NBA free agency wasn’t supposed to technically start until July 7 this offseason, but as is the case every year, the news of the first deal broke shortly after the July 1 moratorium period began when The Vertical reported that Timofey Mozgov had agreed to a four-year, $64 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
With the Mozgov signing, the NBA free agency carousel began and the 2016 version was unlike any other the league has ever seen. According to Spotrac, there has been roughly $2.3 billion in contracts handed out in free agency this offseason. While that may be a hard number to wrap your head around, it’s due to all of the money flowing in from the NBA’s new television contracts.
Here are the five biggest winners and five biggest losers from 2016 NBA free agency, in no particular order.
Winner: Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies – Conley is 28 years old and has played nine season in the NBA. He’s never averaged more than 17.2 points or 6.5 assists per game and he’s never made an All-Star team. Despite all of these facts, the Grizzlies gave Conley a five-year, $153 million contract to keep him from signing with the Dallas Mavericks in free agency.
— The Source Magazine (@TheSource) July 3, 2016
Losers: Dallas Mavericks – The Mavericks went for broke at the beginning of free agency by targeting Hassan Whiteside and Conley. Owner Mark Cuban and general manager Donnie Nelson ended up with neither player and ended up settling for Harrison Barnes. While Barnes is a decent player, he’s not going to make a huge impact on the Mavericks’ success.
Winners: Golden State Warriors – The Warriors were able to entice Kevin Durant to come to the Bay Area in the most surprising move of the offseason. Durant will now join forces with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green to form the top team on paper in the NBA.
Losers: Miami Heat – The Heat were able to secure a meeting with free agent Kevin Durant, but Durant ultimately ended up signing with the Warriors. In an attempt to keep open the salary cap needed for a potential Durant signing, Pat Riley ended up low-balling Dwyane Wade with an offer and lost him as well. It was a disaster in free agency for the Heat.
Dwyane Wade Shows Love To His Hometown! pic.twitter.com/lrOLzqguYz
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 7, 2016
Winners: New York Knicks – The Knicks had a busy summer and it all started with the trade for Derrick Rose. With Rose in tow, Phil Jackson was able to bring in Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Jennings during free agency. The Knicks won’t compete for a championship, but they should make the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Losers: Washington Wizards – The Wizards did everything from hiring Durant’s former high school coach to bringing in his former coach in Oklahoma City, Scott Brooks, to be the head coach in order to make a run at the Washington D.C. native. Not only did the team not sign Durant, but they didn’t even get a meeting with him during free agency. The Wizards then compounded the problem by blowing money on Ian Mahinmi.
Winners: Utah Jazz – The Jazz are loaded with young talent, but desperately needed some veteran leadership to help get the organization to the playoffs. Through NBA free agency and trades, the Jazz added Boris Diaw, Joe Johnson, and George Hill and look poised to be a playoff team next season.
Losers: Los Angeles Lakers – The Lakers improved by adding Brandon Ingram in the NBA draft, but completely failed in free agency. The team added Timofey Mozgov, who is almost 30 and coming off of knee surgery, to a four-year, $64 million deal. There were better options at center and the only other notable move the Lakers made was adding Luol Deng. Considering Mitch Kupchak missed on Durant, free agency was a fail for the Lakers.
Winners: Indiana Pacers – There was some thought that Paul George might be on the trade block entering the offseason, but Larry Bird quickly put an end to those talks as he started to build around his star. The Pacers pulled off trades for Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young and then added Al Jefferson in free agency. Look for the Pacers to be much improved next season.
Losers: Oklahoma City Thunder – Not only did the Thunder lose Durant to the Warriors, but there’s also a decent chance that Russell Westbrook will be headed out the door next. If the Thunder couldn’t win a championship with those two guys, they may never win one.
With all of the movement in NBA free agency this offseason, next season should be full of parity in the NBA and that can only benefit the fans.
[Photo by Thearon J. Henderson/Getty Images]