Now that all of the big name free agents have found their homes for the next NBA season, I think it is time that we can all safely discuss the winners and losers of free agency in 2019. In this article, I will be taking into free agent signings and significant trades for the teams mentioned and how they affect the respective teams in a positive or negative way.
Now that all of the big name free agents have found their homes for the next NBA season, I think it is time that we can all safely discuss the winners and losers of free agency in 2019. In this article, I will be discussing free agent signings and significant trades for the teams mentioned and how they affect their respective teams in a positive or negative way.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers passed on many big name free agents such as Kevin Durant and Kemba Walker because everybody knew that they had one goal in mind, and that was to sign Kawhi Leonard. They ended up doing that and more, as they also managed to trade for Paul George after Kawhi told the Clippers front office that if they traded for PG13, he would sign instantly. This gives the Clippers a potential starting 5 of Beverley, Shamet, Kawhi, George, and Harrell with Williams and Zubac coming off the bench. The Clippers gained two top-10 players in the league and kept most of their depth, so I think it’s safe to say that the Clippers probably had the best free agency period of any team.
Los Angeles Lakers
I will be the first to admit that I have been very critical of the Lakers in the past few months. They traded away most of their team in the Anthony Davis deal, and the rest of the team other than Kuzma, LeBron, and Davis were all free agents this year. If I had written this a week ago, I would definitely be putting this team in the losers category. But, since then, they have retained players like JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. They have also added players that can be very helpful to their team in Danny Green, Avery Bradley, and DeMarcus Cousins. With the news that LeBron will be playing point guard this season, their potential starting lineup is looking like LeBron, Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma, Anthony Davis, and Cousins or McGee. If Cousins wants to enter next year’s free agency looking for the max contract he thinks he deserves, he is going to have to play out of his mind, and if he does, the Lakers have a formidable big 3 surrounded by some good quality role players.
I honestly feel like the Celtics are on every list like this on a yearly basis, but that is because they always seem to have really good offseasons. This year is no different, as they were able to replace Kyrie with Kemba, as well as replace Horford with Kanter. They lost 2 very good players but got players that were either almost at the same level or better than the players they are replacing. The Celtics are rolling out a potential starting 5 of Kemba, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and Enes Kanter. That is a team that has good scoring, and above average rebounding, especially on the offensive side. The Celtics, if there are no locker room issues this year, are looking like they could possibly rule the Eastern Conference this year.
The Utah Jazz kick-started the offseason with a blockbuster deal that finally freed Mike Conley from the black hole known as the Memphis Grizzlies. He now is with a contending team that is able to surround him with other good players on great contracts. Memphis was a cesspool of bad draft picks (other than Ja Morant), bad trades, and Chandler Parsons’ terrible contract. The Jazz on the other hand have Donovan Mitchell (runner up for Rookie of the Year in 2018), and Rudy Gobert (DPOY in 2018 and 2019). They have also added key players in Bogdan Bogdanovic, Ed Davis, and Emmanuel Mudiay. They have some of the best depth in the league, and are rolling out a potential starting 5 of Conley, Mitchell, Bogdanovic, Ingles, and Gobert. They are a scary team this year and are a dark horse to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2020.
The Brooklyn Nets came into this offseason with a lot of young players on cheap contracts, and decided to take full advantage of that cap space as well as they could. They got 3 very high level players in Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan to sign. Kyrie and Durant were even willing to take less than the max to enable the Nets to give Jordan a $10 million deal. When fully healthy, they will be rolling out a starting 5 of Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan. I believe that in the coming years, there are going to be a few more banners hung in Brooklyn’s rafters.
The Phoenix Suns got off to a very interesting start in the offseason, as they were the first team other than the Lakers to make any real moves. The only difference between the Suns moves and the Lakers moves is that the moves that Phoenix made really hurt their team. They traded TJ Warren for nothing but cash, and then traded the 6th overall pick in the 2019 draft for Dario Saric and the 11th overall pick. A trade that ultimately landed them the oldest player in the draft Cam Johnson when they could have gotten Jarret Culver who is a scorer that could have filled Warren’s void. They made these moves to clear cap space and get a cheaper power forward so they could sign…. Ricky Rubio. They also managed to trade for Aaron Baynes even though they already have 2 centers in Ayton and Bender. They have some solid young players in Ayton and Booker, and they were able to acquire Oubre Jr. during the 2019 season, but they need to surround these players with talent and they don’t seem to be doing that as of right now.
The Timberwolves came into this offseason with high expectations, as they were looking to sign players like DLO, or maybe even some young role players to fill out their roster. They ended up signing pretty much nobody, and even lost Derrick Rose to the Pistons. Yes, they were able to draft Jarrett Culver with Phoenix’s pick, but they lost players like previously mentioned Derrick Rose, and it is looking like they will also lose Tyus Jones to Memphis. I feel like it is still a little soon to put the Timberwolves as losers this offseason, but if they don’t make some moves fast that’s exactly what they will be.
Oklahoma City Thunder
I think that the Thunder’s front office realized that they core that they had going forward was not going to be too successful together. They were consistently getting kicked out of the playoffs in the first round, and were just in general overpaid. They traded away Paul George to the Clippers, and they also traded away Russell Westbrook for Chris Paul and a couple of first round picks. Not to mention that Steven Adams has also been in many trade scenarios as well. The Thunder have turned both Westbrook and George into many future picks and good trade assets, but they still took on Chris Paul’s terrible contract and are in trade talks with teams about Paul to unload the contract. With the trades having to be done and the fact that the franchise is going into its first rebuild ever, the Thunder are definitely losers in this offseason, but their stockpile of draft picks will lead to a quicker rebuild.
New York Knicks
I think we all kind of knew this one was coming. The Knicks went into this offseason with 2 maximum free agent slots in their cap space and were aiming big by trying to get KD and Kyrie. Things started to really fall apart when they only got the 3rd overall pick in the draft. While Barrett is great, he’s not Zion. Then, slowly, things started to snowball as the Nets emerged as the front-runners for the afore-mentioned free agents. They ended up not even offering KD a max because they were “concerned about his injury”, which is honestly just like the Knicks to do. They got good players overall, but they also got 3 starting caliber power forwards and I don’t think they have any aspirations of trading any of them. They now have a total of 9 power forwards on their roster, and with the exception of the 3 they signed this Summer, none of them are that good. At this point, the Knicks need to get new ownership, as it is obvious that the Dolans should not be in charge of any sort of sports teams at all.
Can’t Tell Until the Season Starts
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors went bold this offseason and decided to do a sign-and-trade with the Nets to acquire D’Angelo Russell. Now, of course the Warriors had to go out and acquire one of the most intriguing free agents this year, and make it seem like they’re gonna ruin the NBA. But, it might not be as successful of a duo as you might think it will be. DLO and Curry are both very ball-dominant and love to run the offense, they have never played together before, and Klay Thompson eventually will come back from injury. It’s unknown what the Warriors will do when Klay does come back, as they can either trade Russell or play Klay at the small forward position. However, they lost both Durant and Cousins and they do not have that great of depth coming off of their bench as they also lost Quinn Cook. It will be interesting to see the Warriors if they decide to keep Russell after Klay returns, and only time will tell how successful this deal will be for Golden State.
The Raptors are coming off of their first championship season in franchise history, and everybody thought that made it certain Kawhi would stay in Canada. Well, that clearly wasn’t true, as Kawhi is now with the Clippers in LA. It’s evident that Kawhi was the best player on that team, and their hopes of winning another title are all but gone. But, you never know in the Eastern Conference, as they still have a solid core of Lowry, Siakam, and Gasol. Another main thing is they did lose Danny Green, though. I think that if they had lost anybody else, I definitely would have put them on the losers side, but they still have solid players and have assets that make it possible for them to make trades. I think that this is going to be an experimental year for the Raptors, and that their record will dictate whether they will be buying or selling next offseason.