The 2020 NBA free agency period has seen a host of big-name players either re-sign with their teams or find a fresh start elsewhere.
While the big names like Brandon Ingram, Fred VanVleet, Montrezl Harrell, and Gordon Hayward grabbed the headlines, we break down the five best under-the-radar moves in free agency that will have the biggest impact on their teams.
In no particular order:
Aron Baynes - Toronto Raptors
The deal: Baynes has signed to a two-year, $14.3 million deal with the Toronto Raptors. The second season is reportedly a team option.
Toronto picks up one of the top big men on the market in Aron Baynes. Second season is a team option, sources said. Marc Gasol heads to Los Angeles on an agreement with the Lakers, where his preference has been and where his brother Pau is an icon. https://t.co/BiJ9JpeIGg- Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 23, 2020
The Raptors said goodbye to their championship-winning big man tandem of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol in free agency, signing with the LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers respectively, but the Raptors did a great job filling the void of defence, shooting, and dirty work in the form of Phoenix Suns big man Aron Baynes.
The bruising Australian gives the Raptors a physical defensive presence at the rim with his 6'10", 260-pound frame, and with his penchant for setting screens, grabbing offensive rebounds, and muscling up with the league's best bigs, he's sure to win Raptors fans hearts from the jump.
The 34-year-old is coming off the best season of his career, averaging 11.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists on 48% shooting from the field, 35.1% from the 3-point line, and 74.7% at the free-throw line in just 22.2 minutes per game for the Suns.
His evolution into a reliable floor-spacing big, who can knock down threes at a steady pace, also bodes well for the Raptors. According to NBA.com, just under half (44.4 percent) of his field-goal attempts last season were catch-and-shoot 3s, which he converted at 35%.
At just over $7 million per season, Baynes' value versus his production is a home run for Masai Ujiri.
Tristan Thompson - Boston Celtics
The deal: Thompson has signed to a two-year, $19 million deal with the Boston Celtics after spending the first nine seasons of his career in Cleveland.
Thompson brings championship experience to the Celtics, a team who are looking to take the next step in the Eastern Conference after three trips to the Conference Finals in the past four seasons. Thompson has 78 games of playoff experience to his name, playing in four NBA Finals.
At 6-foot-9, 254 lbs. with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, the Canadian fills a need in the Celtics frontcourt as a versatile big man, who can control the glass and switch out onto the perimeter to defend smaller guards.
Tristan Thompson has averaged 10 RPG in each of the last 2 seasons.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 22, 2020
The Celtics haven't had a player average 10 RPG since Al Jefferson in 2006-07.
That Boston streak of 13 seasons without a player averaging 10 RPG is the longest active drought in the NBA. pic.twitter.com/vQpdhBpXfM
While Daniel Theis has proved to be a reliable fit in that role, the Celtics needed reinforcements up front with the likes of Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Bam Adebayo likely awaiting them in the playoffs.
Thompson is coming off of a solid season with the Cavaliers averaging career-highs of 12.0 points and 2.1 assists to go with 10.1 rebounds per game. The 29-year-old has also been expanding his game beyond the arc, connecting on 39% of his 3-point attempts (9-for-23).
Rajon Rondo - Atlanta Hawks
The deal: Rondo has signed a two-year, $15 million deal to leave the Los Angeles Lakers for the Atlanta Hawks.
While the signings of Danilo Gallinari and Bogdan Bogdanovic stole the headlines in Atlanta, the acquisition of Rajon Rondo brings the young Hawks some much-needed veteran leadership and a reliable floor general to keep the offence ticking when Trae Young is off the floor.
The Hawks' offence ground to a halt with Young off the floor to the tune of 15.5 points last season and with a host of new offensive options on the roster, Rondo gives the Hawks some stability getting into their sets as well as another pick-and-roll playmaker to bring the best out of John Collins and especially Clint Capela.
Rajon Rondo is an Atlanta Hawk!@badboyhorn44 tells @1TomByrne & @SamMitchellNBA how the veteran guard's leadership will help his new team. pic.twitter.com/79WMJ9h6DM- SiriusXM NBA Radio (@SiriusXMNBA) November 25, 2020
Jae Crowder - Phoenix Suns
The deal: Crowder joins the Suns on a three-year, $30 million deal following a trip to the Finals with the Miami Heat.
With Kelly Oubre Jr. now a Golden State Warrior, the Suns' wing/forward rotation was left with youngsters Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. Crowder immediately plugs in as a starter, with his 3&D ability.
The 30-year-old is one of the most underrated two-way players in the league, with his versatility in smaller lineups on both sides of the floor giving the Suns increased flexibility. Crowder's defence alone allows the Suns to go small with him at power forward in a spaced lineup next to big man Deandre Ayton.
Crowder started all 21 playoff games for the Heat last season, averaging 12.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.9 assists on 40.3% shooting from the field and 34.2% from the 3-point line on 7.7 attempts per game.
Suns fans, watch this compilation of Jae Crowder guarding Giannis in the playoffs and be happy. pic.twitter.com/ATfhFAQEUp- Sam Cooper (@scooperhoops) November 21, 2020
Avery Bradley - Miami Heat
The deal: Bradley has signed a two-year, $11.6 million deal, leaving the Los Angeles Lakers for the Miami Heat.
The Heat bolster their backcourt depth with the addition of Bradley, a player who fits the Heat mold to perfection, with his combination of on-ball defence, 3-point shooting, and hard-hat approach to the game.
Bradley started 44 of the 49 games he played for the Lakers prior to the season restart in Orlando, averaging 8.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 24.2 minutes per game, shooting 44.4% from the field and 36.4% from the 3-point line.
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