The biggest winners and losers of the NBA offseason – Insider - Techy Hunters

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Thursday, August 12, 2021

The biggest winners and losers of the NBA offseason – Insider

  • The NBA offseason is settling down after the draft and a flurry of free agency moves.
  • The Lakers, Knicks, and veteran point guards look like the big winners of the offseason.
  • Losers include the Blazers, Pelicans, and Dennis Schroder for a gamble gone wrong.

The NBA offseason has been another whirlwind but is finally slowing down. The draft is over, most of the big names in free agency are off the market, and trade negotiations are likely to be put on pause until games resume and teams and players get restless.

While there may still be some action to come, for the most part, things are settled. Here’s our look at the biggest winners and losers of the NBA offseason.

LeBron James Anthony Davis
It was a good offseason for LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Ashley Landis/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

WINNERS: Los Angeles Lakers

Biggest additions: Russell Westbrook (G), Carmelo Anthony (F), Trevor Ariza (F), Dwight Howard (C), Malik Monk (G), Kendrick Nunn (G), Wayne Ellington (G), Kent Bazemore (F)

Biggest departures: Dennis Schroder (G), Montrezl Harrell (C), Alex Caruso (G), Kyle Kuzma (F), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (G/F)

Why they’re winners: The Lakers assembled a new team around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They’re light on shooting and athleticism, and there are legitimate jokes to be made about the age of the roster, but the Lakers did excellent work with very few assets. Landing Monk and Nunn, two young, athletic scorers and ball-handlers who can space the floor, was huge for this roster. They’ll be the favorites to come out of the West once again.

LOSERS: Lakers medical staff

Why they’re losers: The Lakers are going to try to balance bringing an entirely new roster together while keeping LeBron James (36), Carmelo Anthony (37), Dwight Howard (35), Marc Gasol (36), Trevor Ariza (36), Russell Westbrook (32), Wayne Ellington (32), Kent Bazemore (32), and the oft-injured Anthony Davis fresh for the postseason. The Lakers’ medical staff will have their work cut out for them!

Kemba Walker dribbles a basketball
Kemba Walker is a long-awaited answer at point guard for the Knicks.
Sarah Stier/AP Images

WINNERS: New York Knicks

Biggest additions: Kemba Walker (G), Evan Fournier (G/F)

Biggest departures: Reggie Bullock (G/F), Elfrid Payton (G)

Why they’re winners: Landing Kemba Walker on a risk-free, two-year, $18 million contract may be the best value deal of the offseason. New York focused on continuity while adding shooting and ball-handling, two areas of need. A four-year deal for Evan Fournier and three-year deals for Alec Burks, Derrick Rose, and Nerlens Noel were head-scratching at first, but the Knicks own team options in the last year of all of those contracts. The Knicks look deeper and more talented than last year and squarely in the playoff race.

LOSER: Dennis Schroder

Why he’s a loser: Schroder gambled on himself by turning down a four-year, $80 million extension with the Lakers. The market Schroder hoped for never presented itself, and he was soon one of the best free agents remaining after many teams had already spent their cap space. He ended up joining the Celtics on a one-year, $5.9 million contract, meaning he’ll have to prove himself again this season, then try for a long-term deal all over again.

WINNERS: Veteran point guards not named Schroder

Chris Paul (3) of the Phoenix Suns during the fourth quarter of Phoenix's series-clinching 125-118 win at Ball Arena on Sunday, June 13, 2021.
Chris Paul got a big contract to stay with the Suns.
AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Why they’re winners: The aging curve has changed in the NBA, and many of today’s players can remain effective in their 30s. Free agency bore this out: 36-year-old Chris Paul signed a $120 million deal with the Suns, 35-year-old Kyle Lowry signed a $90 million with the Heat, 33-year-old Mike Conley signed a $74 million contract with the Jazz. Even 32-year-old Derrick Rose got $42 million from the Knicks.

LOSERS: Portland Trail Blazers:

Biggest additions: Cody Zeller (C), Tony Snell (F)

Biggest departures: Carmelo Anthony (F), Zach Collins (F/C), Enes Kanter (C)

Why they’re losers: With the caveat that the Blazers had little maneuverability — no cap space, few draft picks, no  coveted young players — they didn’t do much to improve a team on the brink of implosion. After a second straight first-round playoff exit, the Blazers are essentially banking on better health and better production under a new head coach. They better hope it works because Damian Lillard has said he is weighing his future with the franchise and wants to see improvement.

WINNER: John Collins

Why he’s a winner: Collins made headlines for reportedly turning down a $90 million extension with the Atlanta Hawks before the 2020-21 season. He had a decent season, but not one that necessarily screamed “max player” — yet he re-signed with the Hawks on a five-year, $125 million contract. A gamble that paid off!

LOSERS: New Orleans Pelicans

Biggest additions: Jonas Valanciunas (C), Devonte Graham (G), Tomas Satoransky (G/F), Garrett Temple (G/F)

Biggest departures: Lonzo Ball (G), Eric Bledsoe (G), Steven Adams (C)

Why they’re losers: Between the firing of Stan Van Gundy after one year, murmurs that Zion Williamson’s family is unhappy in New Orleans, and the departure of Lonzo Ball (who Pelicans players vouched for) on the first day of free agency, there aren’t great vibes around the Pelicans these days. The offseason additions are only so-so fits. Perhaps Williamson and Brandon Ingram will make big enough leaps this year to push the Pelicans into playoff contention, but it feels like a once-promising rebuild is moving laterally.

Brandon Ingram walks in front of Zion Williamson during a game in March 2021.
Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson.
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

WINNERS: Centers

Why they’re winners: Jarrett Allen led the way for centers this offseason, getting a $100 million contract from the Cavs. Several other big men got decent paydays: $55 million for Richaun Holmes, $37 million for Kelly Olynyk, $36 million for Daniel Theis, $32 million for Nerlens Noel. The notion that centers are dead has long been proven false, and big men clearly still hold value in today’s NBA.

LOSER: Andre Drummond

Why he’s a loser: Unfortunately for Drummond, the centers-getting-paid trend did not extend to him. Over the past year, Drummond has been bought out by the Cavs, signed to the Lakers with the idea that he’d be a long-term piece, and then benched in the playoffs. He signed a veteran’s minimum deal with the 76ers to back up Joel Embiid, which, barring an injury to Embiid, won’t be a huge role.

WINNERS: Charlotte Hornets

LaMelo Ball dribbles during a game.
LaMelo Ball should help the Hornets compete for a playoff spot in 2021-22.
Jacob Kupferman/AP Images

Biggest additions: Kelly Oubre Jr. (F), Mason Plumlee (C), Ish Smith (G), James Bouknight (G – R)

Biggest departures: Devonte Graham (G), Cody Zeller (C)

Why they’re winners: The Hornets are the playoff contender not getting much buzz (pun intended!). Kelly Oubre adds extra size and skill on the wing, rookie guard James Bouknight is expected to be an NBA-level scorer right away, and the Hornets will have Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball healthy again. Charlotte should be right in the mix for the 6-8 seeds in the East.

LOSERS (kind of): Philadelphia 76ers

Biggest additions: Andre Drummond (C), Georges Niang (F/C)

Biggest departures: Dwight Howard (C), George Hill (G)

Why they’re losers (kind of): It’s never bad to bring back a team that finished first in the East, but it’s fair to question if the Sixers needed a shake-up. The Sixers have had early playoff exits the last two years, and Ben Simmons, coming off a poor postseason, is clearly on the trade block. They still do not have enough shooting or shot creation around Embiid. A Simmons trade (say, for Damian Lillard) is still on the table, but can Philly coexist until (if?) that happens?

WINNERS: Miami Heat

kyle lowry
Kyle Lowry was one of the biggest stars to change teams this offseason.
Chris Szagola/AP

Biggest additions: Kyle Lowry (G), P.J. Tucker (F/C), Markieff Morris (F)

Biggest departures: Goran Dragic (G), Precious Achiuwa (C)

Why they’re winners: Give the Heat credit for always being all-in. Landing Kyle Lowry was perhaps the biggest move of the offseason, giving the Heat a two-way, versatile guard who can steer the ship. P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris add size and toughness. Getting anything from the talented but oft-injured Victor Oladipo (back on a shocking veteran’s minimum deal) would be a bonus for Miami. The asterisk on this team: outside of a run in the Disney bubble, the Heat have not played like a true contender over the last two seasons. Is Lowry enough to get them there, or are they just a good team that’s still outside of the Brooklyn-Milwaukee realm atop the East?

LOSERS: NBA tampering investigations

Why they’re losers: The NBA decided to crack down on tampering, beginning last year with penalizing the Milwaukee Bucks for agreeing to a sign-and-trade for Bogdan Bogdanovic before free agency began. They are now investigating the Kyle Lowry-Heat signing and Lonzo Ball-Bulls signings. As NBA reported Marc Stein noted, dozens of deals are done before free agency opens, and virtually all teams and agents are in on it. These investigations seem largely needless and mostly for show.

SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN: Chicago Bulls

Biggest additions: Lonzo Ball (G), DeMar DeRozan (G/F), Alex Caruso (G)

Biggest departures: Thaddeus Young (F/C), Tomas Satoransky (G/F), Garrett Temple (G/F)

Why they’re in-between: Perhaps the splashiest offseason has also created one of the more confusing teams. In adding Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan, the Bulls added offensive punch and talent to their core of Zach Lavine, Nikola Vucevic, Patrick Williams, and Coby White. This team should score a lot of points and out-talent plenty of teams over the slog of an 82-game season. Yet the Bulls have given up three first-round picks to land Vucevic and DeRozan. The foursome of Ball, LaVine, DeRozan, and Vucevic will make $89 million this season, and LaVine is due for a max contract next offseason (and has earned it). Their defense might take away any gains they make on offense. It feels like Chicago might have gone all-in on a team that could be the 5th seed.



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