him a chance to play for a championship, play in an exciting system, and to play a significant number of minutes at an age(34) where many teams would have wanted to put him out to pasture. The deal was a steal for the Suns, and adding Hill may well put them over the hump and into the Finals next season. Now, if they could just get rid of Marcus Banks...
2. Jamaal Magloire
When I first saw news of this signing my initial reaction was "Oooph". For those of you unfamiliar with what "Oooph" is, it's the sound that you make when you see something particularly nasty. A six foot blond walking down the street? "Oooph". Sean Taylor knocking a wide receiver head over heels? "Oooph". Coming home and seeing a big fat steak already sitting on the table? "Oooph". The prospect of the Nets starting Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson, Nenad Kristic, and Jamaal Magloire next season? "Oooph". That does not even take into account the fact that signing Magloire for one year and only $4 million is both cheap and low risk, and that signing Magloire also prevented them from throwing away money on Mikki Moore. This signing was ridiculously good.
1. Gerald Wallace
Did you see the contract that Rashard Lewis got from the Magic? Now imagine a player that is five years younger, plays the same position as Lewis, has an offensive game that is fast developing to match Lewis', is one of the top five defenders in the NBA, and is just generally better than Lewis in every single way other than perimeter shooting. Now imagine that you just signed him for half as much as the Magic signed Lewis. That is the kind of dream that the Charlotte Bobcats have been having ever since they signed Gerald Wallace to a six year, $57 million deal. Wallace is a star in the making, and if you have watched him at all in the past few years you know that he has been making quantum leaps in his game every single season. The Bobcats easily made the best signing of the year getting Wallace for the money they did.