The first day of free agency continued the trend the days before it set: Big trades instead of big free agent moves, mega re-signings, and the East continues to get weaker. Paul George leaving to Oklahoma City, Jeff Teague joining Minnesota, while Ricky Rubio joins the Jazz and both Stephen Curry (unsurprisingly) and Blake Griffin (quite surprisingly) staying put.
We’ll begin with the big move and one no one saw coming – Paul George traded by the Indiana Pacers to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were planning all along after re-signing Russell Westbrook last season to bring a star to play with him and keep the Thunder rolling, not having any intention of falling apart and dropping to “tanking” territory. George just turned 27 and has one more year on his deal worth $19.5 million. There’s a $20 million player option next season, but he’s more than likely to waive it. In return, the Pacers receive Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
George wasn’t the only Pacers players to leave Indiana. Jeff Teague, after one season with the Pacers, joined the Minnesota Timberwolves on a 3-year deal worth $57 million, with a third year being a player option. The Timberwolves finally traded Ricky Rubio, something that’s been in the making for quite some time, sending him to the Utah Jazz for a protected first round pick (2018) which arrived via the Oklahoma City Thunder. Rubio has two more years left on his deal worth $29 million.
With Rubio joining the Jazz, the team is hoping that they can keep Gordon Hayward. What does this mean for George Hill, who is a free agent? Despite a good first season with the Jazz, this probably opens up the road for him out of Salt Lake City. He is probably going to ask for more money than Rubio, and the Jazz feel going with the 26-year old Spanish point guard is a better option than paying more money to Hill, who recently turned 31.
The biggest name to re-sign with his team with Stephen Curry, signing the biggest deal in NBA history: Five years, $201 million, the first supermax deal in NBA history, but he’ll soon be followed by others. The 8-year veteran signing with the Warriors keep them well in line to make championship runs for years to come. One player who seems to be on his way out is Andre Iguodala, the 2015 Finals MVP, who is meeting with the San Antonio Spurs and seems intent on changing scenery after winning two titles with the Warriors.
Blake Griffin, despite the early assumptions, is probably going to stay with the Clippers, signing a 5-year, $173 million deal. Maybe the prospect of finally being the king of the Clippers, like he was for a short time before Chris Paul joined them in 2011, was very enticing. Last season he was rumored to be the favorite partner to join Westbrook in Oklahoma City (Griffin is from Oklahoma), but it turns out the Clippers aren’t falling apart as quickly as we thought they were.
Other players re-signing were Nene in Houston, Patty Mills with the Spurs and Tony Snell with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Wizards are trying to lock up John Wall before rumors of leaving begin, offering a $170 million extension over four years, but he’s likely to take some time before making a decision.