NBA free agency is a week old and already it’s pretty clear we’ve got some winners and losers. It’s been a crazy past few days, with some unexpected trades, massive contracts handed out and a lot of player movement. The league has changed a lot in the past week.
Here’s a look at the biggest winners of the 2017 NBA offseason so far.
Golden State Warriors
Sigh, the Warriors just keep chugging along. They re-signed Stephen Curry to the massive deal he fully deserved, then got Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and David West back, while convincing Kevin Durant to take $10 million less than the max to re-sign. While they may lose JaVale McGee, they did sign Omri Casspi They also added Nick Young for…reasons.
Still the Warriors basically kept the band together for another run at a title. There were no major defections and no one in the NBA got within shouting distance with their moves. Golden State is looking like a lock for a third title in four years.
To get CP3, the Rockets gave up Patrick Beverley and spare parts, so nothing that should have a lasting impact. They also re-signed Nene Hilario and grabbed P.J. Tucker with a manageable four-year, $32 million deal. Tucker will add a much-needed defensive presence to the roster with Beverley departed.
Houston did well to grab German big-man Isaiah Hartenstein in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft. I had Hartenstein as a late first-round pick, but the 19-year-old fell to the 43rd pick. The 7’1″ center is a really nice draft-and-stash option, and was a great pick by general manager Daryl Morey.
The Rockets haven’t made themselves a title contender this offseason, but they got better. With the San Antonio Spurs essentially standing pat, Houston may have jumped them as the biggest threat to the Warriors in the West.
Blake Griffin has been the loyal soldier for the Los Angeles Clippers and after Paul bounced for Houston, he became the face of the franchise. Luckily for him, that happened when he was a free agent, so the team rewarded him with a ridiculous five-year, $173 million contract. A deal Doc Rivers, Steve Ballmer and Jerry West will almost surely regret giving him.
Here’s what I said about Griffin while listing the Clippers as one of the offseason’s biggest losers:
Griffin is a nice player, but he’s 28, hasn’t been able to stay on the floor consistently over the past few years and his scoring (21.6 per game) and rebounding (8.1 per game) numbers have dropped off from his peak in 2013-14. His shooting percentage also dropped to a career-low 49.3 percent in 2016-17.
So yeah, that guy will be getting paid more than $39 million when he’s 32. Solid work by Blake to convince the Clippers he was worth anything close to that amount of cash.
The Philadelphia 76ers badly needed someone who could spread the floor, so they went vastly overboard and paid J.J. Redick way too much money. Redick is a declining, 33-year-old shooter who really doesn’t do anything else and he got a ridiculous one-year, $23 million deal. Yeah, $23 million for a guy who ranked 78th in win shares (4.8). 148th in win shares per 48 minutes (.105), 146th in box plus/minus (-0.1) and 105th in value over replacement player (1.1). Oh, and his PER of 14.87 in 2016-17 was his worst mark in four seasons.
So yeah, J.J. Redick is basically stealing money from the Sixers. Good for him.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers haven’t hauled in any big name free agents, but they did dump Timofey Mozgov’s contract on the Brooklyn Nets, along with D'Angelo Russell. In return they got Brook Lopez and his expiring contract and a first-round pick. In doing so, Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka freed up a ton of salary cap space for next summer’s free agent frenzy.
The Lakers also aced the 2017 draft, landing a new face of the franchise in Lonzo Ball. They also brought in a long, versatile wing in Kyle Kuzma and a tough, hard-working guard in Josh Hart. Then in the second round LA landed Thomas Bryant, who is basically a lottery-ticket post man. It was a fantastic haul.
But the best thing the Lakers did was trust their plans to rebuild around young players. They didn’t go out and throw money around this year in an attempt to make a splash. The Lakers don’t have a chance to compete in the Western Conference this year, so there is no point in throwing money around or trading assets for a quick fix. It was a disciplined approach from a new front office.
Any time you become the highest-paid player in your sport’s history, you’re clearly a winner. Curry was possibly the greatest bargain in sports history over the past three years, and now he’s finally gotten paid. His five-year, $201 million contract was well earned. Oh, and virtually his entire team is coming back next year for a run at a third title in four seasons.