Monday 21 August 2017 / 04:31 PM

7 FREE AGENCY DEALS THAT WILL SHAKE UP THE NBA

Running through the biggest moves in the NBA off-season thus far, and what they mean for the league’s contenders heading into 2017-18

Chris Paul (Opt-in and traded to Houston): Make no mistake, the Rockets hit a home run here. Sure, Pat Beverly and Lou Williams are value contracts and remain solid contributors, and Sam Dekker is an intriguing prospect who figures to develop into a rare commodity as a 3-and-D wing. But this is Chris freaking Paul. This is what Daryl Morey lives for, and you take this deal every time.

It will take some work to figure out how he and MVP-runner up James Harden fit together in a way that optimises both their talents, but to claim (as many have) that they will struggle is understating both guys’ adaptability and greatness. While the Harden-centric offence worked wonders throughout the regular season, the playoffs exposed the flaws in that system, and Houston have responded accordingly. They’ve forever claimed their only interest is winning — this is, undoubtedly, a move in the right direction.

Paul George (Traded to OKC): If the CP3 deal was a home run, this one’s out of the park. There may be bigger risk — many around the league are convinced PG13 is heading to L.A. the minute his contract expires. Who knows the validity of that claim, and whether or not it might change, but PG is the perfect running mate for Westbrook (if you ignore the 7-foot behemoth that skipped town a year ago) and when all you gave up was an underperforming Oladipo and Sabonis, who was buried half-way through the season, you scream “yes” before Indiana change their mind.

PG’s efficiency should sky-rocket with the chance to play off-ball, his extra energy boosting his defensive impact. With Russ soon available for an extension, showing him the commitment to winning. From an outcome perspective, it helps them retool on the fly and stay competitive in a crowded western conference. 

Kevin Durant (Two-years, $53 million) and Steph Curry (5-year, $201 million), Golden State: If there was still any doubt around what comes first to Finals MVP Kevin Durant, his new deal, which is far below market value, puts those questions to bed. His early opt-out will ensure he hits free agency again next season and doesn’t lose too much money, but with his injury history no one would have looked twice with him taking the money while it’s there, making his sacrifice all the more impressive. Curry, whose cheap deal was instrumental in opening the cap space for KD, reaps the rewards of his historic play by signing the mega-max. With these two at the helm, the Bay dynasty looks set to carry on.

Gordon Hayward (4-year, $128 million), Boston: The Utah Jazz must be devastated. Their painful rebuild now proves fruitless with Hayward walking for nothing. The Celtics, however, add yet another long, versatile, defensive wing to their army. Hayward has improved in each of his seven years in the league, last year adding a deadly off-the-dribble three which will look fantastic coming off high-screens in Boston’s offence. He offers an alternate scoring option down the stretch, taking the pressure off Thomas and opening up plenty of new possibilities for President Stevens to explore. Of course, he now becomes the man tasked with stopping LeBron when the inevitable matchup comes around once again.

Avery Bradley to the Detroit Pistons for Marcus Morris: This comes hand-in-hand with the Hayward deal, as the Cs were forced to clear cap space for their impending new star. Unfortunately that came at the expense of excellent guard Avery Bradley. In return, they get Marcus Morris, another switchy, stretchy forward who can execute in Brad Stevens’ system. Their lineup, however, now feels incomplete. In Bradley, they lose an ideal backcourt partner for Isaiah Thomas, a defensive cover and reliable shooter. This is a void they’ll need to fill before the start of next season.

Paul Millsapp (3-year, $90 million deal, Denver): Outstanding signing, great fit. Millsap defending the backline for Nikola Jokic and whichever point guard Denver sticks with, throw in the figured development of their younger pieces, and the insane depth of this team makes this deal one of the summers best. His inside-out game with Jokic should work like a dream, bringing shooting and a well-rounded skill set that directly compliments what the Nuggets have been building. A team-friendly deal, with Denver somehow convincing him to make the last year a team-option. The Nuggets make big strides to the playoffs and become a league-pass darling. Considering they were close to giving up major assets to coup Kevin Love, this deal becomes even sweeter.

Blake Griffin (5-year, $179 million): Griffin is an excellent player, and in a vacuum would command this type of money. But injuries have hampered his recent past. The 2010 Phoenix Suns were in the same position with Amar’e Stoudemire — a hyper-athletic, injury-prone forward. They let him walk, the Knicks took an $100million gamble, and three months later his knees gave way. We really hope that doesn’t happen to Griffin, but history doesn’t bode well. The Clippers might regret this heavily in the fourth and fifth years.

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About the author

Brayden Issa

Brayden is a Sydney-based sports management student and sports fanatic, specialising in rugby league, basketball, football and cricket. He is concerned with everything related to professional sports performance and management.

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