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NBA Free Agency July 1st Open Thread: Winners, losers, and what’s next

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It was an absolute frenzy at the start of the NBA’s free agency period. Players went every which way, there were some clear winners and losers, and everyone — including the Raptors — is still waiting for Kawhi Leonard.

NBA Playoffs 2019: Five thoughts Game 4 recap: Toronto Raptors 120, Milwaukee Bucks 102, Kawhi Leonard John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

First of all, happy Canada Day to all who celebrate! Now, to business. Thanks to a change-up in the usual operating procedures of the league, the NBA free agency period “began” yesterday at 6pm. I use quotation marks because, well, stuff happened well before that start time — we covered as much as we could here.

If there was a common thread to the proceedings it was this: everything, all of it, was done in the shadow of Kawhi Leonard’s decision. If he stays in Toronto, the Raptors could very well run it back and go for the title again. If he goes to the Lakers, doom and destruction could be coming for all. And if he decides on the Clippers, Kawhi will likely find himself alone there.

This is a significant turn of events. Heading into the league’s free agency frenzy, it was thought the Clippers would be able to attract not just Kawhi, but another significant free agent. It didn’t feel like Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving were destined for LA, but Jimmy Butler was talked about as just one example of a player who could make the trip. Unfortunately for the Clippers — in a series of events and non-events that continue to favour the Raptors — they’re now stuck on a Kawhi-or-bust trajectory; and even with Leonard, there does not appear to be a path forward to championship success. Toronto, meanwhile, is enjoying their holiday and laughing.

But before we get into all the winners and losers from yesterday, let’s do a quick recounting of the deals that came to pass after our final update from last night. Ready? Here goes (with a big thanks to Woj, Shams, and Haynes).

Transaction Summary

  • For the record, there was a deal on the table for Goran Dragic to go to the Mavericks, but the particulars fell apart. To be clear: Butler is still going to the Heat, four years, $142 million. Meanwhile, the Mavericks are getting Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones;
  • Derrick Favors to the New Orleans Pelicans for 2021 and 2023 picks;
  • Tomas Satoransky to the Chicago Bulls for three years, $30 million;
  • Jamal Murray agrees to a five-year, $170 million extension with the Denver Nuggets;
  • Reggie Bullock to the New York Knicks for two years, $21 million;
  • Ish Smith to the Washington Wizards for two years, $12 million;
  • Robin Lopez to the Milwaukee Bucks for two years, $10 million;
  • Cory Joseph to the Sacramento Kings for three years, $37 million; and
  • Wayne Ellington to the New York Knicks for two years, $16 million.

And... and that’s it? For now? I’m positive I’ve missed a deal somewhere along the way, but the general situation is clear. At the top of everyone’s list is still Kawhi Leonard, and the list of available free agents after that is fairly thin.

Remaining Noteworthy Free Agents

This is in no way a complete list, but it provides a bit of context as to who is still out there. Some of these guys are known names, some still have value, and some could be had for the right price if the role is correct.

Of note for the Raptors is, of course, Danny Green’s presence on the list. His podcast partner Harrison Sanford has made it somewhat clear that Green has been fielding calls from other teams — but it appears as though he’s willing to wait on Kawhi too. If Green does leave Toronto, the list below represents the pool of players left for the Raptors.

(Full summary provided here at RealGM.)

  • DeMarcus Cousins
  • Jabari Parker
  • Marcus Morris
  • Danny Green
  • Kelly Oubre Jr.
  • Austin Rivers
  • Seth Curry
  • Enes Kanter
  • Kenneth Faried
  • Kevon Looney
  • Markieff Morris
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
  • JaVale McGee
  • Rajon Rondo
  • Nene
  • Delon Wright
  • JaMychal Green
  • Boban Marjanovic

Winners and Losers of Day 1

Now we get to my favourite part: who won the day and who lost? Let’s take a quick trip around the league and sort this out.

Winner: The Nets!

They obviously improved their roster and put themselves on the map in a big way. Kyrie Irving can carry this team just as well (if not a whole lot better) than D’Angelo Russell ever could, and then, ah yes, the squad will add Kevin Durant. I’m not as sold on the utility of DeAndre Jordan, but this is still a young squad with a lot of weapons and some top flight talent. Kudos.

Loser: The Knicks!

Just an abject failure across the board. After all that stupid talk, the Knicks are walking away with a bunch of power forwards — Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis, Julius Randle — and not much else. Sell the team, Dolan.

Winner: The Pacers!

With the loss of Bojan Bogdanovic and the sudden retirement of Darren Collison, it felt like the Pacers were moving backwards. Instead, they picked up Jeremy Lamb and Malcolm Brogdon, the latter of whom will likely mesh extremely well with a returned Victor Oladipo. If you’re a Pacers fan, you have to be pleased with the turnaround here.

Loser: The Clippers!

They waited all year to sweep Kawhi off his feet and he seems to be drifting further and further away. What’s worse, all the other deals have put LA in a precarious position. They can’t promise Kawhi much of anything now, except... Patrick Beverley? Good luck.

Winner: Jimmy Butler!

Butler gets a lot of money, gets to play in the warm weather climate in Miami, and gets to absolutely berate Hassan Whiteside for at least a season. What’s not to like, really?

Loser: Kevin Durant!

His big announcement got scooped by Woj, which meant his lame as hell IG post from The Boardroom meant nothing to nobody. Even after locking up a big four-year deal despite a serious injury, and getting his buddy Jordan paid, Durant can’t win for losing, man.

Winner: Bojan Boganovic and Ed Davis!

The former got a big pay day and moves in to help bolster the Utah Jazz for another push at the title. The latter continues his run of being one of the best bench guys in the league who helps out wherever he goes. Coupled with their trade for Mike Conley, the Jazz are in a good spot.

Loser: The 76ers!

Are they really going to trot out a frontcourt pairing of Joel Embiid and Al Horford? I realize both big men have three-point range (sort of) but their presence works against the speed of Ben Simmons. On top of that, they paid the wrong guy all that money — Tobias Harris is a solid player, but five years, $180 million while Jimmy Butler walks out the door? Yikes.

Winner: D’Angelo Russell!

He gets to be the hero for a bit in Golden State, keeping the team afloat with Steph Curry while Klay Thompson recovers from his ACL tear. Their run-and-gun style plays to Russell’s strengths, and his presence (coupled with Durant’s absence) should push the Warriors back into their most fearsome mode: relentless pick-and-roll basketball. Not bad for a guy left for dead just a couple years ago.

Loser: Brook Lopez!

Now he’s got to split minutes at the centre position with his own brother! Sibling rivalry to the next level! The Bucks are playing with fire here!!!

Winner: Julius Randle, Terrence Ross, Ricky Rubio, Thad Young, Terry Rozier

They got paid.

Loser: Marcus and Markieff Morris, Willie Cauley-Stein, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo

Still they wait.

Winner: Kawhi Leonard

Finals MVP, NBA champion, spent the weekend celebrating his birthday, now gets to enjoy Canada Day with July 4th also on deck. The entire league is in an absolute uproar and no one is even sure if Kawhi has looked at his phone once over the past 72 hours. Yes, there are reports of this and that conversation; Uncle Dennis is here, Magic Johnson is there, etc. etc. etc. But the bottom line here is this: Kawhi refuses to be sped up and is taking his time. (And wouldn’t you know it, that plays right into the Raptors’ hands. Yeehaw.)

*******

That’s where things stand this morning at 11am. The frenzy has died down for now, but we’ll try to update this thread as news breaks.

1pm Update:

The Mavericks have made their play for a shooter — and his name is Seth Curry.

Not a bad bit of business for Dallas, but this is another break for Toronto. There were reports out there that the Mavs were looking to scoop Danny Green from the Raptors. With this signing, it suggests that they may be looking to fill other positions now. That’s not to say there isn’t still interest there from the Mavericks, but their need for shooting has shrunk a tad. (Meanwhile, Green is apparently set on waiting for Kawhi’s decision.)

Other deals to report:

The Knicks are putting a fresh coat of paint on at least one side of the Titanic. And...

The Magic are determined to be, and stay, the Magic.

The would have been all — and it would have been impossible to top — except then the Blazers decided to get wild out of nowhere. Peep this:

I understand how this deal makes sense for Miami. They get out from underneath the Whiteside contract, on which they owed one more year at $27 million, and get Hassan far away from Jimmy Butler, who may have set about murdering him in practice. They also get a useful wing in Mo Harkless, and a big with some skills in Meyers Leonard. Nice.

The Blazers, meanwhile, have decided to rely on Whiteside as their centre in lieu of the injured Jusuf Nurkic. To which all I can say once again is: good luck.

Also, godspeed to the Rockets for keeping things going with Austin Rivers:

That’s it for now, as one more free agent guard comes off the table.

3pm Update:

We’re 20+ hours in, and the league has slowed down from warp nine to about warp 6, as news continues to trickle in:

Raul Neto is on the market! Who’s gonna jump on him?

In slightly more interesting news, especially as it concerns the Raptors, the Lakers have (finally!) made a move: And it’s for... Troy Daniels? OK, sure:

I think “elite shooter” might be a stretch, here, Shams. Anyway the interesting part of that report is the “doesn’t affect the team’s cap space” part, meaning they can still sign Kawhi Leonard to the max deal he clearly deserves.

Can they sign Kawhi and Danny Green, though? Hmm.

Woj must be taking a nap, ‘cause Shams is all over it today. Hey look, we have more Knicks news!

Boy, it’s gonna be a lot of fun when we get to make fun of the Knicks striking out in free agency again in the summer of 2021, isn’t it?

Some news out of Dallas from the main Mavs man, Marc Stein:

Seems like a decent deal for a young big; but this, along with the Seth Curry deal, means the Cavs are running out of room to sign Danny Green. Are the dominoes lining up in Toronto’s favour...?

Speaking of bigs, the Celtics have their Al Horford replacement.

Gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that Boston’s D might drop off just a touch with Kanter anchoring the middle instead of Horford...

JJ Barea is gonna stick around Dallas as well:

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more as it happens!

8:45pm Update:

Most of Canada Day has seeped into a haze of sun and fun and everything else — and we still don’t have an update with regards to Kawhi Leonard. (I, Reynolds, was almost fooled by an errant fake Woj account, which was an unsettling couple of seconds, I can assure you.)

Here’s what we can report on now, after a few hours of slowed-down activity in the NBA. (Thanks again, of course, to Woj, Shams, and Haynes.)

  • As we wrote about here, the Raptors did actually do something bringing over Euroleague sniper Matt Thomas;
  • Maxi Kleber is re-joining the Mavericks at four years, $35 million (props, obviously, to Marc Stein for getting the scoop on this one);
  • Klay Thompson is confirmed at five years, $190 million to the Golden State Warriors;
  • The Pacers signed someone named Edmond Sumner;
  • Richaun Holmes is going to the Sacramento Kings for two years, $10 million;
  • Wesley Matthews is heading to the Bucks (which seems like a poor consolation prize for letting Malcolm Brogdon walk, but what do I know?);
  • Tim Frazier is headed to the Detroit Pistons for one year, $2 million. Will this make Dwane Casey’s life any easier?;
  • Frank Kaminsky is in for two years, $10 million with the Phoenix Suns;
  • The Nerlens Noel and OKC Thunder deal is back on. (It was off for a bit, which is funny because, well, it’s Nerlens Noel — is anyone else calling at this point?);
  • Mo Harkless is going to the Clippers as part of the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade deal. This is of note to Toronto because it gives Los Angeles an actual player to pair with their presumptive Kawhi pitch. I don’t think it moves the needle a ton — but I’m sure the Clips will big him up huge;
  • Minnesota gets Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham, being shipped out by Golden State having never officially landed there. That’s rough, mentally going from the Bay to Minnesota; and
  • Kevon Looney will return to Golden State for three years, $15 million, which reads as a bargain to me.

Other than Thomas and the Harkless deal, none of this really moves the needle for the presumptive Kawhi suitors. The Raptors are still in front to re-sign him (it’s true), the Clippers are running out of options and time, and the Lakers have... no other players on their team, which continues to be strange.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings. (Or later tonight?)