Most of free agency has passed by and at this point, it feels as though every major star has been moved; with the exception of Ben Simmons. Today, let’s recap some of the major signings of free agency
John Collins signed a massive extension to stay with the Atlanta Hawks, for five years and $125 million. In the 2021 NBA playoffs, the Hawks made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, in no small part due to the incredible play of Collins and Trae Young. The contract is well deserved, and it has taken a lot for the 19th pick in the 2017 draft to get here; although let it not be forgotten that he was suspended earlier in his career for using Human Growth Hormone. Maybe that explains such the tremendous leap in his stats from every season up until this one.
Kemba Walker is on the move again, although this time, it is to nobody’s surprise. When Walker was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a deal involving Al Horford and Moses Brown, not many thought it would be a permanent landing spot. The Thunder already have Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who signed a big extension this offseason and will be one of the centerpieces of the Thunder rebuild. Walker has been bought out by the Thunder, and will be signing with the New York Knicks. New York City is a much better place for Walker to be than Oklahoma City, as he grew up in the Bronx, so this move is a homecoming. The Knicks will finally get another All-Star caliber player, and he can bring much needed veteran leadership and experience to a young team.
It was unfortunate that LaMarcus Aldridge had to retire during the middle of the season for the Brooklyn Nets, and could not help them contend for a championship. However, despite his fight with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, Aldridge is seeking to make a return to NBA basketball, and if he gets medical clearance, he could end up helping the Nets contend for an NBA championship next year. He will be happily welcomed back, and after the loss of Jeff Green to the Denver Nuggets, he is even more useful than before. A definitive decision has not been made yet, but I think it’s safe to say that we are all rooting for his return.
Julius Randle has agreed to a four-year, $117 million extension with the New York Knicks, including a player option in 2026. Randle cemented his place in the NBA elite by averaging 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists while making his first All-Star team, being named to the All-NBA second team, and leading the Knicks to their first playoff appearance in nearly a decade. New York has a great young core, and in addition they acquired Walker. If Walker can stay healthy, then together, the Knicks will most likely be able to make it to the second round.
After making us all wait for what seemed like weeks but in reality was days, Kawhi Leonard decided to, in a very anti-climatic way, resign with the Los Angeles Clippers. Multiple free agents are returning to the Clippers, including Reggie Jackson, Nicholas Batum, Serge Ibaka, and a new addition in Justice Winslow. Considering that the Clippers have a lot of players returning, it seems as though they are going to contend for a title this upcoming season once again.
Kevin Durant also made it public that he will sign a four-year, $198 million extension with the Brooklyn Nets as soon as he is eligible, netting him nearly $50 million per year! It’s amazing how quickly salaries have risen in the NBA, as in 2010, the salary cap was $58 million. In 2021, some players are nearly exceeding that amount in one year! It looks as though the Nets attempt at a dynasty will not break up; they just have to make sure they don’t lose great surrounding pieces like Spencer Dinwiddie and Jeff Green.
Some of the biggest drama from free agency comes from Ben Simmons, who everyone knew would be getting traded after this year’s playoffs. At first, people thought Simmons would be traded during the NBA Draft, likely to the Warriors for Kelly Oubre Jr, Andrew Wiggins, and picks number 7 and 14, who turned out to be Jonathon Kuminga and Moses Moody, respectively. However, the Warriors didn’t like the asking price, and Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul, is the man pulling all the strings. They both want a bigger deal for Simmons in a trade, and the 76ers want an All-Star caliber player or an All-Star in the return deal. However, asking for more when Simmons’ trade stock is at an all-time low doesn’t seem like a great idea, and is probably why they haven’t found an offer they like yet.
After the playoffs, head coach Doc Rivers said that he had a plan to get Simmons to shoot more, and they would work on it during the offseason. However, most analysts knew that Simmons would be gone by the offseason, and wouldn’t have time to fix it with Philadelphia. This has become even more apparent after Jason Dumas reported this:
This is the sort of thing that happens in sports movies but we don’t normally see in real life. The situation is spiraling out of control, and I don’t think Simmons realizes how horrible a trade to a team who won championships from three point shooting will make him look; unless he really is willing to work on his jump shot. Either way, it’s clear the Warriors don’t want him, and with the way things are going, if the 76ers are desperate enough, I think they’ll buy him out and let some other team pick him up.
What do you think will happen with Simmons? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!