2019 NBA Free Agency… What a Turnaround!

“The most exciting and the important one in the history of the league”, that’s how we called the 2019 NBA Free Agency period before, and it absolutely delivered. So many superstar movements, a lot of roster changes, bunch of interesting new rosters, and one big decision that will change the league forever.

The first major signings took place in the starting hours of the “unofficial” free agency (due to moratorium rules) with Brooklyn Nets signing two star names, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

The rumors of these two wants to unite on the same team has been swirling around for months and these rumors has come to reality, but with the other side of the NYC. A lot of people expected them to sign with the Knicks, but they subverted the expectations, and probably rightly so. The Knicks front office is a laughing stock of the league at this point with their terrible coach selections, roster architecture and below average draft choices. And of course, their bigot owner, James Dolan. No wonder they select the Nets over them, they do not deserve the two of the best players of the league.

Kyrie Irving: 4 year deal, slightly below the max contract (to create a space for DeAndre Jordan signing)

Kevin Durant: 4 year deal, slightly below the max contract (to create a space for DeAndre Jordan signing)

Next biggest signing has come from the another East-side franchise, Boston Celtics. After the loss of Irving, they desperately needed a quality point guard and luckily for them, they found a good one named Kemba Walker. After Hornets rejecting to give him a maximum contract, he inked a new one with the green side after the sign-and-trade. Whether he will be a better fit than Irving or not, he will be a much better option than Terry Rozier, that’s for sure. (About Rozier, he signed a 3 year, $58Mn deal with the Hornets for a part of the deal)

The next star to take his talents to an another franchise is Jimmy Butler, who chose to sign with the Miami Heat. After he told 76ers that he does not intend to sign a new deal with him, two franchises construct a deal that will make all sides happy. Butler signed a 4 year, maximum contract that’s worth $140.8Mn with the Heat and 76ers get a really good role player with Josh Richardson. At the end of the day, looks like a win-win deal for all parties.

And the last big sign-and-trade deal has come out of nowhere, with Brooklyn Nets youngster D’Angelo Russell agreeing to a 4 year, rookie scale maximum contract that’s worth $117.3Mn with the Golden State Warriors. It wasn’t a suprise that Nets don’t want to sign an extension with the Russell after the Irving and Durant contracts, but Warriors came out of nowhere. Me, personally, doesn’t really like the new dynamics regarding the Warriors’ 3 guard -Curry, Russell and Thompson- but considering the injury of the latter which will keep him out of action for 6–8 monhts, it’s better than nothing i guess.

The Other Notable Signings

The rest of the big contracts that’s been given on the day 1 is all-star and all-star caliber players extending or signing a new contract with their respective teams. A lot of them is not a suprise for anyone, but they are all important for their team’s success.

Khris Middleton, Bucks : five year, $178Mn

Klay Thompson, Warriors : five year, maximum salary, $189.9Mn

Kristaps Porzingis, Mavericks : five year, rookie scale maximum salary, $158.3Mn

Tobias Harris, Warriors : five year, $180Mn

As you can see, almost all of the big signings that the world has been waiting for is done by the end of the day one. But, probably the biggest one has kept us waiting for six days for the announcement, but when the day finally comes, the blockbuster signing and the trade that comes with it, has changed the league’s landscape forever. We are, of course, talking about Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Throughout the 2018/2019 season, even after Kawhi won the NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors, the number 1 talking point of the free agency was his decision because, starting from Adrian Wojnarowski, majority of the media predicted that he does not want to live in Canada, he wants to go back home, Los Angeles. With both LA teams having cap space to get him with a max contract, the basketball world was holding it’s breath, waiting for his announcement. When the day finally comes, we are all shocked.

Kawhi not just signed with the Los Angeles Clippers, he pressured them to trade for Paul George, because he told them he would not sign with them unless they do the trade. Clippers had no choice but to do it, successfully so.

For Clippers’ 2022, 2024 and 2026 1st round pick + Miami’s 2021 and 2023 1st round pick and 2023 and 2025 pick swap (That’s a grand total of 5 first round picks and 2 pick swaps, holy cow), plus Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari, Oklahoma City Thunder gave them Paul George. That’s an amazing haul for Thunder, but it must be done for the Clippers side. It’s essentially 7 picks + 2 players for both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. For me, that’s entirely reasonable.

With that move, the league is very well balanced. There’s at least five to six net championship contenders with two or three additional dark horses. For the first time in a while, there is not a big dynasty which mounts all over the league. 2019/2020 NBA Season is gonna be fun!