NBA Free-Agency Roundup: Isaiah Thomas Signing Comes with No Risk, High Reward


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More Jimmy Butler Drama?

What would an NBA offseason be without drama manufactured by social media habits that may be A) alleged hacks, B) oversized fingers having trouble on regulation keyboards, C) legitimate expressions of personal thoughts or D) passive-aggressive actions meant to elicit some unknown outcome? 

Here we go again. This time, as Cycle’s Thomas Duffy shared, Jimmy Butler liked an Instagram comment that advocated for him and Kyrie Irving to use 2019 free agency to join the New York Knicks. 

Does it mean anything? Probably not. But it is the latest in a long line of signals indicating Butler is dissatisfied with his spot on the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

A league source said Butler, who has been frustrated with the nonchalant attitudes of younger teammates—specifically Karl-Anthony Towns—does not intend to sign an extension with the Timberwolves,” Joe Cowley reported for the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this offseason.

That came after Sporting News’ Sean Deveney revealed Butler, who can opt out of his contract after 2018-19, was dissatisfied with playing alongside Andrew Wiggins and before he liked multiple Instagram comments that encouraged him to join the San Antonio Spurs.

This could be a case of ongoing trolling. But where there’s smoke, fire typically exists.

Three-Team Trade Alert

As broken down by ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets and Atlanta Hawks all wound up exchanging pieces such that the following franchises ended up with these new assets: 

Though this features plenty of moving pieces, the swap isn’t a particularly complicated one. The motivations are rather obvious for each of the three organizations. 

Brooklyn continues doing what general manager Sean Marks does best: absorbing overpaid contributors into cap space so the Nets can gain access to more draft picks and have increased opportunities to land impact players. This time, the process comes at the expense of a soon-to-be 30-year-old version of Lin who’s attempting to bounce back from a patella tendon injury that limited him to a single appearance in 2017-18. 

Denver is engaging in a pure salary dump and parting with multiple draft picks to clear the books of Faried and Arthur’s salaries. According to Wojnarowski, doing so saves them $21 million in payouts as they look to get beneath the luxury-tax threshold. 

The Hawks are the sneaky squad here, parting with only a second-round selection to get their hands on Lin’s upside. He may be coming off a season-ending injury and preparing to enter his 30s, but his skills in the pick-and-roll game could still work nicely off the Atlanta bench while he mentors Dennis Schroder (if he’s not moved in a later deal) and Trae Young. 

Though no one emerges as a massive winner, it’s hard to find losers in this particular sequence. 

               

Wayne Ellington Back to the Miami Heat

Though 2017-18 was his age-30 season, Wayne Ellington still submitted what was arguably the best effort of his nine-year career.

Slashing 40.7/39.2/85.9 despite taking plenty of difficult, heavily contested looks, he averaged 11.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game for the Miami Heat while providing the spacing the offense so sorely needed.

With him on the floor, the South Beach residents mustered an additional 3.9 points per 100 possessions without suffering on the less glamorous end—the latter more because of his teammates than the swingman’s preventing prowess. 

Now, he’s ready to run it back. And we do mean “run,” because that’s all he does on the scoring side, moving until he can extricate himself from the opposition’s clutches and hit a catch-and-shoot jumper that often comes in off-balance but successful fashion. 

Ellington is returning to the Heat on a one-year deal worth $6.2 million, as ESPN.com’s Chris Haynes reported. If he can replicate his efforts in 2018-19, he’ll be worth every penny for an offense that depends on shooters to maximize its drive-and-kick strategems. 

          

Rodney Stuckey Working Out for Teams

We’ve reached the stage of the offseason at which a Rodney Stuckey workout is among the day’s biggest headlines. 

According to Haynes, the veteran guard is eyeing a return to the Association and hoping to expedite the process by conducting private workouts in Las Vegas. International basketball reporter David Pick listed the Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers as those sending representatives to the showcase at Impact Sports. 

Now 32 years old, Stuckey hasn’t suited up in the NBA (or in another professional league) since playing a limited role for the 2016-17 Pacers. He made only 39 appearances, averaging 7.2 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 37.3 percent from the field, 31.7 percent from downtown and 74.8 percent at the stripe. 

But if he spent the last year improving his shooting, perhaps he could find a home off a competitive bench. So long as he retained his quick first step, his shot-creating abilities will continue to be marginally valuable in the right system. 

            

David Nwaba Goes from Restricted to Unrestricted

Per Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania, the Chicago Bulls have rescinded their qualifying offer for David Nwaba, making him an unrestricted free agent who can ink a new pact with any organization that has enough money to offer him, well, something. 

This is a bit of a baffling move, considering the nature of Nwaba’s cap hold. His qualifying offer was only for $1.8 million, per HoopsHype, and precious few free agents exist who would consider joining the Bulls and could do so without triggering their previous organization’s rights to exercise first refusal. Now that he’s totally available, someone is sure to scoop up the defense-first wing with a cap exception. 

Nwaba didn’t make the cut as one of my top 50 free agents at the beginning of the offseason, but he wasn’t far from inclusion. His point-preventing talents are significant, and he showed some offensive growth during his 23 games in the Windy City. 

                    

Adam Fromal covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @fromal09.

Unless otherwise indicated, all stats courtesy of Basketball Reference, NBA.com, NBA Math or ESPN.com. 

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