NBA free agency frenzy

NBA free agency frenzy
August 12
11:12 2021

Teams in the NBA are not wasting any time retooling for next season. With another shortened off season, teams are signing free agents left and right in an attempt to dethrone the Milwaukee Bucks as NBA champions.

I was shocked at how teams were gobbling up free agents quicker than Pac-Man eats power pellets. There has been a lot of player movement and it will be interesting to see how these players fit in with their new teams.  

Last week I wrote about the Lakers acquiring Russell Westbrook in a trade with the Washington Wizards. That was before free agency opened and the Lakers had a lot of holes to fill. 

The Lakers did not have a lot of money to spend on role players to surround their Big 3 of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, so Laker general manager Rob Pelinka chose to add several aging veterans and a couple of competent shooters to the Lakers’ roster.

Wayne Ellington (33), Kent Bazemore (32), Trevor Ariza (36), Dwight Howard (35) and Carmelo Anthony (37) are the aging veterans the Lakers chose to sign. They also signed guards Kendrick Nunn and Malik Monk.

Do these moves help the Lakers? I think yes and no. The Lakers needed to add shooters around their star players, and they have that now. On the other hand, with all of these veterans added that are over the age of 32, how many games are they expected to play during the regular season to ensure they have enough left in the tank for the playoffs?

I didn’t think the addition of Westbrook was going to be enough to get the Lakers over the hump and I’m sorry to say that I don’t think the moves they made in free agency will be enough to win the championship either. The Western Conference is very tough and the experience teams like the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets gained this past postseason will prove to be very valuable. Those teams will not be scared of the Lakers.

James got a little defensive about the age talk surrounding his new teammates. Even though the Lakers will be the oldest team in the league next season, James seems confident that they will have enough to contend. James took to Twitter to defend his teammates saying, “Keep talking about my squad, our personnel ages, the way he plays, he stays injured, we’re past our time in this league, etc etc etc, Do me one fave PLEASE!!!! And I mean PLEASE!!!!  Keep that same narrative ENERGY whit it begins! That’s all I ask, thank you.” James has since deleted the tweet, but it’s clear that he is tired of hearing the negative talk about the Lakers.

The Lakers were not the only team that has been busy during the free agency period. The Chicago Bulls made a couple of moves that should put them in a good position to compete for one of the top spots in the east next season.

The Bulls acquired point guard Lonzo Ball from the New Orleans Pelicans in a sign-and-trade deal. Ball signed a four-year, $85 million contract with the Bulls. The Bulls sent Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple and a second-round pick to the Pelicans in the deal. Ball is still only 23 years old and his career has been kind of a roller coaster ride.

Ball was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. His career did not pan out in LA, but was better once he joined the Pelicans. He has improved his shooting in New Orleans and the Bulls are hoping he can continue his progression in Chicago. He should be a good fit for Chicago as they make their push toward the top of the Eastern Conference.

Along with Ball, the Bulls also acquired former San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan in another sign-and-trade deal. I have seen several analysts questioning this move due to DeRozan’s skillset being so similar to star guard Zach LaVine’s. I for one think it is a good move because I feel DeRozan and LaVine will play well together.  

DeRozan recently turned 32 years old, but he did average 21.6 points per game last season for the Spurs. That will take some of the scoring load off of LaVine as well. The Bulls also signed former Lakers guard Alex Caruso to a contract. On paper, the Bulls look like a team that will compete for one of the top spots in the east next season.

The Brooklyn Nets simply needed to get healthy and they are going to contend next year. Instead of just being content with their team, the Nets made a quietly good move by adding guard Patty Mills. Fresh off of helping his home nation of Australia to a bronze medal in basketball during the Olympics, Mills will be a great addition off the bench for Brooklyn.

Mills will provide added championship experience from his time with the Spurs and is scoring off the bench will be a plus, especially if one of their Big 3 get injured at any point during the season.  

The Miami Heat made an aggressive move in free agency as well. Two years removed from their NBA Finals appearance, the Heat traded for former Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry in exchange for Goran Dragić and Precious Achiuwa. They signed forward P.J. Tucker to a deal as well.

Lowry is an upgrade at the point guard position for Miami. He has championship experience and is a tough and gritty defender, perfect for what the Heat likes to do defensively.

“Kyle Lowry is a great leader and an exceptional defender,” said Heat President Pat Riley. “As a point guard, he will bring important skills to run the offense, score the ball and defend with the very best.”

Several other players were re-signed to their current teams like Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard. Everyone is attempting to dethrone the Bucks as the current champion. 

It will be interesting to see how these storylines play out for the top teams in each conference this season.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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