Brooklyn's bounce-back headlines Day 1 of free agency

Adrian Dy on Jul 01, 2019 02:46 PM
Brooklyn's bounce-back headlines Day 1 of free agency
CHARLOTTE, NC - FEBRUARY 16: Kevin Durant #35 and Kyrie Irving #11 of Team LeBron guard each other during the 2019 NBA All-Star Practice and Media Availability on February 16, 2019 at Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

The 2019 edition of NBA Free Agency started early - six hours earlier than normal - and as a result, it felt like there was six times as many deals done.

Even before the official negotiating period began, players were snagging new jerseys, and it's only now that things are starting to settle down. In the wake of all the action, it's clear: team rosters have been greatly shook up across the league, and we're likely headed to a new era of NBA hoops.

Here's a look at who came out on top (on paper) and who looked to have slumped (on paper too) after day one. We'll of course, know better when the ball is actually tipped, but here is my early assessment:


Brooklyn Nets

The Nets spent several seasons rebuilding from the ashes of their 2013 trade with the Celtics, trying to turn themselves into a free agent destination. Their hard work finally paid off today as they landed the trifecta of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan.

Now it doesn't mean that they're automatically in the Finals. We don't know when Durant will be back from his Achilles injury, how Irving will fit with a new core of mostly young guns, or how awkward it will get between Jordan and Jarrett Allen, who is basically younger, cheaper DeAndre Jordan. However, the fact remains that they pulled off a huge coup, essentially supplanting the Knicks in New York.

Utah Jazz

It began with the acquisition of Mike Conley, but instead of being satisfied at that point, the Jazz went and got Bojan Bogdanovic, adding another weapon to their squad. Utah also tapped Ed Davis, who will help them up front in a lot of the same ways Derrick Favors, set to be traded to New Orleans, did too.

The way they're configured, it's more than possible that we'll see the Jazz go deep into the postseason in 2020.

New Orleans Pelicans

Snagging JJ Redick makes all the sense in the world. It gives them that deadeye shooter they desperately needed, and he'll be a key veteran presence in that young locker room. Landing Derrick Favors in a reported trade with the Jazz also bolsters their front line.

Simply put, the Pelicans have moved on from the Anthony Davis era much better than could have hoped for, and it wouldn't be far-fetched to pencil them in for a Playoffs berth.

Indiana Pacers

Here's another team that has rebounded nicely from the circumstances they found themselves in. They added TJ Warren during the draft, anticipating the exit of Bojan Bogdanovic. After that, they addressed their backcourt, snagging restricted free agent and former Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon from the Bucks. Him and Victor Oladipo should make for a fine duo when the latter gets healthy again. Finally, Jeremy Lamb bolsters their shooting as well.

If Dipo can recapture his old form when he heals up, the Pacers should make a lot of noise in the East.

Portland Trail Blazers

No major moves here, but the Blazers did a good job of reassembling their bench. They previously dealt Evan Turner to Atlanta for Kent Bazemore, then they brought back Rodney Hood and took a flier on Mario Hezonja. When Jusuf Nurkic gets healthy again, it'll be interesting to see if they can replicate their trip to the Western Conference Finals.

And oh yeah, they've locked in Damian Lillard as their guy, reportedly coming to terms with him on a super-max contract.


Golden State Warriors

After losing Kevin Durant, keeping Klay Thompson was going to be a must, and they did just that. However, the team also pivoted to land D'Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade, along with two other Nets (Treveon Graham and Shabazz Napier). However, to do that in the first place, the team needed to trade Andre Iguodala and a lightly protected first round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies, in order to make space.

Durant's exit felt a bit inevitable, but losing Iguodala hurts as well, as he set the defensive tone for this team. There will be plenty of questions about the defensive prowess of a Curry-Russell backcourt, and the trade will make it tough for them to retain some of their free agents, like Kevon Looney. There is the possibility that they can flip Russell into more assets, come January, but for now, things aren't quite as Golden as they used to be.

LA Lakers, LA Clippers

The Lakers and the Clips are in a bit of a holding pattern (though LAC did bring back Patrick Beverley), as they wait on the decision of Kawhi Leonard. It won't matter for the team that lands him (assuming he's not returning to Toronto), but it'll be tough to pivot if he really takes a long time and then opts to return North. Free agency has been so fast and furious that by the time the Klaw moves on, there might just be bench guys available for when the two LA teams can act.

Philadelphia 76ers

Philly was able to keep Tobias Harris, and then opted to sign-and-trade Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat, in exchange for Josh Richardson. They also added Al Horford, snagging him away from rivals the Boston Celtics. That gives them a tall, long-limbed starting quintet that will make scoring like getting water from a rock. The problem is the Butler part of the equation.

As of writing, the Heat are still trying to find a trade partner to free up the cap space they need to absorb Jimmy's new deal. They thought they had something with the Dallas Mavericks, but both sides couldn't agree on the players to be dealt (DAL wanted Derrick Jones Jr. and Kelly Olynyk, MIA wanted to shed Goran Dragic). Pat Riley and co. should be able to find a take for the contracts they're shopping, but the holdup is maddening.


New York Knicks

The Knicks failed to get the #1 pick in the draft, and then failed to get a marquee name to join them in free agency. The team responded by? Signing a trio of power forwards, apparently, in Julius Randle, Taj Gibson, and Bobby Portis (they later added Reggie Bullock). It's unclear what the Knicks are going to do with that surplus of bigs, unless Coach David Fizdale is going to bring a little Memphis grit 'n grind to the Big Apple.

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