This has been one of the most active free agencies in NBA history. We saw star players change addresses and some teams stay surprisingly inactive this summer. Here are the five winners and losers of this years free agency.
Honorable Mention: Philadelphia 76ers
When your team seemingly makes all the right moves in free agency, after having a history of doing the complete opposite around this time of year, it’s an automatic win.
Philly has had a great offseason, without making too many moves. Drafting Markelle Fultz with the number one pick in the draft was the beginning of this self rising cake that is the 76ers. Philly was one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA last year and Fultz will be a player than can come in and give you instant offense. He, alongside a healthy Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, will (or at least should) begin to turn around the narrative that is Philly being the “joke” of the NBA.
Their next under the radar move was signing sharpshooter J.J Redick on a one year contract. Redick will not only help Philly offensively, his veteran presence will help guide this young team. And even if Redick does not pan out, it wouldn’t burn the team because he is only on the books for a year.
Philly made all the right moves this year to shape their future for the better.
5. The Golden State Warriors
Did I miss something?
Last time I checked, Golden State won the championship this year. If you look at their offseason moves, you couldn’t tell.
It all started when they bought the second round pick from the Bulls to draft Oregon’s Jordan Bell, who is widely considered one of the biggest steals in the draft.
When you have a two-time MVP on your team, in his prime, and he hits free agency, you do everything in your power to keep him on your team. That’s exactly what Golden State when Stephen Curry hit the market at 12:01 A.M. They signed Curry to the richest (at the time) contract in NBA history at five years, 201 million dollars. Then they re-signed key pieces Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston thanks to Finals MVP Kevin Durant taking almost 10 million less than the max (which we definitely deserves.)
THEN Golden State goes out and signs Nick Young and Omri Casspi, two perfect scoring threats off the bench, and this move also takes pressure off of Iguodala and Livingston.
Golden State could not miss in the Finals, and it look like there hot shooting has boiled over to the summer. Before this off season, the Warriors were considered one of the best teams in NBA history, and they just got better!
4. Sam Presti
When you find away of pairing a top 10 talent in the league in Paul George with Russell Westbrook, the reigning MVP, you’re doing something right.
When you then sign the perfect piece in Patrick Patterson, a spot up big, and Raymond Felton, a perfect guard coming off the bench, you’re doing something extra right.
Sam Presti has been making solid moves since he came into the league (drafting Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Westbrook,) and he landed another splash this free agency.
3. The Washington Wizards
It is debatable if Otto Porter Jr. deserved a max contract. But what is not debatable is the value he and John Wall (signing him to a max extension) have to the team. After signing both to long term contracts, Washington made all the right moves for their hopes of contending in the Eastern Conference.
With all the turmoil the East has seen this free agency, Washington did the right thing and held down the fort. Keeping their starting five in tact (which was top five in the league last year) was the best thing they could have done.
While losing Bojan Bogdanovic and Brandon Jennings will hurt there bench scoring, signing Jodie Meeks, Tim Frazier, and Mike Scott will being a veteran presence to the team.
Yes, the bench will still need improvement, but Washington did not experience any major losses in the team, which is more than I can say for some teams in the East.
2. The Western Conference
When Paul George, Jimmy Butler, and Paul Millsap all jump conferences to join teams “one piece away” from making some noise in the NBA, you know it was a crazy off season!
With players like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Kawhi Leonard reeking havoc in the NBA, adding super star type players to the conference only adds to the imbalance of the NBA. In fact, if you look at ESPN’s top 15 players in the beginning of the season last year, all but one are now in the Western Conference (that one exception being LeBron James.)
These moves have done nothing but put fuel to the “eliminate conferences and have a 16 team plays” talks as many team the Eastern Conference competition is widely different to that of the west, and not in a good way.
1. The Fans
After watching Golden State nearly sweep the playoffs last season, many felt competition in the NBA was a thing of the past. A team with three MVPs (Andre Iguodala won Finals MVP), three of the greatest shooters ever, and a defensive juggernaut, it looked crazy to think any team would make moves to at least shrink the gap.
But with moves like Chris Paul to the Rockets, Paul George to Oklahoma, Jimmy Butler to Minnesota, and Gordon Hayward to Boston, there is a faint window of competitive potential for Golden State now. These potential match-ups not only bring story lines and upset possibilities, but it brings another level of excitement to the NBA.
Golden State is still head and shoulders better than the rest of the NBA, but it will be fun seeing their nightly battles and do not expect another 12-0 road to the finals this time around.
Honorable Mention: Gordon Hayward and the Boston Celtics
Lets start with this, Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics in a win on paper. Hayward is a solid player who itches Boston closer to contention for the Finals. But how it all went down warrants the loss.
When first reports came out that Hayward was leaning toward signing with Boston, his camp quickly came out and said he had not made a decision yet, giving Utah fans hope for him to resign. This however, was quickly followed with “Gordon Hayward will sign with Boston.” This not only enraged fans, it shined a negative light on Hayward’s decision process as a whole. If you were going to ultimately chose Boston, why come out and say you have not made a decision? Why come out with a statement at all?
On Boston’s end, adding Hayward came at a cost. Losing Avery Bradley, one of the best defenders in the league and a staple of the Celtics since he entered the league will be felt. Yes, you added Marcus Morris in a trade, but he does not help the teams biggest need now, which is rebounding. Hayward along side Bradley and Isiaah Thomas would have been a solid trio, but now Boston needs to find a way to make up the defense Bradley provided.
5. The Detroit Pistons
The Avery Bradley trade doesn’t even make much sense on paper.
Signing Bradley meant you wouldn’t have enough to sign the ONLY shooter on the team in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, watching him leave to L.A. This means you put all your faith in Bradley to care the scoring load, which he is not build to do. You then lose Morris in the trade, and don’t get equal value back for him.
And what makes all this worse is Bradley could leave after next season. Because his contract expires, Detroit could lose him for nothing or have to overpay to keep him, which would set back the franchise back if they have to pay him, due to the fact that they are already paying a fortune to Andre Drummand and Reggie Jackson.
Detroit is in a bad spot all around.
4. The Cleveland Cavaliers
After losing to Golden State in a gentleman’s sweep in the Finals, here is a breakdown of what happened to Cleveland since then:
. They lose GM David Griffin days before free agency
. They had a deal on the table for both Paul George and Jimmy Butler, but could not get either
. Tried to trade Kevin Love, but his value was non-existent
. Team signs Jose Calderon and Jeff Green
. Tried to trade for Carmelo Anthony, just to watch him change his mind and request a trade to Houston
. LeBron James is “Frustrated with the organization”
. Kyrie Irving has come out and asked to be traded because he does not want to play with LeBron
. You sign Derrick Rose (a terrible shooter) to possibly be a starter for a 3-point shooting team.
The worst part is Cleveland only distanced themselves from Golden State, in a negative way.
3. The Market for Centers
The market for centers has dried up.
In a 3-point shooting league, the value of a center who can’t shoot is dead. Just look at what happened this off season.
The only notable center that moved the trade needle was Dwight Howard getting shipped to Charlotte one year after getting signed to Atlanta. Players like Dewayne Dedmon, Nerlens Noel and JaVale McGee, who were expected to sign large deals after great season, did not gain traction as first assumed.
Other players like Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, and DeAndre Jordan also were affected by their lack of value. Each of their respective teams tried to trade them but saw their value was not warranted to receive a star player.
This trend is going to continue as the game continues to evolves.
2. The New York Knicks
You’d think that parting ways with Phil Jackson would automatically propel New York to the winners circle of free agency, but the Knicks are the Knicks.
We could start with how they passed on sure thing Dennis Smith Jr in the draft for Frank Ntilikina, a player who is known to struggle offensively. Or we could talk about how they have YET to trade Carmelo Anthony, who the Knicks ruined any possibility of him wanting to stay. We also could start with New York putting Kristaps Porzingis, their best player, on the trade block, burning their bridge with him as well.
But the most unforgivable thing they did was sign Tim Hardaway Jr. to one of the worst contract in team history (next to the Joakim Noah deal.) On paper, four years, 71 million is not a bad contract, for a Allstar caliber player, which Hardaway is far from. And what makes everything worse, the Knicks traded him just a year ago for assets that gave New York Derrick Rose, who they let walk this off season. AND the cherry on top is nobody in the NBA wanted to give Hardaway the money the Knicks gave him, hints why he was STILL ON THE MARKET LATE INTO FREE AGENCY. When you have other GM’s coming out saying ” The Knicks are the worst run organization in sports,” or ” I don’t know exactly what New York was doing with that deal,” you know something is wrong.
The Knicks will be the Knicks I guess.
1. The Eastern Conference
Lets have a moment of silence for the East.
You loss three of your top players in Paul George, Paul Millsap, and Jimmy Butler in free agency to the Western Conference. Kyrie Irving is rumored to the traded out West. And LeBron is a year out of potentially going to the Lakers.
So if you look at the landscape of the NBA if all these moves happen, the East would be wide open, and not in a good way. Outside of John Wall, Isaiah Thomas, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and one of the “Process” boys in Philly, the East would be short of corner stone players, let alone All stars.
All these moves could force the NBA’s hand in breaking up conferences and making it a straight up 16 team playoff, which would be doomsday for the East. Outside of Maybe Toronto, Boston and Washington, not too many eastern conference teams would even sniff the playoffs.
Lets have another moment of silence please.
This has been one of the most action filled free agency to date, and that alone is an all around win for the NBA.