The first day of 2019 NBA free agency was the busiest transaction day in recent memory, possibly in league history. With names like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker and Jimmy Butler flying around, it was almost impossible to that were taking place.
So now is a good time to look back at some of those less-publicized agreements. You’ll find that, while not as splashy, some teams made some fantastic deals to bring aboard good players for next season and beyond. Here’s a look at five sneaky-good signings that have taken place so far in NBA free agency.
*All terms are reported figures, as deals cannot become official until July 6
1. JJ Redick, New Orleans Pelicans (2 years, $26.5M)
In a league where shooting has become a premium skill, Redick — coming off a career-high scoring season with Philadelphia — was one of the most coveted prizes on the free-agent market. Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin kept his hot streak going, nabbing Redick to complement his young core in New Orleans. Redick is the perfect floor-spacer for the Pelicans alongside guys like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, and he should thrive under Alvin Gentry’s fast-paced offense. That’s not even to mention the intangible impact Redick will have in helping develop his young teammates both on and off the court. Big win for the Pels.
2. Bojan Bogdanovic, Utah Jazz (4 years, $73M)
The Jazz needed more shooting, and they added one of the league’s best in Bogdanovic, coming off a career season in both scoring (18.0 points per game) and 3-point percentage (42.5 percent). The price tag might look a little steep, but Bogdanovic will fit perfectly into the Jazz lineup, interchangeable at both forward positions, and is a good enough defender to keep Utah elite on that end. After the injury to Victor Oladipo, Bogdanovic also proved he’s capable of creating his own shot and drawing fouls (career-high 3.8 free throw attempts per game last season), to take some of the playmaking load off of Donovan Mitchell and newly acquired Mike Conley.
3. Bobby Portis, New York Knicks (2 years, $31M)
Knicks fans probably don’t want to hear it after missing out on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but they’re going to enjoy watching Portis next season. He’s an incredibly aggressive offensive player who posted per-36-minute averages of 19.7 points and 11.2 rebounds last season while shooting 39 percent from the 3-point line. He’ll probably get minutes in the 30s given the state of New York’s roster, so he could put up some big numbers. Sure he lacks refinement on the defensive end, but he’s just 24 years old and could blossom with more responsibility and opportunity in a rebuilding environment.
4. Ed Davis, Utah Jazz (2 years, $10M)
Chalk another one up for Dennis Lindsey and Justin Zanik in the Jazz front office. They had to deal Derrick Favors (another good pickup by the Pelicans) in order to sign Bogdanovic, and they found a great replacement for him at a rock-bottom price. Davis is an elite rebounder (an absurd 17.3 boards per 36 minutes last season) and spark plug off the bench. Though slight of frame and not a shot-blocker, Davis is a good defender and will be more than adequate as a reserve. He doesn’t have much of an offensive game outside of put-backs, but he is a great screen setter who will help free up Utah shooters. He won’t make headlines, but Davis will help the Jazz win games in the regular season and in what could be a deep playoff run.
5. Robin Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks (2 years, $10M)
You can’t help but smile at the prospect of the Lopez brothers being on the same team for the first time since their Stanford days, but this signing is much more than a novelty. Robin was good for the Bulls toward the end of last season once he started getting regular playing time, and while he doesn’t have Brook’s 3-point range (though he does shoot some), he has expanded his offensive game to include mid-range set shots and jump hooks. Robin’s impact will be felt most on the defensive end, where he is a stout, physical rim protector and a good rebounder. Milwaukee had backup center problems all of last season, and that won’t be an issue with the second Lopez brother on board. Plus, if they’re ever in a pinch, they can always put them in at the same time to confuse the other team.