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NBA free agency winners/losers: Zion Williamson scores, Rudy Gobert to Wolves a win-win, Warriors take successful

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The 2022 NBA free agency period opened Thursday night, and things have gotten wild on the trade front. Rudy Gobert now plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Kevin Durant asked out of Brooklyn. Once he goes, Kyrie Irving will likely follow him. The Celtics landed Malcolm Brogdon from the Pacers. That is just the beginning. 

Let’s get to the free agency/trade winners and losers thus far. 

Winner: Zion Williamson

The person has played 85 profession games over three seasons, considered one of which he didn’t play a single second, and he just got a five-year contract extension that could possibly be value as much as $231 million. I’m unsure if it is a win yet for the Pelicans. If Zion plays and stays healthy for nearly all of this contract, after all, it is a win. Recent Orleans has a fairly rattling good team brewing. 

But when Williamson is out and in of the lineup and the Pelicans never gain real traction in a loaded Western Conference, and Zion’s trade value dips because he cannot stay healthy, this might find yourself ugly for the Pels. But for Zion, no matter the way it plays out, he walks out wealthy. 

Winner: Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves gave up enough capital to choke a hippo, but they got Rudy Gobert. After signing Karl-Anthony Towns to a four-year, $224 million extension that keeps him in Minnesota for the following six years, it’s twin-tower time in Minnesota, which sent back to Utah Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Walker Kessler, Leandro Bolmaro, Jarred Vanderbilt and multiple first-round picks: unprotected first-rounders in 2023, 2025, and 2027, and a top-five protected pick in 2029. 

Gobert is a one-man defense, and notions that he loses defensive viability within the playoffs have been greatly exaggerated. Given the Wolves’ ability to attain the ball with Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell, this suddenly looks like a extremely good team. It should need to be to justify this steep of a price, but it surely’s well worth the risk. It has been ages for the reason that Wolves were actually a team to take this seriously, and I do not subscribe to the speculation that teams need to win a championship to warrant these sorts of gambles. 

Indeed, the Wolves aren’t going to win the title next 12 months. It’s probably a superb bet that they will not win one throughout the Gobert era, nevertheless long that lasts. You recognize why? Because just one team wins all of it. That doesn’t suggest the opposite 29 did it incorrect. For the Wolves, that is a significant jolt of franchise energy, constructing on the momentum they’ve already created with the drafting of Anthony Edwards and last 12 months’s playoff appearance. 

Same thing because the Hawks trading for Dejounte Murray. They gave up a ton. They’re likely not going to win all of it. But they’re within the ring. They’re attempting to fight. Fans love that. The energy around a franchise feeds itself. There is no way to not be excited concerning the Wolves heading into next season, and when was the last time you may truthfully say that?

Winner: Utah Jazz

The Gobert/Donovan Mitchell tandem had hit its ceiling. Everyone knew it. The Jazz didn’t fiddle. They cut bait with Gobert and brought back a big haul of assets, which they’ll now use to construct around Mitchell. Utah can get into plenty of conversations with 4 extra first-round picks and a few nice salary-attachers to drift in trade talks. This can be a win-win. Minnesota needed to make waves with a giant move, and Utah needed a fresh start. They each succeeded. 

Winner: Boston Celtics

After ending two wins from an NBA championship, the Celtics went out and landed Danilo Gallinari, who cleared waivers after being let go by San Antonio, and Malcolm Brogdon in a trade with the Pacers, who took back Daniel Theis, Aaron Nesmith, Nik Stauskas, Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan and a 2023 first-round pick from Boston. 

All of those parts are highly expendable for Boston, which essentially got Brogdon for a first-round pick that may likely land within the mid-to-late 20s. Brogdon is absolutely good. He added to Boston’s ridiculously stacked defense and is one other ball-handler and scorer to live well in Boston’s egalitarian offense. 

Loser: Dallas Mavericks

Dallas lost Jalen Brunson and shows no signs of replacing him thus far. He was the second-best player on a team that went to the conference finals, and at times served as a more-than-capable go-to guy when Luka Doncic was out. I believe Brunson was value extra money on the Mavericks next to Luka than he’ll be value in Recent York. I might’ve liked to see the Mavericks go after Brogdon after losing Brunson. 

But hey, not less than the Mavs got JaVale McGee for $20 million. 

Winner: Jalen Brunson

Brunson got paid. The Knicks reportedly gave him a four-year, $104 million deal. For a man who was taken within the second round in 2018, it is a windfall. Good for him. He deserves it. We’ll see how Brunson fares without Luka Doncic around to occupy all of the defensive attention. But either way, the bag is secured. Brunson is about for all times, and the icing on the cake is that gets to play for his father, Rick Brunson, who recently accepted an assistant coaching position with the Knicks. 

Loser: Recent York Knicks

Listen, good for Brunson, but I just don’t think he’s a superb enough player to commit this sort of money to for the following 4 years. From where I’m sitting, unless the Knicks, who gave $60M to Mitchell Robinson, someway manage to swing the trade for a star player that they have been striking out on for concerning the last decade, they stunning much just signed themselves up for mediocrity. It’s simply an excessive amount of to have $164 million tied up in Jalen Brunson and Mitchell Robinson. 

Brunson, who immediately becomes Recent York’s best player (yes, he’s higher than RJ Barrett and Julius Randle) cannot, in point of fact, suffice as anything greater than the third-best player on a real championship-contending team. 

The Knicks also signed Isaiah Hartenstein at $16 million over two years, which is positive. He’ll be a pleasant backup center. But nothing that moves the needle. 

At the tip of the day, to exit and move all of the pieces the Knicks moved to clear the space they did to find yourself with a non-All-Star as your prize $104M signing, that is a loss. 

Winner: Nikola Jokic

The dude signed the largest contract in NBA history. Five years, $264 million. He’ll make an eye-popping $60 million in the ultimate 12 months of the deal. I’m unsure what else to say. The person won. So did the Nuggets. Jokic is awesome. 

Loser: Brooklyn Nets

It wasn’t free agency. technically, that bit Brooklyn, but on Thursday Kevin Durant issued a trade request. Once Durant goes, Kyrie Irving will likely follow. The Nets, who were presupposed to compete for championships for the foreseeable future, just got blown up. 

Now, I’ll say that this might actually prove OK for Brooklyn. They’ll get a king’s ransom for Durant that may include not less than a number of ready-to-win players along with future draft capital, because the Nets don’t have any incentive to tank is that they owe a ship filled with future picks to the Rockets for the James Harden deal. Durant desires to go to Phoenix. In the event that they someway get Devin Booker, it’s home-run time. But I doubt that. 

If the Nets talk the Lakers into giving up a number of first-round picks, and even only one if Russell Westbrook goes back to Brooklyn, for Irving, that will likely be much more capital they may package up and move for an additional All-Star. They still have Ben Simmons. This may not find yourself so bad. 

But for now, the Nets are about to lose Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden within six months. Brutal. 

Winner: Philadelphia 76ers

James Harden hasn’t signed his latest contract yet, but he obviously agreed to provide up enough annual salary for the Sixers to afford P.J. Tucker, whom they signed for just over $33 million over three years. That is a giant rating. Tucker will seriously lift Philly’s defense and slot perfectly as a corner shooter for Tyrese Maxey and Harden drive-and-kicks. Throw in De’Anthony Melton, whom the Sixers landed on draft night from Memphis for the No. 23 pick and Danny Green, and the Sixers are having a very nice offseason. 

Winner: Bradley Beal

Beal also signed an enormous extension with the Wizards: Five years, $251 million. I still bet he gets traded before that contract expires, but by signing with Washington, which owns his Bird rights, he guaranteed himself a fifth guaranteed 12 months, which can equate to about $57 million extra in his bank. That goes with him even when he does get traded. I’d bet good money that Beal winds up having his cake and eating it too, eventually ending up on a contender while also signing the largest deal possible. 

Loser: Washington Wizards

They need to’ve traded Beal an extended time ago. There is no way this team is competing for anything apart from a bottom playoff seed with Beal making that form of money. He’s just not a 1A championship guy. He truthfully may not even be a sufficient No. 2 given how deep the talent is across the league straight away. Washington must have a bundle of assets straight away for Beal. 

That is what the Spurs did after Kawhi Leonard. They tried to win with DeMar DeRozan — a fairly good Beal comp — as their best player as an alternative of committing to a rebuild. They finally conceded to reality and recently traded Dejounte Murray to the Hawks for a bunch of first-round picks, signaling a fresh start. Possibly Washington will eventually come to the identical conclusion with Beal. They definitely should. But until then, they’re paying Beal and Kristaps Porzingis just shy of $80 million next season. Good luck with that. 

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Winner: Portland Trail Blazers

I’m unsure if I like Anfernee Simons greater than Jalen Brunson. I believe, at this moment, I might take Brunson because he’s a playoff defender. But it surely’s close. So why do I believe the $100 million Portland gave Simons over 4 years is a win but consider the $104 million that the Knicks gave Brunson over the identical period of time to be a loss? Easy: Simons doesn’t need to be one of the best player on the Blazers. He’s got Damian Lillard for that. 

Frankly, Simons doesn’t need to be the Blazers’ second-best player either. They simply traded for Jerami Grant. Simons is a possible future star but he doesn’t need to carry that burden instantly. 

Then late on Thursday night, or early Friday morning within the east, the Blazers stole Gary Payton II from the Warriors for $28 million over three years. Payton is awesome. Portland fans are going to fall in love with him. He’s an elite defender and a special cutter and floor runner. He can hit corner 3s. Portland had to handle its defense, and Grant and Payton are two huge additions in that regard. 

Winner: Lu Dort

Dort didn’t even get drafted. He needed to grind his way into the league on two-way contracts. Now he just signed with the Thunder for $87.5 million over five years. By turning himself right into a brick of a defender while improving greatly as a shooter, Dort won’t ever need to worry about money or his place within the NBA again. 

Also, good on the Thunder for rewarding Dort with this money a 12 months before they’d to. They might’ve exercised the $1.9 million team option they’d in place for Dort this season. As a substitute, they let him out of that to sign a much greater deal that may now kick in instantly. As a substitute of $1.9 million, Dort will make over $15 million this coming season with rather more to come back over the following half-decade. 

Winner: Gary Payton II

Like Dort, Payton was un-drafted. He bounced across the G-League and played on two-way contracts and was let go six separate times from NBA rosters. Finally, he found an actual role with the Warriors last season. He killed it. Now he’s got a $28 million contract with the Portland Trail Blazers. Dream-come-true stuff. 

Winner: Devin Booker

Secured $224 million over 4 years. Again, not much else to say. The person is filthy loaded. I do not think Booker will find yourself in a Kevin Durant trade. If he does it would not be the worst thing to go to a Nets team that continues to be going to be pretty good this 12 months with whatever they get back for Durant with a ton of picks to get even higher in the approaching years to construct around Booker. Life is sweet. 

Loser: Golden State Warriors

Golden State lost Gary Payton II to the Blazers. This hurts. Payton was so great in his role for the Warriors, who were already thin on perimeter defense even after they had Payton. Golden State is deep within the repeater tax. It simply decided it couldn’t justify paying Payton this much money given the huge tax implications for each dollar they spend. 

Golden State decided it couldn’t afford each Kevon Looney and Payton. They opted for Looney, whom they brought back for $25.5M over three years. I’m unsure I agree with that call. Looney is unbelievable for the Warriors. No way they win the title without him. But they drafted James Wiseman. Looney, through that lens, is more replaceable on the Warriors’ roster than Payton is. I might’ve ponied up for Payton and relied on Wiseman to begin earning his keep. 

Reasonable minds can disagree on that stance, but either way, everyone can agree that losing Payton is a giant loss for Golden State, which also lost Otto Porter Jr. to the Raptors. That is two rotation pieces from a championship team gone. Signing Donte DiVincenzo, who, I actually like, eases the sting of losing Porter, but not Payton, who is solely one other form of player who has a novel impact that’s so hard to seek out on this league. I believe the Warriors are a worse team today than they were a number of days ago. 

Winners: Ja Morant, Karl-Anthony Towns, Zach LaVine

Morant signed a max rookie extension with Memphis for five years and a guaranteed $193 million. Morant has the potential to make as much as $231M over the lifetime of this contract based on incentives. Towns got a four-year, $224 million extension that may begin in 2024, meaning the Wolves have him locked up for the following six years. LaVine is staying with Chicago on a five-year, $215M extension. 

Incomplete: Lakers

I believe the Lakers jumped the gun on a number of of their Thursday signings. They used their MLE on Lonnie Walker, who is not pretty much as good as Malik Monk, whom they lost to Sacramento. I like Juan Toscano-Anderson. He’ll help. Troy Brown Jr. is not exactly moving the needle. Damian Jones is a pleasant signing. I just think the Lakers could’ve waited to see if Donte Divincenzo, who stays unsigned after the Kings opted not to increase him a qualifying offer, or a TJ Warren might’ve turn out to be available on the MLE level. 

The Lakers didn’t do terrible on day one. I would not call it a win or a loss. They did not have much to work with. What this comes all the way down to is whether or not the Lakers can discover a solution to land Kyrie Irving. In the event that they do, the offseason is a win. In the event that they don’t, they usually go into next 12 months with Russell Westbrook as their start line guard, no one goes to provide two you already know whats about Lonnie Walker or Damian Jones. This offseason may have been a loss. So we’ll wait and see. 

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