NBA Free Agency: Day Four News and Notes

Maybe I am getting neurotic in my old age, but I keep worrying that nothing will happen on a various day in the NBA free agency period. However, that hasn't been the case, yet. Players are moving all around the league, and there is plenty to write about, despite the holiday. Yes, there were fireworks in free agency on this Fourth of July. Let's take a look at some of the bigger news.

The Bobcats reel in their biggest fish ... ever

The name change back to the Hornets can't happen soon enough for Charlotte because the team's first nine years have been lackluster, to say the least. In the past week, they have added Cody Zeller and Al Jefferson to their frontcourt. Jefferson entered the league the same year as the Bobcats and is now on his fourth franchise, despite career averages of 16.4 points and 9.0 rebounds. He is the biggest free agent signing in Bobcats history and will be their best low-post player as well. There isn't much competition. He should be able to continue to produce in the watered down Eastern Conference, and the move to Charlotte should bump Jefferson's fantasy stock up a tad (even if it likely means he won't see the playoffs in 2013-14).

'Reke headed to the Big Easy

After the Kings decided against matching the Pelicans' offer for Tyreke Evans, the teams worked out a trade and included Portland to make things work. Evans is headed to the Pelicans where he will apparently come off the bench to support Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon in what - on paper, at least - sounds like a great backcourt. New Orleans sent Greivis Vasquez to Sacaremento and Robin Lopez to Portland. To get the floppy-haired center, Portland sent Jeff Withey to New Orleans and a second round draft pick to the Kings.
Evans' four-year run with the Kings ends with his scoring average dropping in each season in Sacramento. He still averaged 15.2 points to go along with 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 2012-13 and is just 23 years old. The one-year Memphis Tiger is clearly not a point guard, but he could blossom under the stable leadership of Monty Williams with the Pelicans. With somewhat diminished playing time as a reserve, Evans' production will likely stay around the 15-point, three-assist mark, but his value won't dip much.

With the Hornets, Vasquez was one of the nicest fantasy surprises of the season. He was third in the NBA at 9.0 assists and added 13.9 points and 1.1 3-pointers to help fantasy teams. With rookie Ben McLemore, Vasquez could provide the Kings with a new-look backcourt that could help new coach Mike Malone have a modicum of success in his first season as a head coach. If Vasquez does win the starting job, then the fantasy value of Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette takes a big hit.

The Knicks keep their reserve guards

One is a 27-year-old who has already played nine full years in the NBA, and the other was a rookie as 35-year-old. Yet, somehow both J.R. Smith and Pablo Prigioni helped the Knicks to their most successful season in at least 15 years, and both will be back. There had been some speculation that a team would offer the mercurial Smith a barrel-full of money after the guard provided 18.1 points off the Knicks bench, but he wanted to stay with the Knicks Smith will likely reprise his sixth man role for coach Mike Woodson. Prigioni started 18 games for the Knicks, but will likely have limited value again in 2013-14. The Knicks simply have too many wing players in their rotation.

Belinelli heads to San Antonio

With the Bulls, Marco Belinelli showed that he could fill a role and start in a pinch (as he did in the playoffs). Now, he headed to San Antonio where he will find his role clearly defined: play defense and hit corner threes. Now on his fifth franchise after six seasons, Belinelli will not be confused with a star, but he has hit 38.7 percent of his 3-pointers. The Italian guard will split time with Danny Green and Manu Ginobili among the legion of 3-point shooters for the Spurs.

Earl Clark gets to play for Mike Brown again

Clark was only able to spend five games with coach Mike Brown in 2013-14 before Brown was ousted as the Lakers coach. The former Louisville forward must have made an impression because he will now play for the Cavaliers after signing as a free agent. Brown values defense, and Clark can guard a variety of positions. While there are those that may look at Clark as being redundant with top pick Anthony Bennett in town, there is little indication that Bennett will excel at defense early in his career. The 6-9 forward will just be another tool in Brown's toolbox, and it wouldn't be shocking to see Bennett come off the bench early in the season.

Willie Green to remain Chris Paul's caddy

Green was this year's version of Marc Iavaroni: a token starter. He started 60 games for the Clippers, but ceded most of his playing time to Jamal Crawford. Green must have liked his part-time role on the team because he will be back. He'll likely lose his starting role to J.J. Redick but will try to hit better than 40 percent of his 3-pointers for the third year in a row.


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