NBA Free Agency

Free agency winners, losers: Draymond lands desired deal

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The first few minutes of 2023 NBA free agency were filled with the typical reports, scoops and news bombs. But it lacked the big shocking news of free agency periods of the past, as many players returned to their previous homes with big raises.

Draymond Green returned to the Warriors. Khris Middleton is running it back with the Milwaukee Bucks. Kyrie Irving will give his partnership with Luka Dončić another chance in Dallas.

There still are some notable names on the open market, including Brook Lopez and Austin Reaves. But without further ado, here are the winners and losers from the first night of free agency:

Winner: Bruce Brown

Based on the contract he agreed to sign Friday night, Brown should've been rolling around the Denver Nuggets' championship parade in a Brinks truck.

The Indiana Pacers reportedly agreed to sign Brown to a two-year deal worth $45 million. That’s a hefty pay bump considering Brown turned down a $6.8 million player option to return to the Nuggets next season.  

Every NBA team can use a player like Brown. He brings a defensive tenacity and a winning energy to the court every night. That’s what Indiana clearly prioritized as it builds around Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner and Bennedict Mathurin.

Winner: Draymond Green

Green landed the new contract he sought -- a four-year, $100 million deal to remain with the Warriors and fight for another championship alongside Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and coach Steve Kerr.

There were other teams reportedly interested in Green -- notably the Kings, Trail Blazers and Pistons -- but none could lure Green away from the place he’s called home since 2012.

When he could’ve been wined and dined by other teams, there Green was Thursday night being the ultimate teammate, cheering on Thompson and Curry in “The Match,” an exhibition golf challenge against Kansas City Chiefs stars Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce.

The move confirms what the Warriors have been saying publicly and by trading youngsters James Wiseman and Jordan Poole the last few months: This team is focusing on now.

Goodbye, two-timeline plan. The dynasty in the Bay lives on.

Loser: Draymond Green Show

Green didn’t announce his free agency news on his podcast, as he once promised. It was The Athletic’s Shams Charania who reported the news first.

No reason to fret, though. There will be plenty of downloads coming Green’s way for the Chris Paul exclusive interview he’ll presumably drop later this summer.

Winner: Fred VanVleet

Shortly after all 30 NBA teams passed on selecting VanVleet in the 2016 NBA Draft, he tweeted three simple words.

“Bet on yourself.”

That bet paid off Friday to the tune of a reported three-year, $130 million max contract with the Houston Rockets in free agency.

The Rockets, coming off a 22-win season, were tied to just about every free agent because they had an embarrassment of riches to spend on the open market. They splurged on VanVleet, who went from undrafted rookie to NBA champion to max player in just seven years.

He bet on himself and won.  

Loser: Andre Iguodala

The opening day of free agency was a humbling moment for Iguodala, the teammate of Max Strus for one season in Miami.

Strus, an unrestricted free agent has yet to decide on his next NBA destination. And Iguodala has yet to announce if he’s retiring or returning for another season.

Not winner or loser: Sacramento Kings

The Kings re-signed Harrison Barnes and Trey Lyles in free agency, bringing back two key pieces to the frontcourt from their magical 2022-23 campaign.

The team’s biggest addition thus far is reportedly trading for Pacers wing Chris Duarte on Friday, adding yet another good offensive fit alongside former teammate Domantas Sabonis.

They were rumored to be in the mix for splashy free agents like Middleton and Kyle Kuzma, but both players returned to their former teams.

The Kings running it back after the best season in franchise history in nearly 20 years lacked the splash many fans wanted, but it isn’t a bad thing. And they still have plenty of trade options ahead after Barnes signed a deal that's looking more and more team friendly compared to other reported contracts Friday night.

Winner: Kyrie Irving’s calendar

It was reported earlier Friday that Irving planned to meet with the Mavericks, Suns, Heat, Lakers, Clippers and Rockets before making a decision in free agency. But several hours later, Irving reportedly agreed to a three-year deal to return to the Mavericks.

Those meetings either went incredibly fast or didn't happen. Irving's schedule now is wide open.

And now, Dallas owner Mark Cuban heads back to the Western Conference Shark Tank to re-pitch the Mavericks’ Irving-Dončić pairing that did not work last season.

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