In a brief primer the day before the madness that is NBA free agency, we told you about the biggest-name Tar Heel on the NBA market, Harrison Barnes, being set to sign a 4-year deal valued at about 20 million a year with the Sacramento Kings after finishing the previous season with them and declining his player option. That’s still easily the biggest contract a Tar Heel will sign this FA period, but in the two days since, a veritable flurry of Tar Heels in the NBA have either re-signed or found new NBA homes. Let’s recap:
- Reggie Bullock did very well for himself after generally outperforming his contracts with the Detroit Pistons over the past couple of years (where he was making about 2.2-2.5 million per year), inking a 2-year deal worth $21 million dollars with the New York Knicks:
The Knicks have had a problem with too many players who like putting the ball on the floor and thus give it away more than they should, and that’s not getting better after they drafted R.J. Barrett to build around. A shooter who doesn’t turn the ball over like Bullock makes total sense as far as inserting some stability and low-usage production into the Knicks’ lineup. The Knicks didn’t get just about anything they wanted this offseason, but Bullock will be a positive addition.
- The Knicks weren’t done, though, as they followed this up with the news that they’d sign another Tar Heel shooter: Wayne Ellington is returning to New York (he spent about 10 minutes there previously in his career as a trade chip) after signing a 2-year, 16 million-dollar contract with the Knickerbockers:
Free agent Wayne Ellington has agreed to a two-year, $16M deal with the New York Knicks, agent Mark Bartelstein of @PrioritySports tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2019
He’ll provide another stabilizing veteran presence who can stroke it from deep, maybe for a second unit, and his uniquely difficult (and tragic) journey to get to this point in his career could translate into invaluable advice for a very young Knicks core. And while both of these are two-year deals, they, along with the Knicks’ other early FA signings, have team options for the second year, meaning that they really are there to help stabilize the young core while they learn to play together, and they’ll stick around if the coaching staff sees them fitting with the team going forward beyond the stabilizer role they’re currently being employed for, per Bobby Marks.
The four signings in New York- Bobby Portis, Reggie Bullock, Wayne Ellington and Taj Gibson all have a team option for next year, league sources confirmed to ESPN. New York can develop their young kids, stay competitive and keep flexibility for 2020-21.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 1, 2019
- Ed Davis’ NBA journey continues, and his next stop will be with the Utah Jazz, who were desperately in the market for quality big men:
Free agent F Ed Davis has agreed to a two-year, $10M with the Utah Jazz, CAA agent Aaron Mintz tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2019
A two-year, 10-million dollar deal is a great deal for Utah, getting a guy who, as we’ve profiled here already, is beloved by teammates and coaches as a mentor, player, dirty-work doer, and all-around guy everywhere he goes, even if he isn’t particularly offensively gifted. He’ll have an opportunity to play serious minutes and also be able to serve as a mentor for fellow Tar Heel big Tony Bradley, who could be in line to get regular PT in Utah now that they’ve got a dearth of bigs and he’s been with the team a couple of years. Davis and Bradley are now the presumable 2nd and 3rd bigs on the Utah roster, and either can play alongside Rudy Gobert. It doesn’t seem as crowded there as some appear to think, for what it’s worth.
- Danny Green rivals Barnes in terms of big Tar Heel names in free agency, but he remains unsigned by his own choice: According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, he’s waiting on Kawhi Leonard’s decision before he makes one of his own. He’s been strongly linked to both the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers, also one of Leonard’s possible destinations.
- Vince Carter is probably not signing his last year for more than the veteran minimum, so he also remains unsigned as teams get their big-money moves out of the way first before moving on to the guys who won’t eat chunks out of the salary cap. There haven’t really even been rumors or inklings from verified sources as to where he may play his final season.
- And, while this is a mere formality, Nassir Little and Coby White both signed their first professional contracts on Monday! Just ahead of summer league, these guys are officially pros. You love to see it. Cameron Johnson remains unsigned, but he should follow shortly. The Suns are doing some major housekeeping at the moment.