Free NBA Agency 2022: What We Learned During the First Wild Weekend, From Kevin Durant’s Journey to the Lakers’ Dreams

Okay, take a deep breath. The 2022 edition of the NBA free agency began with the typical burst of moves that somehow ended in the first 30 seconds of the negotiation window, but eventually things have slowed down, giving give us time to reflect on all the movement, surprises and Oscars. memes worthy of Brian Windhorst.

Each period of free agency is different, as sometimes superstars make shocking decisions to change teams, and other times we are left waiting and wondering while key decisions remain until the days of July, or later. This time, there’s a crucial name everyone is waiting to see move (psst, rhyme with Devin Kurant), and once that happens, it will surely trigger a chain reaction that will shape the league for the 2022-23 season.

For now, though, let’s take a step back and look at six things we learned from the first weekend of the 2022 NBA free agency.

1. It’s worth being a superstar

A few hours after the official launch of the free agency in 2022 on Thursday, NBA teams had already committed a total of more than $ 1 billion to five players. Yes, five players:

Not long after, New Orleans Pelicans striker Zion Williamson agreed to a five-year extension that could reach $ 231 million with incentives. Reminder: He has played 85 games (including no playoff appearances) in three seasons. All-Star guard Darius Garland, who has yet to reach the 70-game plateau in a single season, accepted an almost identical deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The lesson is simple, no matter how mundane it has become. The NBA is the league of a superstar, and it’s almost impossible to win without one. Steph Curry. Giannis Antetokounmpo. Lebron James. Kawhi Leonard. Kevin Durant. These are just the last five title winners. To find a team that has won a title for the last time without any player you can consider a superstar, you have to go back to the 2004 Detroit Pistons.

NBA teams know this, and that’s why we saw that such amazing numbers had been given to players who could be the best player on a title team. Get used to it, because these numbers will continue to rise. Jokic will earn $ 61 million in 2027-28, the last year of his recently agreed extension. When the NBA negotiates its new rights deal after the 2024-25 season, it might be realistic to expect the best players in the league to take home more than $ 100 million in a single season in the final years of the season. their contracts. Just crazy.

2. Trades are the new free agency

Close your eyes and think about the summer of 2017. It was an easier time when NBA fans around the world were hooked on their phones, laptops and TVs waiting to know where their coveted free agent Gordon would take his talent. Hayward. First, it came out that he was signing with the Boston Celtics. This report was then refuted. Then, finally, on July 4, exactly five years ago, Hayward revealed in a Player’s Tribune rehearsal that he was, in fact, going to Boston. What a most exciting trip.

A year earlier, Kevin Durant made the free agency decision that imploded the NBA universe and produced an unctuous meme that is as relevant today as it was then.

In recent years, however, free agency has lost most of its spark. Designated player extensions and contracts (colloquially known as supermax) were designed to give teams an advantage in retaining their own superstars. The advantage has become so great, however, that it makes no economic sense for the player to sign elsewhere. Take Beal, for example. If he had opted to change teams this offseason and turned down a five-year offer from Washington and $ 251 million, his contract with another team could “only” reach the four-year stadium, $ 185 million. dollars. You should be completely upset with your hometown and absolutely hate your teammates for leaving almost $ 70 million of guaranteed money on the table.

It makes a lot more sense to secure the financial collection and then, if things don’t work out in the future, just demand a change (why hello again, Mr. Durant!). That’s why there was so little credible news about any of this year’s top potential free agents: Beal, Zach LaVine, James Harden, that he actually left his teams. Until something changes in the ABC, you can expect most players to continue to resign and / or expand with their current teams and find out later, significantly deflating what was once a frantic period of agency free.

Instead, however, we have achieved commercial demands and highly successful agreements that rival, and perhaps overcome, the excitement that free agency used to bring. So we don’t complain precisely.

3. KD may never be satisfied

Unless you’re one of the seven people left in the world who haven’t seen “Hamilton,” you probably know one of the most impressive and revealing numbers in the production. While her sister marries the protagonist, Alexander Hamilton, a foresighted Angelica Schuyler realizes that both she and Hamilton have a constant longing that they seem unable to satisfy.

“And I know he’ll be as happy as his girlfriend,” Schuyler concludes. “And I know, he’ll never be satisfied. I’ll never be satisfied.”

One of the themes of the musical is that the same drive and determination that allowed Hamilton to rise from humble beginnings to one of the most prominent figures in American history is also what prevented him from being content with successes. and the accolades he has earned.

It’s easy to think of it when we look at Durant, who has applied for a change to the Brooklyn Nets after signing a four-year, $ 198 million extension with the franchise less than a year ago. Murmurs of Durant’s displeasure reached a fervor when contractual talks between Brooklyn and Kyrie Irving were briefly in a dead end, but most hoped Irving would opt for the final year of his deal would keep Durant in Brooklyn on the sidelines. his good friend and the couple he chose three summers. does.

Instead, Durant has asked to leave, with the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat at the top of his list of favorite destinations. The irony is almost too obvious. Durant has consistently rejected criticism for his decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the 73-win Golden State Warriors. He has also rejected those who say his two titles at Golden State have dwindled due to his loaded list. Joining the Nets along with Irving, and later James Harden, gave During the chance to be the undisputed alpha of a potential team for the title, but this went quickly to the south due to injuries and a possible commercial demand from Harden.

Durant didn’t seem satiated after winning his Finals titles and MVP as part of a super team. Now he doesn’t seem satisfied with trying to do it all on his own and wants to join one of last season’s premieres to withstand criticism again? Everything is confusing from the outside, and maybe it should be. We like to think we understand what’s going on inside the minds of NBA players, but we really have no idea. Durant has the right to seek out any situation he believes will bring him happiness.

But as he prepares to leave a franchise for the third time in his career, it’s fair to question whether Durant is looking for a satisfaction he’ll simply never find.

4. The Lakers will go to Lakers

Last offseason, the Lakers were criticized for surrounding LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook with old players who could not shoot, which ultimately led to a catastrophic season in which the playoffs were lost. So this offseason, Rob Pelinka and the reception decided to pivot. They chose to sign young players … who can’t throw either:

As you can see, Walker is the only high-volume 3-point shooter in the group, and his 3-point percentage has steadily deteriorated during his four years in the NBA, to 31%, the lowest in the his career, last season in five attempts. per match. Toscano-Anderson, despite being a smart, winning piece on a championship team, also shot 32 percent, the lowest of his career, from the depths of last season.

It was prudent for the Lakers to inject some youth and defensive help (maybe?), But they seem to be repeating their mistakes ignoring one of the most important skills in the current game. However, in the true fashion of the Lakers, there is a deus ex machina semi-achievable waiting to solve all their problems!

With Durant calling for a change, the consensus is that Kyrie Irving will be next, and the Lakers and Nets have been in preliminary contact over a possible Irving-Westbrook exchange. This would obviously help a lot in solving the Lakers ‘shooting problems, especially if Brooklyn throws Joe Harris or * faints * Seth Curry (though they wouldn’t do much for the Lakers’ defensive problems).

Irving’s market doesn’t seem to be robust, so the Nets could be entertained by taking on the huge contract that Westbrook wins if the Lakers are willing to part with one or two future first-round picks. round available to establish an Irving-James. gathered in Los Angeles.

Pass or not, man, it must be exhausting to be a Lakers fan. There’s always some mythical movement in the works that will make the franchise return to the promised land, but one can guess if it really happens. When it does (Shaquille O’Neal, Pau Gasol, LeBron James, Anthony Davis), it tends to work pretty well. But if that doesn’t come to fruition, it’s hard to find a way to fight for a franchise perpetually in championship or bankruptcy mode.

5. The wolves really wanted Rudy Gobert

Imagine someone telling you that an All-NBA pillar was replaced by four first-round picks (three unprotected), three promising young prospects, and two rotating veteran players.

“Oh, Kevin Durant was changed?” you ask innocently, unaware of the shock of confusion you are about to receive.

“No. Rudy Gobert went to the Timberwolves.”

We can debate whether the trade was worth it until we are midnight blue in the face, but it is unquestionably a massive throw, a …

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