Winners and Losers of NBA Free-Agency

LaMarcus Aldridge passed on several teams and signed with the San Antonio Spurs in hope for an NBA title. Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi
LaMarcus Aldridge passed on several teams and signed with the San Antonio Spurs hoping for an NBA title. Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi

By Matthew Behrndt

The NBA free agency period is far from over. Players can officially sign on July 9, but most big name free agents have already agreed to principal deals. This is a list on which teams have done well and what teams have failed so far to really help their roster.

Winner: The Players

This year’s free agents benefited greatly from the cap increase that will go into affect next summer. The cap which currently sits at a little over $67 million for the 2015-2016 season will increase to an incredible $89 million for the 2016-2017 season. Why does that matter? Well, since teams aren’t really going to have to worry next summer about the cap, players that some casual NBA fans might not even know received huge contracts because next year those contracts won’t affect them nearly as much.

An example is Tobias Harris, he agreed to a 4 year $64 million dollar contract. While Harris is a very good player who averaged 17.1 points per game, he is fairly unknown and $16 million a year for an above average player is insane. But, when the cap goes up to next summer that $16 million will feel more like a $12 million a year, which is a reasonable contract for the type of player he is.

Players all over the league got ridiculous deals like Harris got. Those deals however, will be nothing compared to what some players will get next summer. Players that are eligible for free agency in 2016 got a little taste this year of what the contracts will be like. Players like Durant, Horford, Noah, Chandler, Parsons and DeRozen have a big smile on their face because they know they are going to get a lot of money next summer. Next summer the people complaining about the contracts this summer are going to have their minds blown by the contracts that will be handed out.

Winners: The Lone Star State

Let’s start with the San Antonio Spurs. What just happened!? The Spurs and Gregg Popovich have somehow pulled of one of the best summers any team has ever had rivaling what the Heat did in 2010. They took care of their own by bringing back Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Those players coming back make the Spurs a top five team. Then they go out and get LaMarcus Aldridge! They replaced Tiago Splitter with Lamarcus Aldridge, no disrespect to Splitter, but that is an upgrade at the highest level. Aldridge brings all-star talent to an already good team making the Spurs the favorite in the West. But wait there’s more, David West a very good player in his own right took an $11 million dollar pay cut to go play for the Spurs. With the addition of all these players Spurs fans are counting down the days to the start of the season as their title hunt begins now.

The Dallas Mavericks finally got a big name in free agency. The Mavericks for some reason had been unable to land big name free agents during the Nowitzki era. This year however they had the power to reel in the other big name besides Aldridge. They got DeAndre Jordan, a rebounding machine that desperately wants to be the go-to player on his team and the Mavericks pushed all the right buttons. Both Dirk and Parsons helped bring DeAndre on board making Mavs fans happy and giving Dirk another chance at a championship. DeAndre wasn’t the only signing the Mavericks got, the landed Wesley Matthews a very good player but coming off of an Achilles injury. He is a risk but if healthy will be a solid replacement for Monta Ellis. The Mavericks have also re-signed J.J. Barea, Richard Jefferson, and Charlie Villanueva to help fill out their roster. Now all they need is a solid starting point guard and this team will be a title contender.

The Houston Rockets missed out on the Aldridge sweepstakes to the rival Spurs but overall they didn’t have a bad free agency. They brought back two solid players in Corey Brewer and Patrick Beverley. They got Beverley on a great deal at only $25 million over 4 years. Houston is also expected to retain Josh Smith who was very solid for them last season. Overall Houston didn’t do anything fancy but they kept their core nucleus which is good enough to compete for a championship.

Losers: The Big Market Teams

The Lakers, Knicks and Clippers did not have a good free agency period. The allure of having a big city in a big market is not that appealing to free agents as much as winning and the Aldridge and DeAndre experiment proved just that.

The Clippers are the biggest losers of the group. While their roster isn’t all that bad considering they now have Paul Pierce and they still have Blake Griffin and Chris Paul but they still lost a huge defensive threat anchoring their defense. The Clippers and it looks like Chris Paul are the ones to blame. The Clippers thought they had DeAndre easily and didn’t roll out the red carpet for DeAndre like he wanted. Also Paul who seemed to annoy DeAndre just enough to make him want to leave, now only has himself to blame for what looks like a career without a championship. The Clippers will still compete for a playoff spot but it looks as if title hopes have dwindled for Clipper nation.

The Lakers added Lou Williams and Brandon Bass but that won’t be enough to help make the Lakers a playoff team. The Western Conference is too stacked for the Lakers to even compete. The biggest loss was not getting Aldridge who reportedly had a high interest in joining the Lakers but an unimpressive meeting immediately turned off Aldridge leaving the Lakers in the bottom tier of the NBA.

The Knicks who according to the fans already had a bad draft didn’t do their fan base much better this free agency period. The free agency period wasn’t all that bad for the Knicks but they didn’t land that big fish that New York is expected to reel in whenever they want. They missed out on both DeAndre and Aldridge who both seemingly had no interest in a team completely rebuilding. They did get Robin Lopez but for $54 million they really reached on him. They got both Aaron Afflalo and Derrick Williams, Afflalo is a good shooter but is also older and a 31-year old Carmelo needs youth around him. Williams is that youth but other than dunking the basketball he really isn’t much else. The Knicks missed out on an opportunity to speed up the rebuilding process and now the Carmelo experiment looks like it isn’t going to work out at all.

To Be Continued: Grizzlies, Raptors, and Wizards

These three teams have something in common. They did all the little things right. They retained key players as well as went out and got players that will help their team compete in their respective conferences. The Grizzlies kept Marc Gasol but also went out and got Brandan Wright a solid backup for a very small amount. The Raptors went out and got a very good overall player in DeMarre Carroll who will help mostly on the defensive side and make the Raptors have one of the better rosters in the East. The Wizards brought in Gary Neal for virtually nothing but the most important thing is that they didn’t lose that much making them an Eastern Conference threat this upcoming season as well. All three of these teams also need a little more added so that they have a legitimate shot at a title and with free agency still going there are pieces still available to help.