The NBA’s Free Agency of 2017 to say the least, has been the craziest to occur since, well, last year’s free agency period. The biggest free agency signings have caused seismic changes, but it was this summer’s blockbuster trades that shook the NBA to it’s core.
The biggest signing of this free agency summer has to be without a doubt Gordon Heyward. Danny Ainge worked his magic once again by convincing the first time All-Star to spurn the Jazz and join an already loaded Celtics squad led by Isiah Thomas and Al Horford. This also marks the reunion of Gordon with his collegiate coach from his playing days at Butler, Brad Stephens.
After the Atlanta Hawks decided to pursue a rebuilding process by trading Dwight Howard for seemingly nothing to the Charlotte Hornets, and not giving him an offer at the start of free agency, Paul Millsap decided to head back west and sign with the Denver Nuggets. This pairs Millsap with quite possibly the best passing center in the NBA, Nikola Jokic, along with an exciting young core spearheaded by Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay.
Apart from that, free agency signings were mostly about staying put or adding incremental improvements. Kyle Lowry decided to stay with the Toronto Raptors after much speculation of him signing with the San Antonio Spurs to be better suited to pursue a championship. The Golden State Warriors retained essentially all of their championship core players by having Kevin Durant take a pay cut in order for the Dubs to re-sign Andre Iguodala which led to the signing of free agent Nick “Swaggy-P” Young. At the end of all of this, Stephen Curry emerged from the Warriors front office as the first player to sign under the new salary cap “Super-Max” extension, making his contract the richest in NBA history. This was later to be undone just a week later, as Houston Rockets guard and 2 time MVP runner up James Harden executed his “Super-Max” contract extension.
As interesting as free agency has gone, it was the trades that have the public going bananas at the new possibility of lineups for a specific team. The first domino to fall in this trade timeline after the Dwight Howard trade was a move to get Lonzo Ball complete control of the Lakers. Los Angeles traded away D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez, adding a pick and roll monster and
defensive nightmare to take the pressure off of the Big Baller Brand general. The Process turned into sheer pandemonium when the 76’ers were able to trade draft picks with the Celtics in order to secure the number one draft pick, which was Markelle Fultz.
JJ Reddick also signed with Philadelphia, making a lineup of Fultz, Reddick, Simmons, Saric and Embiid a sleeper hit on 2K. On draft night, a blockbuster trade happened within the first 30 minutes of the draft. Jimmy Butler was reunited with Tom Thibodeau as he was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach Lavine and Chris Dunn along with the right to swap picks in this years draft with the Bulls. Along with the signings of Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford, the Timberwolves are making the playoffs.
Continuing on with the trend of stars getting traded for next to nothing, Paul George was shipped off to Oklahoma City after the Pacers got wind that George was dead-set on signing with the Lakers next summer. Receiving a one year rental in Paul to couple with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook was well worth the tradeoff of giving up Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. But the most surprising move of free agency that happened so far this summer is the teaming of two high usage guards that are playing at perennial MVP candidate levels. It all started when Chris Paul opted in with the Clippers to be eligible for the Super-Max extension. Then not even the next day, CP3 was shipped off to the Houston Rockets for basically the kitchen sink in return, as an ensemble of Patrick Beverly, Sam Dekker and Lou Williams among others became LA Clippers.
Even after all of this commotion, there is still one major deal that needs to be figured out…where will Kyrie Irving go? After being the subject of draft day trade talks bookended by the feeling that LeBron James is leaving Cleveland next summer, Irving requested a trade before he gets left high and dry. He says that he wants to play for a contender, meaning either Spurs, Knicks, Heat and Wolves, and vies to be a focal point of the team. But given his lack of no-trade clause, Cleveland can deal him anywhere they please. What it seems like as of this writing is that the Phoenix Suns have the right package that the Cavaliers front office desire in Eric Bledsoe, Josh Jackson and a first round pick.
Again, this free agency was somehow able to top the insane summer that was last year, in which DeAndre Jordan had a change of heart and resigned with the Clippers after the most entertaining use of emojis by NBA players ever. Oh and KD signed with the Warriors, but not before Mike Conley of all people received the richest deal of that time when the salary cap skyrocketed. Yeah, this summer eclipsed that insane summer. Power to the Players.