Amir Johnson

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Report: Celtics signing Shane Larkin to guaranteed contract, still plan to sign Guerschon Yabusele

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The Celtics lost their third-string point guard (Demetrius Jackson) and plenty of big men (Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko, Tyler Zeller and Jordan Mickey)  in their quest for Gordon Hayward.

That paid off in a big way, but it’s time for Boston to restock its depth.

Enter Shane Larkin and, as previously expected, Guerschon Yabusele and Daniel Theis.

Jay King of MassLive:

The Boston Celtics have agreed to sign Shane Larkin for point guard depth, league sources confirmed to MassLive.com.

The one-year contract, which pulled Larkin away from bigger money in Europe, will be fully guaranteed for the coming season, a source indicated.

Despite adding another guaranteed contract in Larkin, the Celtics still plan to sign 2016 draft pick Guerschon Yabusele

Theis:

Theis signed a two-year deal with the first-year salary fully guaranteed, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Yabusele will be on a rookie-scale contract for a No. 16 pick.

They, with Larkin, give Boston 16 players on standard contracts – one more than the regular-season limit. All those deals apparently include guaranteed 2016-17 salaries, but the Celtics can always eat (or trade) a contract. It costs only money. This just increases the likelihood Boston fields the best possible roster after the preseason.

Larkin showed promise early in his career, opted out of a $1.5 million Nets contract then fell out of the NBA. He adds another viable point guard behind Isaiah Thomas, joining Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. Smart and Rozier can spend time off the ball, but the 5-foot-11 Larkin probably can’t. Fortunately for Larkin’s chances of making the regular-season roster, the Celtics likely need Smart and Rozier to spend time at shooting guard after trading Avery Bradley.

Report: Celtics signing Aron Baynes

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After letting Kelly Olynyk (Heat), Amir Johnson (76ers) and Tyler Zeller walk to clear cap space for Gordon Hayward, the Celtics – armed with just the $4,328,000 room exception – needed another big man.

Enter Aron Baynes.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Baynes declined a $6.5 million player option with the Pistons. So, he’s taking a $2,172,000 loss this year without gaining any long-term security.

At least he joins a better team.

Baynes might even start at center. He or rookie Ante Zizic would allow Al Horford to spend more time at power forward, a less physically demanding position. Boston’s best lineup still projects to be Horford at center with Hayward and Jae Crowder at forward. But teams still tend to start big, especially in the regular season.

At minimum, Baynes provides a beefier alternative to Horford – a more skilled, but more finesse, big. Baynes should help with the Celtics’ long-standing rebounding problems. Unlike Zizic, Baynes also plays much more reliable defense.

The Pistons have already moved on, signing Boban Marjanovic last summer with the intent he’d assume Baynes’ job as Andre Drummond‘s primary backup this season.

Report: Zach Randolph headed to Sacramento on two-year, $24 million contract

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It’s going to be weird seeing Zach Randolph in a uniform other than the Memphis Grizzlies’ blue and white.

It’s sad to see the official end of grit n’ grind in Memphis.

But we knew it was coming, and this is one of the two death blows (the other being when Tony Allen signs somewhere else, too): Zach Randolph is headed to Sacramento on a two-year deal, something broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This seems a bit steep Randolph, who will turn 36 before the start of next season. That said, he can still produce, averaging 14.1 points per game, shot a solid 44.9 percent last season, still can a team buckets around the basket and has a dangerous midrange game. His rebounding isn’t what it once was, but he halted his decline in that area last season. However, as he has aged he has slowed, and he can be a defensive liability.

Randolph took less than he could have gotten elsewhere with his last deal to keep Memphis together, nobody should blame him for getting paid.

I have no idea why Sacramento made this move, in combination with getting George Hill on a three-year, $57 million deal. There is bringing in veterans to mentor — Philly did it with J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson on one-year deals — and there is killing future cap space for players who help you win a little more now more now (if they stay healthy) but don’t get you into the playoffs in the crazy deep West. The Kings did the latter, apparently making desperation moves to end a decade-long playoff drought. They bet on and older player in Randolph and a guy who missed 33 games last year in Hill who has a long history of injury issues.

Sacramento has some nice young pieces to start rebuilding around — Buddy Hield played well after coming over from the Pelicans, Skal Labissiere showed promise late in the year, they just drafted De'Aaron Fox, there’s Willie Cauley-Stein — let them learn on the job and get more, better players on their timeline. The Kings were going to make a play for Otto Porter at the max, which made sense (even though Washington would have matched). They could make a play for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Detroit (the Pistons would have to shed salary to match, and they probably would), az Zach Lowe noted.

If the Kings lose a lot this year, it helps their draft pick next year. Keep their powder dry for the summer of 2018 when the free agent market will be tighter, and that money will have more value (plus the Kings don’t have their first round pick in 2019, so winning more works). Sacramento chose not to.

The Kings again seem to be thinking short-term, not long-term, they appear to be thinking about a push for the eighth seed (which is unlikely) rather than building something sustainable for the future. Basically, they remain the Kings.

Winners, losers from first day of NBA free agency

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Life comes at you fast. NBA free agency comes at you faster.

Within minutes of free agency starting, teams were announcing deals (which in no way were worked out before the start of free agency through back channels, that would be tampering, and no team would ever do such a thing… cough). By the end of the first day of free agency Stephen Curry had the richest deal in NBA history, Blake Griffin had decided to remain a Clipper, and suddenly Philadelphia was looking real in the East (knocking on wood everyone stays healthy).

Here are our three biggest winners and losers from July 1, the first day of NBA free agency.

WINNERS

1) The Golden State Warriors. The NBA’s best team is keeping the band together — and they should. Signing Curry to a five-year, $201 million super max deal was easy, that’s the no-brainer. LeBron is right, Curry is underpaid (relative to what he generates for the franchise, not compared to reality outside of sports, but that’s another larger discussion). More importantly, the

More importantly, Joe Lacob and the rest of Warriors ownership stepped up and bit the bullet on a massive coming tax bill to keep the core of this team together. The Warriors re-signed Shaun Livingston, retained David West, then upped their offer last minute to keep Andre Iguodala — something Iguodala confirmed.

Now Kevin Durant will reach a deal with the Warriors, a 1+1 deal for a few million less than his maximum. Next year, Durant will opt out and get a max contract (likely starting at about $36 million), and the Warriors will be at least $15 million over the tax line and headed into paying the repeater tax in a few years. Keeping the Warriors together is going to eat into the profits of the Warriors, and credit ownership for being willing to pay that to keep the NBA’s best team together.

2) Jrue Holiday. He had the Pelicans up against it. With Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins on the team (the latter in a contract year), they need a quality point guard to run the show and get them the rock. Holiday certainly fits that bill, but he had multiple suitors. He was going to make at least $20 million next year. The problem for the Pelicans was if they let him walk they only had about $12 million to replace him, and that was going to mean a serious downgrade in talent they couldn’t afford. So the Pelicans came in big, five years and $126 million. Holiday took it, he wanted to stay in New Orleans, but he wasn’t taking a discount to do it. That’s a lot of money, credit to the man for getting paid.

Now, let’s see how this experiment works in the Big Easy.

3) J.J. Redick and the Philadelphia 76ers. We all talk about the great young core with all that potential in Philly: Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and on down the line. Then you hear about GM Bryan Colangelo wanting to bring in veterans and think, “please, don’t screw up the process, it’s working.” He didn’t, and the Sixers still got their veterans.

They land J.J. Redick for one year at $23 million (that figure is why Redick is a winner). Is that overpaying? Sure. But it works. The Sixers have the cap space, Redick fits a position of need, and he’s one of the best shooters in the game, plus this is just a one-year deal. Next summer the Sixers have their cap space back. Redick will give the 76ers shooting that spacing the floor for Simmons’ and Fultz to do their thing, but he’s also a perfect mentor off the court — this guy was a huge college star who had to totally rework his body and game to fit in as an NBA role player, and he busted his butt to do it. This is the work ethic and mentality Philly wants to show those young players, show them what it takes. Same things apply to the signing of Amir Johnson — one year, $11 million, very professional and respected by everyone.

LOSERS

1) Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors keep the band together. Paul George goes to Oklahoma City in a trade, despite both the Cavs and Nuggets being down with a three-team trade that would have brought PG13 to Cleveland. The problem was the Pacers didn’t want that, they kept moving the goal posts, then sent him to the West (people around the Cavaliers are convinced Indy wanted George in the West, because why else would anyone want Victor Oladipo over Gary Harris?).

Maybe most concerning: LeBron James is sitting out the recruiting process this summer. Those concerns about him leaving in 2018 are legitimate.

2) Detroit Pistons. On the court, I like the signing of Langston Galloway on this team. He can play either guard spot, he can shoot the three, he’s a good defender, and while $7 million a year is mildly overpaying it’s not unreasonable. The problem is by using some of the mid-level exception to make this happen, the Pistons have hard-capped themselves at $125 million. If another team comes in with a max offer for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope the Pistons are going to have to shed $3.4 million to match it. And the hard cap will limit in-season moves. Stan Van Gundy has tied his own hands, and it’s going to be a problem down the line.

3) Los Angeles Clippers T-shirt. They got their man, but looks like the Clippers brought Donald Sterling back to design the T-shirt that staff wore at the end of their pitch to Blake Griffin.

Yes, that is a shirt comparing Blake Griffin’s time with the Clippers to Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Michael Jackson, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein and Nelson Mandela. That is the very definition of tone deaf.

Report: Amir Johnson agrees to one-year, $11 million contract with Philadelphia

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The Sixers run as a contender may be a few years away — providing everyone can stay healthy and develop somewhere near their potential — but their run to the playoffs may start next year. They are making moves that should help them win games. First, there was agreeing to sign J.J. Redick to a one-year, $23 million contract.

Now it is Amir Johnson who will come in on a one-year deal and provide depth along the front line, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Another one-year deal that keep’s Philly’s future options open. Wise.

Johnson was a starter for the Celtics last season and he was solid for them. At age 30 and with plenty of miles on him (remember he was a prep to pro guy) he doesn’t move like he used to, but he’s savvy enough to usually be in the right spot, plus he plays within himself. He doesn’t take many threes, fewer than one a game, but he can hit them (40 percent last season). He defends the pick-and-roll fairly well, and he can give a team some rim protection.

If he starts a lot of games for the Sixers, that’s not a good sign. But if they can bring him off the bench behind Joel Embiid for 17-20 minutes a night and get quality play out of him, plus have him as a veteran influence in the locker room, this is a good deal.