Kurt Helin

Portland Trail Blazers v Miami Heat

PBT Extra: Spurs lead Texas winners in NBA Free Agency

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There are questions if you want to be picky: LaMarcus Aldridge has never led a team deep into the playoffs before. Aldridge and Tim Duncan have similar games (they both prefer the left block) games, how do they mesh? How does David West mesh at the four? Can there be too much talent in San Antonio?

I’m sure Gregg Popovich is crying into his Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.

The Spurs have aced free agency with the precision they seem to do everything, and they are one of the winners in NBA free agency. Actually, both winners we talk about here came out of the state of Texas.

Jason Smith reaches one-year deal with Orlando Magic

New York Knicks V Philadelphia 76ers

The New York Knicks wanted to retain center Jason Smith, but under the rules of the CBA they could only offer him $2.8 million.

That was not enough to get the deal done.

The Orlando Magic came in at $4.5 million and won the day, something announced first by Smith’s agency, Priority Sports.

The Knicks had gotten Orlando big man Kyle O’Quinn in a sign-and-trade deal with the Magic, which was one of Phil Jackson’s smart moves this summer. Consider this the Magic returning the favor. The teams are essentially swapping reserve bigs.

Smith played in every Knicks game last season, started 31 of them, and averaged eight points and four rebounds a night. He’s a midrange shooter, 65 percent of his shot attempts came between 10 feet out and the arc last season, but he hit a respectable 46 percent of them. That fit well in the triangle.

In Orlando, he will be the primary backup for Nikola Vucivic and he should get some quality run.

J.J. Redick: Clippers deserve “F” for free agency after losing DeAndre Jordan

Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Five

Once again, it’s Doc Rivers the GM setting the team back and making life difficult for Doc Rivers the coach.

The Clippers have to be on the list of biggest losers in free agency (they were at the top of the discussion in the PBT Podcast) because not only did they lose DeAndre Jordan to the Dallas Mavericks but also they had no good way to replace him.

It’s not just me saying that, here is what Clippers’ starting two-guard J.J. Redick said on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius XM to Nicole Zaloumis and Ric Bucher, when he was asked to grade their offseason.

“F. Is there an F-minus?

Listen, we had one priority this summer, and that was to re-sign DJ, and we missed out on that. Barring some miracle, the makeup of our team is completely different now.

“He was such an integral part of what we did, not just defensively, but offensively with the screening, his rolling, his offensive rebounds. His presence down low essentially made teams either commit to the three-point line when Blake [Griffin] or Chris [Paul] penetrated, or commit to him, and that either opened up lobs to him or threes for guys like me and Jamal [Crawford] and Matt [Barnes].

“So he was a huge part of what we did and missing out and having him leave for Dallas gives us a failing grade.”

It’s rare to see a player be honest like that. Good on Redick.

The Clippers are still going to be a good team. They had the best offense in the NBA last season, and they likely will often play smaller and faster now. Expect to see some Blake Griffin at the five, Chris Paul may put up numbers fantasy players will love. The Clippers will be entertaining, they will put up a lot of points.

But they have been knocked down a tier or two from contender status. They will still be a playoff team in the West, likely a 4-7 seed, but unless they find a new defensive anchor it’s hard to imagine them challenging San Antonio, Golden State or Oklahoma City. That’s what the summer “F” gets them.

Report: Aaron Brooks reaches one-year deal to remain with Bulls

Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat

He was a guy Tom Thibodeau trusted, now he’s going to have to earn the confidence of Fred Hoiberg.

He’ll get the chance because Aaron Brooks will be back with the Chicago Bulls, something first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN and now confirmed by Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com.

Brooks averaged 11.6 points and 3.2 assists in playing all 82 games for the Bulls last season, starting 21 games due to various injury absences. Brooks made the veteran’s minimum last season but he’ll earn more than that in 2015-16.

There was speculation the Bulls would go for a bigger guard who could possess the ability to play both guard spots as opposed to just one, but when the market dried up after a few targets signed above-average deals, it didn’t leave the luxury-tax paying Bulls with many options, and a return engagement with Brooks was an easy choice.

This gives the Bulls essentially the same backcourt as last season, with Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler (who re-signed with the team) as the starters and Brooks with Kirk Hinrich and Tony Snell behind them.

Overall the Bulls roster is largely the same as last year, they are simply counting on health and a more modern offense under Hoiberg to make them more serious challengers to Chicago.

PBT Podcast: Free agency’s winners and losers

LaMarcus Aldridge
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The Winners seem to be mostly located in the state of Texas.

The losers seem to be on the coasts.

All the free agency dust has not settled, but it’s becoming clear who some of the big winners and losers are in free agency. On the plus side of the ledger, you start with the Spurs. On the negative side, the Clippers have dropped from contender status with DeAndre Jordan leaving for Dallas.

But those teams are just the tip of the free agent iceberg, and we get into a lot more teams and players with  PBT’s Kurt Helin and Brett Pollakoff, plus NBCSports’ Dominic Ridgard.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.