The Most Interesting Financial Moves Of NBA Free Agency So Far

By on August 10, 2021 in ArticlesSports News

The NBA free agency period is always an interesting time. Players are switching teams or getting new contracts, the reward for their hard work the season or years prior. Teams hope their new additions can perform just as well on the court while players look for the perfect mix of financial security and championship possibilities. 

Throw in the deals for rookies — the NBA Draft did just happen, after all — and sign and trade deals and you've got the recipe for plenty of excitement. 

Per Spotrac, teams dished out a total of $3.45 billion in new signings, contract extensions, and rookie deals in the first five days of free agency.

That's a lot of money changing hands, so it's easy to miss some of the deals that went on. Here's a look at a few of the most interesting stories from a financial perspective.  

Kyle Lowry (L) and Jimmy Butler (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The Miami Heat are SPENDING

In the span of 24 hours, the Miami Heat committed to spending just about $350 million on three players. The team re-signed Jimmy Butler to a four-year, $184 million extension and brought back sharpshooter Duncan Robinson on a five-year, $90 million deal.

The Heat also traded Precious Achiuwa and Goran Dragic to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Miami Heat. And once teams were allowed to sign players, they offered Lowry three years and $85 million.  

To be fair, Butler, Lowry, and Robinson are all solid players, but by the end of those contracts, at least one deal may not look as pretty as it does now. 

A fun subplot from the 2017 NBA Draft

Whenever an NBA Draft (or any sport's draft) happens, analysts immediately start critiquing the picks. You'll always see "winners and losers" recaps, report cards, and other articles dissecting each and every selection before a game has ever been played.

While immediate gratification is nice, you get a better picture of how a draft class fared several years down the road.  And so far, it looks like the top players of the 2017 NBA Draft aren't the guys taken numbers one and two.

One of those guys — Lonzo Ball, who was the No. 2 pick — just joined the Chicago Bulls on a four-year, $85 million deal. The other one, Markelle Fultz, has a modest deal with the Orlando Magic worth $50 million and $35 million guaranteed. Between the two of them, Fultz and Ball have already played for five different teams in their brief careers.

The $135 million combined total of their two contracts is less than the individual deals for Jayson Tatum (No. 3 draft pick in 2017, $195 million), Donovan Mitchell (No. 13, $195 million), De'Aaron Fox (No. 5, $163 million), and Bam Adebayo (No. 14, $163 million).  

We can revisit the 2017 class again after the main players retire, but for now, this is a fun financial subplot. 

Jarrett Allen scores big

At the beginning of last season, Jarrett Allen found himself on the Brooklyn Nets. Normally, this would be an exciting time. The Nets, with a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, were among the favorites in the Eastern Conference.

Allen, who had started all but six games the previous two seasons in Brooklyn, was going to reap the benefits. He was initially backing up DeAndre Jordan, who the Nets also signed, but Allen was playing better and rejoined the starting lineup…just as the Nets traded for James Harden.

As part of that deal, the Nets sent Allen to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In his new role, Allen got to shine. He finished the season with career-high averages in minutes played, points, rebounds, and assists. And he'll enter next season with a shiny new contract.

The Cavs gave Allen a five-year extension worth $100 million. He'll be their center for the foreseeable future and one of the key pieces the team builds around. If he had stayed in Brooklyn, the Nets probably wouldn't have been able to afford him. Since he's re-signing with the Cavs instead of a new team (as we would have done to go from Brooklyn to somewhere else in free agency), he can get that extra fifth year of security.  

As for his old team, over the next couple of years, the Nets will likely give about $600 million in contract extensions to the trio of Durant, Irving, and Harden. Sometimes success is costly.

Two Philly players may need to squash a beef

Joel Embiid is one of the best trash talkers in the NBA. He's constantly jawing with other players and he knows how to push buttons. One of the most notable beefs is with Andre Drummond, a fellow center with whom Embiid has battled over the years. After one particularly heated game, Embiid told reporters he owns "a lot of real estate" in Drummond's head.

He also happens to be one of the top centers in the NBA — but he does have his fair share of injury history. And, to keep Embiid rested and his legs fresh come the postseason, the Sixers understandably want to provide him some help in the form of adding another player.

That player? Andre Drummond, who signed a one-year deal worth the veteran's minimum (about $2.4 million). 

To his credit, Drummond is downplaying the beef, telling reporters during his first media availability: "We're on the same team now, it's nothing that I'm thinking about." 

Earnings for star players are astronomical now

Though plenty of players are switching teams this summer, the largest contracts are often given to players staying with their current squads. 

Chris Paul signed a four-year deal worth $120 million. Steph Curry just agreed to his second contract extension worth over $200 million. Both will surpass $400 million dollars in career earnings by the time those contracts are done.

And Kevin Durant is expected to sign a four-year extension to stay with the Nets worth $198 million. In many of these deals, the final year features record-setting single-season salaries, even when adjusted for inflation.

It's a good time to be an NBA player. Teams have plenty of money to spend and they're not afraid to use it.

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