OFF SEASON highlight – taking into account the draft, trades and free-agent signings, here is a list of 2022 offseason winners and losers.
Winner – James Harden
As previously mentioned, Harden gives himself a two-year guarantee of slightly under $70 million, but he has the option to leave after the first season if he performs well and expects to sign a lengthier, more lucrative deal. That’s not bad for a player whose performance last season, especially in the postseason, seemed to be drastically declining.
With Joel Embiid and a Sixers team that has been beautifully completed by the acquisitions of De’Anthony Melton and P.J. Tucker, Harden has a genuine chance to compete for a championship. Tucker.
Winner – Zion Williamson
The man recently signed a five-year contract extension with a potential value of $231 million after playing 85 games in his career across three seasons, including one in which he did not play a single minute. I’m not sure if the Pelicans have already won with this. Of course, it’s a success if Zion participates and stays healthy for the duration of this contract. There’s a pretty darn good team brewing in New Orleans.
Winner – Jalen Brunson
Brunson was compensated. He supposedly received a four-year, $104 million contract from the Knicks. This is a windfall for a man who was selected in the second round in 2018. Well done, he. He is due it. We’ll watch Brunson to see how he does without Luka Doncic to draw all the defensive attention. The bag is secured, though, in any case. The cherry on top for Brunson is that he will get to represent his father, Rick Brunson, who recently accepted an assistant coaching position with the Knicks. Brunson is set for life.
Winner – Nikola Jokic
The man signed the largest contract in the annals of the NBA. $264 million over five years. The last year of the contract will see him earn a staggering $60 million. I’m at a loss for words. The male winner. Likewise, the Nuggets. Jokic is amazing.
Winner – Lu Dort
Dort was never even drafted. On two-way contracts, he had to work his way up the league ladder. He recently inked a five-year, $87.5 million contract with the Thunder. Dort won’t ever have to worry about money or his place in the NBA again by developing into a brick of a defender and significantly improving as a shooter.
Loser – Washington Wizards
Beal ought to have been transferred long ago. With Beal earning that kind of money, there is no chance this club can contend for anything other than the eighth-lowest playoff seed. He simply isn’t a 1A championship player. Given how talented the league is right now, he might not even be a good No. 2 at this point. Right now, Washington ought to be flush with resources for Beal.
Losers but not really – Golden State Warriors
The Blazers acquired Gary Payton II from Golden State. It stings. The Warriors, who were already lacking in perimeter defense even with Payton, benefited greatly from Payton’s performance in his role. The repeater tax is severe in the Golden State. It only determined that, given the significant tax ramifications for each dollar spent by Payton and Kevon Looney, it could not justify paying them.
Winner but not really – Portland Trail Blazers (slightly)
If the Blazers are able to have a squad that is more competitive than the one they had with CJ McCollum, Norman Powell, Larry Nance Jr., and Robert Covington, that will be interesting to see. But those transactions have already been completed. They have improved this summer, and that is all that matters for now.
In a vacuum, I’m not sure that’s a win for Portland, but within the context of a Lillard-led squad, wing length and versatile defense had to be a priority. In essence, the Blazers traded McCollum and Powell for Jerami Grant and Gary Payton II.
Anfernee Simons signed a $100 million contract with the Blazers. They still have a small, weak defensive backcourt, but there is now a little more defensive coverage around them. That still isn’t ideal. In the NBA of today, defense frequently revolves on the weakest link rather than the strongest.
However, Simons and Lillard will blaze a trail on the scoreboard. Instead of being the go-to guy, Grant is now appropriately positioned as a supporting scorer. Payton is a complete monster. The people of Portland are going to adore him. He is a top-notch defender, a unique cutter (Portland must figure out a method to capitalize on this, just like Golden State did with all its mobility), and a floor runner.
Sit tight and watch out for Part 2 of NBA 2022 Off Season Winners and Losers.