2024 NBA Free Agency Way Too Early Numbers

2024 NBA Free Agency Way Too Early Numbers

Fast and furious doesn’t begin to describe the launch of NBA free agency on the first day of open bidding for players with expired contracts.

The Philadelphia 76ers spent $416 million in guaranteed deals to extend point guard Tyrese Maxey and add unrestricted free agent Paul George, making headlines and giving Philly a so-called “Big Three” in Joel Embiid.

Without George, the Clippers appeared to be taking a step back, but they quickly acted by signing Derrick Jones Jr., a free agent the Mavericks were eager to get back.

And Oklahoma City scored another big goal — and another defenseman — in Isaiah Hartenstein, while bringing back sharpshooter Isaiah Joe for $48 million.

Here are the numbers for the first wave of free agency:

Chicago Bulls

Signed C Jalen Smith, 3 years, $27M

Active bigs were a serious need for Chicago, and the Bulls have a potential diamond in the rough without overpaying. Smith played a backup role behind Myles Turner for the Pacers, but he performed at a level that means upside. He’s a new-age 5-man and shot 42 percent from 3-point range last season.

Grade: B+

Los Angeles Clippers

<Signed F Derrick Jones Jr., three years, $30 million
>Lost UFA Paul George (Clippers)

The PG-Kawhi pairing makes for one final tale of disappointment. What perhaps never should have happened did with the Clippers, and George found green pastures again with the 76ers. It’s not an add-by-subtract move, but more defined roles for Harden and Leonard with the active and agile on-ball defense of Jones Jr. may not be the losing trade-off some are suggesting.

Grade B

Oklahoma City Thunder

<Signed C Isaiah Hartenstein, three years, $87 million

Joe is a knockdown perimeter shooter and one-on-one defender, and Hartenstein likely provides a huge boost to the Thunder’s defense and rebounding stats without being such a significant factor as a scorer. Hartenstein is an underrated passer and does more than just block the lane in halfcourt defense. Oklahoma City has been deliberate in its approach to being near the top of the league in defense and strictly defining roles on the roster. It’s working.

Class A

Philadelphia 76ers

<Signed RFA PG Tyrese Maxey, five-year, $204 million deal

It’s the summer Philadelphia has been waiting for, and team president Daryl Morey has found a max-level free agent to take over the 76ers’ cap space. It’s the latest attempt to appease Joel Embiid, who has yet to prove he’s capable of co-starring on a championship team.

Tyrese Maxey ranked in the top 20 in assists and scoring (25.9 points per game) last season, leading the team to the playoffs while Embiid battled another knee injury. Given George’s age (34) and Embiid’s durability, this has crash-and-burn potential along the lines of Bradley Beal, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker in Phoenix. Keeping Philly’s stars consistently on the court and available in the peak of the postseason crunch will determine the pass-fail nature of this series of moves, but the 76ers have yet to take a stab at finding a third star.

Grade B-