In a very exciting free agency class, Days One and Two of Free Agency have brought us some crazy singings, moves, and trades. From 5-8 PM Eastern Time, NBA TV did a special called Free Agent Fever, where they had analysts react in real time to the trades and signings going on. As soon as 6 PM rolled around and free agency started, I started looking at Adrian Wojnarowski’s twitter. Not two minutes into free agency, I saw this pop up on my screen:
Yup, believe it or not, Lonzo Ball is headed to the Chicago Bulls! Along with the contract they are picking up, the Bulls are sending Tomáš Satoranský, Garrett Temple, and a second round pick to the Pelicans. This is a great move for the Bulls, as they get a near All-Star caliber point guard, show Zach Lavine (who is an unrestricted free agent next year) that they are dedicated to winning and will more likely then not make the playoffs next year. Also in another exciting turn of events…
Everyone’s favorite player is switching teams
Yes, believe it or not, the official meme of the NBA (actually, maybe not considering how Ben Simmons has been playing and Kyle Kuzma… should I make a biggest memes of the NBA post? Let me know in the comments), Alex Caruso will be signing a four year, $37 million contract with the Chicago Bulls, meaning that the Bulls now have lots of depth at that position. On a side note, I would expect that Coby White won’t be with the Bulls much longer, as his play style and Lavine’s don’t mesh well together. However, now that Caruso is on the Bulls and previously played for the Lakers, it will be ridiculous easy to make memes about him… almost as easy as it was to make memes about Brian Scalabrine. Here’s an example:
Personally, I don’t like Caruso because this offseason he was arrested for drug possession, but as a basketball player, this move does indeed help the Bulls.
Some All-Star worthy players resigned big contracts with their current team, such as Mike Conley, who resigned with the Utah Jazz for three years, and $72.5 million. Jarrett Allen resigned for five years and $100 million, and the Phoenix Suns successfully negotiated with Chris Paul to give him a four year deal that earns him up to $120 million. Duncan Robinson of the Miami Heat also made some big money, with a five year, $90 million deal. This made headlines as the largest deal for an undrafted player in NBA history. However, the biggest contract so far has come from Steph Curry. He signed a contract extension for four-years and $215 million, making him the first player to sign two contracts over $200 million. My, how far we’ve come from the days where players were making $50,000 a year.
Kyle Lowry, who is one of the biggest free agents in the 2021 Free Agent class, has found a new home, as he is getting a three year deal in Miami, which will be a sign and trade. Jimmy Butler, who just earned himself a four year, $184 million contract, was instrumental in recruiting Lowry to the Heat, and now that he’s there, they have a team worthy of the NBA Finals once again. The Heat can have a starting five of Kyle Lowry, Victor Oladipo, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, and Bam Adebayo, which features four All-Stars.
In my years watching the NBA, I have developed a distain for both the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers, as in my opinion, they have ruined free agency. They are both big markets, meaning they can attract big names, but that is not why I hate them. Because of what LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have done in forming multiple super teams, every toxic Lakers and Heat fan likes to brag that every star player is going to the Lakers, and it gets very annoying very fast. The Heat are the same way, as it seems at every trade deadline or free agency fans claim they are going to acquire at least four new All-Stars.
Speaking of the Lakers, they have made some key acquisitions, and have had some key departures. Russell Westbrook was a huge upgrade for them at the point guard spot, but they lost a lot of young assets and draft capital in return. They still have an unhappy Dennis Schröder, who I fully expect to be traded this offseason. So, the Lakers need veterans because otherwise they simply won’t have enough players to form a solid rotation where players can get rest.
The first veteran they got was Trevor Ariza, who previously played for the Los Angeles Lakers in the Kobe Bryant-era. Dwight Howard is also returning to the Lakers, back from a season with the Philadelphia 76ers in which the team underachieved. This will be Howard’s third stint with the franchise, and second time playing for them in three years. The Lakers also got Kent Bazemore on a one-year contract, as he has also played for the franchise before. Wayne Ellington will also be coming along for the ride, as he played for the Lakers for one season in 2015. One of their bigger additions is Malik Monk, who is a young stud of a shooting guard and progressing each and every year of his NBA career. The Lakers also acquired Kendrick Nunn, who despite being a younger player, really wants to win a ring. He turned down significantly more money to join the team, making only $5 million a year for the next two years. This also just helps prove my theory that the Lakers are going to trade Schröder as soon as possible. However, the most hyped-up signing of a veteran player has to be Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony has been chasing a ring his entire career, but unfortunately he’s mostly been on losing teams. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from NBA history, however, it’s that when a player joins a super team to win a ring, it doesn’t end up going very well (Karl Malone, Gary Payton on the 2004 Los Angeles Lakers). However, just think about how you would have lost your mind if you saw James and Anthony team up in 2011.
The Lakers also unfortunately got a downgrade at the center position, as even though they acquired Dwight Howard from the 76ers, the Lakers All-Star big man Andre Drummond found his way to Philadelphia. This is a somewhat puzzling move, as Drummond and Joel Embiid have a history of beef, but it is a great way to get depth for the 76er’s second unit. That is, if they can mesh after Embiid has said things like this:
Speaking of the Washington Wizards, they have been making some moves since the Russell Westbrook team. Tommy Sheppard, the Wizards GM, has let Robin Lopez walk to the Magic. Lopez is the second center to go the Magic from the Wizards, with the first being Moritz Wagner.
After Russell Westbrook was traded by the Wizards, their biggest offseason addition is Spencer Dinwiddie, who is not officially a member of the team, but as close as you can get. An anonymous Wizards fan said about the Westbrook trade, “Although some are disappointed with Russell Westbrook’s departure from DC, the trade may be just what the Wizards need to become a playoff team. For years now, Wizards have been at the bottom of the league, loosing games, and as Bradley Beal says, ‘lacking defense.’ Most people blame the downfall of the Wizards on past stars, John Wall and Russel Westbrook. However, the Wizards unstable season is more to blame on DC’s lack of role players. Through the Lakers trade, DC acquires great surrounding players, all with playoff experience. Combined with Beal’s lights out shooting, the Wizards could be unstoppable!”
Dinwiddie is a superb point guard for the Brooklyn Nets, who averaged over 20 points per game in 2020 and was nearly voted an All-Star. In 2021, Dinwiddie only played three games due to an ACL injury, but he is back, better then ever, and will certainly play at that All-Star level.
Multiple other small signings have happened as well, although it’s clear that as of right now, the winners of the 2021 Free Agency are the Chicago Bulls. I couldn’t even get through writing this article without another major trade happening, and once again, it features the Chicago Bulls.
Demar DeRozan is headed to Chicago, on a sign and trade deal for Thaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, and two second-round picks. DeRozan’s new contract will be for three years and $85 million. With this move, the Bulls have easily propelled themselves into the playoffs, and may just come out of the east and make their first NBA Finals since the Michael Jordan era. This is easily the best Bulls team we have seen since 2012, which featured Derrick Rose, a young Butler, Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Kyle Korver, and Brian Scalabrine. Last season, DeRozan averaged 21.6 points and a career-high 6.9 assists per game, despite not being properly utilized by the Spurs and spending most of his minutes at the power forward position. A starting five of Lonzo Ball, Zach Lavine, Demar DeRozan, Lauri Markkanen (assuming he doesn’t get traded), and Nikola Vucevic features two All-Stars and two borderline All-Star caliber players. They also their 4th overall pick from 2020, Patrick Williams. They are undoubtedly a contender and favorite to come out of the east.
When asked about their chances, an anonymous Bulls fan told me, “I think the Bulls have set themselves up for a significant run in the playoffs. The addition of Lonzo Ball should propel their move. Zach Lavine is turning into a force, Nikola Vucevic and Patrick Williams add to the mix. I don’t know what Ayo Dusunmu will bring but I hope it’s the same spark he gave to Illinois.”
Kawhi Leonard has not yet announced his decision to either re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, or to sign with another team, so stayed tune for what has the potential to be the biggest news in all of free agency.
The Kendrick Nunn signing came in right as I was finishing the article, so I want to know: who won free agency so far, the Bulls or the Lakers? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog so you don’t miss more articles coming out on free agency, and as always, have an awesome day!
One thought on “Days One and Two of Free Agency: The Strong Get Stronger”
Great Blog. Just a few comments; happy about the Westbrook trade and I agree with your assessment. Smart move by the Pelicans and I think the Wizards won followed by the Bulls, Lakers, and Pelicans.