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NBA Free Agency Update

Jalen Brunson posing with New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau during a media day. (Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated)

NEW YORK — Although the NBA is currently in its offseason, the excitement around the league has yet to rest. The current free agency period has been of much excitement and speculation, with big superstar names being tossed around, contracts bigger than ever, and “superteams” forming while other ones fall. Unfortunately, with a lack of Latino NBA players in the league, a focus on just players of Latin American descent in the league could not be done, although it will be noted. 

One of the most intriguing parts of free agency every year is witnessing the shakeup in the league, with completely reshaped teams being formed and new contenders being made, while other teams make their way into a rebuild. Some of the biggest ‘new signings’ during this 2022 free agency period have included Jalen Brunson‘s four-year, $100 million deal to join RJ Barrett and Julius Randle in the Big Apple after leaving the Dallas Mavericks as a second option to superstar Luka Doncic.

Although Brunson’s move may have been the only major shakeup in the free agency market, other pivotal moves have been made by teams to add to their supporting casts. Along with Brunson, other notable signings have included PJ Tucker. He recently left the Miami Heat to join Joel Embiid and the 76ers in Philadelphia. This team desperately needs to get over the hump and make their long-awaited Finals appearance. Speaking of Finals appearances, recent runner-up Boston Celtics only got better this offseason with their signing of forward Danilo Gallinari (two years, $13 million), who was a part of the Hawks last season but was later traded to the Spurs before being bought out. 

Furthermore, the Clippers made an interesting move by signing former Houston Rockets point guard John Wall to a two-year, $13 million contract. The 31-year-old point guard — who had been dealing with injuries in years prior — averaged 21 points and seven rebounds this past season and could be a significant contributor alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Lastly, Juan Toscano-Anderson — the only Mexican player currently in the league — made his move from one California team to another. After leaving the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, Toscano-Anderson signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he will be a much-needed role player next to LeBron James. 

Accompanying the whirlwind of players moving from team to team, one big aspect of this year’s free agency has been some of the massive re-signings made for big-name players to remain on their respective squads. Two of the biggest players have been Washington Wizards’ 29-year-old star wing Bradley Beal, who agreed to stay with the Wiz for $251 million over the next five years after declining his $36.4 million option. The other top player is Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine, who was the biggest name going into free agency, but expectedly resigned in a five-year, $251 million contract to stay with fellow stars DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball.

Although a clear tier below Beal and LaVine, second-option stars DeAndre Ayton and Anfernee Simons received hefty payments to stay with their squads for the next four years. The Phoenix Suns snagged Ayton away from the Indiana Pacers by matching a $133 million contract (good for the most extensive matching offer in NBA history), as Simons stays with the Portland Trail Blazers on a $100 million deal after a breakout season where he averaged 17.3 points and 3.9 assists on very efficient shooting.

Two notable veterans returned to their contending squads on smaller contracts. James Harden agreed to a two-year, $68 million deal to team back up with Joel Embiid for the next couple of years, while Heat guard Victor Oladipo came back to South Beach for two years, $18 million after he went on an offensive tear in the 2022 NBA playoffs.

While free agency has been a thrill to watch, so much more may come. One of the biggest pending storylines is the question of what is to come for the remaining parts of the crumbling Nets superteam, as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both expressed their wishes to leave Brooklyn but have yet to be included in any deal.

Similarly, speculation surrounding Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz has been surfacing over the past few months following Utah’s first-round exit, and he has become a prime trade candidate for much of the league looking to get into a contending or championship position.

Finally, many questions have been raised about the lack of action in free agency by some of the top contenders in both conferences, including the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, and Phoenix Suns, and whether it means something is coming or if these teams are content with where they are at the moment. 

 

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