The Biggest Winners and Losers of NBA Free Agency Part 2


    Los Angeles Lakers 

    This list of winners starts no differently than any other. The Lakers hit a slam dunk during the 2023 free-agency period. The Lakers prepared for free agency by releasing C Mo Bamba and G Malik Beasley. These two players are underrated losses for the team, but the cap space they cleared by doing so justifies the moves. They used that cap space to retain all their core free agents, including F Rui Hachimura, G Austin Reaves, and G D’Angelo Russell.

    The team did more than bring back their players, adding significant depth that they lacked post-Westbrook trade. PG Gabe Vincent from the Miami Heat provides a much-needed shooting upgrade to Dennis Schröder in the Lakers guard rotation. Vincent comes off a remarkable postseason run with the Miami Heat, where he averaged 16 ppg in a seven-game conference final. F Taurean Prince was signed for a bargain one-year, $4 million deal, which brings another 3-and-D player into the fold.

    This year, the Lakers’ championship aspirations will continue to rely on the health of 38-year-old LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Still, GM Rob Pelinka has done everything he can to re-ensure the pair is surrounded by a championship-caliber roster. 

    Lakers: Best move by LA in 2023 NBA free agency

    Photo Cred: ClutchPoints 

    Milwaukee Bucks 

    The Bucks land on this list due to the large number of players they were fortunate enough to re-sign. The offseason could have torn apart the entire core built around star PF Giannis Antetokounmpo. Thankfully, Milwaukee was able to retain unrestricted free agents SG/SF Khris Middleton and C Brook Lopez. Middleton returned on a three-year, $102 million extension, an expensive contract for someone who was the second-best player on their championship team just two years ago. He will look to bounce back following an injury-riddled 22-23 season. The chances of the Bucks letting Middleton walk always seemed low.

    On the other hand, Lopez nearly signed with the Houston Rockets in free agency before ultimately re-signing on a two-year, $48 million contract. The team did lose a couple of notable role players, however, like G Jevon Carter and F Joe Ingles. Carter lands with the Chicago Bulls, while Ingles heads down to Orlando. Milwaukee brought in SG Malik Beasley to help replace them, signing him to a minimum-salary contract after a down year with the Lakers. Beasley has a chance to be the steal of free agency, as he has previously shown his massive upside as a lights-out three-point shooter. He’s precisely the type of player to play alongside Giannis. Overall, the Bucks needed to bring their core players back, which they did, and then some. 

    Bucks: 4 best players team must re-sign in 2023 NBA free agency

    Photo Cred: ClutchPoints


    Denver Nuggets

    The reigning champions had what many would consider a disappointing free agency period. The Nuggets were not quite able to retain all their core players. G/F Bruce Brown, their most significant free agent, left to sign a two-year, $45 million contract with the Indiana Pacers. Brown was a key contributor in their postseason run, but his departure always felt likely due to the limited contract Denver could offer. PF Jeff Green, another playoff rotation player, signed a two-year, $16 million contract with the Houston Rockets. The Nuggets brought in F Justin Holiday to help replace the pair, but they undoubtedly lost two of their best defenders.

    PG Reggie Jackson was their signature re-signing, now on a two-year, $10.25 million contract. Jackson went to the Nuggets last season after being traded from the LA Clippers and bought out by the Charlotte Hornets. He was disappointing in his time with Denver, barely cracking their playoff rotation. They arguably could’ve spent that money to re-sign Jeff Green or bring in a better replacement for Bruce Brown. C DeAndre Jordan also returned on a minimum-salary deal, but he looks to be nothing more than a locker-room veteran at this point in his career.

    Denver also lost their backup C Thomas Bryant, a player they traded for at the deadline last season. The team will need C Zeke Nnaji to step up in the regular season to eat minutes when star C Nikola Jokic is on the bench. The Nuggets should enjoy their first NBA Championship, but there’s no doubt the team got worse heading into next year on paper. 

    4 best players Nuggets must re-sign in 2023 NBA free agencyPhoto Cred: ClutchPoints

    Houston Rockets

    The Rockets unsurprisingly make this list after seemingly being the league’s laughingstock following free agency. The team led the NBA in available cap space, using it on their two major signings of PG Fred VanVleet and SG/SF Dillon Brooks. VanVleet, coming over from the Toronto Raptors, becomes one of the highest-paid players in the league after netting $126 million over the next three years. Thankfully for them, the third year of his deal is a team option, meaning he will likely be off the books when their young core needs contract extensions.

    VanVleet was an All-Star just two years ago, and his signing undoubtedly makes this team better (even if they overpaid). Brooks, who joins the team after a sign-and-trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, will be on a four-year, $86 million deal worth up to $90 million. Brooks is a controversial player around the league and takes far too many shots, given his shooting ability. While Brooks does improve this team’s defense, he may still be here in three years, eating up far too much cap space. As previously mentioned, they also signed F Jeff Green to a solid contract for a great locker room veteran.

    The biggest reason the Rockets land on this list is their failure to sign C Brook Lopez, who returned to the Bucks. The team even traded away young prospects like PG TyTy Washington Jr. and PF/C Usman Garuba to clear up cap space for their third significant free agent signing. The reigning DPOY would’ve been a massive addition to improve the Rockets’ defense but, unfortunately for them, Milwaukee decided to pay up.

    NBA free agency 2023: What to know, when it begins, rumors, trades

    Photo Cred: USA Today 

    Andrew Bruner
    Andrew Bruner
    I'm Andrew Bruner, a rising senior at the University of Kentucky studying Public Policy/Business. I will primarily be covering topics surrounding the NFL/NBA, alongside UK/SEC football and basketball.

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