Now that the fireworks have stopped, the hangover has faded and people have trudged back to work, let us check in on the happenings of the first week of NBA Free Agency for the 2017 – 2018 season.
Who are the winners and losers so far after free agency went live at 12:01 AM July 1st, 2017?
Winner: Boston Celtics
The Celtics missed out on Jimmy Butler and Paul George but landed the target everyone thought they were going after in Gordon Hayward without having to give up much in return. The Celtics are hoping to duplicate their success of the “Big 3” era by snagging this SF/SG combination that provides a legitimate secondary scoring threat next to IT and Al Horford. With the addition of the Jayson Tatum, who is looking more than serviceable in summer league as seen below, and another year of development out of Jaylen Brown and the Celtics have the potential to challenge Cleveland next season. The Celtics had to renounce the rights to Kelly Olynyk and others while trading for Marcus Morris in exchange for Avery Bradley. The Celtics gave up an NBA All-Defensive Team guard in Bradley and lose some scoring and dirty work in Olynyk, but they get back rebounding and offense in Morris and can try and substitute Marcus Smart to make up for the loss of Bradley. The Celtics are headed in the right direction and might have enough to not just win the regular season crown but finally make a trip back to the finals.
Loser: Washington Wizards
The Wizards have a good young core that led them to a game 7 against the Celtics, they have not improved much from last season. While they did sign, Mike James and Jodie Meeks to add some depth to the roster Otto Porter is why they are a loser. How can matching the Nets 4 year $106 M offer sheet be a net loss? The matching of his contract exceeds Porter’s value for the team, but with the bump in the cap salaries have gone up and this is the price of doing business. In order to maintain the team from last year, the Wizards must lose cap flexibility. This venture into the luxury tax will hinder the Wizards into fixing the issue that plagued them the most last season, bench production.
Otto Porter Jr, The Baltimore Wire
Winner: Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are coming off of their 2nd title in 3 years and have managed to retain all of their key free agents. Steph signed a $201 M max deal for 5 years to make up for the 4 for $44m deal he played under during his back to back MVP seasons. KD accepted less money for 2 years and a player opt-out, which allowed the Warriors to resign Iggy and Shawn Livingston. Even David West has agreed to come back for one final season. Also, the Warriors managed to Sign Nick “Swaggy P” Young to a mid-level exception and Omri Casspi which will add even more firepower to that bunch. The Warriors are heavy favorites to repeat, which will be detailed in a later article about building/maintaining a dynasty
Loser: Utah Jazz
This one is obvious, the Jazz last season were on the come with breakout star performances by Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert. They also had great production out of Joe Ingles and George Hill which had many believing that they would be a force next season, even if they were not ready for the big time. Then Gordo wrote a letter to the Players’ Tribune and everything went south. George Hill signed with Sac Town and Rudy G. was throwing shade on Instagram. The Jazz did manage to trade for Ricky Rubio and resign Joe Ingles which should help lessen the blow. Make no mistake, the Jazz are no longer on the bubble of relevancy, now they are on the bubble of the playoffs.
Um … it's safe to say Rudy Gobert found out about Gordon Hayward signing with Boston.
(📹 rudygobert27 | Instagram) pic.twitter.com/QdiT5olQxD
— SB Nation (@SBNation) July 5, 2017
Winner: Houston Rockets
The Rockets shocked the basketball world by pulling off a sign and trade for Chris Paul. It was shocking because they were able to land Paul to run alongside James Harden for peanuts. The Rockets gave up Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, DeAndre Liggins, Kyle Wiltjer and Darrun Hilliard. In addition, the Clippers received a protected first-round pick in 2018 and cash considerations. It is not exactly, a bucket of balls but it isn’t any game altering players either. The Rockets also signed Nene Hilario and P.J. Tucker which help round out the roster with rebounding and lineup flexibility. On a side note, the Rockets also signed intriguing Chinese big man Zhou Qi. At 7’2″ with a 7’9″ wingspan, Zhou Qi could bring back memories of Yao Ming in H – Town. The window with Chris Paul in his near prime is short, the Rockets must try to win now.
Loser: New Orleans Pelicans
As mentioned in a previous article, The New Orleans Pelicans have an intriguing roster that could rise to contention or turn into a dumpster fire by season’s end. The Pels resigned Jrue Holliday for $126M over 5 years which was a necessary move but still represents an enormous chunk of the pay role for a guard that is often injured. His stats last season of 15.3 ppg and 7.3 ast are good but not usually those associated with that level of pay. The point guard options in comparison to Jrue made it necessary to make this signing but this leaves them in a precarious position at the end of this season as they try to resign DeMarcus Cousins. The Pels also brought back former Kentucky Wildcat Darius Miller from his Championship stint in Europe.
Jrue Holiday, SI.com
Winner: Sacramento Kings
Don’t look now but it appears the Sacramento Kings are moving in the right direction. After a stellar draft that saw them pick up De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles and Frank Mason III, the Kings signed a trio of veteran talent to help balance out this rebuilding roster. The major coup for the team was signing Zach Randolph as scoring big who could mentor some of the bigs that the Kings have hoarded (Cauley-Stein, Giles, Labissiere, Papagiannis). Solid signings such as George Hill and Vince Carter will help show the ropes to Buddy Hield, Fox and Frank Mason III. The Kings are actually making positive moves lets see if they basketball gods reward them with a winning season in the gauntlet that is the Western Conference.
Loser: Memphis Grizzlies
If we are to herald the signings of Z-BO and VC to Sac Town then we must also acknowledge the death knell of the Grindhouse in Memphis. The Griz will have lost two members of their core 4 and possible 4 major players on the team, depending on JaMychal Green. Tony Allen is likely gone and unless the free agent market dries up on JaMychal Green he should also be gone. The Griz did sign Ben McLemore, former 7th overall pick out of Kansas, that could finally be looking to blossom after 4 disappointing seasons in Sac Town. The sad fact is that in the immediate future possibility that Marc Gasol and Mike Conley can lead this team anywhere of meaning is over. Now Memphis must focus on landing the right players to right the ship and hope to still be relevant towards the end of the 2 contracts of Gasol and Conley.
Image Courtesy of @vndsgn
Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder traded for Paul George, this is why they are winning free agency. This might be a disaster a year from now if George and Westbrook leave but right now it is a major move. The Thunder were able to acquire George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. You read that correctly, no draft picks or additional players just these two above average NBA players. The Thunder used $30M to resign Andre Roberson and also snared Patrick Patterson for $16.4M. These moves help find defensive stoppers who can also shoot the 3 when called upon(Patterson not Roberson). The Thunder looks better than last season, but the question remains how is this better than they were with KD? Is this enough to get them over the elite teams in the West, probably not but it makes them a whole lot more interesting without having to give up much.
Loser: Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland is on this list because they have been unable so far to change the complexion of the team that was given a “Gentlemen’s Sweep” in the finals. The hot name for any trades this offseason was Kevin Love, hot as in hot potato because no one wants to end up with him. The Cavs failed to land Jimmy Butler or Paul George in the offseason sweepstakes and have only managed to sign Jose Calderon and resign Kyle Korver(For 3 Years!?!?!?). Not only that but this offseason the Cavs have lost their GM and been turned down by their target for GM, Chauncey Billups. They also have failed to move Iman Shumpert to Houston. There is some hope on the horizon, Jamal Crawford is interested in signing with the team if/when he is bought out by the Atlanta Hawks. Also, Carmelo Anthony has stated that he would waive his no-trade to go to either Cleveland or Houston. The Cavs need something to change their fortune and something tells me Lebron James shaving his head is not going to do it.
LeBron James, Bleacher Report
Featured Image: Basketball Forever