Biggest winners, losers from wild first day of NBA free agency


The first day of NBA free agency didn’t disappoint.

Even before the free agent market officially opened at 3 p.m. PT Thursday, superstar Kevin Durant shocked the basketball world by requesting a trade from the Brooklyn Nets.

That sent NBA Twitter into a spiral, and then soon afterward there were reports of new contracts being dished out every other minute.

With many players finding new homes for the 2022-23 season already, let’s run through the biggest winners and losers from the first day:

Loser: Nets

For the second time in a decade, Brooklyn sold everything to acquire a core of veteran superstars. And for the second time in a decade, it didn’t work out.

In 2013, Brooklyn traded a haul of players and picks to acquire Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from the Boston Celtics to star alongside Deron Williams. That group didn’t advance past the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Nets’ latest star-studded trio of Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden played in all of 16 games together. Harden was traded to Philadelphia at the deadline, Durant requested a trade Thursday and now reports indicate Irving wants to be sent to the Los Angeles Lakers, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.  

Like KG, Pierce and Williams, the KD-Kyrie-Harden trio also peaked in the conference semifinals.

It might be time to rebuild again in Brooklyn.

Winner: Rockets

Remember the trade return Houston received for Harden? It was greatly criticized at the time, but it’s looking shiny as ever now.

The Rockets have the rights to every first-round pick of Brooklyn through the 2027 draft, all either unprotected or available for a pick swap if the Nets have the more favorable drafting position.

At the time of the trade, everyone expected the Nets to compete for at least through 2027, so the pick swaps didn’t seem to be of much value. But now, especially if the Nets wind up trading away Durant and Irving, the Nets could be rebuilding for the near future and those picks could consistently be in the lottery.

Well, well, well. How the turntables

Winner: PJ Tucker

Tucker is a physical hooper and a defensive grinder. That’s not the recipe for a long, prosperous NBA career.

Yet here Tucker is, at age 37, watching as the ink is still drying on a reported three-year deal worth $33 million with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Tucker was a crucial piece in the Miami Heat ending Philadelphia’s season in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Sixers superstar Joel Embiid admitted as much, saying he wants to play with someone like that in Philadelphia.

He got him.

Tucker won a championship with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021. He reached Game 7 of the conference finals with Miami last season. And now, he’s joining another contender alongside Embiid and Harden.

The man simply wins.

Loser: Mavericks

It’s never a good thing when you lose your second-best player.

Jalen Brunson, the Mavericks’ second-leading scorer behind superstar Luka Dončić last season, reportedly agreed to a four-year deal worth $104 million with the New York Knicks.

Dallas could’ve offered Brunson a five-year contract due to Larry Bird rights, but Brunson opted to pack his bags for Madison Square Garden where he’ll be the undisputed top guard.

Dončić clearly can carry the load, but Dallas has plenty of work to do if it plans on improving on last season’s Western Conference finals appearance.

Winner: Loud Knicks fans

New York has won just one playoff series since 2012-13, but Knicks fans somehow believe their favorite team will land just about every player rumored to be available.

Well, the Knicks finally completed a significant move by reportedly luring Brunson to New York. They got their guy.

Go crazy, Manhattan. 

Loser: Warriors

The reigning champion Warriors haven’t done much losing lately, but it’s been a tough 24 hours.

It began with Oakland native and fan-favorite Juan Toscano-Anderson heading south to join the Los Angeles Lakers. Late Thursday night, defensive standout Gary Payton II opted to cash in on his career season and agreed to a three-year contract with the Portland Trail Blazers.

And after all that, what did Warriors fans wake up to Friday morning? Otto Porter Jr. reportedly agreeing to a two-year contract with the Raptors.

The champs have holes to fill. And they desperately need free-agent center, Kevon Looney, to remain in the Bay.

Winner: De’Aaron Fox

The Kings didn’t break the internet by agreeing to sign Malik Monk to a two-year contract, but it was a nice move to add talent to their backcourt. It also reunited Monk with Fox, his college teammate during their one-and-done career at Kentucky.

Fox and Monk led the Wildcats to 32 wins and an Elite Eight appearance in the 2017 NCAA Tournament before being selected six picks apart in the NBA draft. Together once again, they’ll attempt to bring their history of winning to new head coach Mike Brown and the Kings.

Sacramento still has work to be done, particularly on the defensive side of the court, but the Kings will, at the very least, be fun to watch next season.

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