NBA free agency in full swing

NBA free agency in full swing
July 07
08:50 2022

The Golden State Warriors just won their fourth championship in eight years. They regrouped following years of injuries to their stars and the loss of Kevin Durant. Early in the season, the Warriors weren’t predicted to win it all, but once all of their players returned to form, they showed their championship pedigree. Now several teams in the league are adding pieces to make a run at the title.

A lot of people thought that the injuries sustained by Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, combined with their age, meant Golden State was past their prime. They proved everyone wrong and showed they still have some gas in the tank to possibly win more titles in the future.

It’s refreshing to see that teams are not just sitting back and hoping things work out for them next year. There are contenders and teams on the cusp of competing for relevance out there spending big money on retaining their own players or bringing in new assets.

The first couple days of the free agency period was a complete frenzy. Teams were throwing around money like it grows on trees to some of these coveted players. There were also some trades that could change the fortunes of teams.

The first thing that stood out to me was how eager some teams were to lock up their superstar players to long-term deals. The Denver Nuggets agreed to sign Nikola Jokic to the richest contract in NBA history (five-years, $264 million supermax extension). The Phoenix Suns signed Devin Booker to a four-year $224 million supermax extension. Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies agreed to terms on a four-year rookie extension worth around $226 million. Lastly, the Minnesota Timberwolves agreed to a four-year $224 million supermax extension with Karl-Anthony Towns.

All four of those players are cornerstones for their teams and had to be signed to long-term deals. When I saw the amount of money being thrown at these players, I knew it was not going to stop there and that more was to come. Other big name guys like Zach LaVine, Darius Garland and Zion Williamson also signed new deals to remain with their respective teams.

The head scratcher of the free agency period thus far came from the trade between the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves. The Jazz traded center Rudy Gobert to the Wolves for a number of players and picks. Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverly, Walker Kessler, Jarred Vanderbilt and Leandro Bolmaro are the players going to Utah. The Jazz will also receive unprotected first-round picks from the Wolves in 2023, 2025, 2027 and a top-5 protected pick in 2029.

That is a hefty price to pay for a player like Gobert who is limited offensively and has trouble defensively when he is away from the basket like on pick-and-roll plays. I understand the thinking of the Wolves by bringing in Gobert to pair with Towns in the front court; however, that price tag was way too high in my opinion. This will allow Towns to play the power forward position while having Gobert at the center position. In today’s NBA, I don’t see this as a smart move for Minnesota, especially when it comes to playoff time because Gobert is a liability on offense and away from the rim. On the other hand, this is a great move for Utah as they destroy and rebuild.

The trade that did make sense and could be a game-changer was between the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics. The Pacers are sending guard Malcolm Brogdon to the Boston Celtics for Daniel Theis, Aaron Nesmith, Nik Stauskas, Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan and a 2023 first-round pick.

This is a great move for the Celtics as they shore up one of the areas of need that was very glaring during the NBA Finals, which is playmaking. The 2017 Rookie of the Year has had some injury concerns throughout his career, but when healthy he is a very productive offensive player that can also defend multiple positions. Brogdon can create for others, while also being an effective scorer, so he should fit right in with the culture in Boston.

One of the biggest surprises for me was Bradley Beal. When Beal declined his player option on the eve of free agency, I thought this meant he would be looking around the league for the best possible landing spot for him to try and win a championship. Well … I was wrong. Beal chose to sign a five-year $251 million max deal to remain with the Wizards.  

Throughout his ten-year tenure with the Wizards, Beal has never made a deep playoff run or even been on a contending team. I thought because he is turning 30, he would be looking to find a place to have a chance to win now. I think there were some landing spots where he could have gotten paid handsomely, while also playing on a winning team. His staying in Washington is a waste of generational talent, honestly.  I would hate for Beal to waste his best years with the Wizards and never have any memorable playoff runs. He’s too good for that.

I was also surprised by the move James Harden made. Harden chose to decline his player option with the Philadelphia 76ers and is now a free agent. Based upon how he finished out last season during the playoffs, I felt Harden would want another opportunity with Joel Embiid to see what the pair can accomplish. I am not sure if he can find a better team than the one he just left, and I am almost certain no one is willing to give him a max deal. But stranger things have happened.

The most intriguing storylines of the offseason will be what the Brooklyn Nets decide to do with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. It has been reported that Durant asked for a trade and has listed the Miami Heat and the Phoenix Suns as his preferred destinations. Irving opted into his $36.5 million player option last month, but has been the topic of trade talks for the last two weeks. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst has reported that the pair would still want to play together, just not in Brooklyn.  

It’s laughable that Durant wants to switch teams once again, when he didn’t even give this team a full strength shot to see what they could accomplish. With a healthy Durant and Irving, surrounded by a supporting cast of Joe Harris, Seth Curry, Ben Simmons and others, the Nets would be a dangerous team.

It’s going to be interesting to see where those two players wind up because it could tip the balance of power away from Golden State in the West and Boston in the East.  

This should be a good summer.


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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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