Free agency starts at 6 PM Eastern Time on June 30th, and before free agency starts, there’s generally a decent amount of buzz. Yesterday was the deadline for players who have a player option to opt in or out, and enter unrestricted free agency. Kyrie Irving made possibly the most noise by opting into his player option after taking everyone on a one-week roller coaster, but he’s not the only player with a player option.
Both James Harden and Bradley Beal have opted out of their player options, as expected, and will hit unrestricted free agency tomorrow. Both are likely going to resign with their current teams, but you never know for sure until they sign their name on the contract.
In addition, Patty Mills has also opted out of his player option, and will be an unrestricted free agent.
In the more exciting news, we have trades coming! The first trade today came when the New York Knicks traded Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel to the Detroit Pistons. The intentions for this move are obvious; that New York desperately wants Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson is the worst kept secret in the NBA. They’ve hired his father, Rick Brunson, as an assistant coach, and they’re prepared to offer Brunson way more money then he’s worth. By clearing the salaries of Burks and Noel, they’ve made even more room to sign Brunson.
From the Pistons’ perspective [need to fix this], Noel gives the team another shot blocking center, and Burks should be a great mentor for the young nucleus of Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren, Marvin Bagley… and maybe Miles Bridges? You never know what could happen in free agency. The Pistons crushed the draft, and I bet they’ll do well in free agency too.
The second trade of the day came between the Washington Wizards and Denver Nuggets. The Wizards sent Ish Smith and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the Nuggets in exchange for Monte Morris and Will Barton. This was a swapping of role players, and likely won’t have too much of an impact, but I like this move for Washington. Guys that come out of Denver as role players often end up blossoming into near All-Stars, which was in large part due to the development under the tutelage of Wes Unseld, Jr (Example: Jerami Grant). Well, now Unseld, Jr, is the Head Coach in Washington! Last year, Barton averaged 14.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. While his numbers will likely dip while coming off the bench behind Beal, he’s still a good pickup. If Beal hadn’t so heavily indicated that he plans on resigning with the Wizards, then I’d be worried about the Wizards trading away a close friend of his in Caldwell-Pope.
As for Morris, he’s a very good acquisition at point guard. While first-round draft pick Johnny Davis develops, Morris can lead the Wizards, as he’s 26 years old and averaged 12.6 points and 4.4 assists per game. For his entire career, Morris has a 5:1 assist to turnover ratio. While he’s not as good as Tyus Jones (who I really wanted the Wizards to sign), Morris is still a good acquisition. He’s not Dejounte Murray (who I also really wanted the Wizards to get), but he’ll help the team out next year. Speaking of Murray…
Dejounte Murray has been traded from the San Antonio Spurs to the Atlanta Hawks for Danilo Gallinari, a 2023 first-round pick via Charlotte, their own 2025 and 2027 first-round picks, and a pick swap in 2026. While that’s a lot of picks to give up, it’s 100% worth it in order to get Murray. A defensive guard who’s fresh off his first All-Star appearance, Murray is the perfect back court partner for Trae Young. Young is an incredible shooter, but Murray can do just about everything, and brings great defense to a below average defensive team. Murray led the league in steals for the 2021-22 season, and put up averages of 21.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 9.2 assists, and 2.0 steals per game. John Collins and Clint Capela may not be staying, but if the Hawks could get their hands on, say, Rudy Gobert, then suddenly they’re a contender in the Eastern Conference.
Side note: Now that the Hawks have a great backcourt partner for Young, I’m really hoping the Celtics trade Grant Williams for Kevin Huerter of the Hawks. The Celtics could use more shooting and some depth at shooting guard and small forward so that Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum don’t have to play 40 minutes a night to get a win.
As for the Spurs, they’re getting further and further into their rebuild; I’m convinced they should tank for the number one pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama. He’s a 7’3″ center, and the Spurs have lots of success developing international big men. It’s a lot of pressure to say this kid could be the next Tim Duncan or David Robinson, but based on what we’ve seen from him so far, the sky’s the limit.
Don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, as lots of news will be coming shortly, and as always, have an awesome day!