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Free Agency: Day Two News and Notes

After reading Nick Whalen's detailed and excellent blog post on day one of the NBA free agency period, I was worried that there wasn't going to be anything remaining to write about. Sure, I could predict what Dwight Howard had for breakfast (sources say, granola and yogurt with fresh strawberries) and how that had convinced him to sign with the Rockets because both the Rockets' colors and strawberries are red. There has been no movement on the Howard front other than his meeting with the Hawks and his wooing by the Lakers ("Dwight, baby, I can change"). Let's get to the actual news, as it happened during the day.

The Pacers re-sign David West
West returned to Indiana in a deal reportedly worth $36 million over three years. In his second year with the Pacers, West filled the gap vacated by Danny Granger's injury and bumped his scoring average from 12.8 points to 17.1 points. During the Eastern Conference finals, West and Roy Hibbert gave the Heat all they could handle on the interior. West is 32 years old and has 669 games on his surgically repaired knee. It makd sense for the Pacers to bring the band back together (and hopefully bolster the bench) to take another shot at Miami and the other contenders in the east. However, there may be some regrets in Indiana when a 35-year-old West is taking up a large portion of the salary cap in two years. If he can stay healthy, he should average 16 points and seven boards with his typically excellent shooting percentages.

Martell Webster returns to the Wizards
Despite spending seven years in the league, Webster is only 26 years old and is coming off his best season. He provided 11.4 points and hit a career-high 42.2 percent of his three-pointers for the Wizards in 2012-13. Washington was so impressed that they signed the veteran small forward to a deal for four years. The former-Trailblazer and T-wolf should compete with Otto Porter for the starting gig. At some point, he will likely move to the bench where he will offer offensive support to an improving starting unit. Over his career, Webster has hit 38.4 percent of his 3-pointers and his percentage has improved in recent years (he also hit better than 40 percent from long range in 2010-11). As opposing defenses continue to try to limit John Wall's forays to the basket, the Wizards will need plenty of dead-eye shooters to rain threes, but Webster will have more competition for playing time in 2013-14.

Tyler Hansbrough becomes a free agent
While the Pacers' two moves of the day may not have been directly connected, the fact that West would be back as a starter for Indiana meant that Hansbrough would remain next to his brother at the start of games. Hansbrough may or may not believe he is a starter in the NBA, but he seemed well suited for his role with Indiana as an energy player off the bench. It may be hard to remember that a player with a seemingly limited offensive game averaged over 20 points throughout his collegiate career. There's no doubt that Psycho T brings a certain amount of feistiness to a team, but he will largely remain a fantasy non-factor going forward.

Spurs keep Tiago Splitter
There were some reports that Tiago might split to Portland, but the Spurs paid their Brazilian big man to stay in San Antonio. Recency bias may cause us to overrate Splitter's disappearing act in the NBA finals, but the three-year veteran has his best season with 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds. He played very well in the sweep of the Grizzlies (8.8 points, 68.2 percent from the field) and provided excellent defensive support for Tim Duncan in the post. Players like Splitter may not have much fantasy relevance, but they hold to their roles to help the Spurs win.

Eric Bledsoe, on his way to the Valley of the Sun, headlines a three-team trade
The details of the trade were that Bledsoe and Caron Butler went from the Clippers to the Suns, Los Angeles received Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick, while Milwaukee took in a pair of future second round draft picks. The immediate reaction was that the Bucks were waiving the white flag and would now be horrible in 2013-14. Without mincing words, this reaction was idiotic. Redick was not going to re-sign with the Bucks, so at least they took in a little something for him. And let's add that the Duke villain's short tenure in Milwaukee was filled with tepid shooting (31.8 percent on 3-pointers) and a reason for the fans to be mad that the Bucks sent Tobias Harris away for him.
More importantly, let's look at the shift of pieces in the Pacific Division. Without Bledsoe, the Clippers will need to find a viable backup for Chris Paul. Redick should enjoy playing with Paul (they faced off in the ACC in the mid-2000s) and see his shooting percentage return to career norms because of the openings. Dudley should slide into Butler's role and possibly exceed Butler in unselfish play and defensive help.
Since trading Steve Nash to the Lakers, Phoenix has signed Goran Dragic to a long-term deal, drafted Kendall Marshall, and now brought Bledsoe on board. There doesn't appear to be a coherent long-range plan. Dragic and Bledsoe could share the majority of the backcourt minutes. Butler could be the big beneficiary of the trade in terms of fantasy value because the Suns do not have many viable offensive options.

Minnesota signs a pair of sharpshooters
The Timberwolves opened the purse strings to bring back Chase Budinger and pluck Kevin Martin from the Thunder. Much like the Redick deal, fans (such as one notable Bostonite living in Los Angeles) will likely point to the fact that the Thunder now traded James Harden for NBDL table scraps. Each deal is worked out individually. Budinger was limited to 23 games by a knee injury in his first year in Minnesota. He only hit 32.1 percent of his 3-pointers and averaged 9.4 points. Martin returns to coach Rick Adelman's fold. He played for Adelman in both Sacramento and Houston, and had his best seasons. However, Martin is now 30 years old and is coming off a somewhat disappointing season with the Thunder. The veteran shooting guard did hit a career-high 42.6 percent of his 3-pointers, but saw his scoring average dip to 14.0 points (his lowest average since 2005-06) as he took on a reserve role. All in all, Budinger and Martin will share minutes and somewhat dilute each other's fantasy value. Martin will still be a worthwhile draft pick in terms of points, percentage, and threes, but fantasy owners should temper their expectations. Budinger will only be of interest in deeper leagues and as a 3-point streamer.

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