NBA free agency kicked off today, and the landscape of the NBA already looks a lot different. Who are free agency’s winners and losers after just a few hours?
It didn’t take long for NBA free agency to go nuts! Within minutes of free agency kicking off, players were being signed left and right. Just hours after NBA free agency started, the NBA looks a whole lot different than it did last season.
Several players have moved on and teamed up with other stars, believing they can win a championship together. NBA free agency still has a lot more to offer, but who have been the biggest winners and losers to this point? Let’s take a look at the biggest winners and losers of the first few hours of NBA free agency!
Winner: Brooklyn Nets
Kyrie Irving, KD and DeAndre Jordan. What a haul! The Brooklyn Nets are the most obvious winners from the first few hours of NBA free agency. First, they signed Kyrie Irving. This gives them a great replacement for D’Angelo Russell, who’s likely on his way out of Brooklyn.
Next, they landed KD. Durant will be out next season because of injury, but when he comes back, the Nets will have two stars who’ll put them at the top of the Eastern Conference. Third, DeAndre Jordan is joining the team. Jordan isn’t what he once was. I personally wouldn’t consider him a star, but he’s close. Jordan will give the Nets another defensive presence alongside the young Jarrett Allen.
I can’t forget to mention that the Nets were able to get their three guys, all while keeping their core of players in tact. Aside from likely losing D’Angelo Russell, the Nets have been able to keep everyone else who made a big impact on them making the playoffs last season.
The Brooklyn Nets have done an incredible job over the last few years. After being the laughing stock of the league a few years back after a trade with the Boston Celtics, the Nets have turned themselves into not only a playoff contender, but a legit title contender in the near future.
Loser: New York Knicks
The Nets were the obvious winners from the early hours of NBA free agency, but the Knicks on the other hand, were far from that. The other New York team quickly established themselves as the biggest free agency losers.
After losing out on Kyrie Irving, the Knicks also lost out on Kevin Durant because they wouldn’t offer him a max contract. I understand their hesitancy with Durant’s injury, but the Knicks needed to give their fans something to cheer for. They once again failed. I have a feeling that not offering KD the max will come back to haunt them for years.
In addition to losing out on Kyrie and KD, the Knicks couldn’t even keep their own guy. They also lost DeAndre Jordan. It’s not like Jordan was a star who was going to carry the Knicks, but he’s a solid player, and his loss makes them even worse than they already were.
Instead of going big in NBA free agency, the Knicks decided make a backup signing, adding Julius Randle on a 3-year, $63 million contract. I actually think the signing of Randle wasn’t a bad backup plan, as I think he’ll have his best season yet. He could be a nice pairing with RJ Barrett for years to come. However, when you compare this signing to possibly having Kyrie and KD, it looks bad.
Winner: Orlando Magic
Re-signing big man Nikola Vucevic, re-signing Terrence Ross and adding PF Al-Farouq Aminu. This could be the most underrated set of moves during the beginning of NBA free agency. Orlando didn’t make any big free agency moves. They didn’t sign any guys by the name of Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving. What they did do, was re-sign their own guys. Nikola Vucevic was by far the best player for Orlando last season after putting up career highs in points, rebounds and assists. He was the number one reason why the Magic were able to earn a playoff spot a season ago.
In addition to Vucevic, Orlando had to keep Terrence Ross if they wanted to keep their chances of making the playoffs again alive. Ross could’ve easily been a candidate for 6th man of the year, as he averaged 15.1 points per game off the bench for the Magic.
As far as the signing of Al-Farouq Aminu goes, there are some questions surrounding this move. Orlando has a lot of big men on their roster already, so where will he fit in? He can fit in in several different ways. Regardless of the fit, Aminu will provide Orlando with another great role player off the bench.
In review, Orlando signed their own guys who led them to the playoffs last season. They then signed a guy who can provide valuable minutes for them off the bench. Orlando quietly improved their roster underneath all the talk of the big name guys moving around.
Loser: Charlotte Hornets
We all knew there was a good chance Kemba Walker was going to leave, meaning the Hornets were likely going to be losers of free agency no matter what happened. However, I believe had they tried hard enough to keep Walker, they would have. It didn’t seem like they were willing to pay Walker the money he was looking for, which led to him signing with Boston.
With Walker on his way out, the Hornets added Terry Rozier. Rozier is a good player, but he’s not on the same level as Kemba Walker. If the Hornets couldn’t make the playoffs with Kemba Walker leading the way, what makes them think it’ll be any different with Rozier?
Then there’s the fact that they also lost Jeremy Lamb to the Pacers. Lamb may not be a star, but he’s a solid player coming off a career year. Losing Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb, but then adding Terry Rozier, doesn’t exactly seem like a formula for success if you ask me.
Winner: Utah Jazz
After making a trade for PG Mike Conley, the Utah Jazz made another brilliant move in NBA free agency with the signing of Bojan Bogdanovic. Utah now has a roster that includes Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic and more. I’m not sure I would consider Bogdanovic a star, but he’s a legit third scoring option. Bogdanovic is coming off a career year in which he averaged 18.0 points per game.
The Jazz now have four guys on their roster (Mitchell, Conley, Bogdanovic and Gobert) who averaged 15 points or more last season. I don’t think they’ll have much trouble scoring this upcoming season. Utah was already a playoff team in the Western Conference, but their moves this offseason may have made them a legit Western Conference contender.
Loser: JJ Redick
The signing of JJ Redick is a great move for the New Orleans Pelicans, but I don’t think it was a great move for JJ Redick. Redick is going to a very young team, where he’ll be the veteran leader. At this point in his career, I thought Redick was more likely to go somewhere were he had a legit chance to win a title than somewhere where he’d be mentoring a bunch of young guys.
Redick’s title chances over the next two seasons just plummeted after moving on from the 76ers. I think the Pelicans have the potential to make the playoffs, but in no way are they going to be contending for a championship over the next two seasons. I thought Redick would have been much better off in a place like L.A. (Lakers). He would have had a chance to win a title, while playing alongside great players. He may not have received as much money, but he would have been a lot more likely to win.
Redick joined a team full of future NBA stars, but none of them are NBA stars right now. Questionable NBA free agency decision by JJ Redick.
Winner & Loser: Miami Heat & Jimmy Butler
Miami just pulled off a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler. That’s great news for the Miami Heat, as they’re landing a true NBA star in NBA free agency. The move to get Jimmy Butler will make the Miami Heat better. They’ll likely be a playoff team with Butler in the fold. That’s what makes them winners during early free agency.
The other winner in this situation is Jimmy Butler. Butler is a winner in this situation because he wanted to go to Miami. Jimmy got what he wanted, which is always a good thing.
He, along with Miami, are losers because this move doesn’t make them championship contenders. Even with Butler, I doubt Miami has what it takes to win a championship, especially with teams like the Raptors, Bucks, 76ers and others in the Eastern Conference. I’m not saying Butler and Miami can’t do it, but I am saying I’ll take several other Eastern Conference teams over them.