You win something, you lose something. The same is true of the NBA’s free agency.
The free agency moratorium officially opened last Thursday, and a flurry of movements quickly followed, some logical and others head-scratching. Zach LaVine will stay in Chicago (five years, $215.2 million), Bradley Beal returns to Washington (five years, $251 million), and Anfernee Simons stays with Portland (four years, $100 million). ), while Jalen Brunson has agreed to join the New York Knicks (four years, $104 million).
Teams were also busy on the trade front, with Utah sending Rudy Gobert to Minnesota. All the news is in comparison to a Kevin Durant bombshell revelation. He wants out of Brooklyn. The availability of Durant will significantly change the free agency landscape.
But that may take some time to settle down. But which team has decided right or wrong so far? While there are still many moving parts at play, USA TODAY Sports’ NBA team is trying to make sense of it all.
Here’s a look at the biggest winners and losers from the first five days of free agency:
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Losers: Golden State Warriors
It’s hard to call the reigning NBA champions “losers,” but Golden State parted ways with two role players who were key to their title run. Gary Payton II signed a three-year, $28 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, while Otto Porter Jr. agreed to a two-year deal with Toronto. Although the Warriors were able to hold Kevon Looney (three years, $25.5 million), Golden State’s depth has taken a major dip.
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Winner: Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves may have paid a royal ransom to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Rudy Gobert – Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro and Walker Kessler, the No. 22 in last week’s draft, unprotected first-round picks in 2023, 2025 and 2027, plus a top-five pick in 2029 — but Minnesota is adding the three-time Defensive Player of the Year to its roster.
Gobert will join D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns, who signed a four-year, $224 million extension last week. This lineup could do some damage and keep up in the west.
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Loser: Miami Heat
The Heat lost to conference rivals Philadelphia after an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals PJ Tucker and could lose sixth man of the year Tyler Herro. However, the Heat could quickly turn from losers to winners, especially if they land Kevin Durant. Miami’s stellar front office will continue to work to improve the roster.
Loser: Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets’ troubles didn’t come by free hand. Kyrie Irving exercised the player option in the final year of his contract for the 2022-23 season, but it’s not clear if Irving will play another game for the Nets. The same goes for Kevin Durant, who applied for a trade with the Nets just hours before free agency opened. This comes nearly five months after Brooklyn traded James Harden to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons.
Though Brooklyn will certainly get first-round picks if they trade away Durant and Irving, the Nets are poised for another rebuild after that failed experiment.
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To be determined: Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have so far stayed on the fringes, signing contracts with Troy Brown Jr., Damian Jones, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Lonnie Walker IV. But that’s not enough to make the Lakers contenders. We’re waiting to see if they can acquire Kyrie Irving (or any other star) in an offseason deal.
Winner: Boston Celtics
The Celtics didn’t have to do much, but they couldn’t stay the same. Finding a playmaking point guard that would add depth to the rotation was a necessity. Brad Stevens, president of Boston’s basketball department, spent his one year on the job making deals to improve the team and another freelance. Boston acquired Malcolm Brogdon from the Pacers without giving up key rotation players. A rotation with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Grant Williams, Al Horford and Brogdon is dangerous offensively and defensively.
TBD: Sacramento Kings
Not winners or losers, let’s give the kings temporary props to find shooters in the De’Aaron Fox-Domantas Sabonis combo. Offseason acquisitions Malik Monk (Free Agency) and Kevin Huerter (via Trade) will help the Kings stretch the floor. Sacramento also drafted Keegan Murray with the number 4. Things are looking good on paper. Let’s see what the Kings and new coach Mike Brown can do with this lineup on the court.
Winner: Philly 76ers
The Sixers lured PJ Tucker from Miami (although it’s a bit overpaid, but good for Tucker, who’s a defensive and corner 3-point specialist), and they worked with James Harden to get his player option for 47, Turning down $4 million and giving him a longer deal at a slightly lower annual salary. As a result, the Sixers could have some financial leeway to improve the roster. The Sixers also added depth inexpensively, scoring a deal with Daniel House Jr. playing with Harden in Houston.
TBD: Utah Jazz
What is jazz doing? This is a question that has not yet been clarified. Utah last week hired 34-year-old Will Hardy as their new head coach to replace Quin Snyder. Utah traded Gobert to Minnesota for multiple players and multiple first-round picks, and also sent Royce O’Neale to the Nets for a 2023 conditional first-round draft pick to be built around Donovan Mitchell.
TBD: Portland Trail Blazers
New Trail Blazers GM Joe Cronin didn’t stand still as the Blazers acquired Jerami Grant in a trade, called up Shadeon Sharpe, kept Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic, and added Gary Payton II. It’s an improvement with more work, but a decent start to help Damian Lillard.
TBD: Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks acquired All-Star Dejounte Murray, who was close to a triple-double last season, and that’s helping Trae Young. But the Hawks also traded Kevin Huerter to Sacramento, lost Delon Wright to Washington, and sent Danilo Gallinari and three first-round draft picks to San Antonio in the Murray deal. The Hawks had a disappointing season in 2021-22 and they may need more than the Murray deal to thrive in the East.
Loser: New York Knicks
The Knicks signed Jalen Brunson to a four-year, $104 million contract. It’s a fine addition to free agency, if not a bit overpaid. But the question is: how much better does that make the Knicks? Maybe better than last season. Maybe not. It doesn’t make them contenders as the roster stands now.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2022 NBA Free Agency Winners (T’Wolves, Celtics) and Losers (Warriors)