That’s the amount of money spent by NBA teams 16 hours into free agency. The 2016 NBA free agency period has been as crazy as anticipated with the salary cap jumping $24 million. What I am going to do is give my thoughts on everything from the best deals to the worst deals as well as how new players may fit with their new teams. So without further adieu, let’s get started.
Los Angeles Lakers
At 12:00 this morning I was eagerly awaiting the first outrageous deal to be signed. All day I had been hearing about the rumors about Joakim Noah‘s deal and how Bradley Beal was going to get a max contract. Then, Mitch Kupchak smiled down on NBA Twitter and gave all non-Lakers fans something to laugh at. The Los Angeles Lakers had signed Timofey Mozgov, the same Timofey Mozgov that averaged 6 points and 4 rebounds a game, to a 4 year $64 million deal. The best response of the night was from Real Ball Insiders own, and Lakers fan, Pedro Casas who tweeted to me “I was so mad I wanted to punt an infant.” That about sums up that deal right there.
Then Mitch Kupchak made amends for this questionable move by locking up Jordan Clarkson for 4 years and $50 million. I LOVE this deal for the Lakers. They lock up their young combo guard for 4 years with what is a relatively low number. Clarkson is a big piece of their future and they got him without letting him meet with other teams that might have offered more to try and lure him away from Los Angeles, or making the Lakers match an offer they did not want to. Overall, not too bad of a first day for Lakers fans.
Grizzlies Open the Check Book
Let’s all give a big hand to Mike Conley for signing a 5 year $153 million deal today. Biggest contract in NBA history and has never made an All-Star team. Good for him. I am a Mike Conley fan and think he is a good player, but that is a lot of money for a guy that is not an elite player at his position. Not only is Mike Conley all smiles after today, but so are Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, and Chris Paul who are all free agents next off season. By the way, the salary cap for next off season is projected to be around $108 million (according to SB Nation) a $14 million increase from last season. So we will be seeing more record breaking deals next season.
This was not the only move the Grizzlies made on day one of free agency. Memphis signed Chandler Parsons to a 4 year $94 million deal today making it over $200 million dealt by Chris Wallace and company. I really Chandler Parsons and if you read my Sixers posts he is someone that I thought would fit well at the 3 next to Ben Simmons. If healthy, this Grizzlies team could be fun to watch but it will be very tough for them to make it out of the second round with how loaded the western conference is.
Howard is Going Home
Dwight Howard is the center version of Rajon Rondo to me. He is a nice player who puts up good number, but stay the hell away from my team. Back in 2009 it looked like Dwight Howard would be a force in this league for many years to come. Then he went to the Lakers and him and Kobe could not coexist. It was an unmitigated disaster. After that he went to the Rockets and they made the Western Conference finals one year and were an 8th seed the next, but he just was not the same guy he was back in Orlando. Now that he is back home, back in the East, and without another star on his team, is there going ti be a Dwight Howard revival? I would not bet on it, but crazier things have happened.
Sam Presti has to be doing back flips seeing Dwight Howard go to Atlanta. This now opens the door for Oklahoma City to swoop in and sign Al Horford. As long as Kevin Durant re-signs, Al Horford would make OKC the favorite to win the NBA title. I will admit, I was skeptical of the draft night trade that sent Ibaka to Orlando and netted the Thunder Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, and Ersan Ilyasova. It was not becasue I thought they got the short end of the stick. It was because I thought it was weird the Thunder would trade a big piece of theirs in Serge Ibaka after being up 3-1 against the Warriors in the conference finals. Now if they replace Ibaka with Horford, that trade becomes an absolute robbery. I guess that is why I am not an NBA general manager.
What Happens Next
I am not sure when it will happen, but Kevin Durant will be back with Oklahoma City. As I just stated, that team is my favorite to win it all if they add him and Horford but they will also be among the favorites without Horford. The Durant domino falling will lead to Harrison Barnes going back to Golden State. I also think the Sacramento Kings will be the team that “wins” the Dion Waiters sweep steaks because Dion Waiters is a very “Kingsy” type of a player. The biggest question in my eyes is where Dwyane Wade will be next season? He is starting to have discussions with other teams and I have seen reports that he did not like what the Heat were offering. It would be weird to see him play anywhere but Miami. If he end up leaving, I would love to see him end up with the New York Knicks. I think that team would be really fun although I am not sure they would knock off Cleveland.
So far it has been an exciting start to free agency. The best part is that we have 12 more days of this.