We have seen a whirlwind of moves in free agency already. Now that the dust has settled, let's take a look at the winners and losers.
Sam Hinkie must be somewhere in a coffee shop in Silicon Valley watching all the free agency action unfold this weekend and wiping tears off his face as he watches the process unfold just the way he envisioned it. After years of tanking, the Sixers finally have a young core in Markelle Fultz, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons (hey, anyone remember that Jahlil Okafor is still on the team, by the way?) that they can build around, and they spent the first weekend of free agency supplementing that group with veteran talent, adding J.J. Redick on a one-year, $23 million deal and Amir Johnson for one year, $11 million. With several teams -- including the Hawks, Bulls and Pacers -- having weakened in the East, the Sixers could contend for a playoff spot next season.
The Wolves have Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, but Tom Thibodeau needed to strengthen the roster with experience and players familiar with his own system. Consider all the boxes checked in free agency, first with the trade of Jimmy Butler, and then the signings of Jeff Teague (three years, $57 million) and Taj Gibson (two years, $28 million). In trading Ricky Rubio to Utah and signing Teague, Minnesota has a more reliable shooter on the floor, and it added plenty of toughness in Butler and Gibson. If Towns and Wiggins continue on their own upward trajectory, the Wolves might be the next best team in the West by the time the Warriors finish their reign.
Golden State Warriors
The goal in free agency was to retain the core group that won 67 games and went 16-1 in the playoffs en route to their second championship in three seasons. Mission accomplished. Stephen Curry will be back on a five-year, $201 million max deal. Andre Iguodala re-signed for three years and $48 million. Shaun Livingston will get three years and $24 million. David West will be back on a one=year deal. Kevin Durant will get a two-year deal with a player option later this month, which will allow him to sign a super max next offseason. The luxury tax bill is about to get really expensive for the Warriors, but Joe Lacob and co. don't really care. The Warriors brought the whole gang back, and now they might even be adding this guy:
Draymond is doing his part to recruit Swaggy P to join the Warriors pic.twitter.com/KOz1Urggs5- Sports Illustrated (@SInow) July 3, 2017
The most fascinating set of negotiations to take place this weekend. Iguodala met with the Spurs, Rockets, Lakers and Kings before returning to the Warriors. In the process, he bought himself enough leverage to drive up his value, winning a staring contest with the Warriors, betting on the fact they weren't willing to let go of a player who won the 2015 NBA Finals MVP Award and led the team in plus-minus in the 2017 NBA Finals. Iguodala also broke his own signing on Twitter:
Sources close to Andre Iguodala reporting agreed to terms to return to the bay....- Andre Iguodala (@andre) July 2, 2017
The Kings owner is intent on continuing his path to making Sacramento a win-now team (good luck, Vivek!!) and in the process he's helped drive up the price of several free agents in the market already. Iguodala received a similar offer in terms of annual salary from the Kings, which forced the Warriors to pony up a few extra million dollars that will have luxury tax ramifications (Vivek is a former minority owner of the Warriors, so he probably delighted in that moral victory). Now, Vivek has turned his attention to the restricted free agent market, offering Wizards forward Otto Porter a four-year max worth $100 million on Sunday, which Washington is reportedly going to match. I'm here for Ranadive causing havoc all over the free agency market.
Despite questions about how Chris Paul and James Harden, two premier point guards (one of those good problems to have, really), will make it work with the new-look Rockets next season, landing Paul has to be the biggest coup of the summer so far for any team. Signing P.J. Tucker from Toronto for four years, $32 million might turn out to be the most underrated acquisition of the offseason. With one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, the Rockets can now assemble a lineup around Harden -- with Paul, Tucker and Trevor Ariza -- that can bother teams on the defensive end, while stretching the floor. The Paul-Harden experiment will be fascinating to watch. The Rockets have the highest ceiling of any team not named the Warriors in the West. And they might not even be done yet.
Paul and Redick are no longer with the Clippers, but Griffin decided to re-up and stay for five years, $173 million. This is Griffin's team now, and the additional touches along with becoming the focal point of the offense means that Griffin will get every chance to rebuild his value as one of the best players in the league next season (if he remains healthy, which is always a concern). It's unclear if the Clippers will compete for a playoff spot in the loaded West, but Griffin could pull a 2016-17 Russell Westbrook and put together some monster numbers on this team. A talented point-forward, it's not inconceivable Griffin could lead the team in points, assists and rebounds next season.
After a historic season, Westbrook will go into next year with a legitimate shot to make noise in the West, with Paul George as his running mate and Rudy Gay possibly not far behind. The Thunder, as currently constituted, will still rank behind the Warriors, Spurs and Rockets in the West, but their ceiling is much higher than the first-round team they were last season. It seemed unlikely the Thunder would return to contention anytime soon, especially just a season after losing Kevin Durant. But Sam Presti has pulled one out of his hat with the George trade, and the Thunder will be appointment television next season not just for Westbrook's individual brilliance.
Los Angeles Clippers
Clippers employees wore T-shirt after Blake Griffin's FA meeting likening him to MLK, Obama, Ali, JFK, Lincoln, Gandhi, MJ,Einstein,Mandela. pic.twitter.com/BZtXqhdrWr- Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) July 1, 2017
I will pay anyone $5,000 cash for footage of the Clippers' pitch meeting to Griffin, including the look on his face when they handed him this shirt. The NBA is ridiculous, but ridiculously incredible.
New York Knicks
Knicks fans are likely breathing a very long sigh of relief after Phil Jackson's firing which means Kristaps Porzingis will remain in New York (for now). But the Knicks remain a team without much direction. The Carmelo Anthony back-and-forth should reach a resolution this summer, either via trade or a buyout. In the meantime, New York didn't have much room to maneuver in free agency, re-signing Ron Baker while watching the point guard market dry up, with Darren Collison, Rajon Rondo and the potential return of Derrick Rose emerging as options. Add it all up, and it'll be another long year at Madison Square Garden next season.
The Celtics met with Gordon Hayward on Sunday and are one of three teams -- along with the Jazz and Heat -- chasing the services of the 27-year-old. Even if Boston lands Hayward, they've missed out on trades for Jimmy Butler and Paul George in the past two weeks, and are now just a year away from having to make free agency decisions in Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley. Danny Ainge continues to try to walk the fine line between contending and keeping his options open for the future, but time might be running out soon. In the meantime, an emoji war has broken out for the services of Hayward:
EMOJI WAR pic.twitter.com/m1BJbcdenS- Sports Illustrated (@SInow) July 2, 2017
The Raptors point guard went into free agency with hopes of landing a four- or five-year max deal, but the market for the position dried up quickly, leaving Lowry without much leverage on the market. A return to Toronto was the only realistic proposition for him, and on Sunday, he announced his return with a Players' Tribune article titled "Home." Three years, $100 million is still a great contract for a 31-year-old point guard in this market, but Lowry's contract illustrates just how quickly point guard options dissipated in the free agency market this weekend.
The 2014-15 Hawks won 60 games and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Two years later, the entire starting five on that team has been dismantled, after Paul Millsap signed a three-year, $90 million deal with the Nuggets on Sunday. Al Horford is in Boston. Kyle Korver is in Cleveland. Jeff Teague is in Minnesota. DeMarre Carroll is in Toronto. Hawks fans, look away:
Last of the Hawks' 2015 Starting Five has departed Atlanta.- Kevin Arnovitz (@kevinarnovitz) July 3, 2017
Net Gain: Taurean Prince, Cleveland's 2019 1st round pick (protected 1-10)
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs brought Patty Mills back on a four-year, $50 million deal shortly after the start of free agency, but they didn't make any significant moves otherwise to upgrade their roster. Listen, it's Gregg Popovich and the Spurs, and they won 61 games last season and made the Western Conference Finals, but after rumblings that Chris Paul might end up in San Antonio, and reports that the Spurs were shopping LaMarcus Aldridge -- who had a disappointing playoff run -- at the draft for a top-10 pick, there was an expectation that San Antonio was ready to do some reloading to keep up with the Warriors. Instead, the Thunder and Rockets made bigger splashes, so while San Antonio should be right back at it as a top-four seed next season, it was a letdown to see them mostly stand pat this weekend.
The summer of Cavs Dan is here.
Gilbert opened the offseason by not bringing back general manager David Griffin, who helped construct a team around LeBron James that made three consecutive Finals appearances, including a championship, which resulted in this response from LeBron:
If no one appreciated you Griff I did, and hopefully all the people of Cleveland! Thanks for what u did for the team for 3 yrs! We got us 1��- LeBron James (@KingJames) June 20, 2017
Gilbert went ahead and visited Donald Trump before the start of free agency while he congratulated the Chicago Cubs, who won the World Series against the baseball team playing in Cleveland, who LeBron was cheering for last October.
The Cavs went into free agency without a permanent replacement for Griffin and watched as potential efforts to trade for Jimmy Butler and Paul George fell short. Instead they re-signed Kyle Korver and added Jose Calderon to their bench. The team also reportedly tried to trade Iman Shumpert to Houston, as a way to minimize its luxury tax bill next season.
Meanwhile, the Warriors are spending every dollar possible to retain their players, and LeBron is paying attention:
Add it all up, and with LeBron headed to free agency next summer, we might be watching Cavs Dan put together the blueprint of how to drive the best player in the league out twice in his career.