MIAMI — NBA free agency opened Monday evening and, as they do, the reports of deals between free agents and teams started flooding in.
The most notable moves reportedly agreed upon on Monday included a 4-year, up to $120 million deal for Chris Paul to stay with the Phoenix Suns, a Jimmy Butler max contract extension with Miami, a 3-year deal with Miami and Kyle Lowry, Lonzo Ball to the Chicago Bulls, a max contract extension for Trae Young in Atlanta and more.
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Winner: Miami Heat
Moves: add Kyle Lowry 3-year deal, $90 million deal; Jimmy Butler 4-year, $184 million extension; re-sign Duncan Robinson 5-year, $90 million deal; add PJ Tucker 2-year, $15 million deal
David Ramil: "You're able to retain Duncan Robinson at a pretty decent deal. I mean, some reports that maybe he might be able to command as much as $25 million per year in the open market. They get him at a much cheaper rate than that and he provides so much of their offense, he provides so much of a benefit to guys like Bam and Jimmy, who are not great shooters themselves. And then you add a guy like Lowry, who can space the floor who can create opportunities. I think it's a fantastic addition. I know there are concerns about the age. Obviously adding Tucker, who's somewhat older and Lowry at 35 years old, not exactly improving as far as the youth movement is concerned, but you add versatile defenders. That starting lineup, with the exception of Duncan, who I think has a bad reputation as a bad defender, overall that's a really, really great defensive unit and they're going to be holding opponents routinely to under 90 points per game and even in today's NBA that sounds ludicrous, but I think it might be possible."
Wes Goldberg: "I love the moves, I like the the trio of Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, it just makes a lot of intuitive sense. The issue with Miami is that point of attack defense has been a concern for them for a really long time. And that was something they tried to address last year by signing Avery Bradley. This is not Avery Bradley, this is much more impactful type of addition, you expect Kyle Lowry to walk in right away, hold his own in that locker room and provide that point of attack level of defense, he could space the floor. I don't know that offensively it's much more of an upgrade over Goran Dragic, but defensively it was I think there's ripple effects across that lineup."
Winner: New York Knicks
Moves: re-sign Derrick Rose 3-year, $43 million deal; re-sign Nerlens Noel 3-year, $30 million deal; re-sign Alec Burks 3-year, $30 million deal; add Evan Fournier 4-year, $78 million deal
Wes Goldberg: "All those guys had really good years for them, they bring them all back. Most of them are on three year deals and they're able to keep some of this flexibility. All those salaries by the way, easily tradable, you could package together and make that move if they are going to be in on this Damian Lillard stuff later on, if that does indeed become a thing. And then Fournier, four years, maybe an overpay, but you get an addition there and you fill an area of need, which was on the wing for them."
David Ramil: "For the most part, (keeping Rose, Noel and Burks), it's an opportunity to prove that you are the playoff team that we saw last year and for most of the regular season in order to lock in that fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. And so you kind of just move forward, knowing that there are other options down the road. It's a smart move and considering what the Knicks have been like over the past few years. I think this is a definite step in the right direction."
Winner: Denver Nuggets
Moves: re-sign Will Barton two years, $32 million deal; re-sign JaMychal Green two years, $17 million; re-sign Austin Rivers one year deal; add Jeff Green two years, $10 million deal
Wes Goldberg: "They bring back Will Barton, they bring back Austin Rivers, they bring back JaMychal Green and then they go out and add a Jeff Green, again, a position of need, a guy who can kind of unlock some flexible lineups for them and can play the four, even play some small ball five for them. I like what the Knicks and the Nuggets did. They would have loved to make that All-Star type of acquisition if that were available to them but that's not out there right now. So they bring back their own guys off of relatively successful seasons, and then make a big addition."
David Ramil: "They made a nice addition in Green. I think when you have an MVP, like Jokic there, you can afford to not really make any kind of radical change. I think that was the right move for them. You bring back JaMychal Green, I think it's a nice move also. So for Denver, I really like what they were able to do, even if it wasn't all that flashy."
Winner: Chicago Bulls
Moves: add Lonzo Ball on four-year, $85 million deal; add Alex Caruso on four-year, $37 million deal
Wes Goldberg: "I don't think they blew the doors off of free agency. But this wasn't really a free agency period that lent itself to be to have its doors blown off, you know what I mean? But they go out and make a quality addition and Lonzo Ball, certainly an upgrade at that point guard spot. And then they double down and say you know what, let's get two guys. Let's go after Alex Caruso. And now if you're Chicago, you've got Lonzo ball. Alex Caruso, Zach Lavine. I don't know what you do there, as far as lineups are concerned. But that doesn't really matter. You just needed bodies if you were Chicago, right? And you made the Vucevic at the trade deadline last year. You're starting to sort of iron out some of these weaknesses they had, specifically in that backcourt. You can kind of see the outline of maybe a fringe playoff team in the Eastern Conference now."
David Ramil: "I mean, (the Bulls) have two All-Star talents and from there, you can build around the fringes and I don't think that's that's anywhere close to assessing what Lonzo Ball is actually able to bring to the table. But Caruso, my concerns about him are things that we've seen in the past from guys that have benefited playing alongside LeBron James and maybe Caruso's game is a little different in that regard and maybe he can stand out on his own and he's able to hold his own, but most of the time you remove those guys from LeBron's side, and they don't play nearly as well. So that seems like a slight overpay. But, maybe he's got enough determination given his background and everything else where he wants to prove that this isn't just another paycheck for him. So we'll see how it pans out."
Loser: Portland Trail Blazers
Moves: re-sign Norman Powell to five-year, $90 million deal; added Cody Zeller on veteran minimum deal
Wes Goldberg: "I understand that they didn't have that many options to make a big move. They brought back Norman Powell, they bring in Cody Zeller to replace Zach Collins, who went to San Antonio. Collins has more upside but he's been injured his entire career. It feels like he's always probably better right now. But like, look, if you're going to Damian Lillard and saying look, we got you, Cody Zeller, I don't think that's keeping him from demanding a trade by the time the regular season gets here."
David Ramil: "I mean, everybody's job is on the line, this team and everything that we know about it is going to be blown up unless they make the right kind of move. And yeah, you're right. I mean, they didn't have a lot of options...When it comes to the Portland Trailblazers, they just don't know what they're doing. They don't know how to use their cap creatively. They don't know how to lure the big names there. I think Powell is a fine player. I think everybody can agree to that. But I think the amount of money that you pay him makes that contract, not unmovable, but very difficult where you have to throw in additional assets in order to clear some of that space there. And when you're trying to impress your once in a lifetime type superstar in Lillard, this isn't going to get it done."
Loser: New Orleans Pelicans
Moves: sign and trade Lonzo Ball to Chicago for Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple, second round pick in return; acquire Devonte Graham in sign and trade on a four-year, $47 million deal in exchange for a lottery-protected first round pick.
Wes Goldberg: "You lose Lonzo Ball, you get to Devonte Graham, you could argue that Graham is a better fit, because he's a better shooter from three point range than Lonzo. I don't know how much better, but I just don't know that he's the upgrade that they need considering that with Zion Williamson, there's skepticism that maybe he's growing impatient that hey, this is yet another coach that he has to play for and all these things. They had been in the Kyle Lowry conversation, or at least they forced themselves into that conversation. I like Devonte Graham, he's just not Kyle Lowry. I don't think he's the guy to bring them over the top. And it would have been one thing if they went ahead and signed Graham and then got a bunch of other kind of guys to write to kind of supplement that roster. But they didn't do that."
David Ramil: "I think this kind of feels reminiscent of the Knicks from a few years ago. They were going to rebuild around Kevin Durant and Kyle Lowry and Zion Williamson, ironically enough, and you know, they were going to have this super team formed. And of course, they clear all this cap space. And similarly to what we see from Dallas year in and year out, and then they wind up falling short. So, you know, I've seen a lot of scuttle about David Griffin maybe not necessarily making the right moves, the fact that you have to give up a draft pick in order to acquire Devonte Graham also not a good look, because that's a team that does rely on building through the draft. So, you're already punting on next season, you punted on this year's draft to in order to acquire Kyle Lowry, you set yourself up you think you have a great chance of doing so."
Also what Goldberg and Ramil had to say about the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks free agency moves on the Locked On NBA podcast.