It’s July 13th and the big fireworks show the NBA put forth this free agency is mostly over. The big names are done, but there are still some interesting names out there in restricted free agency. But first, can I just comment on the first few days of free agency?
It was fantastic. Easily a top-five offseason of the last, say, five years. Nas came to OKC and helped ensure PG-13 stayed a Thunder, the Mav’s finally got their man in DJ (and seemingly bid against themselves), LeBron decided he was cool just making a bunch of money and movies in LA instead of ever winning a title again, the Warriors pissed everyone off for running their franchise so well that they were able to draft three all stars, sign a MVP with max money and still give Boogie the Mid Level Exception for 5.5 million forever ruining basketball because they run their team better than your favorite team, Dallas finally got Jordan (and probably bid against themselves for him, the Lakers decided to surround LeBron with non shooters and LANCE FUCKING STEPHENSON (obligatory). It was so astounding that the NBA already announced that they are moving the start of free agency to a more TV friendly time slot so they can televise it and monetize the ever loving shit out of it.
But there are still some interesting names that remain in restricted free agency. This years crop of restricted free agents all had a similar feel. They were all generally elite at one or two specific skills, but also have glaring deficiencies. Lavine (ACL stuff), Gordon (where does he play), Nurkic (if it were 2007 he would be a top-five paid center), and Exum (injuries and Australian) have all been resigned by the team they were drafted by and Randle (spotty production in a major market) was renounced and signed by New Orleans for a modest price (2yr/$18M). That leaves Marcus Smart, Clint Capela, and Jabari Parker remaining. Smart, Capela, and Parker probably have the most name recognition out of those still left, but why do they remain unsigned? Smart bounced back big time from injury and helped Boston reach the Eastern Conference Finals, but as good as he is defensively, his offense has to be better for the price that he’s asking for and he’s missed a fair amount of time due to injury. Also with the stellar play of Terry Rozier during the playoffs is he now expendable? Capela outplayed Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert and averaged a double double against the Warriors during the Rockets playoff run. But because of his ability in the pick and roll and defensive upside, he is looking at a major payday. Does that fit Houston’s timeline? Jabari turned himself into a malcontent during the bucks playoff series against Boston, openly complaining about playing time and becoming the forgotten man during his two ACL injuries and Giannis’ rise to stardom. Who does that? Who complains that your teammate became an all-world player while you were hurt for two years? In the words of King James when the colonies declared their independence in 1776: “SHEESH”.
We’re already almost done with summer league, and it doesn’t seem like these teams are all that eager to get anything done in terms of extensions with these players. So I had a nifty idea to make some potential trades for the players that would both get the player in a good situation while giving the team losing the restricted free agent good value.
Sign and trade with the Spurs for Kawhi
Celtics Receive: Kawhi Leonard
Spurs Receive: Marcus Smart (new 3 yr/$45 million deal), Yabasule, highest of Boston’s four 2019 first-round picks, Boston’s 2020 1st-round pick
Why Boston does this: They get the secondary prize of this off season, the best two-way player in the league. Boston doesn’t sweat losing the picks as they have plenty more coming with a young core already established, and Smart is a great secondary player. Even if it only turns out being a rental for one season for Kawhi, you’ve made yourself the clear front runner to challenge the Warriors for the title. Maybe that convinces Kawhi to stay?
Why San Antonio does this: Easy. You get a starter who would thrive under Pop, a very good pick, and you keep Kawhi out of the western conference. Is this an equal trade? Not really. But whenever you trade a superstar the value is never equal. Probably the best offer the Spurs would receive.
The Lakers get ballsy
Lakers Receive: Clint Capela
Rockets Receive: Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart
Why the Lakers do this: They’re not getting Kawhi if they haven’t already, and they could really use the rim running skills of Capela. They blend perfecty for what LeBron needs at the center position. It’s tough giving up the former 2nd pick, and a promising young player in Hart but Lebron wants to win now, and Capela is on the rise to being one of the best young centers in the league.
Why the Rockets do this: You get value out of Capela, and some wing shooters to hopefully replace Ariza. Ingram has had health issues and will need to fill out, but he should be excellent in a bench scorer role.
A fresh start
Hawks Receive: Jabari Parker (2 yr/$24M), Matthew Dellavedova
Bucks Receive: Kent Bazemore
Why Atlanta does this: They’re not going to compete even in a weak east for at least two seasons, why not give Jabari a shot? He’s a former No. 2 pick who before his second ACL injury was a 20-point scorer through 50 games. Dellavedova included to make salaries match, and Atlanta won’t mind the contract as they have tons of space to utilize to pick up assets. Bazemore doesn’t fit a team not going to contend, and Atlanta gets a player who could be part of a tremendous 1-2 scoring punch with Trae Young.
Why Milwaukee does this: Milwaukee is looking to contend now, and with the mega-void left by LeBron’s departure they have to potential to win 50 games and easily make the 2nd round of the playoffs. Bazemore is a perfect 3+D fit to slide into the starting line up next to Middleton and Giannis. Plus as a former coach Bud player, the familiarity to his system should be extremely helpful.
If you also dig the NFL, be sure to check out the latest episode of the Loaded Box Podcast as the guys highlight their sleeper and bust picks from each division in the AFC!