It has been a hectic free agency period for the NBA this year. The schedule is all off and the December 22 start date for the new season in looming closer every day. Still in all, there was a lot of movement during the period – some predictable, some shockers. Of course, as it is every year, when it is all over there will be winners and there will be losers. Friday and Saturday were the busiest days so far.
The NBA Free Agency Picture Is Still Fuzzy
In the latest surprise move, Michael Jordan’s Carolina Hornets were able to sign Gordon Hayward from the Celtics to a 4- year $120 million contract.
As expected the defending NBA Finals Champion LA Lakers only got stronger as general manager Rob Pelinka made some moves to strengthen their front court game by adding Montrezl Harrel and Marc Gasol to the Lakers’ roster, along with sneaky quick Dennis Schroder for some good shooting from outside. The Lakers’ Anthony Davis remains a free agent at this point but is expected to re-sign with the NBA Finals Champion team someday soon.
Fred van Fleet came into the NBA as an undrafted free agent on minimum salary and has proven his worth to the point that the Toronto Raptors has awarded him a nice new $85-million, 4-year contract.
The Hawks Sink Their Talons In Several Players
Atlanta Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk managed to make some nice moves himself during free agency this year. For the past 3 seasons, the Hawks have concentrated on hiring talented young players; however, this year they went for some experienced veterans to guide these younger guys to possibly a playoff spot for the Hawks next year.
Schlenk got one of the smartest point guards around, and a perfect mentor in Rajon Rondo, and Danilo Gallinari, one of the best 3-point shooters in the league, is now a Hawk. Then, Schlenk still managed to make a deal with Bogdan Bogdanovic in restricted free agency. Watch out for the Hawks in the coming season.
Head Coach Monty Williams and general manager James Jones of the Phoenix Suns grabbed Chris Paul, retained Dario Saric and contracted with Jae Crowder, Jevon Carter and Damian Jones. Williams also now has All-Star Devin Booker, who can play alongside Paul. The Suns are looking good for 2021.
The Denver Nuggets remain a solid basketball team even though they lost Mason Plumlee and Jerami Grant Jr. to Detroit. However, Denver retained Paul Millsap and snatched JaMychal Green from the LA Clippers. The Nuggets are still strong, just not as strong as last year.
The Rockets Might Be In Trouble Next Year
The Houston Rockets have two of the best players in the history of the franchise in Russell Westbrook and James Harden, but, for some reason, could not make enough moves this year to give their stars any real backup. By letting former head coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey go, the Rockets seem to be floundering without direction at this time.
Last season, the Boston Celtics lost Kyrie Irving to the Brooklyn Nets and now they have let Gordon Hayward leave for Atlanta. The Celtics still have a pretty good basketball team but they cannot keep on losing topflight players like this year after year.
Small forward Joe Harris and the Nets have agreed to a 4-year contract worth $75 million, while power forward Brandon Ingram signed a 5-year, $158-million deal with the New Orleans Pelicans to stay in the Big Easy.
The Milwaukee Bucks got a great player from the New Orleans Pelicans in Jrue Holiday, but that was about all that they managed to pull off after much talk of bigger deals that never came through. The Bucks filled out their roster nicely with good players, but just not what they were aiming for.