It started on the 30th of June at 6:01 PM. The NBA’s free agency began and little did anyone know, it was about to be a hectic one as well. Here are some of the most important deals this offseason – including some of the most blockbuster moves in recent years.
Anthony Davis → LA Lakers
After demanding a trade in the middle of the past season, a team Davis said he wanted to go to was the Lakers. And that wish came true for him. He was traded to the Lakers for a haul of first-round picks including the 4th overall pick in the upcoming draft as well as Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram, a group of young players drafted recently by the Lakers. The 4th pick that the Pelicans received was then traded for the 8th, 17th and 35th pick, all of which were owned by the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks used the 4th pick to select the sharpshooter Deandre Hunter from Virginia and the Pelicans got Jaxon Hayes, a big man from Texas.
Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors → Brooklyn Nets,
Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics → Brooklyn Nets,
Deandre Jordan New York Knicks→ Brooklyn Nets,
We will see a common theme through many of these stories, as they all begin with the famous ‘Woj Bomb’. ESPN’s NBA insider Adrien Wojanowski tweeted on June 30 the following: “Brooklyn is making a clean sweep tonight: Brooklyn will sign Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan, league sources tell ESPN.” While it had been speculated, the news was shocking to many. Sadly for Nets fans, the signing meant that they would eventually have to part ways with breakout point guard D’Angelo Russell, who was a fan favorite in the Nets playoff run last season. The deals were then completed with the Durant deal becoming a sign and trade with the Golden State Warriors, Durant’s former team. The deal sent Durant to the Nets, as well as a top 20 protected first-round pick, to obtain D’Angelo Russell.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets→ Boston Celtics
After the loss of Kyrie Irving, the Celtics needed to replace him. Additionally, backup Terry Rozier’s exit left an even larger hole for the Celtics to fill. Kemba Walker, the Charlotte Hornets free agent, was available and Boston had a max contract slot. There was mutual interest and then it happened. At 6 PM June 30th, Adrien Wojanowski tweeted, “Free agent Kemba Walker has agreed to sign a four-year, $141M maximum contract to join the Boston Celtics, Excel Sports agent Jeff Schwartz tells ESPN.” While rumors had circulated in previous days, there was no definitive answer on whom Kema would sign with but this deal put an end to the chatter.
Demarcus Cousins, Golden State Warriors → LA Lakers
After a disappointing season with the Warriors and a failed championship run, the star center Demarcus Cousins was a free agent coming off of a one-year contract with the Warriors. He explored free agency with determination to find himself on a title contender. About a week into FA, Woj tweeted this: “Free agent center DeMarcus Cousins has agreed to a one-year deal with the Lakers, agent Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports tells ESPN.” While he is now ineffective for the season (ACL tear) he should provide an extra spark in the locker room for the team as a veteran voice for young big men on that roster.
Kawhi Leonard, Paul George → LA Clippers
Deep into free agency, it was noticed around the league that Kawhi Leonard had not yet made a decision. Many people presumed that after winning a championship in Toronto, he would be motivated to stay. Despite that, he met with many teams, as he always wanted to play with another star. And his dream became a reality when Woj dropped a Woj Bomb saying: “Oklahoma City is trading All-Star Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers for a record-setting collection of draft choices, league sources tell ESPN.” The trade went as follows: Thunder trade: Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers Thunder receive: Danilo Gallinari, star sophomore Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, two possible picks swaps, and a staggering five first-round picks. With this move set in stone, Kawhi Leonard signed a max contract with the Clippers later in the day, making them a title contender this season.
Russell Westbrook → Houston Rockets
After the trading of Paul George, Russell Westbrook informed the Thunder front office that he would not mind being traded, as it was clear the Thunder had begun a rebuilding phase after multiple first-round exits. Westbrook had been with the team for a long time, but it was his time to go, as he had produced very little for Oklahoma City after Kevin Durant’s departure. A short time after, Westbrook was traded to the Rockets for veteran point guard Chris Paul and two protected first-round picks as well as two first-round pick swaps.
Jimmy Butler → Miami Heat
The wild ride for Jimmy Butler continued this offseason as soon as he finished his time with the 76ers. He has been in the NBA for a while but has never played a significant amount of time with any team. He was drafted by the Bulls, traded to the Wolves and then traded to the 76ers. He then decided to leave for the Miami Heat and was dealt in a sign and trade to Miami for Josh Richardson. This deal is the beginning of the post-Lebron and Wade era. For Butler, this is not the beginning of an era, but another chapter.
And so here you have it. The best and most important news of the entire offseason that will shape this upcoming season. As you can see, the offseason had many patterns such as stars leaving to start new chapters in their careers. Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant all embarked on new journeys. I hope you enjoy the twists and turns of the season!