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Free Agent Grades: So far, so good

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Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The pundits have looked at the Nets two (relatively) small moves this weekend and found them worthy A’s and B’s. There’s some concern the Nets may have slightly overpaid for Joe Harris (two years and $16 million), but the Ed Davis signing ($4.4 million over one) has gotten rave reviews.

Here’s a sampling, starting with ESPN’s Kevin Pelton who didn’t give out letter grades, but likes what Sean Marks has done.

ESPN

Joe Harris:

Because he played the past two seasons on a minimum-salary contract, Harris’ cap hold is for the veteran’s minimum. He’ll make far more than that on a two-year deal to return that was somewhat surprising given it will cut into Brooklyn’s cap space for the summer of 2019.

Harris blossomed into a key contributor in Kenny Atkinson’s system, and my projections had him among this year’s top 30 free agents. Despite that, I would have been tempted to see whether Atkinson could repeat the trick with another castoff rather than pay Harris like a quality reserve.

On the plus side, the Nets can now pitch potential additions on the chance to follow in Harris’ footsteps and get rewarded the way he did.

Ed Davis:

Brooklyn seemingly got better value with Davis, one of the league’s top backup bigs during his three years in Portland. Presumably anticipating the market tightening for centers, Davis grabbed a one-year deal that will probably end up coming out of the Nets’ room midlevel exception.

Davis should be a solid contributor in Brooklyn, but not so good as to block Jarrett Allen’s pursuit of the starting job in his second season. And at this price, Davis could fetch a small return at the trade deadline if the Nets want to move him to a contender.

Sports Illustrated

Joe Harris:

I really like this move for Brooklyn. Harris is an extremely reliable three-point shooter who won’t destroy you defensively. Two years is a small commitment, and the money is in line with guys like McDermott and Marco Bellinelli. The best part about this deal is its flexibility. Harris could have some value as part of a larger trade. If the Nets strike it big in free agency next summer, Harris could slot in well next to some superstars. And in the unlikely case Harris is an outright disaster, he won’t clog up the books for a long time. The Nets aren’t out of the woods yet. But they’ve made some shrewd moves the last two summers, and they’re in position to turn the ship around as early as next year if any stars do decide to join. Having someone like Harris around certainly won’t slow down the process.

Grade: A

Ed Davis:

The Nets have used their cap space sensibly thus far, keeping shooter Joe Harris at a reasonable price and now bringing in Davis, one of the league’s best rebounders, to help fill rotation minutes in the short-term. Davis, 29, has averaged a double-double per-36 in three of his last four seasons and was a key part of a consistently pretty good Blazers team, anchoring bench lineups with his energy and consistency. Brooklyn lands him at a totally fair price while Davis commands nearly double the veteran’s minimum, and there’s no long-term commitment from either side if he decides to join a playoff team in a year’s time. The Nets are working back toward respectability and hoping to keep financial flexibility over the next two summers, given how attractive their New York market and high-quality facilities should in theory be for star free agents once the ship begins to move in the right direction. This won’t move the needle in any drastic way, but there’s very little risk with this investment as Brooklyn shores up its rotation.

Grade: A

Hoops Habit

Joe Harris:

Pound for pound, Joe Harris’ agreed-upon deal might have been the best value move in free agency’s opening flurry of activity. For a Brooklyn Nets team that attempted the second-most 3-pointers in the NBA last year but only made 35.6 percent of them (ranked 20th in the league), bringing back Harris’ 41.9 percent touch from long range is huge.

Still only 26 years old, Harris wasn’t the most indispensable of free agents, but this is a borderline bargain move considering what he might have been able to get on the open market, especially if this had been a regular offseason where money wasn’t so tight.

The Nets are slowly but surely assembling a collection of complementary talent, and having wings who can shoot is intrinsic to that vision. At a mere $8 million a year, they were able to lock in their most important free agent before any suitors could come calling.

Grade: A-

Ed Davis:

For Brooklyn, the Nets have acquired a more than solid reserve big man that will bolster their young, rebuilding roster without causing any negative effect on the salary cap. Of all the deals agreed upon on the opening night of free agency, this one is right up there in value.

Always aggressive on the boards, it has long been questioned why Davis could never lock down a permanent starting role. In 18.9 minutes per game in 2017-18, Davis reeled in 7.4 boards, which led the league for players averaging less than 20 minutes per contest.

The Nets will open up a position at the 5 once a buyout is negotiated with the Net that never will be, Dwight Howard.

Davis now appears likely to form a partnership with the guy fostering the sweetest fro in the NBA, Jarrett Allen. The soon-to-be NBA sophomore will benefit greatly from playing beside Davis, an eight-year veteran in the league.

It’s the latest in a slew of clever moves from Nets general manager Sean Marks, who continues to rebuild the franchise from the lowest of lows of a few years ago. The infamous Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade derailed the last few seasons for Brooklyn, but there is now light at the end of the tunnel. With room to potentially add two max players next summer, they are in the mix to undermine the cross-town New York Knicks’ attempts at ruling the Big Apple.

Davis is a hard-nosed and athletic big man that will likely come off the bench and continue to do what he does best: rebound the ball and finish plays.

Grade: A

NJ.com

Joe Harris:

This is a great value on one of the most underrated free agents on the open market.

Grade: A-

Ed Davis:

The Nets are trying to maintain flexibility for next season, and Davis is a solid veteran big man that should help right away. Nothing wrong about this deal.

Grade: B+