NBA free agency started yesterday at around 5pm Saint Louis time, and it has been wild ever since. Yes, today has been a little less hectic, but yesterday was just a flurry of player movement, and big time contracts being handed out. I couldn't go a few minutes without my phone or watch buzzing with another player signing with a new team, or getting the max from their current team. It was nuts.
It all really started well before 5pm, as free agency always does now. But, right at 5:01, we got the big news that KD ad Kyrie Irving were both signing max spots with the Brooklyn Nets. This took me by surprise. I predicted on our pod 2 weeks ago that Kyrie would go to Brooklyn, but I thought KD was going to stay in Golden State. I even went as far to say that if KD were to leave, it would be for the Knicks. I was wrong. KD did go to New York, but he went to Brooklyn. I'm still trying to wrap my head around this a bit. I know that he wants to play with Kyrie, and the Nets are signing his good buddy Deandre Jordan, but still, the Nets? I wonder how much of this has to do with Jay-Z, how much it has to do with not being on the Knicks because James Dolan is a train wreck of an owner, more on him in a few, or how much it has to do with the years, and money, the Nets offered him? I think, given the report, it has to do mostly with Dolan being a humongous dip shit, and not offering him the max because he is apparently afraid of the risk in KD's injury. That is so god damn stupid. If you have a chance to get KD, you get him. Yes, he will not be playing this year at all, and it may take another 6-8 months after that for him to fully be back. But still, KD at 70-80 percent is still one of the top players in the NBA. The Nets, even though I am not a Kyrie fan at all, did get a whole lot better yesterday. But, be patient Nets fans, the payoff won't come for another year and a half, basically until KD is near full recovery. My hat goes off to the Nets though. They are relevant again.
This does mean they had to let go of D'Angelo Russell, who the Golden State Warriors somehow managed to get in a sign and trade. Just when you think the Warriors might have a bit of a down year, at least for them, they go out and find a way to get Russell, and today they maxed out Klay, who will miss most of this year too. But, the fact that they were able to get a player of Russell's caliber in a sign and trade proves how much this team wants to stay relevant. I know they had to offload Andre Iguodala to do this, but, as much as I respect Iggy, he is pretty much done. This was a tremendous, and highly unexpected move on day one of free agency. And Russell has gotten so much better since Magic traded him a few years back to the Nets. He is going to fit in just fine with Steph and Draymond and Klay, when he comes back.
The Heat, while it isn't a done deal yet, went out and got their star, hopefully, in Jimmy Butler. I like this move for both teams. Butler will be "the guy" in Miami, Erik Spoelstra has coached, at a very, very high level, the best of the best, Pat Riley is a great front office guy and there is no sales tax in Miami. Jimmy Butler, if he wasn't going to stay in Philly, made the second best choice in joining the Heat. They just need to get it done.
Butler's old team, the 76ers, gave Tobias Harris a huge deal, but I think he was the better of the 2 guys they traded for on that team. He is a better shooter, and a solid defender. He struggled a bit in the playoffs, but I think he will bounce back. They also resigned Mike Scott, an underrated signing if you ask me, and they got Al Horford to somehow sign there. I don't like that they gave him 4 years. But, with Horford, Embiid and Simmons, that is going to be a monster front court, especially on defense. I mean, good luck getting to the hoop on those guys.
They did lose JJ Redick to the Pelicans, and let me tell you, the Pelicans are crushing this offseason. They got Zion. They got a boat load in return for AD. They are about to sign Derrick Favors. I mean, this is about as fast, and as good, a rebuild as I have ever seen after a team trades a franchise player. I questioned RD saying they could push for the playoffs in the pod I already mentioned, but after yesterday, it wouldn't shock me to see them hang around all year in the standings. They are going to be a boat load of fun to watch as well.
The Bucks gave Khris Middleton the max, as expected, and earned. They also got Brook Lopez and George Hill back. They went out and nabbed Robin Lopez as well. They are, pretty much, running it back. And why not when they won 60 games last year and made the conference finals. But, they did trade Malcom Brogdon. I don't think this is as huge a loss as some do, but it will still hurt. They need to find another shooter.
Brogdon got traded to the Pacers, and the Pacers are going for it. They traded for Brogdon and signed Jeremy Lamb. They could still be in the mix for some trades as well, but I loved their moves so far. They get Oladipo back, they now have a solid scorer in Brogdon, Lamb can be a knock down shooter, and Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner is a very good, very young front court.
The Celtics lost out on Kyrie and Horford, and settled for Kemba Walker. I love Kemba Walker. I've loved him since he was at UCONN. But I fear that the Celtics will try and turn him into Isaish Thomas 2.0. That should not be his place in the NBA. I wished MJ would have paid up to keep him there because Walker was the only reason to even watch the Hornets. Now I have to watch him lose shots to guys like Gordon Hayward, that is a bummer. But, I don't blame him for taking that contract. That was some big money.
Orlando re upped Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross. They also went out and got Al Farouq Aminu. These moves are fine, but it doesn't really move the needle as far as them being a higher seed in the playoffs next year.
Portland has made some trades, but most importantly, they gave Dame his much deserved max extension. That alone will keep them in contention.
Remember when I said I'd talk more about James Dolan? Well, here it is. He didn't offer KD the max, which is stupid. He took a shoot first guard at number three in this draft. He didn't even try to sign Kemba. He completely whiffed on Kyrie. He traded Kristaps Porzingis last year. And his solution you ask? To give guys like Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson and Julius Randle two and three year deals. I mean, what the hell. I do like Julius Randle, just not as a first or second option, which he will be with the Knicks. Bobby Portis is more known for punching out a teammate in Chicago, and I think Taj Gibson is older than me. And, along with drafting RJ Barrett, who you all know I am not high on, they took Ignas Brazdeikes in the second round, and I watched him all last year at Michigan and think, this guy is not ready for the NBA. The Knicks are a joke, and that is sad. James Dolan is awful, and he needs to sell the team.
There was a bunch of other movement yesterday, and a little more so far today. But, the biggest name, after KD, is still left, and that is Kawhi Leonard. I don't have a single clue as to what he will do, and I am getting a bit frustrated at all the reports saying the Lakers are the front runners to sign him now. I have looked at Kawhi as his own entity. As a guy that wants to be "the guy" on his team. The guy that ends dynasties, doesn't join them. I was personally hoping he'd stay in Toronto, and he very well might, or go to the Clippers, and try and make them a better draw than the Lakers in the same building, and that can still happen too. But, if he sings with the Lakers, I will have a whole blog about how much of a bigger cop out that would be than when KD joined the 73 win Warriors. That would be completely out of character for him, and I don't know how well he would adjust to being the third guy on the Lakers. Also, he would be being coached by LeBron. Sure, Frank Vogel and Jason Kidd are "figureheads" there, but after last season, and this offseason, it is very clear who runs that team now. It is LeBron and Rich Paul. I don't see Kawhi taking too well to that environment. But, if he wants to be in LA, and he chooses the Lakers, so be it. It would be a punk move, but who am I to tell a guy to turn down that much money to go play in his home city. It would only make my hatred for the Lakers that much more intense. But, after all the big stars that signed yesterday, Kawhi is the biggest name left, and he will dictate the course of action in the league next year. Wherever he goes, or if he stays in Toronto, that team will be the favorite because he is there. We just have to wait and see.
I love NBA free agency, and yesterday felt like my birthday. It was a joy to see all the movement and big contracts being signed left and right. I cannot wait to watch the NBA this coming season. It is truly becoming the best sport in the world.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the greatest basketball writer on the internet.
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