NBA free agency grades for every major player changing teams in 2024

NBA free agency didn’t start with a bang this year the way it normally does. Maybe teams were worried about tampering penalties. Maybe Paul George was holding up the entire market. Maybe the new CBA is just too complicated for anyone to fully grasp. Either way, things have officially heated up on Monday, and most of the top names on the market are now off the board.

The Philadelphia 76ers and Oklahoma City Thunder are loading up for a run at the championship. The Orlando Magic added a solid piece that addresses their biggest weakness and complements their young core. The Mavericks made arguably the best value signing of free agency, but also lost a major contributor from their 2024 NBA Finals team in the process.

The NBA free agent deals are coming in quickly now, and we’re making note of every signing and trade in our live tracker. Now it’s time to grade the biggest deals of free agency.

Mavericks grade for Klay Thompson signing

Klay Thompson, Mavs agree to three-year, $50 million deal

Grade: B+

It’s going to feel so weird to see Thompson away from the Golden State Warriors. The 34-year-old guard has lost a step defensively, but he’s still an elite three-point shooter when he’s set up for an open look. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving attract so much attention offensively that Thompson should be free to run into open shots around the arc. He hit 38.7 percent of his threes on nine attempts per game last year, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see his percentage rise in Dallas with less pressure on him. I’m more worried about the other end of the floor: Thompson isn’t the defender he used to be, and he’s joining two bad perimeter defenders in Doncic and Irving. Still, Dallas got the extra shooting it needed, and the front office deserves praise for their creativity this offseason. The Mavs dealt Tim Hardaway Jr. to grab a flier on Quentin Grimes and open up more cap space. Dallas then signed one of the best bargain free agents in Naji Marshall before striking again with Thompson. Dallas isn’t settling after a surprising run to the NBA Finals, and that’s awesome. Losing Josh Green in this deal hurts a bit, and it feels like a lock that Thompson will pick up his player option in the final year of the contract. This isn’t a slam dunk, but it’s another solid move in a solid offseason for Dallas.

Chris Haynes reports that the deal will be a sign-and-trade, and is not completed yet.

76ers grade for Paul George signing

Paul George, 76ers agree to four-year, $212 million deal

Grade: A

Getting Paul George for nothing but cap space is an incredible piece of business by the 76ers. He’s an ideal fit between Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey as a wing who can rip three-pointers with volume, play on- or off-the-ball, and take on the toughest defensive assignments. It’s scary giving out a max contract to a 34-year-old with a long injury history, but if George stays healthy, he fits Philly like a glove. This is an immense upgrade over Tobias Harris in the third star department. George will carry bench units when Embiid rests, and he’ll fit seamlessly in the closing unit alongside the other two All-Stars here. The Sixers’ won’t be the favorites in the East, but they are a real threat to win the conference if everything breaks their way.

Thunder grade for Isaiah Hartenstein signing

Isaiah Hartenstein, Thunder agree to three-year, $87 million deal

Grade: A+

Hartenstein has been one of the most underrated players in the NBA the last few years. He’s an elite defensive center who is coming into his prime at 26 years old, and can have a huge impact on games without needing the ball. The Thunder badly needed more beef inside and help on the glass, and Hartenstein expertly fills both areas. He’s not a big-time scorer, but his halfcourt playmaking will be an essential fit alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams, and Chet Holmgren. This seems like a lot of money until you realize the final year of this deal is non-guaranteed. While the Thunder still have Holmgren and Williams on rookie deals, Hartenstein will fill in all the cracks to help make Oklahoma City a legit championship contender.

Magic grade for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope signing

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope agrees to three-year, $66 million deal with Orlando Magic, per Chris Haynes

Grade: B+

The Magic were one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the NBA last year, ranking No. 25 in three-point rate and No. 24 in three-point percentage. KCP will be an immediate solution to their shooting woes. He made 42 percent of his threes with Denver in 2022-23, and 40.6 percent of his triples last season. Caldwell-Pope is also a very good defender who will team with Jalen Suggs to form one of the league’s most ferocious defensive backcourts. This is a lot of money for a 32-year-old, and the Magic could still use some extra shot creation, but it’s a sensible fit all around.

Mavericks grade for Naji Marshall signing

Naji Marshall, Mavericks agree to three-year, $27 million deal, per Woj

Grade: A

Marshall is a big forward (6’7 with a 7’1 wingspan) who can defend wing scorers, make connective passes, and hit the glass. He made a major leap as an outside shooter with the Pelicans last season by hitting 38 percent of his threes. He’s not as athletic as Derrick Jones Jr., and he won’t be as good at defending speedy guards, but Marshall is arguably a more well-rounded player who fits nicely around Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

Clippers grade for Derrick Jones Jr. signing

Derrick Jones Jr., Clippers agree to three-year, $30 million deal

Grade: B+

The Clippers are signing Jones at the top of his market value after he played a big role in helping the Mavs get to the NBA Finals this past season. He’s one of the best pure athletes in the NBA as a 6’6 wing who can soar to catch lobs and has enough quickness to defend guards. He’s a good defensive playmaker and offensive play-finisher who should be on the receiving end of plenty of set-ups from James Harden. I like the idea of the Clippers adding a player who can make an impact without the ball. This isn’t much of a Paul George replacement, but it’s still a solid move and a tradable contract long-term.

Pistons grade for Tobias Harris signing

Tobias Harris, Pistons agree to two-year, $52 million deal, per Woj

Grade: C-

Harris is one of the greatest bag-getters in NBA history. The dude has made $300 million in career earnings by age-31 without ever making the All-Star team or being on a team that reached the conference finals. Harris is a good positional fit for the Pistons as a jumbo forward who can take some pressure off Cade Cunningham and the rest of Detroit’s young core, but he’s still not a high enough volume shooter to truly space the floor, and he’s an impactful defender, either. I don’t think this does much for Detroit, but it will be a big expiring contract a year from now.

Chicago Bulls grade for Jalen Smith signing

Jalen Smith, Chicago Bulls agree to three-year, $27 million deal, per Woj

Grade: B

The Bulls needed some shooting after cashing in their best trade chip (Alex Caruso) for a non-shooter in Josh Giddey. If Smith can do anything, it’s hit an open three. The 6’10 center had something like a breakout season in the Pacers’ incredibly juiced offensive system by knocking down 42 percent of his three-pointers, mostly on wide open looks created by Tyrese Haliburton. Smith is a poor defender who won’t provide much rim protection, and it’s why he couldn’t really stay on the floor in conference finals against the Celtics. None of that really matters for a rebuilding Bulls team. Smith will provide some badly needed spacing, and still has some upside left at 24 years old. He might not be great, but he fits what the Bulls needed.

Wizards grade for Jonas Valanciunas signing

Jonas Valanciunas agrees to three-year, $30 million deal with Wizards, per Woj.

Grade: B-

The Wizards are nowhere close to competing, which makes signing a veteran center like Valanciunas a head-scratching move. At the same time, Washington badly needed some beef inside, and Valanciunas should help protect No. 2 overall pick Alex Sarr from taking a beating in the paint. The 32-year-old center could put up some big numbers for a very bad Washington team and look appealing on the trade market down the road. The fact that he signed for half as much as Nikola Vucevic last year makes this a great value, but it still feels like a strange signing.

Spurs grade for Chris Paul signing

Grade: B+

It’s disappointing that the Spurs seem so content to play the long game when Victor Wembanyama appears ready for a superstar leap entering his second season. Chris Paul isn’t going to help the Spurs win much next year, but he will be someone who can consistently deliver the ball to Wembanyama and get out of the way. San Antonio’s point guard play was so bad last season. Ideally, the Spurs would have added someone who isn’t turning 40 years old this season, but CP3 can still be effective in spurts. I like this move in a vacuum for the Spurs, but their offseason in general has been underwhelming unless a bigger move is still to come.

76ers grade for Andre Drummond signing

Andre Drummond, 76ers agree to two-year, $10 million deal, per Shams

Grade: A

Drummond has quietly become one of the best backup centers in the league the last few years. He’s still an elite offensive rebounder, and his quick hands defensively can help force some turnovers. Drummond was impressive as Joel Embiid’s backup in Philly before being dealt as part of the Ben Simmons-James Harden swap, and this deal returns him to a place where he’s already comfortable. Paying $5 million annually for a quality backup five is a nice piece of business for the Sixers.

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