We’re making our way through August and the dust of what turned out to be a wild free agency is now beginning to settle. We’ve seen major powershifts, and teams making efforts to go all-in on an attempt to win an elusive NBA title. There were several major winners established in the past few weeks, and today we will be taking a dive into three teams that improved through the margins and transactions.
The first team that won the free agency period may be somewhat of a surprise to most, but the Brooklyn Nets managed to work their margins extremely well given their high-payroll. The Nets have one of the highest payrolls in the NBA — mainly due to the big three: Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. The Nets are a hard-capped team with little flexibility, which might have led you to believe that they would be somewhat limited in this free agency. However, they managed to land Patty Mills on a very team-friendly deal — 2 years/$12 million. ProFitX projections had Mills’ real-time contract value at over $14 million last year.
This wasn’t the only area in which the Nets did well. The team also managed to maintain two crucial role players: Blake Griffin and Bruce Brown. Griffin, now in the twilight of his career, still has a lot to offer in a reduced role. The Nets managed to sign Griffin to a one-year minimum contract – a great deal, given that ProFitX’s real-time contract projections calculated him to be a $12.6 million value. Bruce Brown signed his qualifying offer, worth $4.6 million. While Brown’s long-term future is still up in the air, the Nets scored a home run by maintaining a versatile defender for next season. ProFitX’s real-time contract value for Bruce Brown last season was calculated to be over $15.7 million. Factor in this equation that the Nets extended one of the best players in the world in Kevin Durant, and you have an offseason that is a home-run for one of the least flexibility teams currently in the NBA.
The Los Angeles Lakers are my second free agency winner, but not for the reasons you may think. Yes, the Russell Westbrook trade is interesting and I’m not entirely sure how it’s going to work. However, the Lakers managed to sign players to fully maximize their new addition and give their new core the best chance at succeeding. The team signed Malik Monk, Wayne Ellington, and Kent Bazemore to minimum contracts. What do all of those players have in common? They can all shoot lights out! ProFitX has Monk’s real-time contract value at $9.3 million, Ellington’s RTC is projected to be $7.9 million, and Bazemore is estimated to be a $11.3 million value. The Lakers managed to get some productive role players at the lowest value possible, which is impressive. They also managed to sign Dwight Howard – who is a serviceable big to bring off the bence – to a minimum deal. For a team that had to carefully manage their margins, the Lakers fared well.
My final winner of free agency is one most people have pegged as a victor: the Chicago Bulls. As they are approaching the last year of Zach LaVine’s contract, the Bulls had to show that they were serious in competing for a playoff spot. They completely proved that by engineering a sign and trade for Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan. The value for which they got Lonzo Ball is completely on the money, as ProFitX’s projections had Ball as a $18.2 million real-contract value. Ball’s projected average next season is valued at $21.7 million. Ball’s $85 million over four years deal will pay him exactly that, and that’s a pretty huge win for Chicago.
Unlike the anticipated Ball signing, the DeRozan sign and trade came out of nowhere. Chicago agreed to a $85 million over three years deal with DeRozan. While that figure may seem high to some, it is pretty on the money with ProFitX’s projections of a medium value of $27.7 million with his real-time contract value for this upcoming season. DeMar has arguably been one of the most underrated players in the NBA over the past few years, and it’s safe to assume he’ll thrive next to the abundance of talent around him.
The Bulls also managed to make great moves around the edges, with Alex Caruso and Tony Bradley. Caruso will bring them a much-needed perimeter defender off the bench. Signing Tony Bradley to a minimum deal will likely go down as one of the most underrated moves of this summer. Bradley is a solid backup and his ProFitX projections show that he can expect to have a real-time contract value of $5.5 million next season.
The Nets, Lakers, and Bulls, among a few others, managed to work the margins and improve their team in their respective tiers. Fans can expect these teams to improve from where they were just a few months ago. Bravo to all of them.
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