July 17: Shabazz Napier signs
The first official free agent signing of the summer was one of the last to actually agree to terms, as former Portland Trail Blazers point guard Shabazz Napier joined the Brooklyn Nets on a two-year, $3.5 million deal.
Napier was an unrestricted free agent after the Blazers failed to extend him a qualifying offer at the end of his rookie deal last season.
Blue Man Hoop
The Nets will be Napier’s fourth team as he enters his fifth NBA season. He washed out with the Miami Heat after being acquired from the Charlotte Hornets on draft night in 2014.
The 24th overall pick was traded to the Orlando Magic after his rookie year and was sold to Portland in the summer of 2016.
Napier, the star of Connecticut’s run to the NCAA title in 2014, figured it out last season, getting more playing time than he ever had and taking advantage of it.
Running as Portland’s third guard behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, Napier played 20.7 minutes a game and shot .420/.376.,841 — the first time in his career he had topped 40 percent from the floor.
The extra playing time became available after Allen Crabbe was traded to the Nets last summer. Now Crabbe and Napier will be teammates once more.
Napier figures to be the third point guard, but with both D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie able to also play off the ball, he could see more time than a traditional third-unit floor general.
He still showed a tendency to be ball dominant last season, averaging only 2.0 assists per game, and he will have to get quicker with his ball-handling decisions in Brooklyn’s version of the pace-and-space attack.
Not a bad acquisition, but not a head-turner, either.