The NBA has long been praised for the high-intensity drama of their offseason, and with the spike of the salary cap this summer, the storylines haven’t slowed down for a second. Following the NBA Finals, rumors and speculation swirled around the NBA Draft, which led to some surprising trades, and more definition on what teams were buying or rebuilding.
And as soon as free agency hit, a flurry of moves hit the wire. We’ll look at the big signings here with some initial reaction.
The Lakers hit the bidding war off right off the start, with Timofey Mozgov getting an $16 million a year deal from the team, and also added veteran swingman Luol Deng on a big deal as well. The Mozgov signing shocked the NBA, not because of the player, but the amount of the bidding. Even adjusting to the new cap, that’s a big number for Mozgov, but the Lakers had to put the money somewhere, and the center market was thin. They also got a smart deal with Clarkson, helping him avoid signing a tender, and also meeting between the two sides. Deng is a great pickup to mentor young Brandon Ingram, but I’m not fully sure where the Lakers were in some of the meetings with the bigger free agents.
Lakers reportedly agree with Timofey Mozgov on 4-year, $64M deal 😯 pic.twitter.com/RbOJ8QIPJE
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 1, 2016
It wasn’t a great night for people who loved change, with four of the big stars of the free agency class opting to return to their teams. Andre Drummond re-upped with the Pistons, Bradley Beal stayed with the Wizards, Nic Batum will return to the Hornets, DeMar DeRozan will again call Toronto home, and Hassan Whiteside remained with the Heat. The only real drama heading into the free agency was Whiteside and Batum, both expected to meet with other potential suitors prior to making a decision on where to call home. Batum never took a second call after his midnight talk with the Hornets, agreeing to the deal before any other team could chime in. Whiteside did take other meetings, but the Heat ultimately lured him back home. As far as stars aligning elsewhere, this maybe wasn’t quite the year.
Hassan Whiteside will match his previous career earnings 12 games into the season.
His wild journey by the numbers: https://t.co/UgGQaPl0gQ
— ESPN (@espn) July 1, 2016
The big changes came away on day two, with Chandler Parsons and Mike Conley linking up and bringing Parsons to Memphis on monster contracts. Memphis was team thought to be on life support, and the addition of Parsons is one that I love, especially with the tough defense on the roster. Parsons adds some much needed perimeter offense with a small drop off on the defensive side.
Holy cow, are the Magic doubling down on Bismack Biyombo? I still need time to think about this move, but you won’t find a bigger fan of Biyombo and his game than this writer right here. But Orlando? They just traded for Ibaka, who adds to one of the most jam packed front courts in the NBA with Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, and now Biyombo. Who starts? Who plays? That’s an awful lot of money and not a lot of minutes, and I don’t know exactly where the Magic are going from here.
— NBAIndia (@NBAIndia) July 4, 2016
The first major shakeup was the Dwight Howard move to Atlanta. The Hawks have long coveted Howard, and Howard reportedly was eyeing Atlanta before free agency. The move to Howard does pose some issues for Atlanta, however, as free agent Al Horford has yet to decide his future, and rumors flying about the team ready to move Paul Millsap.
The Hornets saw two of their likeable locker room guys go, with Jeremy Lin joining the Nets and Al Jefferson joining Indiana. I like the Nets move, if only because Lin is a real basketball player, so the Nets will have one of those for a change. But Al to Indiana is puzzling. Sure, Al is a great scorer and a terrific player. But Larry Bird has said his desire was to go fast and gun it, and that was his justification for moving on from long-term coach Frank Vogel. And yet they’ve gotten much slower with the additions of Teague and Jefferson, and mortgaged their defense to do so. I just don’t fully see the vision for Indiana.
— World Economic Forum (@wef) July 3, 2016
Joakim Noah also found a new home in New York, reuniting with Derrick Rose and getting a big deal to join the Knicks. The Knicks have added some talent this offseason, and Noah is just another of those pieces, but you can’t help but feel that this is a makeshift roster for a run at the postseason. I actually do think Noah is way better than he played last year, but it’s still a long commitment to a guy on the downswing.
Al Horford finally made his choice, and bet big on Green. The star center settled in Boston, where he’ll join Isaiah Thomas and a slew of talented guys who desperately needed a star. While this isn’t a huge splash, it does give Boston validity, and a stud to market to other free agents. This team needed a superstar, and Horford can be that guy, at least for this year.
Let’s getit!!! RT @Al_Horford: Celtic Pride!!!!!! 🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀
— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) July 2, 2016
Free agency has been a splash so far, but there’s still a massive amount of players on the market. The talent gap has closed between some teams, but the playoffs standing likely aren’t totally shaken over these moves.