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Day One of NBA Free Agency Thoughts

The National Basketball Association season officially ended on June 12 when the Denver Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat in five games to win the NBA Finals. Now almost three weeks later, the free agency frenzy has started with teams allowed to officially sign and extend players from all across the league.

One of the first dominoes to fall was Draymond Green, the four-time all-star and four-time NBA champion signing back with the Golden State Warriors on a four-year $100 million dollar deal. This reunion back to Golden State seemed unlikely a few weeks ago but with the Warriors trading away Jordan Poole’s contract and baggage, Draymond Green was happy to return to the Warriors. Earlier in the season, Draymond Green supposedly punched now ex-teammate Jordan Poole in the face during a team practice and now months later the details finally broke. “‘That whole situation in Golden State is toxic… The situation allegedly heightened while they were running sprints. “Then they was running sprints or something and he (Jordan Poole) told Draymond, ‘Don’t worry about it, you’ll be in Sacramento next year,'” the Diplomats rapper said. “Then he told Draymond, ‘Why is your Twitter handle @MoneyGreen when you broke and you not gonna get a new contract?’ And that’s the one that broke the camel’s back.” According to Cam, that final comment led to the four-time NBA Champion punching Poole,’’ (Draymond and Poole altercation). Poole was traded to the Washington Wizards last week which opened up cap space to bring Draymond Green back to the Bay area. Green is the Warriors’ whole defense so signing Green back for four more years (the end of Steph Curry’s prime) makes sense to try and win more championships. 

The Cleveland Cavaliers made some nice additions to the roster, signing free agents Max Strus and Georges Niang. Niang averaged 8.2 points a game last year shooting above 40% from the three-point line and can provide some nice bench scoring for the Cavs as a vet. The Max Strus signing I really like as Cleveland gets Strus on a four-year contract for $63 million. Strus the undrafted player from Depaul University really broke onto the scene in 2021 and had an even better year last season, averaging 11.5 points, 2.1 assists, and 3.2 rebounds a game for the Miami Heat. Strus has been a part of deep successful playoff runs and brings valuable experience and shooting to a Cavs team who needs just that.  

We then saw a lot of expected extensions and re-signings with players going back to their former teams, however, these were not hometown discounts. Kyrie Irving returned to the Dallas Mavericks on a 3 year $126 million dollar deal, Kyle Kuzma back to the Wizards for four years on a $102 million dollar deal, Khris Middleton back to Milwaukee for three years at $102 million, and Cam Johnson to the Nets for four years at $108 million. These are all very pricey deals that could all blow up in their teams’ faces due to a variety of factors. For Dallas, signing Irving back had to be done as they just traded for him in February for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, 2027 second-round pick, 2029 first-round pick (unprotected), and a 2029 second round-pick. This was a lot to give up and when Kyrie and Dallas’ franchise player Luka Doncic played together they had a 5-11 record together, they will hope to improve on that next year. For Washington, signing Kuzma to big money doesn’t make a ton of sense being that they are entering a rebuild and traded their two franchise players away last week in Beal and Porzingis. Milwaukee bringing back Middleton was a necessity as they didn’t trade him away at the deadline so they couldn’t let him walk away for nothing. However, giving a 31 year old coming off a serious knee injury $34 million a year is not ideal. Hopefully the Bucks can get the most out of Middleton these next three years but this truly limits what they can do elsewhere on the roster so they need this to pan out. Brooklyn giving Cam Johnson $108 million over four years certainly is a choice and not a great one. Last season Johnson averaged just under 16 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists a game. These are above average role player numbers, that do not garner the pay of $27 million a year. Maybe Brooklyn has a new vision for Johnson next season and perhaps he slots into the starting lineup but as of now, that contract is simply too rich. 

Late last night it was reported that the Houston Rockets signed Fred Van Vleet to a 3 year deal worth $130 million. This move was a head scratcher as Houston just drafted guard Jalen Green two years ago second overall and then last week they drafted 6’7 guard Amen Thompson fourth overall. I get Houston had money to spend but to bring in an above average guard in Fred Van Vleet not only limits what the Rockets can do as a franchise but it stunts the growth of these young guards in Green and Thompson. Not to mention, Van Vleet is not even close to being worth almost $44 million a year. NBA Roundup: Every move from first 2 days of free agency


Finally, after years and years of rumors Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers superstar and future hall of famer requested a trade out of Portland early this morning with intention of being dealt to Miami. What makes this interesting is that Portland doesn’t have a ton of leverage as Lillard has expressed interest in only joining the Miami Heat. Miami also doesn’t have a lot of assets Portland would be interested in unless Portland simply doesn’t care about positions and just tries to get the most value they can. So what would a Dame trade to Miami look like? Assuming Miami would be unwilling to part ways with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo (they won’t trade these two) that leaves players like Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Caleb Martin and young rookies like Nikola Jovic, Haywood and Jaime Jaquez Jr. possibly going to Portland. I think we could see a package of Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Jaquez and two first round picks in return for star Damian Lillard. It is less than 48 hours into free agency and things are getting spicy, buckle up folks. 


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