NBA offseason winners and losers: Celtics add to championship formula; Hawks, Blazers prioritize defense We’re on our third day of the NBA free agency period and a lot has gone down. We’ll slowly be factoring in draft results as we flesh out the 2022 offseason winners and losers. This post will continue to update. Here’s what we have so far.
Winner: Boston Celtics
NBA offseason winners and losers All of those parts are highly expendable for Boston, which essentially got Brogdon for a first-round pick that will likely land in the mid-to-late 20s. Brogdon is really good. He adds to Boston’s ridiculously stacked defense and is another ball-handler and scorer to live well in a flowing, egalitarian offense.
Winner: Atlanta Hawks
Trading Kevin Huerter, a good player, for a draft pick that very well might not convey until 2027 is questionable to me. But right now, losing Huerter just because you have a position logjam is tough. The Hawks would’ve almost certainly preferred to keep Huerter over Bogdan Bogdanovic, but the latter doesn’t have the trade value to bring back a first-round pick, protected or otherwise.
Still, getting Murray from the Spurs makes this offseason a win for Atlanta. It can still get better, but Murray alone is a really nice addition. There are pessimistic points about the pairing with Trae Young. Both thrive with the ball. Young is a more natural option playing off-ball, but he has to commit, and by commit I don’t mean simply standing somewhere spacing the floor while Murray is running pick and roll.
Young has to move. Cut. Relocate. Become a Steph Curry-like fly to track. I have my doubts about his desire to do that. I envision more of him moving once off a screen, not getting the ball, then standing around or, at best, running toward the handler for a dribble-hand-off. But even in that environment the Hawks are a better team. Murray is a second guy who can get two feet in the paint and he has really improved his midrange shooting.
Defensively, Murray is a long, athletic monster. He’s a nightmare on-ball and a hawk, so to speak, off the ball. You’re playing with fire even trying to run a DHO with him tracking. He’ll reach in with those Inspector Gadget arms and poke that thing away in a snap. The Hawks now have two high-level perimeter defenders in Murray and De’Andre Hunter. Onyeka Okongwu can be pretty big-time on the defensive end. If they trade Collins or Capela, it has to be for another two-way player so as to keep Young as the only real target in the starting lineup. That’s how a Trae Young team can survive defensively. Without any other weak links. Atlanta is making moves to create that reality.
The man has played 85 career games over three seasons, one of which he didn’t play a single second, and he just got a five-year contract extension that could be worth up to $231 million. I’m not sure if this is a win yet for the Pelicans. If Zion plays and stays healthy for the majority of this contract, of course, it’s a win. New Orleans has a pretty damn good team brewing.
But if Williamson is in and out of the lineup and the Pelicans never gain real traction in a loaded Western Conference, and Zion’s trade value dips because he can’t stay healthy, this could end up ugly for the Pels. But for Zion, regardless of how it plays out, he walks out filthy rich.
The Wolves gave up enough capital to choke a hippo, but they got Rudy Gobert. After signing Karl-Anthony Towns to a four-year, $224 million extension that keeps him in Minnesota for the next six years, it’s twin-tower time in Minnesota, which sent back to Utah Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Walker Kessler, Leandro Bolmaro, Jarred Vanderbilt and multiple first-round picks: unprotected first-rounders in 2023, 2025, and 2027, and a top-five protected pick in 2029.