Free Agency: Day Six News and Notes

I was taking a look at some of the name free agents that had not signed contracts this morning. Even after today's events there are still a few big name players such as Monta Ellis (curious to know if he regrets opting out of the Bucks' extension) and Andrei Kirilenko. There are also the curious cases of Andrew Bynum, Greg Oden, and Jason Collins. It will be interesting to see where those big men end up. Let's look at Saturday's big signings.

Are the Pistons a playoff team now?
Detroit has not made the postseason in the past four years (and has not won a playoff game since 2008). With the Hawks, Josh Smith has not missed the playoffs in the last six seasons and Atlanta won three series in that span. Does Smith make the Pistons a playoff team? He will certainly help and give Detroit a go-to scorer. With Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, Detroit now has one of the most imposing and interesting starting frontcourts in the NBA, particularly in the Eastern Conference. Smith and Monroe are excellent passers for big men, so opposing defenses won't be able to double up on any one Piston without openings being created. Because he is bound to continue to play big minutes (in order to earn his big contract (four years, $56 million), Smith's fantasy numbers should remain stable. If Detroit can get stable guard play, they could be a nice sleeper in the East.

Cleveland adds more experience
In Byron Scott's last year in Cleveland, the Cavaliers were an exceedingly young team. They started four first- and second-year players, which led to a season of 24 wins. The Cavaliers signed Jarrett Jack to a four-year deal worth $25 million. Jack is coming off a breakout season in which he averaged 12.9 points and 5.6 assists off the Warriors' bench. He hit 40.4 percent of his 3-pointers. Jack will likely continue to be a sixth man for coach Mike Brown and the Cavaliers, but he will see near-starter minutes in relief of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters (both of whom suffered through injuries in 2012-13, so Jack could get plenty of starts as well). If Anderson Varejao can stay healthy, he will add veteran leadership to the frontcourt and the Cavaliers could have a nice mix of young and old players. Like Detroit, Cleveland could be in the playoff mix for the first time since LeBron James went south.

Back up point guards find homes
If you were wondering who was going to back up Chris Paul, Jose Caledron in Dallas, and Deron Williams, you need wonder no more. The answers, respectively, are Darren Collison, Devin Harris, and Shaun Livingston. Collison returned to Los Angeles where he played college ball at UCLA (and kept Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday from starting at point guard). The 6-0 guard has started the majority of his games since joining the NBA four years ago, but he will likely spend more time on the second unit with Jamal Crawford for the Doc Rivers-led Clippers. As a backup, Collison's numbers will dip and he will likely only be of interest in deeper leagues.
Harris returns to Dallas where he spent the first four years of his career. He averaged 9.9 points for the Hawks in 2012-13 and missed time with injuries. Like Collison, Harris' fantasy value will be limited. Livingston moves from one of the youngest teams to one of the oldest by trading his Cleveland uniform for stylish Brooklyn clothes. Backcourt injuries forced the Cavaliers to start Livingston 12 times after he was signed as a free agent in late December. He is a nice perimeter defender, but will not provide numbers to make him fantasy viable. Long-time backup Earl Watson will make Portland his new home, but the 34-year-old will not get much playing time off the Portland bench.

Other signings around the league
There were a number of other signings that may or may not have fantasy significance, the biggest of which was Carl Landry returning to the Kings. The power forward offers Sacramento one more professional to the lineup. He spent parts of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 season with the Kings. After moving from Houston in 2009-10, Landry averaged 18.0 points in 28 starts. The Kings also have Chuck Hayes, Jason Thompson, and Patrick Patterson under contract, so there will be a minutes crunch. Portland continued to add to their bench by signing Dorrell Wright. The 3-point specialist had his best season of the Pacific coast when he provided 16.4 points and 2.4 3-pointers in 2010-11. He will likely see minutes in the low-20s for the Trailblazers and only have value for his 3-point jags.
Houston brought back Francisco Garcia and added former-Cav Omri Casspi to their bench. Garcia came over from Sacramento in the trade that netted Houston Thomas Robinson for a short time. Garcia is a willing defender and started the last four games of the series against the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs. Casspi is the unfortunate owner of a descending scoring average over the first four years of his NBA career. He never found a consistent place off the Cavalier bench in 2012-13, but should find plenty of open 3-point shots with Dwight Howard commanding the low post. The sad saga of Royce White in Houston as the Rockets sent the troubled forward to Philadelphia. It is a good thing that the 76ers' fans are known for their patience and for fostering a nurturing environment. I hope White is able to play with Philadelphia because he was one of my favorite players from the 2012 draft class. Another personal favorite is Al-Farouq Aminu, who re-signed with the Pelicans. He provided 7.3 points and 7.7 rebounds as a starter for New Orleans, but should lose time to Tyreke Evans who could play small forward in a small lineup. Lastly, Jeff Pendergraph went from Indiana to San Antonio where he could fill DeJuan Blair's role.


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