That was crazy.
After months and months of rumors, the first day of free agency finally concluded. The league has changed, with superstars like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant having already shifted teams. This article will cover who, in my opinion, won and lost Day 1 of NBA Free Agency.
Losers: Minnesota Timberwolves
Newly Acquired Players: Jordan Bell (RFA), Shabazz Napier, Treveon Graham
Ah yes, my favorite team. The Timberwolves have been linked to D’Angelo Russell for weeks, and were heavily favored to land the all-star guard. It looked more and more certain as the Nets were announced to sign superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, while also picking up DeAndre Jordan. If the Timberwolves managed to pair the 1st and 2nd overall picks from the 2015 Draft together (Towns and Russell, respectively), it surely would’ve formed one of the most dynamic duos in the league.
Unfortunately for the Timberwolves, the Golden State Warriors came out of nowhere and “stole” Russell away. After trading 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala away to the Grizzlies (to clear salary), it seems that they will be initiating a sign-and-trade deal with the Nets, revolving around Russell and Durant.
The Timberwolves will be acquiring Napier and Graham from the Nets as the third team of the sign-and-trade deal. The Warriors’ Jordan Bell has also agreed to a 1 year/$1.6 million contract, which the Warriors can match. They definitely picked up some good pieces, but losing Russell was heartbreaking.
Winners: Golden State Warriors
Newly Acquired Players: D’Angelo Russell (Sign-and-Trade)
Coming into free agency, most predicted that Kevin Durant, a 2x Finals MVP, would be leaving the franchise. With Klay Thompson out with a torn ACL injury, it seemed as if the Warriors would no longer be at the top of the league, especially after claiming 3 of the last 5 NBA Championships.
Until they brought in D’Angelo Russell. The Nets all-star is reportedly participating in a sign-and-trade deal that would bring him to the Bay Area in exchange for Durant. Now the Warriors’ lineup does not have any depth whatsoever, after trading away Andre Iguodala to the Grizzlies, and having virtually no cap space left. However, the acquisition of Russell does give add another all-star caliber player to a team that should have no problem finding veterans to sign for the minimum, that should keep them competitive next season.
Losers: New York Knicks
Recently Acquired Players: Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington
The Knicks have been the laughing stock of the league for the past few years, and this free agency showed that it isn’t going to change anytime soon. They’ve been rumored as a potential destination for a Durant-Irving team up, seeing as they had 2 max contract slots available. However, following Durant’s Achilles injury, the Knicks were unwilling to offer him a max contract, as he ended up signing with the Nets.
Instead, the Knicks were able to pick up Julius Randle, who had a stellar 2018-19 campaign for the Pelicans. They also signed 2 other power forwards in Bobby Portis and Taj Gibson, and another veteran in Wayne Ellington, which admittedly isn’t as big of a free agency splash as some Knicks fans would’ve liked.
Winners: Brooklyn Nets
Picture via Clutch Points
Recently Acquired Players: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan
If the Knicks lost free agency so far, the Nets have surely won it. The Nets managed to add NBA superstars in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who have each taken pay cuts for the Nets to sign former all-star center and close friend, DeAndre Jordan. The Nets and Warriors should be participating in a sign-and-trade deal (along with the Timberwolves), revolving around Durant and Russell.
Despite Durant’s injury, and despite the big acquisitions they made, the Nets still managed to keep core pieces like Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, who all had career years last season. Now with a loaded roster, the Nets should be expected to make a finals push within the next few years.
Losers: Los Angeles Lakers
Recently Acquired Players: N/A
With Russell’s move to the Warriors, the Lakers just lost their backup plan. D’Lo was reported to be the Lakers’ contingency plan, in case they couldn’t land Kawhi Leonard. Speaking of Leonard, he has yet to have made a decision on which team he will be suiting up for next season. According to numerous reports, he has limited his options to the Lakers, the Clippers, and his current team, the Raptors, who he won a championship with.
It’s hard to tell why Kawhi would leave the Raptors based on a basketball standpoint. He just won the NBA Finals with a team that seems to have great chemistry when they play with one another. If the Lakers miss out on Leonard, then they would’ve cleared a max contract slot for nothing. Their best bet is to sign role players to fill out the rest of their team, but a lot of free agents have already agreed to sign with teams.
If the Lakers get Kawhi, it’s a win. If they don’t, it’s a loss.
Winners: Philadelphia 76ers
Recently Acquired Players: Josh Richardson, Al Horford, Tobias Harris (resigned), Mike Scott (resigned)
The 76ers have replaced 2 members of their starting lineup, and their team once again looks like an Eastern Conference contender. No one in the starting 5 is under 6’6″, with a lineup that looks like a defensive nightmare. They managed to replace Butler with a younger and similar player in Richardson, and have brought in Al Horford who was a key piece in the Celtics teams that eliminated the 76ers for the past two years. They’ve also brought back Scott (aka the Threegional Manager), who was a great stretch big for them off the bench.
After trading away Robert Covington and Dario Saric for Jimmy Butler, they’ve traded away Butler as well. Butler was great in the playoffs, and a great closer for the young team as well. He was their go-to scorer in the clutch, as they depended on him to take the shots when it mattered most. Now, it is up to the rest of the team to fill in the void that Butler has left.
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