Day one has almost concluded in the NBA offseason and it already appears to be one of the more hectic opening days in NBA history. There was a lot of movement, including a few trades and some surprising signings. Let’s take a look at some of the winners from the first day of free agency.
The Blazers made an incredible run last season all the way to the Western Conference Finals before being swept by the Warriors. They did lose their star center Jusuf Nurkic to a gruesome leg injury that will likely keep him out the entirety of this upcoming season. Things were not looking too bright for the team heading into the offseason.
Then, the Blazers made a couple solid moves that will keep them in contention. They traded away Evan Turner for Kent Bazemore, who would act as an insurance policy if Rodney Hood didn’t re-sign. However, Hood ended up re-signing, who had a turnaround year after a underwhelming stint in Cleveland. They also traded away Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless for center Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside has the potential to be a quality starter for the Blazers, who will need a replacement at the position while Nurkic recovers and after losing Enes Kanter to free agency.
The Blazers did end up losing Seth Curry, who I thought was one of the more underrated free agents this year, but they were able to add a bit of wing help in Bazemore and retained Rodney Hood. They will still be competitive with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum running the show, and with the Warriors regressing this season, this could be their opportunity to go for it.
Utah lost a few pieces already, but none were major contributors. Derrick Favors was a bit of a blow after he signed with the Pelicans, but he never seemed to gel well with this team with Rudy Gobert at the center position, so it was probably best they didn’t spend a lot of money on a player coming off the bench.
However, making the trade for Memphis point guard Mike Conley for seemingly a handful of role players kicked off their offseason. Then, they went and added Bogdanovic, who is the quality shooter they desperately needed. Then they added Ed Davis, who isn’t nearly as good as Favors, but fills that backup center position well for quite less money.
A lineup featuring Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Bogdanovic, and Gobert could be one of the toughest defensive lineups in the league, and as mentioned with the Blazers, since Golden State has regressed, this could be a great chance for the Jazz to make a splash in the postseason.
This is the obvious one. Whenever you add not one but two superstars in the league on your team, in one day no less, that’s an absolute win. The Nets seemed locked to land Kyrie Irving through reports linking them together for awhile now. But not many suspected the Nets to land Kevin Durant as well. That’s an incredible haul for the first day.
When Kyrie committed to the Nets, there were questions on whether or not they would keep D’Angelo Russell, and questioned how they would fit together. Well, when they announced signing Durant, that’s when it was clear DLo would no longer be a Net. They were even able to grab a first round pick in a sign-and-trade with the Warriors for him. And as a cherry on top, they were able to sign DeAndre Jordan as well, and Durant and Kyrie both took minor pay cuts to make the move possible. The future is bright in Brooklyn.
New Orleans Pelicans
Personally, I was a HUGE fan of the trade the Pelicans made. It was clear Davis wasn’t going to stay there long term, so to be able to get a young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart, as well as numerous first round draft picks, I think they came out like bandits in this trade (although I think the Lakers won this trade as well, pairing LeBron with the best player he’s ever played with. A rare trade in which both parties win.). Drafting Zion was big too, and their rebuilding process won’t take as long as initially anticipated.
But then they made a couple of more splashes in free agency. They really needed two things; size and shooting. They were able to address both with signing both J.J. Redick and Favors. Redick will provide some shooting that this current roster doesn’t seem to have much of, and Favors will slot right in to that starting center role.
No, this team doesn’t have any superstars on it, and in a superstar-driven league, that’s not exactly what you want. But they do have a lot of potential stars, and will have those potential stars for years to come. This was a successful offseason so far for the Pelicans.