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NBA 2022 free agent: sorting out winners and losers (so far) | NBA

Tthe ink hasn’t even dried on most of the contracts signed early last week from free agents and many more are still in the works. So, in the great tradition of my NBA Twitter ancestors, it’s time to make some serious premature judgments. Take them with a pinch of salt because there are still plenty of free agents to go… and maybe use that salt to coat the margarita, as it looks like there are a few long months of Kevin Durant speculation ahead. (Are the people who tracking Kawhi . flights still have access to that technology?)

Winner

Boston Celtics

The Celtics didn’t really need a change going into the offseason: they made it to the NBA finals. But having failed to achieve their goal in the championship, depth is clearly the team’s main goal heading into next season and their free agent signing achieved just that. Danilo Gallinari, although perhaps past his prime, still contributes in size and shooting, and they secured it with the exception of the $6.5 million dollar mid-level. And Malcolm Brogdon, a shrewd and well-regarded 6ft 5in guard who can plug-and-play into multiple roles if needed, is just a remedy for a lack of depth at the point guard position that has proved troublesome in the playoffs. As their final tormentor Draymond Green observed in a recent episode of his podcast, the move for Brogdon “could be the best trade (summer)”.

LA Lakers

I would be remiss not to preface any praise for the Lakers’ offseason moves with an acknowledgment that any success this year, or lack thereof, hinges on what happens to one Russell Westbrook … and the outcome remains to be seen. But the Lakers wisely flipped the script of their free agency philosophy 12 months ago. If last year’s creed could be described as “the more experience the better”, it’s safe to say that this year is more in line with “those who can’t navigate TikTok competently don’t need to sign up.” After a disastrous season with a roster filled to the brim with the NBA’s equivalent of AARP members, the Lakers have clearly made a deliberate choice to be younger: the average age of this year’s signers is 25, and they were able to overcome some of their shortfalls as well. Thomas Bryant, a big man who lost substantial time due to an ACL tear, can shoot well from long range in addition to carrying size. And Lonnie Walker, an underused San Antonio Spurs who showed a lot of promise, will bring a much-needed athletic jolt.

Lonnie Walker, left, who signed a $6.5 million one-year contract with the Lakers, will bring a much-needed athletic shock to an aging roster. Photo: Matt York/AP

Milwaukee Bucks

Another team that would be foolish to make a rash move in this free agency market is Milwaukee, who most likely picked up Khris Middleton’s knee injury from another trip to the NBA finals. It was good on them to throw the bag at Bobby Portis while also keeping free agents Wesley Matthews and Jevon Carter. The addition of excellent spot-up shooter Joe Ingles, of Utah Jazz fame, also makes for value. Yes, he’s a guy who looks more like your Uncle Joe than a very proficient professional athlete, and he’s out of an ACL tear, but it’s still a great pick-up for a team that needs more perimeter shots.

Losers

Dallas Mavericks

Look, paying Jalen Brunson $110 million over four years is no easy feat, and I don’t blame Maverick for letting him explore greener pastures and James Dolan sponsored the Big Apple. But everyone who’s watched Dallas run in this year’s playoffs will agree: he’s a more than competent point guard who played an insignificant role in breaking the Mavericks’ dreaded first-round curse. And if you’re going to let a valuable piece of the puzzle run its course, it’s probably best to have a solid plan for who you’ll be getting to replace it. The furore was that the Mavericks were after Goran Dragić, veteran point guard and Luka’s brother in Slovenia, but that dream was quickly dashed when he was picked up by the Chicago Bulls. There’s still plenty of time for the Mavs to fill the void at that point, but it seems increasingly unlikely that it will look like a net positive compared to what they let go.

Jalen Brunson
Jalen Brunson and the New York Knicks have agreed a four-year contract worth more than $106 million. Photo: Matt Slocum/AP

Utah Jazz

In my playoffs round, I suggested that the Jazz channel their inner volcano and blow this team to pieces, once and for all, after years of disappointing playoff performances that ranged from “almost there” to mediocrity. And they have sort of did that, trading the microphone-massaging defender of the year candidate of the year, Frenchman Rudy Gobert, along with the delivery of Royce O’Neal to Brooklyn. What they got back, however, was puzzling: a big part of the record was the large selection of first-round drafts, which would suggest a full rebuild was imminent. But as of press time, they may have kept their most valuable asset in Donovan Mitchell, a 25-year-old bluff superstar who seems openly confused about the direction of the franchise. If Mitchell’s trade is in progress, the off-season options make more sense. But if they try to gather a mutually beneficial team around them, their moves seem misguided and at worst half-hearted.

Brooklyn Nets

At the time of writing, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are still technically on the Nets roster. And if you ask the Brooklyn front office, that’s where they’ll stay until they receive a trade offer that’s tempting enough for them. News that Kyrie might be asking for signs and trades kicked off the offseason with a bang, and the subsequent announcement that Kevin Durant wanted out of Brooklyn too, continued to set the Twittersphere on fire. The meteoric rise and spectacular fall of this superstar-fronted iteration of the Nets has been something to behold. It’s understandable that management and ownership alike have grown tired of their stellar antics by now: Kyrie famously missed the better part of last season due to his refusal to be vaccinated, and while Durant himself is less than a tabloid story going, his loyalty to his immunologically challenged friend is at times. -sometimes prove confusing. But the inalienable truth remains: neither version of this team to be had by trading their two superstars, more than likely, has a ceiling potential even close to the heights they have now. If there’s ever been a time for front offices to swallow their pride and ride a rollercoaster until the wheels come off, this is it.



NBA 2022 free agent: sorting out winners and losers (so far) | NBA

Source link NBA 2022 free agent: sorting out winners and losers (so far) | NBA

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