NBA Free Agency kicked off Friday afternoon, and it didn’t take for things to heat up. From under the radar moves to surprising signings, here are five important takeaways from day one of free agency.
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1. The Los Angeles Lakers are Making Big Moves to Improve their Offense
The defending champs continue to be aggressive since the season ended. First was the trade for Dennis Schroder that was reported prior to the draft Wednesday night. Then, in the early hours of free agency, they struck a one-year deal with Wesley Matthews. Later in the night came the big surprise, as Montrezl Harrell agreed to terms on a two year deal with the Lakers.
Matthews made a lot of sense. L.A. gave up Danny Green in the Schroder trade, and Matthews has a very similar skillset to the former Laker. At the much cheaper price, Matthews is a great player to help the Lakers fill the void left by Green. They will also count on Alex Caruso, and potentially Kentavious Caldwell-Pope if he re-signs, to contribute to replacing Green.
The real shocker was the Harrell deal. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year signed a two-year deal with the Lakers worth roughly $19M. The second-year is a player option. Harrell shocked the NBA world when the news came out, departing from the Los Angeles Clippers to join the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s also being reported that he turned down more money from the Hornets.
Harrell and Schroder finished first and second in Sixth Man of the Year voting last season. Both averaged over 18 points per game while coming off the bench. The offense they add far outweighs the players that have left the Lakers so far in free agency.
It’s an offense for defense sacrifice for the Lakers so far this off-season.
2. Shooters are Getting Big Bucks
As usual, three-point shooters are getting a lot of love on the free agency market. From contenders down, everyone is willing to pay big for a proven shooter. Here are a few deals the best shooters in free agency have agreed to.
–Joe Harris agreed to return to the Brooklyn Nets on a four-year, $75M contract.
–Davis Bertans agreed to return to the Washington Wizards on a five year, $80M deal.
–Malik Beasley and the Timberwolves agreed to a four-year, $60M deal.
The Nets felt Harris could be a difference-maker for them in their pursuit of a championship. That’s why they gave him big money to return to Brooklyn. What he means to the team makes the deal justifiable from the team’s perspective.
Bertans is interesting because the Wizards have a lot of questions surrounding them right now. He broke out last season with them and is likely the best shooter in this free agency class, but $80M is a lot of money for a specialist.
Beasley put the Timberwolves in a tough spot. Over an incredibly small sample size with the team, he was lights out, but injuries limited the time he was able to be on the court. Minnesota didn’t have much of an option here as they look to build for the future.
The teams that gave out this money, and who they gave it to, is a reminder that shooting is valued extremely high in today’s NBA.
3. The Pistons are Spending Questionable Money
Detroit entered the off-season as one of few teams with money to spend in free agency. From the start, it was known they’d be one of the most active teams in the early stages. They have been, but some of the moves don’t add up for their rebuild.
They’re adding centers Jahlil Okafor and Mason Plumlee on multi-year deals. They also gave Jerami Grant a three-year deal worth an eye-popping $60M. The Nuggets were willing to match that for Grant, but ultimately he preferred the bigger offensive role that the Pistons were offering him.
It makes sense for the Nuggets, who are contending, to pay big money for Grant. It’s hard to explain the Pistons, who are early in a rebuild, bringing in Grant at that price tag.
4. The Clippers Took a Hit on Day One
It wasn’t just Harrell that moved on from the Clippers. The next big man off their bench, JaMychal Green, also signed a contract with another team. Green joined the Denver Nuggets on a two-year deal. Suddenly, the Clippers are losing the roster depth most people considered a big strength of theirs last season.
After those two moves, the Clippers couldn’t let Marcus Morris walk away. He was likely their top priority already, but re-signing him became a must following Green and Harrell’s departures.
The four-year, $60M deal Morris signed in not ideal money, but the Clippers had no other choice but to pay him. Now, they focus on contending and worry about the back end of that contract when the time comes.
5. The Hawks are Looking to Take a Big Step Forward Next Season
Atlanta agreed to a three year, $61.5M deal with forward Danilo Gallinari. At 32 years old, Galo is one of the few veterans on the young Hawks roster. That being said, he will complement the team, and specifically Trae Young, extremely well.
A proven scorer, Gallinari was one of the best offensive players on the market this off-season. He shot 40.5% from three last season with the Thunder while averaging 18.7 points per game. His career scoring average is 16.2 points per game, a number he has hovered around almost every season in his career.
This move could push the Hawks up the eastern conference standings if they can play a little bit of defense. One thing that’s for sure, the offense won’t be an issue for them.