Cavs: 10 best free agent signings in franchise history, ranked

The Cleveland Cavaliers have had a storied history in the NBA, with some of the best players in the league having played for the team. While the Cavs have had their fair share of terrible free agent signings, they have also made some great ones. Some have even helped the team win their lone championship in 2016. In this article, we will take a look at the 10 best free agent signings in Cavs history, ranked.

Cleveland Cavaliers History

The Cleveland Cavaliers, established in 1970, have left an indelible mark on the NBA landscape with their enduring presence in the league. Over the decades, the team has experienced a rollercoaster of fortunes, marked by both triumphs and challenges. That said, their commitment to competitiveness has remained steadfast.

Throughout their storied history, the Cavs have etched their name in the annals of basketball by gracing the NBA Finals stage on five occasions. However, the sweetest moment came in 2016 when they achieved a historic milestone by clinching their inaugural championship. This victory resonated deeply with the city of Cleveland, ending a championship drought that had persisted for more than half a century. Of course, it instilled a sense of pride in Cavs fans worldwide.

The Cavs have had the privilege of hosting some of the most extraordinary talents the league has ever seen. Hometown hero and debatable GOAT LeBron James donned the Cavs jersey and left an indelible legacy during his tenure. His transcendent skills and leadership qualities elevated the team to new heights, delivering the city’s only NBA title to date.

Kyrie Irving, a dazzling point guard with an unparalleled skill set, added another dimension to the Cavs’ game during his stint with the team. His clutch performances and mesmerizing ball-handling abilities brought excitement to Cleveland fans and were instrumental in the team’s championship run.

Kevin Love, a versatile forward with scoring prowess and rebounding tenacity, further fortified the Cavs’ roster. His presence in the frontcourt, alongside LeBron James and Tristan Thompson, created a formidable trio that played an integral role in the team’s championship campaign.

Through the decades, the Cavs have not only been a source of thrilling basketball. They have also embodied the resilience and determination of a franchise and its fan base. Their journey, marked by the pursuit of excellence, remains an inspiring tale in the annals of NBA history.

Here we will look at the 10 best free agent signings in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ franchise history, ranked.

10. Larry Hughes

In the summer of 2005, Larry Hughes inked a lucrative five-year, $70 million contract with the Cavs as a free agent. He was enlisted to strengthen the team’s foundation around the emerging superstar LeBron James.

Hughes, honored as an NBA All-Defensive First Team member in 2005, provided the Cavaliers with a dependable option. Before suffering a finger injury, he consistently contributed with an average of 16.2 points and 37.6 minutes per game.

9. Matthew Dellavedova

Australian guard Matthew Dellavedova made a return to the Cavaliers in 2015. Before re-signing, Delly’s 2014-15 regular season featured 67 games, including 13 starts. He maintained averages of 4.8 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 3.0 assists during 20.6 minutes per game. He showcased remarkable shooting prowess, boasting a career-high .407 three-point shooting percentage and a .763 free-throw accuracy rate. His 3.34 assist-to-turnover ratio also led the Cavaliers for that season, ranking fourth in the NBA. Dellavedova also played a crucial role in all 20 games, making seven starts, during the 2015 Playoffs. He helped the Cavs win their lone title in 2016.

8. Anthony Parker

In 2009, Anthony Parker, in the latter stages of his career, signed a two-year, $6 million deal with the Cavaliers. This acquisition aligned with Cleveland’s mission to assemble a strong supporting cast around LeBron James. Parker played a key role in the Cavs’ impressive 61-win campaign in 2009-10. During that season, Parker participated in 81 games, averaging 7.3 points and 2.9 rebounds.

7. Jeff Green

Jeff Green became a cornerstone of the team after the Cavs signed him in 2017. He played a pivotal role in guiding the team to the NBA Finals in 2018, consistently contributing as a scorer and defender. Prior to joining Cleveland, Green’s previous NBA journey included stints with the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City, Boston, Memphis, and the LA Clippers.

6. Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Lithuanian big man Zydrunas Ilgauskas was actually drafted by the Cavs, but they also gave him an extension in 2005. He agreed to a substantial five-year deal worth between $55 and $60 million.

For the subsequent four seasons, Ilgauskas served as the starting center for the team. They made it to the NBA Finals in 2007 and reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009. During the summer of 2009, however, the Cavs acquired Shaquille O’Neal via a trade.

5. Iman Shumpert

In 2015, Iman Shumpert arrived at the Cavs from the Knicks through a three-team trade, the same deal that brought JR Smith to Cleveland. Shumpert later solidified his commitment to the team by signing a four-year, $40 million contract as a restricted free agent.

Shumpert brought versatility to the Cavs, excelling defensively and occasionally assuming point guard duties under then-head coach Tyronn Lue during the 2016-17 campaign. Beyond his distinctive flat-top hairstyle, Shumpert deserves recognition as one of the Cavs’ superior free agent signings, given his significant role in the team’s championship victory in 2016.

4. JR Smith

The Cavs secured JR Smith’s return in 2015, which proved pivotal as he emerged as a key player, contributing significantly to the team’s first championship win in 2016. Smith agreed to a two-year deal, earning $5 million in the upcoming season, with a player option for the subsequent year. The off-guard’s free agency status remained unchanged.

The reunion between Smith and the Cavs held paramount importance for both parties. Smith had declined his $6.4 million player option for the 2015-16 season to explore the market, a decision that came with a significant cost. Nevertheless, he had the opportunity to make amends with a productive season, with his contract featuring a no-trade clause.

3. Tristan Thompson

The Cavs inked Tristan Thompson in 2011, and he rapidly became a key contributor to the team’s success. Thompson’s prowess as a rebounder and defender significantly contributed to their first franchise championship win in 2016. After becoming a restricted free agent following the 2013-14 season, Thompson later re-signed with the Cavs under a substantial five-year, $82 million contract.

Thompson once stood as the longest-tenured member of the Cavs roster. He was with the team since they selected him in the 2011 draft before leaving for the Celtics in 2020. His excellence on the boards and durability are noteworthy, with Thompson holding the franchise record for consecutive games played.

2. Kevin Love

Kevin Love’s signing in 2014 marked a pivotal moment for the Cavs as he has been a key contributor ever since. His consistent scoring and rebounding played a significant role in the team’s first championship win in 2016. Love’s arrival in Cleveland occurred through a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2014. After helping the Cavaliers achieve a 53-29 overall record that season, Love decided to re-sign with the team.

Love announced his intention to remain with the Cavs in a first-person essay for The Players’ Tribune. He emphasized his desire to address “unfinished business” after a Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors. His partnership with Thompson bolstered the Cavs’ frontcourt, with Love’s three-point shooting playing a pivotal role in the team’s championship journey in 2016.

1. LeBron James

The return of LeBron James to Cleveland in 2014 stands as the most significant free agent acquisition in Cavs history. It not only brought one of the league’s premier players to the team but also resulted in the franchise’s inaugural championship. After completing his rookie contract with the Cavs, James chose to depart for the Miami Heat, a decision that initially drew the ire of many Cleveland fans.

James achieved two championships during his four-season tenure with the Heat. Then, in 2014, the former No. 1 overall pick made a remarkable return by declaring he was “Coming Home.” Opting out of his contract with Miami on June 25, 2014, he reaffirmed his commitment to Northeast Ohio less than a month later.

“I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland,” James explained in his essay for Sports Illustrated.

His return, alongside Love, Thompson, Delly, Smith, and Kyrie Irving, led the Cavaliers to their maiden championship in franchise history, securing a historic sporting title for Cleveland after 52 years.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have had some great free agent signings over the years, and these signings have helped the team become a force to be reckoned with in the NBA. From LeBron James to Tristan Thompson to Kevin Love, the Cavs have had some of the best players in the league play for them. While the team has had its fair share of terrible free agent signings, the good ones have helped the team win championships and become a respected franchise in the league.

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Top NBA free agents still remaining ahead of 2023-24 training camp following Kelly Oubre Jr.’s signing

The start of the 2023-24 NBA season is just about a month away. It seems like just yesterday that the Denver Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals for their first championship in team history, but that was months ago and a lot occurred this offseason during free agency.

A ton of money was once again spent by teams around the league and while many big names ended up signing new contracts with their current team, there were some such as Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks who left their situations for a new organization. More recently, Christian Wood, PJ Washington and Kelly Oubre Jr. agreed to new contracts after finding themselves available for most of the offseason.

Starting with Wood, he ended up signing a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, a deal that contains a second-year player option. For Washington, he remains with the Charlotte Hornets, agreeing to a new $48 million contract. Oubre was the most recent signing across the league, as he and the Philadelphia 76ers agreed to a one-year contract on Monday evening.

Always known to be an athletic and dynamic swingman, Oubre will provide the Sixers with a sense of stability on their bench, especially since he’s averaged a combined 17.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game over the last four seasons with three different organizations.

Following the Sixers most recent signing and with training camp right around the corner, there are not many impactful talents remaining. However, there is always a need for experienced, veteran depth in this league and there are quite a few notable names still remaining as free agents who could fill a team’s final roster spot.

Here are ten remaining free agents who may be worth a minimum contract heading into camp.

10. John Wall, G, Los Angeles Clippers/Houston Rockets

John Wall, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets

Stats (per game): 22.2 minutes, 11.4 points, 5.2 rebounds | 2022-23 contract: $6,479,000

John Wall spent a total of 34 games with the Los Angeles Clippers last season before he was dealt to the Houston Rockets and subsequently waived ahead of the trade deadline. Now 33 years old, Wall is just a shell of the All-Star talent he used to be due to some severe leg injuries. Nonetheless, he was still impactful in his limited bench role in Los Angeles last season.

Wall can pass, he’s still got a quick first step and he understands how to control a team’s backcourt. He can definitely fill the role of a mentor for a younger backcourt in this league. If a team is willing to give him another shot, he could wind up embracing a role similar to the one Shaun Livingston held for years near the end of his career with the Golden State Warriors. There is no known interest from a team in Wall, leaving his NBA future in doubt.

9. Terence Davis, G, Sacramento Kings

Stats (per game): 13.1 minutes, 6.7 points, 2.2 rebounds | 2022-23 contract: $4,000,000

In and out of the Sacramento Kings’ rotations through the years, Terence Davis was never able to solidify himself as a reliable bench option. He showed flashes of his scoring potential, but Davis was a liability at times defensively and there were questions about if he was fully committed to embracing his role.

He can be streaky from long-range, but the 26-year-old shot 36.6 percent from deep last season and he has shot the same percentage for his now four-year career. With no team interested in signing Davis to a minimum contract at this point, he may very well have to play overseas before attempting to make a comeback to the NBA.

8. JaMychal Green, F/C, Golden State Warriors

Stats (per game): 14.0 minutes, 6.4 points, 3.6 rebounds | 2022-23 contract: $2,628,597

JaMychal Green has always been a reliable, sturdy presence in his team’s frontcourt over the course of his career and this was true for the Golden State Warriors a season ago. There were times were he looked a little lost in the Warriors’ system, but Green is always solid defensively and he continues to be a three-point shooting threat in pick-and-pop situations.

The Warriors are still looking for frontcourt depth and while they could consider bringing the veteran back, it is likely that they will look elsewhere for production. This leaves Green’s options limited, as not many teams are looking for another frontcourt player at this juncture. He could wind up being a midseason addition for a contending team that loses one or two players to injury.

7. Blake Griffin, F/C, Boston Celtics

Stats (per game): 13.9 minutes, 4.1 points, 3.8 rebounds | 2022-23 contract: $5,250,000

A story of “what could have been,” Blake Griffin is another player whose potential was halted by injuries. Now 34 years old, Griffin does not have the same spring in his step he once possessed. However, he’s still a well-respected veteran in this league and he was one of the leaders of the Boston Celtics’ locker room this past year.

Griffin seems to be at peace with his newfound role, which is why several teams took a look at him this offseason. While he still remains unsigned, it is unlikely that the former first overall pick remains without a contract. A return to the Celtics could be in the works, as could a potential return to the Western Conference for a team looking to add one more big man.

6. Kendrick Nunn, G, Los Angeles Lakers/Washington Wizards

Stats (per game): 13.8 minutes, 7.1 points, 1.3 assists | 2022-23 contract: $5,250,000

Traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Washington Wizards last season, Kendrick Nunn has not looked like the same impactful scorer he once was prior to some knee issues. Nunn shot just 35.4 percent from 3-point range in 70 total games with the Lakers and Wizards this past season, and he also averaged a career-low 7.1 points per game.

Scoring was always Nunn’s best trait and this is why he almost won the Rookie of the Year award earlier in his career. Unable to solidify a role with either the Lakers or Wizards last year, Nunn now appears to be a candidate to continue his professional career overseas.

5. Will Barton, G, Washington Wizards/Toronto Raptors

Will Barton, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards

Stats (per game): 17.7 minutes, 6.8 points, 2.4 rebounds | 2022-23 contract: $11,830,358 ($684,712 from TOR)

Will Barton is another one of those veteran players who goes out there on the court and does his job to the best of his abilities. He’s not a flashy athlete by any means, but Barton has a high basketball IQ and he just understands where to be on the floor.

Making a name for himself as a two-way wing with the Denver Nuggets a few years back, Barton struggled to find consistent minutes this past year. At this point, he may never be a true starter again, but he is 32 years old and knows what it takes to win. This could go a long way for a team who begins dealing with injuries in the middle of the season.

4. Terrence Ross, G, Orlando Magic/Phoenix Suns

Stats (per game): 21.1 minutes, 8.3 points, 2.4 rebounds | 2022-23 contract: $13,500,000 ($918,516 from PHX)

Bought out of his contract with the Orlando Magic, Terrence Ross ended up signing a deal for the rest of the season with the Phoenix Suns, averaging 9.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game while shooting 34.7 percent from deep in a Suns uniform. Ross has always been an electric secondary scorer on his team’s bench, which is why we shouldn’t shut the door on him playing his 12th NBA season with a different franchise.

Since a team has not signed him yet, Ross is another example of a player who could wait until the season begins to agree to a new deal.

3. Hamidou Diallo, G/F, Detroit Pistons

Stats (per game): 17.8 minutes, 9.3 points, 3.5 rebounds | 2022-23 contract: $5,200,000

Given his athletic abilities and the fact that he is only 25 years old, it is a little surprising to see Hamidou Diallo remain a free agent without any offers whatsoever. It is possible that some internal locker room issues exist with Diallo, hence why he remains unsigned.

Nonetheless, the product he put out on the floor with the Detroit Pistons the last two seasons is not bad at all. In a Pistons’ uniform, Diallo averaged 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 51.9 percent from the floor. For a younger player who still has a little bit of room to grow, these numbers should have been appealing to some teams.

2. TJ Warren, F, Brooklyn Nets/Phoenix Suns

Stats (per game): 16.4 minutes, 7.5 points, 2.9 rebounds | 2022-23 contract: $2,628,597

Before suffering a foot injury in the NBA Bubble in 2020, TJ Warren looked to be on the path to becoming a possible All-Star. Now, he is just searching for a new opportunity to remain in the NBA.

Warren was always a solid mid-range scorer and his ability to attack the lanes in order to get to the rim is what made him a special player with the Indiana Pacers. Since then, he has not shown that same aggressiveness with the Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns. While he is likely on the radar for some teams, Warren signing a deal ahead of training camp looks unlikely.

1. Jaylen Nowell, G, Minnesota Timberwolves

Jaylen Nowell, Minnesota Timberwolves

Stats (per game): 19.3 minutes, 10.8 points, 2.6 rebounds | 2022-23 contract: $1,930,681

This is another example of a possible internal problem existing, as there is no reason why Jaylen Nowell shouldn’t have a contract at this time. Nowell had a breakout 2022-23 season in which he averaged 10.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game while shooting 44.8 percent from the floor. He appeared to be on track to earn a competitive offer from multiple teams this offseason.

As deals began getting completed in free agency, Nowell got left behind and this could be due to his desire to get paid more than the small, minimum-like contract he played on for the Minnesota Timberwolves a season ago. Now, just to remain in the league, he may have to be willing to accept a non-guaranteed training camp offer.

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Dwight Howard-Warriors free agency hype gets cold water thrown on it

Don’t go buying those Dwight Howard Golden State Warriors jerseys just yet. Shams Charania reported last week that the Warriors are planning to meet with Howard, leading a lot of fans to believe the eight-time All-Star’s return to the NBA was a done deal.

The Warriors don’t see it that way and still need Howard to prove he can hack it in the Association.

“I’m told that the Warriors are looking at this just as another workout, just another guy they’re bringing in to get a look at,” Kendra Andrews said. “That doesn’t mean he is a member of the team.”

Howard did not play in the NBA last season, instead taking his talent to Taiwan where he quickly became a star despite dealing with injuries. He last played in America for the Los Angeles Lakers, appearing in 60 games with 27 starts in 2021-22.

Howard is five seasons removed from being a full-time starter in the NBA, but the three-time Defensive Player of the Year still showed value coming off the bench later in his career. The Warriors have experimented with veteran big men before, perhaps most notably with DeMarcus Cousins.

The Warriors are gearing up for potentially their last run at a championship, making each roster move just as crucial as the next. Golden State wants to be absolutely certain they think a 37-year-old Dwight Howard can help the franchise capture another title.

Howard can likely still play in the NBA, but can he be a viable option for a contending team?

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Boban Marjanovic makes decision on Rockets return

The Houston Rockets franchise is the gift that keeps on giving for NBA players looking for one more payday. They have been one of the busiest teams in the free agent market, inking the likes of Fred VanVleet, Dillon Brooks, and Jock Landale to long-term contracts with the intention of bolstering their young core of Jalen Green, Amen Thompson, and Jabari Smith Jr. But they weren’t quite finished putting on the finishing touches to their 2023-24 season roster just yet.

On Monday night, with the NFL season well underway, the Rockets reportedly finalized the re-addition of a beloved giant locker room piece. Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Rockets have brought back Boban Marjanovic on a one-year deal, giving the ginormous Serbian center a home for his ninth season in the NBA.

Marjanovic hasn’t been the most productive player over the past few seasons. Just last season, the 7’3 big man played a bit role off the Rockets bench, playing behind Alperen Sengun and giving way to small-ball options at the five in Tari Eason, Kenyon Martin Jr., and Jabari Smith Jr. to facilitate the team’s focus when it comes to developing their young prospects.

For the upcoming season, it stands to reason that playing circumstances for Boban Marjanovic will be more of the same. Sengun should only get better, as he only recently turned 21 in July, while the Rockets signed Jock Landale to play the backup role to the talented Turkish big man.

Nevertheless, teams don’t exactly enlist the services of Marjanovic for the sake of his on-court production, which, through the years, has gradually declined. Teams value the locker room presence the big Serbian gives — a veteran who’s fun to be around and a veteran who knows how to conduct himself in a professional manner — must-haves for a young Rockets team.

Now 35 years old, Boban Marjanovic is nearing a decade-long stint in the NBA ever since the San Antonio Spurs brought him stateside in 2015. In addition to the Spurs, Marjanovic has suited up for the Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Dallas Mavericks, being beloved by fans wherever he goes.

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Marc Stein points out Lakers’ free agent dilemma after Christian Wood addition

Christian Wood just agreed to a two-year, $5.7 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, including a player option for the 2024-25 season. While this seems to be good value, NBA insider Marc Stein brought up an interesting point in the aftermath of the reported agreement.

Stein’s tweet pointed out a trend the Lakers have experienced in recent years. They have had success signing veterans to minimum contracts, like Malik Monk and Dennis Schröder, who then went on to secure more lucrative deals elsewhere.

Monk, who had an impressive stint with the Lakers, secured a substantial contract with the Sacramento Kings. He inked a two-year, $19,418,049 deal, with every penny guaranteed. His annual average salary stands at $9,709,025. In the upcoming 2023-24 season, Monk is set to earn a base salary of $9,945,830, carrying the same figure as his cap hit and dead cap value.

Similarly, Schröder leveraged his Lakers experience to land a significant contract, this time with the Toronto Raptors. His deal spans two years and is worth $25,430,250, with full guaranteed money. Schröder’s average annual salary is $12,715,125. In the upcoming 2023-24 season, he will earn a base salary of $12,405,000, again mirroring his cap hit and dead cap value.

As the Lakers continue to build their roster for the upcoming season, the signing of Christian Wood reflects their commitment to strengthening their team’s capabilities. However, Stein’s observation raises questions about the Lakers’ ability to retain players they sign to minimum contracts in the long run.

Christian Wood can use the Lakers to rejuvenate his career

As Christian Wood joins the Lakers, he has a chance to shine and elevate his value in the marketplace. The Lakers, who have coveted Wood throughout the summer, offer him ample minutes and opportunities to showcase his talents. If he excels during his stint in Los Angeles, Wood could potentially earn a more substantial contract when he hits free agency in 2024.

Notably, Wood has been among few players 6-foot-10 or taller who have made 100 three-pointers in each of the past two seasons. Wood’s presence provides the Lakers with significant frontline versatility and depth.

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Christian Wood agrees to 2-year contract with Lakers in 2023 NBA free agency

Traded to the Dallas Mavericks last offseason and thought to be a key scoring weapon alongside superstar Luka Doncic, Christian Wood saw his role in Dallas decrease drastically as the season went along. As a result, he has decided to pursue a new opportunity with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers have agreed to a 2-year contract with Wood, making the seven-year veteran a focal point in the frontcourt alongside All-Star Anthony Davis.

Wood, 27, has spent time with a lot of different teams through the years, but he really made a name for himself as a starter with the Houston Rockets for two seasons from 2020-22. There, he averaged 19.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game while shooting 50.7 percent from the floor and 38.4 percent from three-point range.

A stretch big man who can play out on the perimeter, as well as be a shot-blocking factor near the rim defensively, Wood now joins forces with LeBron James and Davis as a key secondary contributor for the Lakers during 2023-24 season.

Christian Wood’s fit with Lakers’ future

It was quite surprising to see Wood remain a free agent past NBA Summer League, especially since he has found a lot of success on the floor the last few seasons. Since the start of the 2020-21 season, he’s averaged 18.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game while shooting 50.9 percent from the floor and over 38 percent from three-point range.

A modern-day big man who can set screens out on the perimeter and then pop out on the wing to knock down long-range shots, Wood can absolutely help a contending team in this league right now. This is why the Lakers showed interest in him throughout the summer. After attempting to land a bigger deal and seeing what other interest existed, Wood ultimately decided to head to Los Angeles.

The Lakers have been searching for more frontcourt depth and Wood should immediately be able to make an impact for them. Whether or not he starts will be the key question, as he did prove to be a factor coming off the bench early on in the 2022-23 season for the Mavs.

Running with two big men in their starting lineup ultimately helped the Lakers win their recent championship in 2020, which is why Wood could very well appear in lineups alongside Davis.

Fresh off their run to the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers will be looking to once again make a deep postseason run. LeBron only has so many years left in what has been one of the most illustrious careers in NBA history, which is why Los Angeles has capitalized winning right now.

Wood will now look to make an instant impact on a roster that also added the likes of Gabe Vincent, Jason Hayes, Taurean Prince and Cam Reddish in the offseason.

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7 best free agent signings in Hornets history, ranked

As one of the smallest market teams in the NBA, the Hornets – or the Bobcats – have not often been the number one choice for free agents. More often they’re forced to develop their own talent through the draft or make savvy moves at the trade table, and this inability to attract free agents has certainly made it more difficult for the franchise to achieve success. Over the course of their 35-year history, however, they have still managed to pluck a few decent players out of free agency. These are the seven best of them.

7. Kelly Oubre Jr. (2021)

Oubre Jr. signed with the Hornets after seven seasons with the Wizards, Suns and Warriors, and has arguably played the best basketball of his career while in Charlotte. He came primarily off the bench in his first season with the team and averaged 15.0 points and 4.0 rebounds, but last year he was moved into the starting lineup for 40 of his 48 games – he missed a number of games through a hand injury – and for the first time in his career averaged in excess of 20 points. He’s far from perfect and his shooting in particular needs work, but his energy and ability to score in bunches has helped to make this Hornets team a reasonably exciting one to watch, even if they don’t win very often. Whether he hangs around remains to be seen, but if he does for a few more years – and particularly if the Hornets can climb their way up the standings – he will likely make his way further up this list.

6. Bobby Phills (1997)

After six seasons with the Cavaliers, Bobby Phills signed with the Hornets in 1997 and immediately made an impact, averaging 10.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.3 steals per game in his first season with the team as the team finished fourth in the East and made their way into their second ever Conference Semi-Finals. He improved his output further over the next couple of seasons; in 1999 he averaged 14.3 points while shooting 39.5% from downtown, and above and beyond those numbers he was also an excellent defender for the team. In 1999-00 he was on track for similar numbers, but tragically he was killed in a car accident during the season. Less than a month after his death, Phills’ #13 jersey was retired by the team, marking the first time that they had ever retired a jersey.

5. Marvin Williams (2014)

Despite being a number two pick back in 2005 Marvin Williams was no superstar, but after signing with the Hornets as a free agent in 2014 he went on to become a reliable member of their squad for the next six seasons. Initially signed on a two-year, $14 million deal, his second season was a particularly good one, and his solid play as the team’s starting power forward helped them return to the playoffs with 48 wins after winning just 33 the season prior. That was enough for the Hornets to want to hang onto him, and he was subsequently signed to a four-year deal worth $56 million. He played out those four seasons for the team while providing similar output to what he did in his second season there. After six seasons in Charlotte, however, he was waived by the team before joining the Bucks, but his career was all but over by that point and he played just 17 games for his new team before retiring.

4. Gordon Hayward (2020)

Gordon Hayward’s time with the Celtics – with whom he signed after seven seasons with the Jazz – didn’t go exactly as planned, starting off with the broken leg he sustained in the opening minutes of his first game with the team. That saw him miss his entire first season with the team and in the second he was a shadow of his former self, but his third year in Boston saw him return to something resembling the All-Star he was in Utah, and it was then that he made his way to Charlotte in what was essentially a sign-and-trade. That contract was worth $120 million over four years, and though the value of that contract may be questionable given that he’s been consistently injured throughout his first three seasons with the team, but his output when on the court has been pretty solid. His first season was particularly good – he averaged 19.6 points while shooting over 41% from three-point range, and though those numbers have dwindled a little over the past couple of seasons he’s still been a consistent scoring threat and veteran presence on a young team. He’s now 33 years of age, but if he remains with the team for a couple more years and can continue to produce at a decent level, he may well climb further up this list.

3. Johnny Newman (1990)

Johnny Newman was one of the inaugural big free agent signings for the Hornets, joining the team in what was just their third season in the league. In their first two, they’d won a combined total of just 39 games, but he helped to gradually drag them up the standings to the point where they won 44 games in his third season there and made their first ever playoffs appearance. Incidentally, that was the worst of his three seasons with the team – after averaging 16.9 and then 15.3 points in his first two, he managed just 11.9 per game in less minutes in his third. His impact on the young franchise, however, was unequivocal. He played 18 games for the Hornets in 1993-94, but partway through that season was shipped off to the New Jersey Nets.

2. Al Jefferson (2013)

Big Al Jefferson signed with the Hornets ahead of his tenth season in the league, and his presence had an immediate impact on the team. After winning just 21 games the season before he joined, they added more than double that number the next year to jump into the playoffs with 43 wins. That was in no small part thanks to Jefferson. He averaged 21.8 points on over 50% shooting while also grabbing 10.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists, and he was rewarded with his first and only All-NBA Third Team as a result. Unfortunately his numbers began to dwindle thereafter as he hit his 30s, to 16.6 and 8.4 in his second season with the team and then 12.0 and 6.4 in his third and final. But All-NBA Team members are a rarity in Charlotte, and even more so those picked up in free agency. For Jefferson to come in and make the impact that he did, particularly after the team had won 21 games the season before and an incredible seven the season before that, made him one of the best free agent signings in the history of the franchise.

1. David Wesley (1997)

Though the Hornets have not enjoyed a lot of success during their history, the late 1990s and early parts of the 2000s was the one period of time in which they were a consistently good team. David Wesley, who was signed in 1997, was a major part of that. He would go on to play five seasons with the team, during which they made four playoff appearances and three times made it through to the Conference Semi-Finals. Incidentally, in 35 years they’ve only made that stage four times. Wesley was a consistent scorer and reliable facilitator for the Hornets – in his first couple of seasons he averaged 6.5 assists per game while scoring over 13 points, before the assists numbers dropped and the points numbers rose over the next couple of years. At the time of writing, he is ranked seventh in minutes played for the franchise, fourth in assists, sixth in steals and ninth in total points. Not bad for a guy signed as a free agent. Though Wesley doesn’t get a huge amount of recognition, he was a really important player in the history of the Hornets, and is clearly the best free agent signing that they have ever made.

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10 best free agent signings in Blazers history, ranked

Free agency is never easy for small market teams, with most players preferring to sign with the bigger franchises if they have the option. But for a team which falls into that category, the Trail Blazers have done okay over the years in this regard, picking up a handful of players who have made significant contributions through the team through this medium. These are ten of the best free agent signings that the Blazers have made throughout the course of their history.

10. Joel Przybilla (2004)

Joel Przybilla is far from the most talented free agent the Blazers have ever picked up, but he provided them with plenty of production. The 7’1″ center had a very limited offensive game and never averaged more than 6.4 points per game across his seven seasons with the team, but he provided an important defensive presence around the rim.

9. Danny Ainge (1990)

Danny Ainge signed with the Blazers in 1990 after eight seasons with the Celtics and two with the Kings, and though he was far less productive than he had been in previous seasons he still played a valuable role on a team which won 63 games and made it through to the Conference Finals. That season, he averaged 11.1 points and 3.6 assists in 21.4 minutes – admittedly well down on his numbers from the seasons prior, but he put together some important performances during their playoff run that year. The next season his minutes and numbers dropped further, though he did contribute to an NBA Finals run.

8. Carmelo Anthony (2019)

After being waived by the Bulls early in 2019, the illustrious career of Carmelo Anthony looked to be heading towards an ignominious end until the Blazers picked him up nine months after he was last on an NBA roster. He was signed on a one-year, non-guaranteed deal, but he did enough throughout that first season to warrant a second one-year contract. In that first season he played 69 games and averaged 15.4 points in 32.8 minutes per game, while shooting 38.5% from three-point range and grabbing 6.3 rebounds. The iso game for which he was so renowned throughout his career had to be thrown to the wayside to an extent, and while he was no superstar for the Blazers he was a solid enough player. After another first round playoff loss the next season, Anthony signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2021.

7. Andre Miller (2009)

There are plenty of similarities between the signings of Andre Miller and Carmelo Anthony. Miller joined the Blazers in 2009 at the age of 33 and spent two seasons there, and like Anthony those seasons both resulted in first round playoff exits. Despite his advanced age, Miller was still a solid player for the Blazers – no surprise given his game was never based around athleticism – averaging 14.0 points and 5.4 assists in his first season with the team, and 12.7 points and 7.0 assists in his second. As it turned out, he still had five years left in his lengthy NBA career, but he was shipped off to Denver in 2011.

6. Ruben Patterson (2001)

Ruben Patterson signed with the Blazers in 2001 and would go on to play the next four seasons with the team – and five in total by the time his career came to an end. His numbers never jumped off the page – he maxed out with averages of 11.6 points and 2.0 assists – but the self-proclaimed Kobe Stopper did some damage at the other end of the floor, too. Unfortunately, he was also involved in a number of troubling off-field misdemeanours too, which overshadowed his career to an extent, but in terms of a pure on-court free agent signing he was one of the better ones the Blazers have ever made.

5. Brian Grant (1997)

Following three seasons with the Kings after he was drafted as the eighth pick in the NBA draft, Brian Grant joined the Blazers and would go on to become a reliable part of their team during a relatively successful period for the team. In total he played in Portland for three seasons; in all of those the team made the playoffs, and in the second and third they made it through to the Conference Finals. Grant averaged close to a double-double in each of his first two seasons with the team, but was moved to the bench in his third and subsequently sought greener pastures elsewhere in 2000.

4. Kenny Anderson (1996)

Kenny Anderson only played with the Trail Blazers for a season and a half, but he was a really good player for them during that time. The talented point guard had plenty of tricks, and used them to help the Blazers to 49 wins in his first season with the team. In that season he put together some solid numbers, averaging 17.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists, and a standout game came when he led Portland to their solitary win in the postseason against the Lakers with 30 points and five assists. Unfortunately, his run with the team was relatively limited; the next season, after 45 games and with averages of just 12.6 points and 5.4 assists, he was traded to the Toronto Raptors

3. Dave Twardzik (1976)

Dave Twardzik didn’t have a long career in the NBA, nor was he the most established player to ever grace a court, but despite that he still made his mark on the Trail Blazers franchise during the four years he played for the team. Those were his only four years in the league, with the four years prior to his signing with Portland taking place in the ABA for the Virginia Squires and injury bringing about his premature retirement in 1980. In his first season with the Blazers, he averaged 10.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists, but though those numbers don’t jump off the page, his presence in the top three on the list comes from the fact that the team won their first and to this date only championship that season. He started in every game in the first two series of those playoffs and was incredibly consistent, scoring at least 13 points, dishing out at least three assists and grabbing at least one steal in every one of those games. Over his next three seasons with the team his output was similar albeit with less team success, but courtesy of his role in their championship his name will forever be etched into the annals of Trail Blazers history.

2. Wesley Matthews (2010)

After being picked up by the Jazz at 23 and playing just one season in the NBA, the Trail Blazers put their faith in Wes Matthews by signing him to a five-year deal worth $34 million. That faith turned out to be justified, as he went on to become one of the best free agent signings that the franchise have ever made. Matthews was the quintessential three-and-d guy, shooting at least 38.3% from three in each of his five seasons with the team while also providing lockdown defense on a nightly basis at the other end of the floor. He wasn’t just a shooter, either, and averaged between 13.7 and 16.4 points per year across those five years, as well as a handful of rebounds and a couple of assists. Matthews consistency across those years was unparalleled, and when he left it was after a playoff run of two consecutive seasons which would ultimately stretch out to eight. Nearly a decade later, Matthews is still kicking around in the league, but it was in Portland where he put together the most consistent stretch of his career.

1. Rod Strickland (1992)

Rod Strickland’s time with the Trail Blazers wasn’t synonymous with success for the franchise, but that was certainly no fault of his own. He joined in 1992 following their NBA Finals loss earlier that year, and went on to play four terrific seasons with the franchise as they transitioned from a contender to a team making up the number in the playoffs – they lost in the first round in each of his four seasons with the team. But despite that decline, Strickland was a shining light. In his first season there he averaged 13.7 points and 7.2 assists per game, and that was his worst while in Portland. In each of the next three he would average at least 17.2 points and 8.8 assists, while also grabbing close to two steals per game. The team might not have had the success that they wanted in the postseason during Strickland’s tenure, but that does nothing to take away from the fact that this was the best free agent signing the Blazers have ever made.

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8 best free agent signings in Timberwolves history, ranked

Let’s not beat around the bush – Minnesota is not exactly the easiest place to sell to NBA players who have the option to play in Miami, New York or Los Angeles. The fact that the Timberwolves have been perennially unsuccessful during their three decades or so in the league doesn’t help either, and with part of that lack of success due to their inability to lure free agents, it’s a vicious cycle for one of the league’s newest franchises. Their list of top free agent signings is not exactly filled to the brim with superstars, but there are nonetheless a handful of names who have had a reasonable impact on the franchise. These are eight of the best of them.

8. Andrei Kirilenko (2012)

Andrei Kirilenko was a much better player than most of the names ahead of him on this list, but given he spent just a solitary season in Minnesota it’s hard to have him much higher. After ten seasons with the Jazz, Kirilenko finally left in search of greener pastures – though perhaps unsurprisingly he didn’t find them in Minnesota. He signed a two-year deal worth $20 million and was a good player in his solitary year with the team, but unfortunately that year yielded just 31 wins. The Timberwolves were on the way up having won 26 the season prior and 17 the season before that, but Kirilenko didn’t stick around to find out how it went, declining his player option to sign with the Nets in 2013.

7. Terry Porter (1995)

By the time Terry Porter signed with the Timberwolves in 1995 he was 32 years of age and past his best, but he nonetheless provided a valuable veteran presence on an improving young team. He started 40 of his 82 games in his first season with the team, averaging 9.4 points and 5.5 assists, but when Stephon Marbury arrived the next season he was moved more permanently to the pine. But while Porter’s production diminished as a result of his young teammate, his experience and level head provided a handy foil to the less composed Marbury and helped to guide the Timberwolves to consecutive finals appearances – their first ever in the NBA.

6. Fred Hoiberg (2003)

Fred Hoiberg was another who signed with the Timberwolves in the twilight of his career, and though he only spent a couple of seasons in Minnesota, his presence on the most successful team they’ve ever had made him a valuable pick up. He was a long way down the pecking order on this team, well behind the likes of Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell, but he was an absolute dead-eye from the outside, shooting 44.2% in his first season with the team and an incredible 48.3% in his second. The first of those saw the Timberwolves advance past the first round of the playoffs for the only time in their history to date, making their way to the Conference Finals, and though Hoiberg wasn’t the primary reason why he was certainly a valuable piece of the puzzle. Unfortunately his career came to an end after two seasons with the Timberwolves as a result of a heart condition, but he made his mark over the course of those two years.

5. Trenton Hassell (2003)

Like Hoiberg, Trenton Hassell joined the Timberwolves in 2003 and in his first season helped them to the Conference Finals, filling a valuable role on a team with plenty of more lauded players. He was by no means a superstar; Hassell averaged 5.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists in that first year, but it was at the other end of the floor where he really made his presence known, often following around the opponent’s best player and making life very difficult for them. He would go on to play four seasons in Minnesota, and though his stats certainly didn’t jump off the page – he never averaged more than 9.2 points, 3.2 rebounds or 2.7 assists in a single year – he was a solid player for them over that time.

4. Troy Hudson (2002)

Troy Hudson had to work hard for his career in the NBA, initially going undrafted in 1997 before bouncing around between the top level and the Continental Basketball Association for the next five years. After the best season of his career to that point in 2001-02 with the Magic, however, he signed with the Timberwolves and improved even further. Hudson would go on to play five seasons with the team, including the aforementioned Conference Finals run in his second, but it was his first season there which was by far the best. He averaged 14.2 points and 5.7 assists in 2002-03, and importantly had a massive impact – albeit an ultimately fruitless one – against the Lakers in the first round. In Game 2, Hudson exploded for a huge 37-point, 10-assist performance, and the 23.5 points and 5.5 assists per game that he averaged throughout that series helped the Wolves take the more fancied Lakers to six games.

3. Chauncey Billups (2000)

How different this could have been for the Timberwolves. After an inconspicuous first four seasons in the NBA with three different teams, Chauncey Billups signed on a two-year deal worth just $4.7 million in 2000, and it was while in Minnesota that he began to develop into a far better player than what the beginning of his career suggested he could be. In his first year with the Wolves, Billups averaged just 9.3 points and 3.4 assists, but he showed significant improved in his second, jumping up to 12.5 points and 5.5 assists while also shooting a career-best 39.4% from the outside. Unfortunately, after those two seasons he headed to the Pistons, where he of course became a legend of the franchise during a career which included the 2004 Finals MVP. Had he hung around, he would be at the top of this list.

2. Joe Smith (1999)

Joe Smith’s time with Minnesota is unfortunately largely remembered for the tampering which came with it and cost the team an enormous fine, a fine which would subsequently cripple them and play a huge role in their inability to develop as a franchise. That aside, however, he was a really nice player for the team over the course of the two two-year periods he spent in Minnesota, forming a dangerous one-two punch in the frontcourt alongside Kevin Garnett. In his first season with the team, Smith averaged 13.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, before his production waned a little in the second as he predominantly came off the bench. He went on to play for the Pistons the next season before returning to the Timberwolves for two more, and with him often back in the starting lineup they went on to win 50+ games in both of those seasons before he was shipped off to the Bucks. The fine which his contract yielded put a big black mark next to his signing, but in terms of on-court production he was one of the better free agent pick-ups the Timberwolves have ever managed.

1. Sam Mitchell (1989)

After spending a few years playing in the lower leagues, Sam Mitchell first signed with the Timberwolves in 1989 as a 25-year-old. Few could have predicted the output he would have at the franchise. At no point was he a superstar, but Mitchell would go on to play ten total seasons with the Timberwolves – three the first time around and seven the second, with a three-year stint in Indiana sandwiched in the middle. At the time of writing, he is second in games played, fourth in points and fifth in rebounds for the team, while his impact extended beyond his playing career, too. Mitchell would go on to coach the Bucks, Raptors and Nets, winning Coach of the Year in 2007, before returning to the Timberwolves as an assistant in 2014 and acting as an interim coach the following season. Not bad for the signing of a 25-year-old playing in Montpellier.

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7 best free agent signings in Hawks history, ranked

The Hawks have an unusual history in free agency. Over the course of their more-than-50-year history since moving to Atlanta, there aren’t exactly a plethora of great free agent signings jumping off the page, but they have found the proverbial needle in the haystack on a couple of occasions. The top three or four signings they’ve ever made in free agency have had a significant impact on the franchise, and are etched into the annals of Hawks’ history as some of the best to ever pull on the jersey. There’s a fairly hefty gap in quality thereafter, but regardless, let’s take a look at the seven best free agent signings in Hawks’ franchise history.

7. Lou Williams (2012)

After seven fruitful seasons with the Sixers, Lou Williams signed with the Hawks in the summer of 2012 after finishing runner-up in the Sixth Man of the Year Award the season prior, and his presence immediately added plenty of scoring punch off the bench. Unfortunately, 39 games into his first season with the team and boasting averages of 14.1 points and 3.6 assists, he tore his ACL in January 2013, an injury which caused him to miss the rest of that season and the beginning of the next. He returned to play 60 games the next season as the Hawks made the playoffs for the seventh straight year, but he unsurprisingly took a little while to get going and averaged just over ten points in 2013-14. He was subsequently traded to Toronto. Admittedly it’s not a great start to this list, but I did warn you it lacks depth!

6. Demarre Carroll (2013)

Demarre Carroll signed with the Hawks after bouncing around the league for a few years, and though he only played two seasons in Atlanta it was probably the most successful leg of his ten-year career. Carroll was a solid enough outside threat during his time with the Hawks, hitting 36.2% of three-point attempts in his first season with them and 39.5% in his second. More important than that, however, was the defensive intensity he brought on a nightly basis, which helped him to earn the big contract he signed with Toronto after two seasons in Atlanta. Carroll was a major part of the 60-win Atlanta team of 2014-15, a team which finished first in the Eastern Conference and made its way through to the Conference Finals before being swept by LeBron James and the Cavs.

5. Moses Malone (1988)

From a pure talent perspective, Moses Malone would be right at the top of this list, but by the time he signed with the Hawks he was 33 years of age and had already played out the majority of his Hall of Fame career. But while he wasn’t in his absolute prime with Atlanta, Malone still had three productive seasons there, playing over 80 games in each of them and putting up some impressive numbers. He averaged 19.6 points and 10.9 rebounds over his first two seasons, leading them to a 52-win season in the first of those and also making his 12th consecutive All-Star appearance that same season. Aged 35 at the beginning of his third season with the franchise, an inevitable decline ensued and he averaged just 10.6 points and 8.1 rebounds, but he still played a key role in returning them to the playoffs for the second time in his three years there. He headed to Milwaukee after that season, concluding a stint with the Hawks which while not as successful as the team had hoped when they signed him, still yielded a couple of good years.

4. Paul Millsap (2013)

Millsap played the first seven years of his NBA career in Utah and was a reliable member of their team, but upon signing with the Hawks in free agency in 2013 he took his game to a new level. Millsap was the quintessential Swiss Army knife on a Hawks team which made the playoffs in each of his four seasons with the team, the second of which was their famous 60-win season which culminated in a Conference Finals appearance. He was an All-Star every season in Atlanta, averaging at least 16.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists across those four years. In a 15-year career, Millsap’s best four years were those he spent in Atlanta, a tenure during which he established himself as one of the best free agent signings the team has ever made.

3. Dikembe Mutombo (1996)

Now we’re getting to the really good stuff. Dikembe Mutombo spent nearly five years of his storied NBA career with the Hawks, signing with the team in free agency after five impressive years in Denver to kick off his NBA career. Those first five years yielded double-double averages every year, three All-Star appearances and a Defensive Player of the Year Award, and he added significantly to his already extensive trophy cabinet while in Atlanta. He averaged in excess of 11 rebounds every year with the team, but most important, of course, was his defensive presence, a presence which yielded at least 2.8 blocks a game each season in Atlanta and saw him named Defensive Player of the Year three out of his five seasons there, and voted to the All-Defensive First or Second Team every year. Unfortunately the team didn’t have all that much success while he was there – though they won 50 or more games in each of his first two seasons with the franchise, they were unable to make it past the second round of the playoffs and subsequently fell out of the postseason. But despite that, Mutombo remains one of the best players to pull on a Hawks jersey.

2. Dan Roundfield (1978)

After spending three seasons in Indiana, Dan Roundfield signed with the Hawks in 1978 apparently so that his father would be able to see more of his games – a decision which proved to be pretty beneficial for Atlanta. Like Mutombo, Roundfield was a defensive force, making the All-Defensive First or Second Team in five successive seasons between 1980 and 1984. He virtually averaged a double-double in every year with the team – he grabbed 9.9 rebounds per game in the final of his six years with the team – while also putting in close to 20 points and three assists during a stint in which the franchise made the playoffs in five out of six seasons. Also like Mutombo, Roundfield’s tenure with the team unfortunately didn’t go much further than that, with only one of those playoff runs extending past the first round, but nonetheless his illustrious career with the team made him a fantastic free agency pick-up.

1. Joe Johnson (2005)

The best free agent signing the Hawks have ever made, Joe Johnson spent seven elite seasons with the team after signing with them as a 24-year-old. In his first season with in Atlanta he averaged 20.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 6.5 assists, and that was arguably his worst year with them – it was the only of his seven seasons as a Hawk in which he wasn’t voted to the All-Star team. Johnson was handsomely paid for his efforts and has subsequently been oft-maligned by the Hawks supporter base, but there’s no doubting that he was one of the better players the team has ever had. After missing the playoffs in his first two seasons there, they would make it in each of his next five, making it past the first round on five of those occasions. In 2012, seven seasons and a hell of a lot of money after he initially moved to Atlanta from the Phoenix Suns, Johnson was shipped off to Brooklyn as a 31-year-old, but while he had a couple of productive years there his decline as a player had begun. It was in Atlanta where Johnson spent the best stretch of his career, solidifying his spot as the Hawks’ best ever free agent signing.

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