Which Teams Are the Biggest Winners and Losers in Free Agency?

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Which Teams Are the Biggest Winners and Losers in Free Agency?
General manager Rob Pelinka gives Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images/AFP

Player movement in the NBA has been as exciting as some of the games recently. Who did the best and who did the worst in free agency and how does this affect the NBA odds?


Los Angeles Lakers


  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Trevor Ariza
  • Kent Bazemore
  • Wayne Ellington
  • Dwight Howard
  • Malik Monk
  • Kendrick Nunn


  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (traded to Wizards)
  • Alex Caruso (signed with Bulls)
  • Andre Drummond (signed with Sixers)
  • Montrezl Harrell (traded to Wizards)
  • Kyle Kuzma (traded to Wizards)
  • Ben McLemore (signed with Blazers)
  • Alfonzo McKinnie (waived)
  • Markieff Morris (signed with Heat)
  • Dennis Schroder (signed with Celtics)

Concerns for the Lakers’ spacing and outside shooting were abundant when they acquired Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards. The Lakers used free agency to bolster their roster adding a core of veteran sharpshooters. Anthony, Ariza, Bazemore, Ellington, and Nunn all are fantastic catch and shoot 3 point marksmen. They add to the Laker spacing and definitely assuage concerns of the Westbrook addition.

Carmelo Anthony. Steph Chambers/Getty Images/AFP

When going for a championship, coaches often like to play veteran players. Veteran players do not make the same mistakes young players do and can be counted on to make the smart play more often than not. By grabbing a bunch of veteran shooters to go around the Lakers’ ultra-talented core, this team is now prepared to make another title run. Give credit to the Lakers front office who addressed all the needs of the team as skillfully as possible given their current salary cap situation.

Washington Wizards


  • Spencer Dinwiddie
  • Kentavious Caldwell Pope
  • Kyle Kuzma
  • Montrezl Harrell
  • Aaron Holiday


  • Isaac Bonga (signed with Raptors)
  • Caleb Homesley (waived) Alex Len (signed with Kings)
  • Chandler Hutchison (traded to Spurs)
  • Robin Lopez (signed with Magic)
  • Ish Smith (signed with Hornets)
  • Russell Westbrook (traded to Lakers)

By getting rid of Westbrook the Wizards acquired the salary cap space and the potential usage for incoming point guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie is a fantastic fit next to Bradley Beal. He is a better shooter than Westbrook and can create his own shot. While no one in the league possesses Westbrook’s ability to frenetic attack the rim, Dinwiddie’s shooting ability from many ranges should actually open up the floor more for Beal.

This is a great fit for both players and gives Beal an incentive to make one last run in Washington. Give credit to the Washington front office for getting off of Westbrook’s bloated contract and adding a younger point guard that fits the team much better.

Miami Heat


  • PJ Tucker
  • Markieff Morris
  • Kyle Lowry


  • Precious Achiuwa (traded to Raptors)
  • Trevor Ariza (signed with Lakers)
  • Nemanja Bjelica (signed with Warriors)
  • Goran Dragic (traded to Raptors)
  • Andre Iguodala (signed with Warriors)
  • Kendrick Nunn (signed with Lakers)

Pat Riley is building a defensive juggernaut! The additions of PJ Tucker and Kyle Lowry make this the most fearsome defensive lineup in the NBA. I like what Riley is doing. Rather than copy the rest of the NBA, opting for building lineups of smaller 3 point specialists, Riley is building an old-school defensive juggernaut, reminiscent of the Bad Boy Pistons or his 90’s Knicks

PJ Tucker . Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for GQ/AFP

Whether or not it works, it is good to see some variety in team-building and Miami’s defense is going to be a shock. Teams will not be accustomed to Miami’s level of intensity and physicality. These additions of Lowry and Tucker put the Atlanta Hawks on notice. The Southeast division title still runs through Miami.


Milwaukee Bucks


  • George Hill
  • Rodney Hood
  • Semi Ojeleye
  • Grayson Allen


  • Sam Merrill (traded to Grizzlies)
  • P.J. Tucker (signed with Heat)

By failing to re-sign PJ Tucker with his Bird rights, the Bucks took out a major piece of their defensive tenacity and attitude that helped them win the title. Bucks fans have to be frustrated as other teams are going hundreds of million dollars into the luxury tax and the Bucks owner will not take a small financial hit just to retain such an important player.

It’s easy to bang on the NBA for being disproportionately unfair to small-market teams, but this is a case where the small-market team shot itself in the foot. Come on Wes Edens, Marc Lasry, and Jamie Dinan. Stop being cheap! You just won a title! This was a disappointing decision for the Bucks front office. We will see how it affects the morale of the team. Tucker’s defensive tenacity will be sorely missed.

Minnesota Timberwolves


  • Nathan Knight
  • McKinley Wright IV
  • Taurean Prince


  • Ricky Rubio (traded to Cavaliers)

The Timberwolves are trying to win right away to convince Karl Anthony Towns not to force his way out of town. Former stars Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love both had to leave in order to find themselves on a contender. The Wolves are trying to prove to Towns that this is not the case for him. The Wolves had targeted many players, such as free agent John Collins. Collins would have fit in well at the power forward position next to Towns. Yet the Timberwolves were not able to make any big moves. Their inability to sign free agents may cost them in the long run.

Portland Trail Blazers


  • Ben McLemore
  • Tony Snell
  • Cody Zeller


  • Carmelo Anthony (signed with Lakers)
  • Zach Collins (signed with Spurs)
  • Enes Kanter (signed with Celtics)

Another team desperately trying to keep the services of a top star. Damian Lillard is wavering on his commitment to a team that has failed to put the proper pieces around him for his whole career. Let’s be frank, losing Enes Kanter, Carmelo Anthony, and Zach Collins isn’t that bad. Kanter and Anthony were terrible defensive players and Collins barely played.

Damian Lillard. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

Unfortunately, the additions are not necessarily awe-inspiring. The Blazers added Tony Snell, Cody Zeller, and Ben McLemore. While these are fine moves to tinker with a contender, they do not put a Portland team in the middle of the pack any closer to contention. Once again the Blazers miss an opportunity to augment their roster and put Lillard in a position to win a championship.

Honorable Mention

Chicago Bulls


  • Tony Bradley
  • Alex Caruso
  • Lonzo Ball
  • DeMar DeRozan


  • Al-Farouq Aminu (traded to Spurs)
  • Tomas Satoransky (traded to Pelicans)
  • Garrett Temple (traded to Pelicans)
  • Daniel Theis (traded to Rockets)
  • Thaddeus Young (traded to Spurs)

The Bulls must be mentioned because they were so active and free agency yet their moves were rather surprising. The additions of Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso were fantastic! They got me excited about the direction the Bulls were moving in. It’s the addition of DeMar DeRozan that is troublesome. To give away Thad Young, and a first-round pick for the opportunity to overpay DeRozan seems foolhardy.

DeRozan is another negative defender to go along with Zach Lavine and Nikola Vucevic. This is a tough one for me to analyze. On one hand, DeRozan gives the team a nice ability to create good looks in clutch situations. DeRozan adds veteran leadership. On the other hand, the Bulls grossly overpaid in the form of 1st round pick and his contract is way too high for a player of his contribution level. Give credit to the Bulls for making aggressive moves, but if this overpay doesn’t work, the Bulls are still middle of the pack losing all these 1st round picks to assemble this roster could delay the rebuild for 3 to 5 years.


The NBA odds have the Lakers as the 2nd favorite to win the title and with these moves that seems correct. Lakers fans might have been worried that the window of opportunity was closed but the front office assembled a nice roster to make them the proper 2nd favorite. The Wizards have positioned themselves as a firm playoff team and now the NBA odds properly reflect that.

Fortunately, the Miami Heat still has good value to win the Eastern Conference. The Atlanta Hawks are still the darling in bettors’ minds after Trae Young’s break-out playoff performance. The Nets have the big names, but they are older and could succumb to injury again. At +1100 this gives us a great starting position in the East.

NBA Pick: Miami Heat to win the Eastern Conference +1100 at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

Miami Heat to win the Eastern Conference +1100
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*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.