NBA

The Winners & Losers of 2024 NBA Free Agency

Jul 9, 2024, 2:34 PM | Updated: Jul 10, 2024, 8:10 am

DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls drives to the basket against Harrison Barnes #40 of the Sacr...

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 14: DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls drives to the basket against Harrison Barnes #40 of the Sacramento Kings in the second half at Golden 1 Center on March 14, 2022 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Summer 2024 has been a wild one, particularly with NBA Free Agency.

Over a week has gone by since the start of the legal tampering period of 2024, meaning most key free agents and trades have already been finalized. In that timeframe, we’ve seen a blitzkrieg of moves, both major and minor, across the country. That includes here in Sacramento with the Kings, landing six-time all-star Demar DeRozan via sign-and-trade.

But with plenty of time still to go until the 2024 NBA regular season begins, with more moves be on the horizon? Or, are most teams set for the upcoming season? Let’s take inventory shall we?

Here are three winners, and three losers, of 2024 NBA Free Agency so far.

Winners:

OKC Thunder:

Key Ins: Isaiah Hartenstein, Alex Caruso

Key Outs: Josh Giddey, Gordon Hayward

After a surprising run to the No.1 seed in the western conference last season, the Oklahoma City Thunder have responded this offseason in NBA Free Agency by filling needs and holes that halted their playoff run.

The trade for Alex Caruso was shrewd by general manager Sam Presti, letting go of a talent prospect in Josh Giddey, but one that was struggling to make progress in a swifter pace. Instead, he gets a fresh start on the rebuilding Chicago, while Caruso goes to a contender in OKC.

Win-Win.

Additionally, the contract of center Isaiah Hartenstein (3-years, $87 million) might be a light overpay, but one that they can afford and desperately needed considering the player. Hartenstein thrived for the Knicks the last few years, now slotting in opposite of budding star Chet Holmgren to anchor OKC’s defense.

Retaining key role players in Aaron Wiggins and Isaiah Joe on cost-effective salaries was also excellent business, setting up Presti and the Thunder for another run in 2024-25. And if they are ahead of schedule and feel ready to take the leap towards real title contention, Presti has the picks to go get almost anyone.

The NBA world is his oyster.

Philadelphia 76ers:

Key Ins: Paul George, Caleb Martin, Andre Drummond, Eric Gordon, Jared McCain (Rookie)

Key Outs: Tobias Harris, De’Anthony Melton, Nick Batum, Kyle Lowry, Buddy Hield, Paul Reed

One of the hardest things to do as a front office is hold onto a massive amount of cap space and then use it correctly. And that’s what GM Darryl Morey has done this offseason, with the key prize being Paul George.

Snagging PG on a four-year deal gives Philly one of the best Big 3’s in the NBA. He fits perfectly with coach Nick Nurse, as well as alongside Tyrese Maxey and former MVP Joel Embiid. George won’t be asked to be the lead soccer as well, only to fill in the gaps as stud two-way player on a consistent basis.

More also did a nice job of filling out the rest of the roster, especially with the signing of Caleb Martin and Andre Drummond to raise the floor of the team. Rookie Jared McCain will also be needed for his shooting off the bench, but a role he can do right away.

The point of all this is to be one of the five teams that could emerge out of the East; The 76ers are absolutely one of those teams.

San Antonio Spurs:

Key Ins: Chris Paul, Harrison Barnes, Stephon Castle (Rookie), PICKS!!!

Key Outs: Cedi Osman, Devonte’ Graham

The Spurs’ front office has always been known to be smart in business, that’s why their dynasty of 15 years ended with five world titles. Now about a decade later, San Antonio appears to be setting up for long-term success once more.

The development of phenom Victor Wembanyama has accelerated the timeline a bit, but not enough for their front office to push all the chips in just yet. Instead, they added savvy veterans in Chris Paul and Harrison Barnes to bring more pedigree to an otherwise youthful roster. While both men aren’t at their playing primes by any means, it’s still wise to have high I.Q. players to surround Wemby.

Additionally, the drafting of guard Stephon Castle fits perfectly with what the Spurs do. His offense will be a work in progress, especially his shooting, but the two-way potential is undeniable.

On top of that, San Antonio somehow ended up with a 2031 pick swap with the Kings during the DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade. Why you ask? Because the Bulls are cheap, and the Spurs are not.

Adding veteran talent while also adding draft capital down the line? Another good NBA Free Agency for the Spurs.

Others: Dallas Mavericks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic

Losers:

Los Angeles Lakers

Key Ins: Dalton Knecht (Rookie)

Key Outs: Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince

The Los Angeles Lakers are stuck. It’s as simple as that.

The Lakers are playing $187 million in salary to their players this year, handicapping them on what they can get done moving forward. Their big play was trying to acquire Klay Thompson or DeMar DeRozan on a reduced deal; They struck out on both fronts.

So all that talk of LeBron James taking a pay cut to add win-now players? Yeah, that’s over, he signed just below the max to ensure the Lakers wouldn’t be in the second apron.

Hooray.

The losses of Dinwiddie and Prince will also sting, even if rookie shooter Dalton Knecht can connect from outside on a regular basis.

LAL will likley be where they are last season, struggling to get out of the Play-In Tournament.

Denver Nuggets

Key Ins: None

Key Outs: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Similar to the Lakers, the Denver Nuggets are stuck because their payroll is astronomical. Their top four players are making close to $145 million combined this season (YIKES). Their only way to salvage some roster depth is to either hit on rookies, or re-sign the guys you already had.

And they let KCP walk to Orlando for $22 million annually.

Outside of their four stars/starters, the Nuggets’ depth is bleak at best. Michael Malone will have to put a lot of fiats in one of the young prospects taking a big leap next season, because 2024 NBA Free Agency was not kind to Denver.

Miami Heat

Key Ins: Kel’el Ware (Rookie), Alec Burks

Key Outs: Caleb Martin

Also similar to its’ two loser predecessors, the Miami Heat are a second apron team, with a payroll of $178.8 million currently.

All of the Heat’s money has been doled out already, leaving only roster scraps or their own guys to re-sign. And basically neither happened this summer.

Caleb Martin surprisingly walked to rival Philadelphia, they whiffed on getting DeRozan as well, and Tyler Herro’s value has dropped off a cliff.

So what choice do they have but to run it back?

Maybe rookie Kel’el Ware can be something off the bench like Jaime Jaquez. Besides that, it’s the same Heat team as last year, and the one NBA franchise will no place to sit in the musical chairs of NBA Free Agency this summer.

Others: Chicago Bulls (duh), Los Angeles Clippers

We’ll See (Bonus):

Sacramento Kings:

Key Ins: DeMar DeRozan, Devin Carter (Rookie)

Key Outs: Harrison Barnes, Chris Duarte

Thoughts will be reserved until GM Monte McNair finishes cooking, because reports indicate he isn’t done yet. The DeRozan deal was a bit more expensive (both contractual and trade assets) than many assumed, but it raises the ceiling of the Kings unquestionably.

Your move, Monte. The 916 is playing close attention.

Sacramento Kings 2024 Summer Schedule

California Classic | Golden 1 Center | Sacramento, CA

  • Tuesday, July 9th – vs. Charlotte Hornets – 7:00 PM PDT

California Classic | Chase Center | San Francisco, CA

  • Sunday, July 7th – vs. Miami Heat – 1:30 PM PDT
  • Wednesday, July 10th – vs. Golden State Warriors – 7:00 PM PDT

NBA 2K25 Summer League | Thomas & Mack Center/Cox Pavilion | Las Vegas, NV

  • Friday, July 12th – @ Memphis Grizzlies – 3:00 PM PDT (NBA TV)
  • Monday, July 15th – vs. Utah Jazz – 7:00 PM PDT (ESPNU)
  • Wednesday, July 17th – @ New York Knicks – 12:30 PM PDT (NBA TV)
  • Thursday, July 18th – vs. Washington Wizards – 4:00 PM PDT (ESPN)
  • Final game TBD

NBA Offseason Schedule

  • Saturday, July 6th – Free Agents can officially sign contracts
  • July 12-22nd – Las Vegas Summer League
  • July 27-August 11th – 2024 Olympic Games
  • Friday, September 27th – NBA training camps begin

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The Winners & Losers of 2024 NBA Free Agency