It appears the bulk of the always exciting NBA Free Agency has come and gone. Now we’re left with a variety of feelings and emotions. Some fans may be excited for a signing that their favorite team made, while other fans may be left disappointed because of one of their team’s stars departing. In this article, we will recap some of the most notable moves that occurred during the frenzy, and also take a look at some other moves that may happen in the near future *cough cough Kawhi Leonard*. Finally, we will take a look at some of the biggest winners and losers from the 2018 Free-Agency period in the NBA.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room. The Knicks signed Mario Hezonja. Joking of course. We’ve all heard the news. LeBron James is now a Los Angeles Laker. Although we heard rumors swirling around of LeBron and the Lakers prior to the actual signing, it is still very hard to wrap your head around. Kobe Bryant now isn’t even in the conversation for the best player to ever wear a Laker jersey, and the Eastern conference is left wide open for the first time in over 8 years. LeBron is now teaming up with a young Lakers’ core with Lonzo Ball and late-round gem Kyle Kuzma, and a slowly but surely developing Brandon Ingram. Will it be enough to take down the Warriors? After this next signing, I don’t think so.
Contract: 4 years | $153.3 million
Winners: Lakers, Celtics, 76ers
Losers: The city of Cleveland, Cavaliers, Rockets, Warriors
The next big signing that we will go over in this article is the Demarcus Cousins deal. It’s no secret that Demarcus Cousins is arguably the best center in the NBA when healthy, and the Warriors just got a major upgrade to an already stacked team. At this point, I think everyone except Warrior fans are getting tired of this. As one analyst stated on the ESPN program ‘First Take’, the Warriors go a record setting 73-9, they replace Harrison Barnes with Kevin Durant, they win back-to-back finals, they replace Javale McGee with Demarcus Cousins. What is happening to the league we all know and love? Unbelievable.
Contract: 1 year | $5.3 million
Losers: The rest of the NBA
One move that sort of went under the radar amid the prior two moves that we went over was DeAndre Jordan signing with the Dallas Mavericks. As many of you may have heard, a few years prior when Jordan was a free agent, Blake Griffin reportedly blocked the door of a house so Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner, could not get any chance at signing Jordan. Well, it worked then, but not now. The Clippers are now left with no clear star, and ‘Lob City’ is in a state of emergency and has ordered all remaining residents to evacuate. Chris Paul is now in Houston, Blake Griffin was shipped off to Motor City, and now finally DeAndre Jordan has found a new home in Dallas. It appears a new era in Clippers basketball has started, and with recent reports coming out, they may have a head start very soon.
Contract: 1 year | $22.9 million
Winner: Mark Cuban, Mavericks, DeAndre Jordan
Now, to stay on the topic of the Clippers, I will talk about this now rather than later on in the article. It is very clear that Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio, for whatever reason remains unknown, however, what we do know is this… Leonard has expressed to those close to him that Los Angeles is his preferred destination. Woah. I know. Groundbreaking news that you haven’t heard 100 times from social media, but there is more to this than just the obvious. When I say ‘Los Angeles’ in terms of NBA, one thing that may come to your mind immediately is the Lakers. The 16 rings, Kobe Bryant, the NBA all-time scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaq, Magic Johnson, all the storied greats, but with LeBron James signing with the Lakers, you got to think, does Kawhi Leonard actually want to go to the Lakers now? In a report that came out 2 days ago, Leonard now reportedly prefers the Clippers over the Laker, in part because of LeBron signing with the Lakers. The Clippers obviously are depleted when it comes to potential assets the they could package and send to San Antonio in return for Leonard, but they still have draft picks and newly drafted guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. It will be interesting to see where Leonard ends up, but if I had to guess, as of right now I would think that Kawhi Leonard will end up in Los Angeles, with the Clippers.
I will now quickly list the notable players who will be returning to their respective teams in 2018:
Kevin Durant: Golden State Warriors
Paul George: Oklahoma City Thunder
Nikola Jokic: Denver Nuggets
Chris Paul: Houston Rockets
Aaron Gordon: Orlando Magic
JJ Redick: Philadelphia 76ers
Derrick Favors: Utah Jazz
Jusuf Nurkic: Portland Trail Blazers
Rudy Gay: San Antonio Spurs
It will be very interesting to see where some other players end up, with the main one being Kawhi Leonard. Will he end up in Los Angeles with the Clippers? Or even New York with the Knicks. We’ll have to see.
If your team hasn’t made too many moves, don’t dwell too much. There are still lots of role players and even fringe starters available on the market that your team could end up signing. Keep in mind, even if a player was not mentioned in this article, does not mean that they are not skilled, respected, or not worth talking about. Keep an eye out on The Sports Wave Instagram account to see new signings that teams around the NBA make.