Round 1 of NBA Free Agency goes to the Brooklyn Nets in convincing fashion
Always being known as the little brother in the New York area, the Brooklyn Nets stole the headlines on Sunday night by signing Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan. Even more impressive is that Brooklyn’s clean sweep leaves the rival New York Knicks standing on the other side of the island with a dumbfounded look on their face.
In a true class-act move, the Nets didn’t let D’Angelo Russell wonder about his fate for long. The addition of Kyrie Irving made D-Lo expendable, so Brooklyn did a sign-and-trade deal with the Golden State Warriors. It’ll be an interesting year of transition for those Warriors, with Klay Thompson expected to miss significant time, and now Russell finds himself in a dream situation.
Speaking of those Knicks, they went ahead and had a shopping spree of their own, albeit one that you basically use every coupon in the Sunday paper. Instead of landing the marquee names, the Knicks landed Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, and Taj Gibson, giving themselves a wealth of power forwards. In addition, Wayne Ellington and Reggie Bullock were also added – watch out, world!
New Point Man
Kemba Walker, once thought of as a target for the aforementioned Knicks, stayed in the Eastern Conference and signed a deal with the Boston Celtics. With Kyrie moving on to Brooklyn, there was an obvious need at the point guard position for the guys in green. Kemba did play his college ball at UConn, so I guess we can consider this a homecoming of sorts.
Jimmy Butler agreed to a sign-and-trade deal with the Miami Heat, and this will certainly be an interesting scenario with him and Hassan Whiteside in the same locker room. Just at the beginning of this decade, LeBron James, DeWayne Wade, and Chris Bosh were running things down in South Beach. Now, we can cue the circus music and watch this whole thing unfold. Somewhere, Terrell Owens has his popcorn ready.
Butler’s old team, the Philadelphia 76ers, kept Tobias Harris on a five-year, $180 million contract. Many people don’t look at Harris as a “max” player, but Butler’s absence should give him a lot more freedom in this free-flowing offense. In the sign-and-trade deal, the Sixers add a phenomenal player in Josh Richardson and, in a separate deal, got Al Horford from the rival Celtics on a four-year, $109 million deal.
The Indiana Pacers made some very key under-the-radar moves by adding Malcolm Brogdon from the Milwaukee Bucks and Jeremy Lamb from the Charlotte Hornets. These are moves that might not register with the fly-by NBA fan, but adding players of this magnitude will keep the Pacers in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Ricky Rubio will be heading to the Phoenix Suns, potentially giving them the point guard they’ve been looking for. While the Spanish sensation isn’t necessarily known for his scoring, he does fit well with the Suns’ run-and-gun style of play. Feeding Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton is what’s truly important, and Rubio can do just that.
While the Utah Jazz lost Rubio, they did add Bojan Bogdanovic and Ed Davis to their roster. The Jazz have a true grind-it-out style of play, so having Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles on the perimeter is going to do wonders for them overall. Don’t forget, Mike Conley was added via trade, and now this team has the makings of something special.
The final piece of the free-agency puzzle is still out there. Kawhi Leonard has three options: the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers or returning to the Toronto Raptors. It’s no secret that Kawhi wants to go back home in Southern California, but will the urge to repeat as NBA champions be too much for him to pass on?