The NBA free agency frenzy is finally here. After months of speculation swirling around the biggest free agent targets and potential blockbuster trades, teams can finally start acting on their perfectly laid plans.
Once the clock strikes 6 p.m. ET on Thursday, pandemonium kicks into high gear and The Sporting News has you covered with live reaction to every major move.
Which teams struck oil and which struck out? Who overpaid to nail down their top targets and who inked valuable contributors on team-friendly deals?
Stay with us throughout the first day of NBA free agency for complete analysis.
NBA FREE AGENCY: Ranking top 25 free agents | Best value target
NBA free agency 2022: Grading the latest signings, trades
Rudy Gobert traded to the Wolves
- Trade details (via ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski)
- Wolves receive: Rudy Gobert
- Jazz receive: Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Walker Kessler, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro, four first round picks (unprotected in 2023, 2025, 2027, and top 5 protected in 2029), first round pick swap in 2026
One of the biggest weaknesses on the Wolves has been Karl-Anthony Towns’ mediocre defense at the center position. Jarred Vanderbilt solved some of those problems as a defensive ace playing next to Towns. The Wolves had a surisingly solid no. 13 defense during last year’s regular season with that duo.
Now, they get a turbocharged version of Vanderbilt in Gobert.
The fit is going to be interesting. The Wolves will be huge, with the 6-foot-11 Towns and 7-foot-1 Gobert playing next to each other. They should have the best rim protection in the league.
For all of Gobert’s warts, he’s still an incredible defensive player. He and Towns could theoretically cover many of each other’s weaknesses.
This is a massive haul to give up for Gobert. The Wolves are making a bet that they’ll stay a playoff team through 2029. Ask the Nets how that same bet is going for them.
Nothing is for sure in the NBA, and the lack of protections on the first three of those picks could pay huge dividends down the line. The Jazz had to make a trade to break up the Gobert-Donovan Mitchell pairing, and they got great value back.
Wolves Grade: B-
Jazz Grade: A
Malcolm Brogdon traded to the Celtics
- Trade details (via ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski)
- Celtics receive: Malcolm Brogdon
- Pacers receive: Daniel Theis, Aaron Nesmith, Nik Stauskas, Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan, 2023 first round pick
The Celtics were missing playmaking and shooting in their title run. Too often, they were plagued by high turnover games. They’ve addressed those issues with Brogdon, a heady guard who has hit 38 percent of his 3’s for his career.
Brogdon has been an injury-prone player. His health is still a big question mark, and the Celtics are taking a risk there. But if he can stay on the court, he makes them the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference again.
For the Pacers, Brogdon didn’t fit their timeline. Adding a first round pick is a nice step forward in their rebuild. Nesmith is the former no. 14 pick in the 2020 draft. He has shown some promise in limited minutes. The rest of the players involved are salary filler.
Celtics Grade: A
Pacers Grade: B+
Kevin Huerter traded to the Kings for Justin Holiday and Maurice Harkless
- Trade details (via ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski)
- Hawks receive: Justin Holiday, Maurice Harkless, 2024 first round pick (lottery-protected in 2024, top-12 protected in 2025, top-10 protected in 2026. Then conveys into two second-rounders)
- Kings receive: Kevin Huerter
Huerter is a great young shooter that is locked up on a reasonable four-year, $65 million contract. That the Kings had to give up so little to get him is a bit shocking.
Holiday is a veteran 3-and-D wing on an expiring $6.3 million contract. Harkless is another bench wing on a $4.6 million contract.
This is kind of a puzzling move from the Hawks’ side. Those contracts are both good pieces to use in a trade, so perhaps there is a bigger move coming for them down the line. They did drop slightly below the luxury tax with the trade. If that was the primary motivation, then it will be a very tough pill for Hawks fans to swallow.
Kings Grade: A
Hawks Grade: D
Zach LaVine signs with the Bulls
There was speculation that LaVine would test the free agency market. Instead, the Bulls got the deal done on Day 2 of free agency by offering him the most that they possibly could.
This is a win for the Bulls. They had no way of replacing LaVine if he walked, and he’s an All-Star in the prime of his career. It’s fair to wonder what the team’s ceiling is as of now, but they would have taken gigantic steps backwards without him.
Zion Williamson signs supermax extension
Williamson is easily a supermax talent. And amid all of the swirling about his desire to stay, it’s nice to at least temporarily put those rumors to rest. But questions about his health make this deal tough to grade.
The guarantees on Williamson’s deal haven’t leaked yet. That will determine how much of a win this is for the Pelicans. If there are performance incentives baked into the contract, such as a clause for games played, then this is a great deal for the team. If not, then they’re taking a pretty big gamble on a player that has only been available for 85 games through three years.
This also takes the Pelicans somewhat out of the Kevin Durant sweepstakes. They were one of the teams best suited to throw a massive package at the Nets. Because of an obscure rule in the collective bargaining agreement, Williamson can’t play on the same team as Ben Simmons. Teams are allowed only one designated rookie extension player, and Simmons and Williamson both meet that criteria.
Nikola Jokic signs supermax extension
This was a no-brainer for the Nuggets. Jokic, the reigning two-time MVP of the league, far exceeds any contract valuation that he could be paid by league rules.
Devin Booker extends with the Suns
Another no-brainer for the Suns to extend Booker on a supermax contract. He’s coming off a year where he finished fourth in MVP voting. This contract will have plenty of surplus value.
Ja Morant extends with the Grizzlies
The Grizzlies wasted little time agreeing to a designated rookie max extension, giving Morant the most money possible. He’s coming off an All-NBA Second Team appearance and his future is very bright.
Karl-Anthony Towns extends with the Wolves
Towns was named to the All-NBA Third Team, making him eligible for a supermax extension. The Wolves gave it to him, locking him up for the next six years.
Towns has gone from a complete sieve on defense to passable. His offense remains elite. He’s one of the best big man shooters in the league, hitting 41 percent of his triples last season.
Bradley Beal signs with the Wizards
Beal was the no. 2 free agent in this class behind Zach LaVine on my board. He had a down year last season as far as his shooting goes, but he’s only 28 years old and this deal should carry through his prime years.
MORE: NBA salary cap for 2022-23 plus updated max contract figures
Jalen Brunson signs with Knicks
The Brunson contract has been met largely with derision, and it’s understandable on some level. It’s a lot of money for a guy who only averaged 16.3 points per game last season and came off the bench for most of his career.
The reality is that the cap is going up, and Brunson is a very good young player who might have another gear if he’s not playing alongside Luka Doncic. His new deal would put him somewhere in the neighborhood of the 40th-highest paid player in the league.
Brunson played extremely well when the Mavs were missing Doncic during parts of the regular season, and he’s at his best with the ball in his hands. The fit is a little odd, but this isn’t the gross overpay that many are making it out to be.
PJ Tucker signs with the Sixers
Tucker played well for the Heat last season, but he’s already 37 years old. He can shoot corner 3’s capably, but he hardly shoots and doesn’t do much else on offense.
Tucker should finally give the Sixers a viable option for a small-ball center when Joel Embiid needs a rest. They’ve fallen apart in previous years in those minutes. But I would be very worried about injury or decline.
Bruce Brown signs with the Nuggets
Brown is a strange player to fit in. He’s a 6-4 guard who plays like a big man. His unique skillset, including rugged defense, short roll mastery, and offense revolving around great cuts to the basket, are a perfect fit for the Nuggets. He is going to pair extremely well with Nikola Jokic.
Gary Payton II signs with the Blazers
A year ago, Payton was struggling yet again to make an NBA roster. Things were so dire that he was considering taking on a job as the Warriors’ video coordinator.
What a change one season makes. Payton proved his value to the Warriors as a defensive menace, a short roll threat, and a monster finisher at the rim. He’s not a great shooter, but he’s a winner who plays much bigger than his 6-foot-3 frame.
The Blazers badly needed defensive talent to pair with Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons. They got one of the best guys in the league in Payton.
Lu Dort signs with the Thunder
This one is a head-scratcher for me. Dort is a nice player for sure. He’s a good wing defender, which is immensely valuable in the NBA.
But Dort is a limited offensive player. He’s not much of a shooter, hitting just 33 percent of his attempts last season on a massively high 7.7 attempts per game. He did average 17 points per game for the Thunder last season, but did so on poor efficiency and a terrible team. This seems like an overpay for a franchise that has been obsessed with squeezing out value wherever it can.
Anfernee Simons signs with the Blazers
Simons was an extremely raw prospect when he was drafted in 2018 by the Blazers. Kudos to them for their solid player development.
Simons, who turned 23 in June, has shown that he can score at the NBA level. He averaged 17.3 points per game for the Blazers last year, hitting 40.5 percent of his 3’s. His defense still needs work, but there is no doubting his shot creation skills.
Chris Boucher signs with the Raptors
Boucher has been a somewhat inconsistent player for the Raptors, oftentimes facing the ire of head coach Nick Nurse.
The idea of him as a stretch big who can block some shots is extremely valuable. But he hit only 29.7 percent of his 3-pointers last season and blocked only 0.9 shots per game.
This is a lot of money to commit to a backup big man. The Raptors are betting on continued improvement from Boucher, who started playing basketball seriously at a late age but is already 29 years old when players generally stop making big jumps in development.
Kyle Anderson signs with the Timberwolves
This is one of the better value signings of this offseason.
Anderson is a quirky player that does have certain limitations. He doesn’t shoot many 3’s, and he connected on only 33 percent of the mostly wide open ones that he did take last season.
But Anderson’s leisurely strolls to the rim are somehow extremely effective. He’s able to collapse defenses and create for teammates. He’s also a very good defender that can guard multiple positions. He’s a high-feel player that can bring some stability to a young Wolves team.
Isaiah Hartenstein signs with the Knicks
Hartenstein was my top free agency sleeper. He’s not a huge name but he is a very solid center that could potentially start for the Knicks.
This is a nice piece of business for Knicks. They needed some shooting around new acquisition Jalen Brunson, and Hartenstein is a career 38 percent marksman.
Hartenstein also gives the Knicks some more great rim protection and a good roll threat to pair with Brunson.
Nicolas Batum signs with the Clippers
Batum revived his career with the Clippers and had been one of the biggest value contracts in the league.
Now, Batum is being paid more in line with what he’s worth. The Clippers are way deep in the tax, so good on owner Steve Ballmer for keeping one of the better 3-and-D power forwards on the free agent market.
Amir Coffey signs with the Clippers
Coffey was one of my favorite free agency sleepers this season. He stepped in admirably as a starter for the Clippers when they were decimated by injuries, helping to keep them playing near .500 basketball.
Coffey is young, provides nice 3-point shooting, and was a decent defender last season. He’s a great bench addition at a nice price for the Clippers.
Victor Oladipo signs with the Heat
It’s still not totally clear how much Oladipo is recovered from his series of nasty injuries. He played towards the end of last season and had moments where he looked like he could provide pesky defense and good outside shooting.
The cost is a little high, but on a one-year deal this is is a nice prove-it opportunity for Oladipo. The Heat also retain his Bird Rights to re-sign him if he looks unhampered by injury.
Javale McGee signs with the Mavericks
McGee looked totally finished a few years ago. But he showed that he could still be a useful center even at the age of 34 for the Suns last season.
The key to that revival was playing with an elite playmaker in Chris Paul that could set him up for easy finishes at the rim. McGee has found another pick-and-roll partner that will make him look even better in Luka Doncic.
Three years and $20 million is a modest contract by today’s NBA standards. Still, this is more money than I’d be comfortable paying for an aging McGee, even if he is productive. The player option on the third year reduces the value of this deal even further.
Patty Mills signs with the Nets
Mills fulfilled a vital role for the Nets last season. He will be entering his age 34 season, but he’s still one of the best shooters in the league, connecting on 40 percent of his 3’s last year.
The Nets didn’t have cap space or a good way to replace what they’d lose with Mills. They also don’t have incentive to tank even if they trade away Kevin Durant because of the pick compensation they owe to the Rockets. For a team looking to still remain competitive, this was a good move at a low price.
Nicolas Claxton signs with the Nets
This is another good deal for the Nets. Now they just have to play him.
Claxton is a young big who can move decently on the perimeter and protect the rim well. He gives the Nets some badly needed scheme versatility. He doesn’t have a jump shot and he’s a poor free throw shooter, but he is a great finisher at the rim.
Claxton only played 21 minutes per game last season for the Nets. Maybe this is a sign that he will get some more time. If so, it’s well-deserved.
Thad Young signs with the Raptors
Young was buried for most of last season on the Spurs’ bench but finally got some playing time in a midseason trade with the Raptors. He played well for them to close the year and earned a nice payday.
How much Young has in the tank is a fair question. He’ll be entering his 16th season in the league. But his game should age gracefully. He uses an unstoppable lefty hook and extreme craft to fire off passes all over the court. He’s also one of the smarter defenders in the league. He’s a great veteran that should help the Raptors win now.
Tyus Jones signs with the Grizzlies
Jones was a backup point guard for the Grizzlies last season, but he was still a vital part of the team and one of the best at his position in this free agency class. The team didn’t miss a beat when Ja Morant was out thanks to the heady play of Jones.
This is a hefty price to pay for a backup, but the Grizzlies didn’t have great options to replace him and they are entering their window of contention where they should be spending on the team.
Mo Bamba signs with the Magic
This is an odd deal. The Magic have a glut of big men, with newly-drafted Paolo Banchero joining Wendell Carter Jr., Jonathan Isaac, and Franz Wagner. Where will Bamba find minutes in this crowded rotation?
At first blush, this seems like it may be an asset play. Perhaps the Magic signed Bamba to try and move him down the road. For now, it is a puzzling use of the Magic’s valuable cap space.
Gary Harris signs with the Magic
Harris rehabilitated his career last season for the Magic. He was considered a salary dump when he was traded by the Nuggets in 2021, but he regained his 3-point stroke in Orlando.
Harris is still only 27 years old, but like Bamba, he doesn’t really fit the early stages of rebuild that the Magic are still in. This seems like a deal made to get some value down the line in the trade market. He should have some demand as a player that can provide some high-volume shooting and competent defense.
Bobby Portis signs with the Bucks
Portis took a discount to come back to the Bucks last season. The Bucks have rewarded him with this deal. They’ll be a tax team again, so credit goes to them for ponying up what they needed to in order to keep a vital part of their team and fan favorite.
Portis is a fiery big man who has provided a ton of spacing around Giannis Antetokoumnpo. He has defensive limitations, but those are hidden fairly well with the rest of the Bucks’ defensive talent.
Joe Ingles signs with the Bucks
Ingles had been a great player for the Jazz. That was before he tore his ACL in January.
Ingles will be 35 at the start of the season. His injury is obviously of extreme concern. I’m a writer, not a doctor, so it’s hard to evaluate this contract without knowing the medicals.
If Ingles is able to come even close to his level with the Jazz, then this will be a bargain. His 3-point shooting and headiness could be a fantastic add. If his career is done, then maybe the Bucks can still use this contract as an expiring trade chip down the line.
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Malik Monk signs with the Kings
Monk completely rehabbed his value last year on the Lakers. He had to sign for the minimum last season, and this is a nice reward for a good year.
Monk wasn’t highly sought after last season in large part because of his poor defense. He’s improved on that end, and he’s always been a solid 3-point threat. This is a nice piece of business for the Kings.
Delon Wright signs with the Wizards
The Wizards had their $10.5 million midlevel exception as their main tool to add a player or two in free agency. They used most of it on Wright, who is an okay player but ultimately doesn’t do much to move the needle for them.
Wright is a combo guard who just turned 30 years old. He’s an average jump-shooter, hitting 35 percent of his 3’s for his career, and a solid defender with positional size. He didn’t play a ton for the Hawks last season. He should get a slightly bigger role for the Wizards and be a good innings eater for them.
Andre Drummond signs with the Bulls
Drummond is a decent back up big man who’s not nearly as good as what his gaudy box score statistics suggest.
Drummond is a strong rebounder and has great size. But he is extremely limited offensively. He has no semblance of a jump shot, and his career 47 percent shooting from the line makes him a liability late in games. Early in his career, he would ruin his team’s offenses due to his inability to post up effectively.
Drummond is a passable drop defender, but he can’t move in space. He limits what teams can do from a scheme perspective.
Drummond’s on a small contract to fill a backup role. He is an upgrade over what the Bulls had last year. But it’s hard to get too excited about this move, especially when it dips into the team’s very limited spending capacities via the midlevel exception.
Jae’Sean Tate signs with the Rockets
Tate is one of the better young players that you’ve never heard of. He’s not a star, but he is a stud role player that has been buried on bad Rockets teams.
Tate is one of the best defenders on the Rockets. He is always willing to put his body on the line to draw a charge. He’s a heady cutter that doesn’t need plays run for him in order to score. He is held back by a poor jump shot, but he would be surely be a fan favorite if he ever found his way to a contender. Perhaps that will happen on this new deal. He will be an asset on it.
Lonnie Walker IV signs with the Lakers
This is a bizarre move from the Lakers. They had their taxpayer mid-level exception to use on one player, and they chose Walker?
Walker has been a big disappointment for the Spurs. Drafted with the 18th pick in the 2018 draft, they didn’t even bother extending a qualifying offer to him. The Spurs are clearly in rebuilding mode. For them to release a player that is only 23 years old should tell you plenty about what they think of Walker.
The Lakers don’t have many avenues to add talent after this signing outside of minimums and trades. They probably could have done better to add win-now talent. LeBron James isn’t getting any younger.
Juan Toscano-Anderson signs with the Lakers
The Lakers are going to have to fill the rest of their roster out with minimum signings yet again. They could certainly do worse than Toscano-Anderson.
Toscano-Anderson is a career 36 percent shooter that fit in well with the Warriors. He’s not great at any particular skill, but he’s not a liability in anything either.
Toscano-Anderson barely played during last season’s championship run. It’s fair to question if he can be a contributor when the games matter. But he’s a decent depth piece during the regular season. That’s the type of player that the Lakers were badly missing last year.
Troy Brown Jr. signs with the Lakers
Brown is still sort of young — he’ll be 23 to start the season. He can kind of shoot — he hit 35 percent of his 3’s for the Bulls last year. But those positives are a mirage for those who have watched him closely.
Brown was the 15th pick in the 2018 draft. Despite the good pedigree, the Wizards and Bulls both gave up on him.
Brown is an extremely reticent and inconsistent shooter. His decent percentage came off wide open looks and very low volume. He doesn’t do much inside the 3-point line. While he is a toolsy defender that can be good in spurts, he also has stretches where he inexplicably falls asleep. He’s a low-feel player who can’t consistently stretch the floor for LeBron James. The risk here is very low, but so is the payoff.
Kevin Knox signs with the Pistons
The Pistons have plenty of cap space to take this type of low-risk swing at a player with some potential upside.
Knox was the no. 9 pick in the 2018 draft. He could never seem to get out of Tom Thibodeau’s dog house in New York, and he didn’t play much for a Hawks team that was trying to win after he was traded there last season.
Knox is a great athlete that hasn’t developed the feel needed to play in the NBA yet. The Pistons aren’t winning any time soon, so this is the type of move that makes sense for them.
Marvin Bagley III signs with the Pistons
Bagley had a great draft pedigree as one of the best high school recruits in the country and the no. 2 pick in the 2018 draft. The problem is that he hasn’t played NBA basketball particularly well.
Bagley has incredible tools and athleticism, but he hasn’t been able to translate that to productive play. He’s had plenty of opportunities.
He’s still young, and he did play a little better in his 18 games after he was traded to the Pistons. Still, this is a lot to pay a player that hasn’t really done much at the NBA level yet.