Day 2 of 2022 NBA free agency was another day of big money and big moves. We also saw three significant trades all happen within a couple of hours of one another, and none of them were Kevin Durant. His trade request still looms over the NBA, but it has not halted business in the slightest. That gives us a lot to recap in this Day 2 review. This was the recap from Day 1.
The trades of the day? We’ve covered that in the following places:
We’ve got the big moves, the expected re-signs, head-scratchers, signings of great value, things we’re on the fence about, reported values and a lot more. We’ll get through all of them from Day 2 with grades for some and emojis for others.
The big moves of the day
Zach LaVine agrees to re-sign with Chicago Bulls | $215.2 million over five years
This is a lot of money to LaVine, and while he’s played like a star on offense for a couple of years now, there still needs to be something more to the evolution of his game to make this a contract he justifies on the court in the future. That’s not to say it’s a bad deal. The Bulls had to do it. And LaVine is a tremendous scorer. However, the pairing of LaVine and DeMar DeRozan eats up a massive chunk of the salary cap. Toss in the deals for Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso from last summer, and we’re really pushing the money for perimeter players. That’s roughly $84 million for those four perimeter players next season.
Factoring in Nikola Vučević at $22 million and an eventual contract extension for Patrick Williams starting in 2023-24, the Bulls are paying a lot of money for a team that probably isn’t up for contending in the East. With Boston, Milwaukee, Miami and Philadelphia ahead of them, that’s a gauntlet to get through. If the Bulls decide to swing Vučević, Williams and maybe another young role player plus future picks for a big-time center, then everything looks a lot better coming together in the future. But that, too, would be a lot of money. Regardless, it’s a very good signing to bring back LaVine on this max for now.
John Wall agrees to deal with LA Clippers | $13.2 million over two years
It’s been a long time since we saw Wall consistently play basketball on an NBA court, but he’s the type of player the LA Clippers need in their backcourt. They need a distributor who can put pressure downhill on the defense. In theory, Wall provides that. He’s a nice complement to Reggie Jackson in the point guard role, and we’ll get a chance to see if he can stay healthy with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Don’t expect the Wall of old, but he can still contribute here and it’s low cost/low risk.
The expected re-signs of the day
Jusuf Nurkić agrees to re-sign with Portland Trail Blazers| $70 million over four years
I don’t hate the signing, and Nurkić has been unheralded for how much he means to this team following his grotesque leg injury a few years ago. However, I don’t like what the Blazers have done to retool this roster overall. Individually, the moves are justified, and the value is fine. Nurkić for this kind of money? Acceptable. Anfernee Simons getting $25 million per season? I get it. Gary Payton II for less than $10 million per season? Sign me up. Trade for Jerami Grant? I dig it. Is this roster any better than what we saw two years ago? Doesn’t seem like it.
Kevon Looney agrees to re-sign with Golden State Warriors | $25.5 million over three years
The luxury-tax implications of this move are ridiculous, but it’s not my checking account. I like this deal for Looney, and the Golden State Warriors are probably getting a discount still. Where I’m down on the move (and really their early offseason) is they’ve retained Looney while losing Otto Porter Jr., Gary Payton II and Nemanja Bjelica (going back to Europe). It puts a lot of pressure to fill those gaps on the roster. Maybe the young guys fill those roles admirably, but that’s asking a lot for inexperienced guys on a defending champion.
The on-the-fence deals of the day
These aren’t necessarily bad deals, but I’m struggling to fall on one side or the other with them. These signings might remain up in the air with how you can truly justify them until we get some distance from this day.
Mitchell Robinson agrees to re-sign with New York Knicks | $60 million over four years
The idea of Robinson is tremendous, and this is actually good value for him over the four years of this deal if he grows into his potential. It won’t be hard for him to outplay this deal with the New York Knicks. But Robinson seems to be on the fence between being another Clint Capela and being another Hassan Whiteside. If he can figure out that the best defensive play for his team is not always jumping out of position for a blocked shot, he can settle this defense down and anchor it properly.
Great values of the day
Gary Payton II agrees to deal with Portland Trail Blazers | $28 million over three years
I’m a little confused on how Payton seamlessly fits into whatever Chauncey Billups wants the Portland Trail Blazers to do, but they desperately need a defender of his caliber. He can work off-ball as an offensive weapon, but he should be out there next to Simons as much as possible in those second units.
Ricky Rubio agrees to deal with Cleveland Cavaliers | $18.4 million over three years
It will take time for Rubio to come back from an ACL tear for the second time in his career, but getting him at $6 million per season for every year of this three-year deal ensures the value moving forward for the Cavaliers is high for their backup point guard.
Otto Porter Jr. agrees to deal with Toronto Raptors | Two-year deal
Shocked that Porter leaves the defending champs for such a small deal, but this is another great move by Masai Ujiri as he attempts to turn the Toronto Raptors into nothing but 6-foot-9 guys with crazy wingspans and perimeter skills.
Bruce Brown Jr. agrees to deal with Denver Nuggets | $13.2 million over two years
This is one of my favorite signings of the offseason so far. Brown is great at filling the gaps on the floor, and his cutting will be deadly with Nikola Jokić slinging him the ball. Put on your conspiracy hats, see that Brown and DeAndre Jordan (both friends of Kevin Durant) are now on the roster and have a good but futile time with the trade machine.
Head-scratchers of the day
Derrick Jones Jr. agrees to re-sign with Chicago Bulls | $6.6 million over two years
It’s mostly a head-scratcher for me because I just assumed Jones wouldn’t have to settle for a pay cut like this moving forward. He still provides great athleticism and some solid defense all over the floor, so it’s a good deal for Chicago. It would help if that jump shot came around.
Quick-hitter small deals
No offense to these teams and their respective signings, but we’re deeming these simply worthy of a quick sentence or two, followed by an emoji to deem it yay or nay as a move. Thumbs up means good. Two thumbs up means great. Thumbs down means bad. Two thumbs down means terrible. Handshake is neutral.
Robin Lopez agrees to deal with Cleveland Cavaliers | One-year deal
The Cavs already have a deep big man rotation, and Lopez brings a great presence to it on both ends of the floor for the second unit.
Yay or nay? 👍 👍
Aaron Holiday agrees to deal with Atlanta Hawks | One-year deal
I continue to believe in Holiday, and he provides nice depth behind a spectacular backcourt in Atlanta.
Yay or nay? 👍
Raul Neto agrees to deal with Cleveland Cavaliers | One-year deal
Neto probably becomes expendable once Rubio is healthy if the Cavs bring back Collin Sexton, but he’s going to be a nice stopgap and nice depth for the Cavs backcourt behind Darius Garland until then.
Yay or nay? 👍
Drew Eubanks agrees to re-sign with Portland Trail Blazers | One-year deal
They acquired Eubanks at the trade deadline and bring him back for depth behind Nurkić. It’s fine as a deal but of no great consequence.
Yay or nay? 🤝
Theo Pinson agrees to re-sign with Dallas Mavericks | One-year deal
Pinson is the reason for all those Dallas Mavericks bench decorum fines during the postseason, but he’s a great locker room presence, so this works.
Yay or nay? 🤝
Luke Kornet agrees to re-sign with Boston Celtics | Two-year deal
Everybody needs a fifth-string center who can shoot 3-pointers and provide some entertainment during garbage time.
Yay or nay? 🤝
Names to keep an eye on:
Big names still available: James Harden
Veteran lead guards: Goran Dragić, Dennis Schröder, Rajon Rondo, Elfrid Payton, DJ Augustin, Isaiah Thomas
Important veterans: Carmelo Anthony, Austin Rivers, Serge Ibaka, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul Millsap, Lou Williams, Avery Bradley, Andre Iguodala
Young guys to take a chance on: Josh Okogie, Jarrett Culver
Big men: Tristan Thompson, Thomas Bryant, Gorgui Dieng, Hassan Whiteside, Bismack Biyombo, DeMarcus Cousins, Ed Davis
Forwards: TJ Warren, Juancho Hernangomez, Eric Paschall, Markieff Morris
Wings and shooters: Jeremy Lamb, Rodney Hood, Wayne Ellington, Tomas Satoransky, Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Jackson, Tony Snell, Lance Stephenson, Damion Lee, Bryn Forbes
Plumlees and Zellers: Marshall, Miles, Tyler, Luke
(Photo of Zach LaVine: Bill Streicher / USA Today)
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