Day one of NBA free agency was a complete free for all. So many moves were made that quite honestly, there isn't really much left outside of Kawhi Leonard and the trickle-down role players that will come off the board one by one. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the Day 1 madness.
Brooklyn in the house
Not much to say here. Brooklyn signed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who both agreed to take slightly less than max money, which allowed the Nets to also add DeAndre Jordan on a four-year, $40 million deal. Brooklyn loses D'Angelo Russell in the process in a sign-and-trade for Durant with the Warriors (which we'll get to), but the Nets are contenders now. Maybe not right away next season, but they'll be darn good, perhaps a top-four seed, and come 2020-21 when they get Durant back, look out.
To think where the Nets were six years ago when they traded everything but their soul to the Celtics -- leaving them with no picks, no assets, no anything for the foreseeable future -- it is stunning what they have turned themselves into. Remember, Kyrie and K.D. coming to Brooklyn is the headline, but the Nets don't even have a shot at them if they don't put together a winning, promising team off the scrap yard over the past half-decade. They have a culture. They have coaching. They have front-office stars. They have a host of really good young players. And now they have two superstars. Incredible.
Warriors don't rebuild, they D-Load
Just when you thought the Warriors had lost Kevin Durant for nothing, Golden State and the Brooklyn Nets reportedly agreed to a sign-and-trade for Durant that will send D'Angelo Russell to the Bay Area. This. Is. Madness.
Golden State and Brooklyn have agreed on a sign-and-trade, sending D’Angelo Russell to the Warriors on a four-year, $117M maximum contract, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2019
All things considered, this could be the bombshell of the night. Yes, a sign-and-trade with someone for Durant had been talked about but for this to actually happen is nuts. The Warriors were going to lose Durant for nothing and they had no money or assets that are attractive enough to replace him. Now, out of the rabbit's hat, they get a 23-year-old All-Star who was on the shortlist for a max deal with a lot of teams?
Light Freaking Years.
There is one catch here:
Golden State is trading Andre Iguodala to the Memphis Grizzlies, league source tells ESPN. Warriors are sending a 2024 protected first-round pick in the 2024 (protected 1-4), 2025 (protected 1) and 2026 unprotected.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2019
Listen, losing Iguodala is noteworthy. He's still a huge player come playoff time. But he's on the downslope, and again, the Warriors, who just signed Klay Thompson to a max deal and might have to do the same for Draymond Green next summer, weren't going to be able to get younger talent for a good chunk of time. They also get a $17 million trade exception for Iggy, which they use starting next summer.
There will be other casualties from this deal. The Warriors are now hard capped at just shy of $139 million after the Russell trade, meaning DeMarcus Cousins is almost surely gone. Jordan Bell is already out to Minnesota. Shaun Livingston probably gone, too, whether via retirement or being waived. Kevin Looney is back on a three-year, $15 million deal, which is huge.
in this sense, Russell is far from free. But he's a good 23-year-player who they can test the waters with, and if he doesn't fit, can look to trade for assets that they don't have many other avenues of acquiring.
Knicks strike out
There was a time not that long ago when the Knicks were considered the front-runners to land both Durant and Irving, along with being one of the three teams with the best odds at getting No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson. They traded Kristaps Porzingis, the franchise's best asset in decades, in anticipation of all this coming together. None of it did.
First, the Knicks fell to the No. 3 pick in the draft, then Sunday they missed on Irving and Durant -- not to mention Jimmy Butler and Kemba Walker. Technically, Kawhi Leonard is still available, but come on. That ain't happening. To make matters worse, it was reported that the Knicks. If this is true, they didn't just lose the race; they didn't even run it.
"While we understand that some Knicks fans could be disappointed with tonight's news, we continue to be upbeat and confident in our plans to rebuild the Knicks to compete for championships in the future, through both the draft and targeted free agents," Knicks president Steve Mills said.
When you go from June 30 potentially being a day of one of the biggest celebrations in franchise history to writing your fans an apology letter, you've had a pretty bad day.
Lakers laying in wait ... nervously
After the Lakers navigated their way to $32 million in cap space, all the talk was about whether they should spend that money on one max player or split it between multiple role players to fill out a deeper team. Clearly, the Lakers are going for the big fish, and with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant going to Brooklyn, Jimmy Butler reportedly on his way to Miami in a sign and trade with Philly, Kemba Walker headed to Boston, Klay Thompson agreeing to the max with the Warriors and , there is only one left: Kawhi Leonard.
Problem is, as the Lakers are waiting on the potential third piece to what would unquestionably be the heaviest-hitting Big 3 in NBA history, a whole bunch of players that would've presumably been backup plans as solid role players are falling off the board.
Jeremy Lamb and Malcolm Brogdon are going to the Pacers. Bojan Bogdanovic is going to Utah. Rodney Hood is going back to Portland. JJ Redick is going to New Orleans. Brook Lopez is going back to Milwaukee. Patrick Beverley is going back to the Clippers. Derrick Rose is headed to Detroit. Nikola Mirotic is going back to Europe. Rudy Gay is staying with San Antonio. Terrence Ross is staying with Orlando. Darren Collison retired.
If Kawhi signs with the Lakers, nobody cares about any of these guys, and perhaps the signs are pointing to this happening as there are no longer any superstar teammates to join up with elsewhere. He either goes to the Clippers as the only star or stays in Toronto as the only star. If he wants star sidekicks, the Lakers are the only team left.
But if this doesn't happen, the Lakers are going to care a lot about these guys they are missing out on. Suddenly they'll be going into next season with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma and a bunch of leftovers.
It's not time to hit the panic button. Landing Kawhi might be getting more and more likely. But when people talk about how much timing and the domino effect matters in free agency, this is a prime example. Kawhi is the Lakers' cake, but if they lose him, there might not be much left to eat.
Sixers go all-in to ... break even?
The Sixers grabbed a bunch of headlines Sunday, starting when they re-signed Tobias Harris to a five-year, $180 million deal. Shortly thereafter, they reportedly executed a sign-and-trade with Miami for Jimmy Butler, but that deal temporarily fell apart.
Now it's back on.
It's a four-team trade and the Sixers still get Richardson and lose Butler. Philly was also the mystery team to snatch up Al Horford on a four-year, $109 million deal. These are all really good players, which is good news for Philly fans.
The bad news, of course, is that Butler, the team's clear second-best player last season, is gone, and they also lost JJ Redick to the Pelicans. Redick was one of the most underrated value players in the league last season. He was such a big part of the Sixers' offense. So in essence, the Sixers did a two-for-two swap: Horford and Richardson for Redick and Butler. To me, that is about as close to an even swap as you'll get when factoring in different roles and different values on different teams.
Horford and Richardson can both space the floor, something the Sixers desperately need, and they're both big-time defenders. Horford, especially, is a nightmare matchup for big men -- including Joel Embiid -- in the playoffs. Now Embiid doesn't have to battle Horford, while everyone else in the East still does. Richardson could really pop on a team where he isn't being unfairly relied upon as a go-to player, as he was in Miami. For the kind of money he got, Harris needs to take a step up from what he did with Philly last season, and he might well be in line to do that with a bigger role in the absence of Butler.
In the end, here's Philly's projected starting lineup: Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Joel Embiid. That's pretty damn good. Even if Harris and Horford are probably making too much money for their production, they are necessary components on the Philly timeline, which has been pushed forward to right now. Philly is all-in on these next few years, and you have to call the Sixers legit title contenders. But they were probably that before the start of free agency, too.
Miami gets its star in Jimmy Butler
The Heat angled for Butler before Philly nabbed him from Minnesota last year, and now they finally get him after parting with what was probably their most prized asset in Josh Richardson. This is interesting. A few days before free agency began, I went on Miami radio and said the Heat should hold off on making a move for Butler, because, frankly, they aren't good enough even with him to be any kind of threat in the East.
But now I'm looking at this differently. A lot of money comes off Miami's books next summer, meaning Butler's value is about way more than this coming season. He's now the lure in 2020 for more impact players. If Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo take big steps forward, which they'll both be in a position to do, and first-round pick Tyler Herro looks like a hit, the Heat could finally be on their way off the treadmill of mediocrity. Something had to get the ball rolling back in the right direction, and perhaps Butler will be it.
Though the question has to be asked: How long will Butler remain an elite player? If you look at how other players who played a long time for Tom Thibodeau have aged, it's not terribly encouraging: Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, to name a few. Butler is getting a four-year $142 million max deal, and there's a chance that doesn't look great in years three and four.
This is a calculated risk that Butler will be worth the money and a lure for other impact players., and the potential for this being a positive and necessary move is definitely there. Frankly, the Heat didn't have any other options for bringing in a player that can reverse what is starting to become some pretty bad momentum in Miami.
Utah is a sleeper contender
First, the Jazz traded for Mike Conley. Now they have signed Bojan Bogdanovic to a four-year, $73 million deal. Then they added Ed Davis on what I think is a bargain deal at two years, $10 million. The Jazz lose Derrick Favors (Pelicans) and Ricky Rubio (Suns), but adding Bogdanovic and Conley to this offense is a monster haul. Utah's defense will still be stout with Quin Snyder's system built around Rudy Gobert in the middle, and with Conley still being a really good defender at the point. They'll have a lot of versatile defenders with Donovan Mitchell, Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles as well.
But the problem with this team was scoring. And now that shouldn't be. Teams will no longer be able to focus on Mitchell, who was asked to do way too much in his second season. The pressure Conley will take off him will be incredible. Bogdanovic can get his own shot in certain cases and is an elite shooter. The floor is going to be super spaced in Utah, and if you give Quin Snyder that kind of space to work on offense, with a rim attacker like Mitchell now seeing an open lane with defenders stretched out, yeah, this is going to be fun.
The West is open. And the Jazz could be coming through.
David Griffin is putting on a clinic
First, he pulls off the trade for Anthony Davis that ultimately nets the Pelicans Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the No. 8 and No. 17 overall picks in this year's draft, three future first-rounders and the right to swap picks on another, which in itself is a monster haul. On top of that, Griffin left New Orleans with near max salary cap room.
With that room, the Pelicans signed JJ Redick and then traded for Derrick Favors. Add Jrue Holiday to the list, and you can argue this Pelicans team is actually better right now than it was with Anthony Davis before you even consider the future windfall they got for trading him.
This is a GM masterclass that Griffin is running.