A Red-Hot Beginning to Free Agency

Blake Brenek, J1 Guest Writer

Dateline: November 16, 2020

This time of year is arguably the most anticipated time for anyone associated with the NBA. Whether you’re a fan, a player, a coach, or someone who works in the front office, free agency is possibly more exciting and important than the season itself. Every year there will be a star player that attracts attention by revealing that they want to be traded to another team. Also, teams will swap draft picks for players and vice versa trying to improve their rosters and possible futures before the season tips off.

Free agency and trading began today, November 16, at 12:00 ET. About an hour after it began, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Phoenix Suns made a trade. The Thunder sent Chris Paul and Abdel Nader to Phoenix in exchange for Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, and a 2022 first-round pick. Many people believe that Oklahoma City received the better half of this trade because they were able to give away a 35 year old point guard that makes over 35 million per year for younger assets. Fans reacted on Twitter criticizing the Suns decision making by trying to pair their current star, Devin Booker, with a veteran who won’t be as good as he once was.

Last year’s duo in Houston, Texas will most likely not play together this season. Russell Westbrook, a 32-year-old former MVP, asked the Rockets for a trade less than a week ago. He feels like he is much more impactful when the team’s offense is run through him and he is able to have the ball in his hands more often, which can be backed up by stats from the past. After hearing the news about Westbrook, James Harden realized that he had almost no chance of making any noise in the playoffs by himself. This led Harden to ask to be traded as well. The top two targets to land Harden as of now are the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76’s. Anyone who watches the NBA or keeps up with trade updates and where players are playing know that if the Nets are able to land Harden, they could be lethal in the upcoming season.

Last offseason, Brooklyn was able to pick up former MVP and NBA Finals champion, Kevin Durant, and another former NBA champion, Kyrie Irving. Both all stars are returning from injuries that could affect their skill level for their upcoming season, but if they are able to return to full form or near it and they’re able to team up with another former MVP, James Harden, everyone knows that there will be championship contenders in Brooklyn.

The last team to get busy with trades and signings is the Milwaukee Bucks. Their generational talent, Giannis Antetokunmpo, is hitting free agency next year and there is already major speculation on where Giannis will sign. Some critics and hopeful Bucks fans think that if the Bucks can surround Antetokounmpo with other stars, then they will have enough leverage to re-sign him to a long contract next year. Taking Giannis’ competitiveness into account, he clearly wants to win. He already has hall of fame worthy accolades, besides championships. He has won back-to-back MVPs in the last two seasons and he was awarded defensive player of the year last season. The two leaders to land Giannis after this season are the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat. Both of these teams can provide Antetokounmpo a good chance at winning a Finals. Be on the lookout for Milwaukee to trade future picks and try to acquire star players to keep their star for years to come.