This year’s NBA free agency period began with a bang, as more than 50 new contracts were handed out on Day 1.
Several players have yet to reach deals with the teams, but 13 of Sporting News’ top 20 free agents are already off the market. Kawhi Leonard, the No. 1 player in the SN rankings, is technically available, but is expected to sign a new deal with the Clippers at some point in the near future.
A surprise signing or trade could come up later this week because, well, that’s how the NBA offseason works. But for now, let’s go over the top free agency winners and losers based on what we know so far:
FREE NBA AGENCY: Complete list of transfers, best available players
NBA free agency winners
Pat Riley did it again. After a disappointing first-round outing in the 2021 NBA playoffs, the Heat reloaded and will enter the 2021-22 season with an intriguing roster.
Miami’s first major move in free agency was acquiring Kyle Lowry through a sign-and-trade deal with the Raptors. The six-time All-Star averaged 17.2 points, 7.3 assists and 5.4 rebounds last season, but his value goes beyond the numbers. Your leadership, toughness, and general mindset should fit this group perfectly.
However, the Heat didn’t stop there. They also captured PJ Tucker, held Duncan Robinson and extended Jimmy Butler. Miami is not necessarily on the same level as Brooklyn and Milwaukee, but the Heat will be a tough game in the playoffs.
Veterans who wanted to play for the Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka has provided sports journalists in the Los Angeles area with so many opportunities to write “The old man still has it” stories.
37 – Carmelo Anthony
36 – LeBron James
36 – Marc Gasol
36 – Trevor Ariza
36 – Jared Dudley *
35 – Dwight Howard
34 – Wes Matthews *
33 – Wayne Ellington
32 – Russell Westbrook
32 – Kent Bazemore
(Presented by @iKnowYuwanto) pic.twitter.com/HAQ7k6OlRK
– StatMuse (@statmuse) August 3, 2021
Los Angeles also added Malik Monk (23 years old) and re-signed Talen Horton-Tucker (20 years old), but it is unclear if they will be allowed to sit at the adult table.
Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry and Chris Paul
Speaking of veterans, how about these longtime NBA point guards get paid?
- Conley: Three-year, $ 72.5 million deal with the Jazz
- Lowry: Three-year, $ 90 million deal with the Heat
- Paul: Four-year contract with the Suns that could be worth up to $ 120 million
Conley earns bonus points for best free agency ad:
Look, if you close a five-year, $ 100 million deal at age 23, you have to be a winner.
The Cavaliers clearly see Allen as a key part of their core, which currently includes Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro and rookie great Evan Mobley. It will be fascinating to see how Allen and Mobley work together as a combination in the frontcourt.
Collins underwent ankle surgeries in September and December 2020 and missed the entirety of the 2020-21 season. He played in just 11 games for the Trail Blazers last season due to a shoulder injury. He had another setback in June when he required surgery to repair a fracture in his left foot.
And yet, despite all the health problems, Collins somehow landed a three-year, $ 22 million deal. It’s a disconcerting move from San Antonio, but a very good one for Collins.
NBA free agency losers
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans’ poor offseason began before the 2021 NBA Draft when they executed a trade with the Grizzlies that allowed them to create enough cap space to sign a featured free agent. Multiple reports pointed to New Orleans as one of the teams planning to go after Lowry, but obviously that plan didn’t work out so well. Hey, come in.
But is there a reason the Pelicans seemed so eager to let Lonzo Ball go? New Orleans sent Ball to Chicago as part of a sign-and-trade deal in exchange for Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple and a second-round pick. The Pels also acquired Devonte ‘Graham through a separate sign-and-trade agreement with the Hornets, sending a lottery-protected first-round pick to Charlotte to complete that transaction.
Once Lowry was off the board, wouldn’t it have been easier to re-sign Ball and let him develop alongside Zion Williamson? What kind of team are you trying to build the head office around the cornerstone of your franchise?
The New York Knicks
After a pleasant season, the Knicks had a space tone at the salary cap. Instead of causing a stir, however, New York brought back a lot of decent but unspectacular players in longer deals: Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, and Derrick Rose each got three-year contracts, and Evan Fournier received one of four years. $ 78 million settlement.
I wrote last year about the tremendous value the Knicks got from veterans in the middle of the race. Now, even if they replicate last year’s production (well above expectations), they will be in negative value deals and for multiple years. That is why it is not good. https://t.co/AfBcXUlNik pic.twitter.com/s1NNt2COqf
– Yaya Dubin (@ JADubin5) August 3, 2021
The Knicks should be able to compete for a playoff spot in 2021-22, but their limit won’t be much higher than that. It seems strange that the New York headquarters did not employ a similar strategy to last year when it delivered short-term deals and maintained flexibility.
How the Los Angeles Lakers handled Alex Caruso
Why would the Lakers allow a valuable part of their rotation to walk away instead of matching a completely reasonable offer from the Bulls?
From Sam Amick of Athletic:
“The Lakers did something very puzzling today, and only time will tell if they pay a price for it in their quest for an 18 championship. When faced with the prospect of losing Alex Caruso, the 27-year-old point guard whose Bird rights held and thus they could pay whatever they wanted, they didn’t put any free agency fights in the way of him agreeing to a four-year, $ 37 million contract with Chicago. According to a source with knowledge of the situation, Caruso’s camp returned to the Lakers after the Bulls made their offer and were told there would be no counterattack. “
No one will mistake Caruso for Magic Johnson, but he stood out with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers will miss his contributions, especially on the defensive end.
How the Milwaukee Bucks handled PJ Tucker
Tucker signed with the Heat, but it sure doesn’t look like Miami was his first choice.
“To be honest, I’m still a bit lost,” Tucker wrote on Instagram. “I’m still (in shock), but it is what it is. Today took a difficult turn in my career path, but as my grandmother used to tell me … All you can control is what you can control.”
Amick reported that Tucker did not return to Milwaukee after the Bucks’ championship race due to concerns about luxury taxes. Boring.
In February, Oladipo turned down a two-year, $ 45.2 million contract extension from the Rockets, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reported at the time that Oladipo would seek a long-term agreement.
So, uh, Oladipo remains unsigned. It probably should have taken that extension.
Following the “official” rules of free agency
Wow! How did those players and teams reach so many deals right after the opening of free agency at 6 p.m. ET on Monday?
What incredible negotiators! There is definitely no manipulation involved!