Less than one week into NBA free agency, NBA franchises have combined to spend billions of dollars on NBA free agents. Unrestricted free agents were quick to sign contracts, giving max players over $130 million and average players over $50 million. With the rise in salary cap, teams are taking advantage of it to improve their roster while others are patiently waiting for future free agents. With teams assembling, let’s take a look at who’s won and lost in free agency.
Winner: Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets finished 9th in the Western Conference standings in 2017 and needed to find help around Nikola Jokic. Two days into free agency, they found help signing Paul Millsap to a three-year, $90 million deal.
Millsap is the exact big needed to place next to Jokic. Millsap is a well-rounded big who fills the stat sheet with points and rebounds, but finished last season with career high assist numbers. Jokic led the Nuggets finish third in the NBA in points, second in assists and second in rebounding. What killed the them was their bottom-4 defense in opponents points per game. With Millsap, the Nuggets get a second big that can score, pass and rebound, but now Jokic has a sidekick that can defend.
In a stacked Western Conference, teams can’t sleep on the Nuggets. They won’t miss the playoffs next season.
Loser: Atlanta Hawks
Millsap played for the Atlanta Hawks for four seasons and quickly became a fan favorite. Once he hit unrestricted free agency, the Hawks didn’t give him an offer. They traded him in a three team sign and trade and got Jamal Crawford, Diamond Stone and a Houston Rockets first-round pick in return. Crawford will likely be bought out, Stone finished last season with a negative PER, and the Rockets just acquired Chris Paul. Travis Schlenk made it obvious the Hawks are rebuilding. This roster won’t compete in the lowly Eastern Conference.
Winner: Los Angeles Clippers
No team has rebounded better to losing a star player than the Los Angeles Clippers. After trading Chris Paul for seven depth players, the Clippers re-signed Blake Griffin, acquired Danilo Gallinari and signed international star Milos Teodosic. Never heard of him? His court vision is off the charts
For those who don’t know the newest Clippers guard Milos Teodosic… pic.twitter.com/SezC7aJg3d
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) July 6, 2017
In his first offseason, Jerry West brought the Clippers from a lottery team to back into the playoffs. He may be their best signing this offseason.
Loser: Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo
From NBA stars to NBA journeyman, Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo have had a tough time this summer finding a new home. Rose is coming off another season-ending knee injury and hasn’t played more than 66 games the last five seasons. Rondo is coming off his worst statistical season since 2008. With the importance of a point guard in today’s NBA, teams are unwilling to sign injured or inconsistent players. It may take a while for these two to get signed.
Winner: Boston Celtics
Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics general manager, was a media target after not acquiring Paul George or Jimmy Butler. The target left his back after signing Gordon Hayward.
Hayward was the best unrestricted free agent to switch teams this summer. He finished last season averaging 21.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Now the Celtics have a second true scorer to take the pressure off of Isaiah Thomas and a third star with Al Horford. This also reunites Hayward with his college coach, Brad Stevens. The one seed in the East just got better.
Loser: Cleveland Cavaliers
Who’s likely to play the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 NBA Finals?
The Cleveland Cavaliers.
Who’s not making the improvements to beat the Golden State Warriors?
The Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cleveland Cavaliers made two moves this offseason: signing Jose Calderon and re-signing Kyle Korver. This is the same Calderon with 24 games of playoff experience and Korver who averaged 4.4 games in the NBA Finals.
To make things worse, they don’t even have a general manager. There’s a potential future mess in Cleveland. They need to make moves quickly.
Winner: Golden State Warriors
As the Cleveland Cavaliers struggle to improve their roster, the Golden State Warriors continue to improve. After retaining their core, thank you Kevin Durant, the Warriors managed to sign Omri Casspi to the veterans minimum and use a $5.2 million trade exception to sign Nick Young. The NBA’s best offensive team found a way to add more offensive firepower. If the Warriors stay healthy, they look poised to win their third NBA Championship in four seasons.