With the offseason into full hibernation mode, it's high time for the Silver Screen and Roll crew to give their preliminary verdicts on just how well the Los Angeles Lakers front office did in their summer maneuvers. This week, we grade the signing of the newly crowned Sixth Man of the Year, Lou Williams, to a three-year, $21 million dollar contract.
Before the Lakers signed him, what did you feel would be a fair offseason deal for Lou Williams?
Anthony Irwin: Given how the cap is going up, I expected at least one or two million more per year for Williams. He's coming off an award-winning season and is one of the most efficient of the league's volume scorers. One would think teams would have lined up for a scoring punch like him coming off their bench. For whatever reason, though, according to Lou, his own team passed on making a deal. Whatever the reasons, I'm sure glad it played out as it did.
Harrison Faigen: Before the Lakers signed him I had honestly not thought a whole lot about the value of Lou. Given that he had just won Sixth Man of the Year, I thought Toronto would have brought him back for around $7-9 million per year because most of the time there is at least some public pressure to bring back guys who win those awards, or the player's agent leverages that notoriety into a payday.
Jameson Miller: Two-to-three years at between $6-$10 million per, with the wide annual range reflecting the intrinsic uncertainty of the unprecedented salary cap spike looming just around the corner. I'd be lying if I said I even had Lou Williams on my offseason radar for potential roster additions, as I was pretty sure Toronto would bring him back despite their second-half swoon last season... but now that he's here, I can dig.
The Great Mambino: To be perfectly honest, Lou wasn't even on my radar for the Lakers given Jordan Clarkson's presence and the drafting of D'Angelo Russell. I felt that a playoff or near playoff team would have picked up Williams as an offensive spark plug off the bench, a piece to complete a puzzle rather than starting one for a rebuilding team. Combined with his age (28) in mind, I felt that a three-year, $18 million dollar deal was in the works for Lou, just above the mid-level exception.
Ryan Kelapire: This offseason's free agent market was a little tricky to put a value on players because of the significant rise in the cap next offseason. Signings that used to be considered "overpays" became "that deal is fine when the cap rises" and understandably so. If you would've asked me to put a value on Lou Williams before the Lakers signed him though, I probably would have said anything in the $6-10 million range would've been fair. Maybe even higher than that. Heck, if he got a two-year, $24 million deal, I don't think I would have batted an eye.
Ben Rosales: About $32-36 million over four years or so. Williams is a gunner, but unlike our own Nick Young, he's figured out how to translate that trait into a reasonable amount of efficiency because of his ability to get to the line and respectable outside shooting. Add in a pay bump because of his recent Sixth Man of the Year win and he's a fairly ideal sixth man who can spark your offense coming off the bench.
Apratim Ghosh: Around three years, at a total of $27-$30 million was what I originally thought he would be able to secure. Given a rapidly increasing cap it was my impression that a team looking for "instant offense" off the bench would easily throw that at the reigning Sixth Man of the Year. However, when Toronto threw a four-year, $60 million contract at Carroll it became clear that his primary avenue to such a contract had largely evaporated.
What grade would you give the Lakers on this deal?
Anthony Irwin: Grading a deal before the player plays a single game isn't exactly my forte, but given the contract fell well below market value, I'm willing to give a "B". Yes, Williams feel slightly redundant given Nick Young's presence on the roster, but at this point, the Lakers are in asset acquisition mode. Avoiding roster duplication makes sense when you're talking about franchise cornerstones, doing so when you're talking about Nick Young is something else altogether.
Harrison Faigen: I wrote why I think Williams is a pretty good signing for the Lakers here so I won't repeat myself too much, but I would give this signing a B. I like Williams' scoring ability alongside the Lakers' two big point guards, but this isn't an A because the Lakers already had devoted cash to a similarly one-dimensional bench scorer in Young. Williams is a better player than Young, though, so it's still a positive addition in my opinion.
Jameson Miller: Scrunch your face up like a sturgeon, raise your eyebrows and nod approvingly. This is the appropriate expression of emotion when your team signs a player like Lou Williams. He certainly checks all the boxes of a solid, if unspectacular free agent signing: natural scorer, in his twenties, reasonable yearly figure, coming off a career season, etc. Though Lou likely doesn't move the needle too much as far as the Lakers making a huge dent in the win column next year, he still grades out as a net positive despite being weighed down by his sub-par defense and blah field goal percentage, hence, I'll give this deal a B.
The Great Mambino: If I felt that the Lakers were a bit closer to swinging a postseason berth, I'd give this deal an A. It's more or less fair market value for Lou and despite his health concerns, his age and skill set in the modern NBA match with nearly any team looking for depth at the guard position. That being said, I'm slightly concerned what will happen given that Russell and Clarkson need plenty of minutes to develop and that the money could have been better allocated to a small forward, either now or in the future. Those concerns being as they are, I'll go with a very solid B grade for the front office.
Ryan Kelapire: I would give Jim and Mitch a B+ for this deal. Signing a player that averaged 15.5 points per game with a 56.4 true shooting percentage for $7 million (which will only be 7 percent of the cap in 2016 and even less than that in the subsequent years) doesn't have a lot of downside. My only gripe is that they were not able to move Nick after acquiring Williams. Having one player that's only focus is to score is fine, but two? That's a little overboard. However, if they can manage to dump Young without giving up an asset, I'd give this deal an A.
Ben Rosales: After finding the initial move quizzical, the Williams addition starts to make significantly more sense if you're thinking past this season. Neither Young (will inevitably be traded or stretched) or Kobe Bryant (retirement) will be around to take away Williams' thunder coming off the bench, and they'll be able to pair him with two big point guards in Russell and Clarkson to minimize the offensive and defensive issues that come with a stereotypical two guard in a point guard's body. The Lakers also managed to pick up Williams at a relative bargain, roughly $7 million a year for Williams' age 29-31 seasons, likely the last few years of his prime. Even if he slips slightly during that time and you consider Williams' previous season a contract year performance -- although it should be noted, Williams had to deal with knee issues the previous two years and this could be considered a return to form more than anything -- you're still getting an above average offensive player for a paltry amount after the cap blows up. That makes this a decent value signing and rounds out what will be an interesting backcourt should Russell and Clarkson continue to develop; the cost even mollifies what might be an awkward fit this season because of how many players need the ball to be effective. Grade; B+.
Apratim Ghosh: Once you realize that acquiring Lou is more consequential for the years after this upcoming season alone you start to love the deal. Kobe will most likely end up retiring after this season. Young was already being shopped around this offseason and will either be traded or could be stretched at some point. That is going to leave a large hole coming off the bench at the guard position. His ability to effectively spell either Clarkson or D'Angelo will be key. It will allow a head coach to effectively stagger their time in the rotation and keep one primary starting guard on the court at all times. In addition, at three-years, $21 million he Williams signing largely comes in at a bargain given the context of an escalating cap.
I'd also like to add that the comparisons to Young are a bit unfair. Lou's game is far more efficient and contained than Young's. Lou's outside shooting is near league average, but his corner three is shot at a scorching rate (47 percent from the left corner and 50 percent from the right corner). His mid range game (cue the Byron swoon) is excellent across the board except from the right baseline. In addition, his 19.90 PER last season was significantly better than Nick Young's below league average 14.27. They may both be shoot first ask questions later types, but Lou is clearly the better option within that category.