The first day of NBA free agency featured several teams getting involved in the action, though it didn’t feature any blockbuster trades. In fact, there wasn’t a single trade reported today. Instead, there was a plethora of signings, and breaking news around the league, setting up what should be a jampacked summer of fun.
Aside from Shams’ tweets and the constant Woj bombs featuring the various signings, we even got a surprise Kevin Durant trade request early in free agency. Let’s break down some winners and losers from the first day of action.
Winners – New York Knicks
They got their guy. We’ve heard for weeks about the New York Knicks and their grand scheme to land a starting point guard. While there were several names linked to Tom Thibodeau’s squad, the one most frequently tied to the Big Apple was Jalen Brunson, of the Dallas Mavericks.
The cost seemed to start around a four-year, $100 million deal, but rumors stretched that number up to $111 million. In the end, it took a $104 million contract to get Brunson to pack his bags for NYC. But the Knicks finally have a starting point guard who they can put their trust in. Getting a 25-year-old player who’s yet to reach his ceiling, the Knicks don’t care what it cost, or the hoops they had to jump through, they have a legit starting lead guard to pair with RJ Barrett in the backcourt. Let’s see what he can do.
Winners – NBA superstars
Though the two superstars may not look very happy in this picture, Nikola Jokic, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal all have something in common as of late. They all signed max-level contract extensions with their current teams, erasing any doubts or ideas of a potential trade, which was likely never on the table for the Joker or Booker. Yet, I still heard ESPN analysts suggesting the Brooklyn Nets would ask for Booker in a potential Durant trade. Wild stuff, but I guess it never hurts to ask, right?
Chances are, we’ll hear of another max extension in the next few days, with Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns also set to receive a max offer. But for now, the stars, and their respective teams that got deals done today are surefire early winners of the NBA free agency period.
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Losers – Brooklyn Nets
Nothing even happened today, but the Brooklyn Nets are some of the biggest losers in basketball. I take that back. Well, not the loser part, that stands, but the Nets actually did make a deal today. They traded a 2023 first-round pick to the Utah Jazz for Royce O’Neale. Since, that’s likely to convince Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving to stick around for another year.
It’s unfortunate that it appears we’ll never get to see a superstar team of Irving, Durant, and Ben Simmons all in the same starting lineup over the duration of a season, but maybe it was always too good to be true. That’s why they still go out and actually play the games after all these years.
Still, if Irving, and/or Durant are traded, it’s not like the Nets won’t receive strong offers in return, it’s just that for today, Brooklyn took an L. How will they bounce back?
Loser – Deandre Ayton and Miles Bridges
This one could come back to bite me minutes after this story is published, but as of now, Deandre Ayton hasn’t gotten his max contract offer he was hoping for. Ditto for Miles Bridges, though his situation might now have some extra strings attached.
Still, both players are likely to receive extremely strong offers from some team looking to improve, and for Bridges, he may end up going back to Charlotte, but obviously neither player was able to secure the bag like they maybe anticipated.
As far as where Ayton might still end up? The Nets could become a possibility once the KD/Kyrie sitch clears itself up, but right now, the Spurs are the only team who can fit a max-level offer for Ayton under their cap.
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Author: Andrew Buller-Russ