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The Three Best Deals of Free Agency

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

The NBA’s free agency period has already seen over $1.5 billion spent thanks to long-term extensions of seven of the league’s top players, and while that number is slowing down as more and more teams come to terms with players, the fireworks are sure to continue for a few weeks yet.

The Kevin Durant trade request caught so much of the League off-guard and looms as a move that could potentially shake up the power balance we currently see around the association, while the outcome of any Durant move could potentially decide what the Nets ultimately do with teammate Kyrie Irving.

Despite these key moves which are yet to play out, let’s take a look at what I believe are the three best deals that have already occurred in Free Agency.

Lu Dort – 5/$87.5m extension to stay in Oklahoma City.

In our most recent show, Ben and I discussed this at length. Initially, Ben wasn’t a fan of the deal, saying the thought of paying Dort nearly $18m a year for the next five seasons doesn’t sit well with him given the ilk of players around the league currently on a similar salary. Lonzo Ball, Clint Capela and Domantas Sabonis are all players on around the same money and all, I would agree, have a greater impact on their teams success that Dort does, but this doesn’t factor in the future and what Oklahoma City are doing.

We know OKC are rebuilding, and doing so at a sometimes painfully slow rate. Locking up Dort now, who is still only 22 years old and coming off a season where he averaged 17 points, four rebounds and a couple of assists with a steal is just such good business sense. While I agree he’s probably not worth this contract now, fans need to think about the potential for growth in his game and what this deal could look like in three-to-four years time when he is on the verge of his prime as a 26 year-old.

I can't believe anyone wouldn't like the deal Oklahoma and Dort have signed, which will see him in OKC for the next five years for $87.5m. Credit: Thunderous Intentions.

I see Dort as a player who still has much improvement in his game. He could easily be an efficient 20ppg scorer and borderline elite defender in three-to-four years time, and at that point, paying him under $20m annually will be seen as a steal. Additionally, with Josh Giddey and Chet Holmgren set to be restricted free agents prior to the ending of this deal, knowing you have Dort under contract at an affordable rate and with a team option in 2026/27 is just good business and basketball sense.

I genuinely can’t fathom why anybody wouldn’t like this deal from Oklahoma’s perspective, and for Dort, he’s probably getting paid overs in the present based on good faith and a reward for his efforts the past three seasons.

Malcolm Brogdon to the Celtics for Daniel Theis, Aaron Nesmith, Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan, Nik Stauskas and a 2023 First-Round draft choice.

Every trade deadline and every off-season for years upon years, the NBA world was abuzz with the rumours that the Celtics could get involved and shake things up. Under Danny Ainge’s tenure, that rarely happened, however Brad Stevens hasn’t wasted any time after moving from the bench to the front office, re-tooling a Celtics roster and Brogdon’s addition is the perfect change for a team what went to the Finals.

Put simply, the Celtics needed a genuine point-guard to take primary ball-handling duties off Jayson Tatum. In December last year, I floated that perhaps TJ McConnell was that guy as a gettable, affordable improvement, but Brogdon is a better player and, as it turns out, was arguably just as gettable – the Celtics only gave up one rotation player and one first round pick to acquire him!

Malcolm Brogdon shapes as being the play-maker the Celtics needed last post-season as they will once again contend for a Championship. Credit: SportsMax

Brogdon has averaged nearly 20ppg and six assists a game over three seasons with the Pacers while shooting a respectable 35.2% from three in that same span. While he won’t be expected to score in those same numbers, I’d expect his assist totals to improve and his steady hand running the offence will prove invaluable for Boston, who found themselves without a true floor general for much of last season.

Brogdon is a player who makes his teammates better and has previously logged a 50/40/90 season while with Milwaukee – I love this deal for the Celtics and can’t believe how little they had to give up in order to make this happen.

Nuggets Acquire Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith for Monte Morris and Will Barton.

Monte Morris has been good for the Nuggets – Barton too. But neither of them were worth keeping for this upcoming season given Denver will (hopefully) welcome back Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr to the line-up. With that in mind, a crafty, veteran back-up point guard in Ish Smith and a 3-and-D darling in Caldwell-Pope is a great trade off.

Caldwell-Pope is the player in this deal I especially love. While with the Lakers, you could be forgiven for assuming the hype around him as a player was the Lakers fanboys over-reacting to another one of their players, but in this case, you’d probably be wrong. Caldwell-Pope was a key to that Lakers title team, and looms as being able to be the same for the Nuggets.

The deal that has brought Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (pictured) and Ish Smith to Denver is a low-key move which could see big results for Denver. Credit: The Denver Post

He’s an above-average defender despite being arguably undersized as a wing in NBA, and over the past three seasons has proven he can be seen as a sharpshooter, converting on close to 40% of this threes during that time. He’s a great pick-up and a recently announced contract-extension with the Nuggets worth $30m over the next two seasons is potentially a bargain for a player who has proven he can hit big shots on the biggest stage.

Ish Smith is also a nice piece to this deal and helps the Nuggets not only cover the loss of Campazzo as a reserve guard, but also helps them buy time until Bones Hyland is ready to step into a much larger role with the team.

So, what do you think? Did I get it right? Did I mess it up? Let me know on twitter (@BMBTPodcast) or send us an email at!

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