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Offseason Beat

Free Agency Winners & Losers! Gallinari to ATL

by Steve Alexander
Updated On: November 23, 2020, 11:24 am ET

What a long, draining week it was for the Rotoworld hoops crew. We launched the NBA Draft Guide on Tuesday, live-blurbed the NBA Draft on Wednesday, blurbed a bunch of trades and free agency news on Thursday and then spent the entire weekend waiting for Woj and Shams bombs. And while there may not have been many true bombs, it felt like there was breaking news every 10 minutes for three straight days.

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Let’s take a look at some of the free agency winners and losers, even though there are still a few loose ends to tie up out there as of Sunday night.

Winners

Atlanta Hawks – The Hawks added PGs Rajon Rondo and Kris Dunn, SFs Danilo Gallinari and Tony Snell, and have signed swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic to an offer sheet, that the Kings may or may not match. A potential starting lineup of Trae Young, Bogdanovic, Gallinari, John Collins and Clint Capela is pretty intriguing and the Hawks just might be the new Mavericks of the East. Trae is Dallas’ version of Luka and they’ll just have to hope that Gallo will be able to stay on the court more than Kristaps Porzingis has been able to (he'll miss the start of the season). The Gallo signing is slightly controversial, as the Hawks paid $61.5 million for three years – the most ever to a never-All Star over the age of 30, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. But if they somehow get Bogdanovic as well, along with their young stable of high-ceiling potential reserves (Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter and rookie Onyeka Okongwu), the Hawks might be ready to do something special sooner than later. It may all hinge on Gallo’s ability to stay healthy but despite his storied injury history, he only missed 10 games last season and 14 in 2018-19. As Lloyd Christmas once famously said to Mary Swanson – “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”

Charlotte Hornets – They were able to pry wingman Gordon Hayward away from the Celtics and didn’t even have to complete a sign-and-trade to do it. A potential starting lineup of LaMelo Ball, Devonte’ Graham, Hayward, P.J. Washington and Cody Zeller with guys like Terry Rozier and Miles Bridges coming off the bench has some promise, although any team entering a season with Zeller as their starting center obviously might have some big-man issues. Either way, the Hornets got better, and I think Rozier might be better served coming off the bench as sixth man instead of starting.

Golden State Warriors – The Warriors will welcome back a healthy Stephen Curry, but lost Klay Thompson for the season due to a freak Achilles injury. Draymond Green should also come back healthy and ready to roll, while rookie James Wiseman, Marquese Chriss and Kevon Looney should all be able to hold things down in the middle. But the reason they’re on this list is their trade for SF Kelly Oubre after he was traded to the Thunder in the Chris Paul deal. Oubre is coming off a career year in which he averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.9 3-pointers for the Suns last season. He should be a great fit playing with Curry and should help ease the pain of losing Thompson for the season. Oubre averaged career highs nearly across the board last season and he could actually build on those numbers with GSW this year. They also added Brad Wanamaker to back up Curry and a starting five of Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Oubre, Green and Wiseman (or Chriss/Looney) should be able to hang with most other NBA teams and Oubre should become a household name this year.

Houston Rockets – I’m putting the Rockets on the winner’s list simply because of my love for Christian Wood. He could end up being a steal for them and while it’s very uncertain as to whether or not the Rockets can keep James Harden and Russell Westbrook, they’re not exactly gone just yet. Losing Robert Covington to the Blazers will surely hurt, but at least they got Wood. A starting lineup of Westbrook, Harden, Danuel House, P.J. Tucker and Wood with Eric Gordon off the bench should at least allow the Rockets to remain competitive. And as I alluded to earlier, Wood could end up being the most important signing in this free-agency fest.

L.A. Clippers – The Clippers added big man Serge Ibaka, lost big man Montrezl Harrell (Lakers) and added Luke Kennard from Detroit to the mix. I don’t know if Ibaka will be able to win a starting job over guys like Marcus Morris and Ivica Zubac, but he’s going to see starter-type minutes at both big-man spots for the Clippers either way. They really could have used an upgrade at point guard as their stable of Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Reggie Jackson lacks some appeal, but the team is probably good enough to overcome it. A starting five of Beverley, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Morris and Zubac with Ibaka, Williams and Kennard coming off the bench should be enough for the Clippers to compete for a championship. In short, getting Ibaka was big after they lost Harrell and he should play a massive role with his new team.

Los Angeles Lakers – The Lakers upgraded at center with the signings of Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol, lost Danny Green to the Sixers and added Wesley Matthews to replace him at shooting guard. They also added Dennis Schroder to the bench and lost Dwight Howard (Sixers) and JaVale McGee (Cavs), who they won’t miss with the additions of Harrell and Gasol. Rajon Rondo joined the Hawks, but the Lakers should be OK with a guy named LeBron James running the point. A starting lineup of LeBron, Matthews, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Anthony Davis and Harrell is daunting, while the bench stable is also pretty loaded with Schroder, Kyle Kuzma and Gasol. The reigning champs certainly didn’t get worse and may have even gotten better with the addition of Harrell.

Milwaukee Bucks – The Bucks managed to add Jrue Holiday to a team that already sports studs like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, while Eric Bledsoe will take his talents to New Orleans. Holiday is an upgrade at point guard in my mind and D.J. Augustin is now in Milwaukee to back him up. They also added Bryn Forbes, who should be able to spread the floor and make some noise at SG for the Bucks. A starting lineup of Holiday, Donte DiVincenzo (or Forbes), Middleton, Giannis and Brook Lopez is formidable, and they also added Bobby Portis to relieve Bro-Lo off the bench. Giannis has been begging the Bucks to make some moves and it will be interesting to see how they look with Holiday running the point in Milwaukee.  

New Orleans Pelicans – The Pelicans lost Jrue Holiday but added Eric Bledsoe in the same trade deal and we’ve got him pegged as their starting shooting guard. That should be an upgrade over J.J. Redick and Josh Hart, while Zion Williamson will have a real center to play alongside this season now that Steven Adams is their starter after also being included in the Holiday deal. Derrick Favors has returned to the Jazz in free agency. A starting lineup of Lonzo Ball, Eric Bledsoe (or J.J. Redick), Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and Adams looks pretty good on paper, but their success will likely depend on how healthy Zion can stay and how the new players mesh together. Strong bench players include C Jaxson Hayes, PF Nico Melli, Josh Hart and Redick or Bledsoe, depending on who they choose to start.

Phoenix Suns – The NBA offseason pretty much started with a bang when the Suns put together a massive trade package that included PG Ricky Rubio and SF Kelly Oubre to land PG Chris Paul. The Suns have long been starved for star power and now they’ve got the 35-year-old CP3 to lead the way. I don’t know how much he’s got left in the tank and I’ve been worried about his knees for about 10 years now, but he just keeps on chugging along (he was a Top 15 fantasy player last season). A starting backcourt of Paul and Devin Booker is enticing and a front court of Mikal Bridges, new addition Jae Crowder and center Deandre Ayton doesn’t look all that bad. They’re going to miss Oubre for sure and I don’t love the backups for the ageless Paul (Elie Okobo, Cameron Payne), but they still have guys like Cameron Johnson, rookie Jalen Smith and Frank Kaminsky to bring it from the bench. If nothing else, Paul and Booker should be a blast to watch and he could make Ayton a better player. And Cam Payne showed last year that he might have the tools to fill in on nights when CP3 is in street clothes.

Philadelphia 76ers – I don’t think the Sixers made huge moves and they saw Al Horford (Thunder) and Josh Richardson (Mavs) depart, but they may start Seth Curry at shooting guard (replacing Richardson) and Danny Green at small forward, which was a position they lacked in last season. In short, they look to have gotten a little better even though Curry has yet to have a full breakout campaign and Green is getting old (33). Maybe it will happen in Philly. A starting five of Ben Simmons, Curry, Green, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid is nothing to sneeze at the Sixers have capable bench players like Shake Milton, Matisse Thybulle, Mike Scott and newly signed Dwight Howard and Tony Bradley to take over when Embiid is in street clothes. Of course, regardless of what the Sixers could have done in the offseason their success will depend on Embiid’s ability to stay healthy, as usual.

Portland Trail Blazers – Along with the Warriors getting Kelly Oubre, the Blazers getting Robert Covington for Trevor Ariza was another one of my favorite moves last week. The Blazers also added Derrick Jones Jr. and centers Harry Giles and Enes Kanter. I’m not sure why the Blazers (who will likely lose Hassan Whiteside in free agency) are stockpiling centers, but they’ll have insurance if something happens to Jusuf Nurkic. A starting lineup of Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Carmelo Anthony, Covington and Nurkic looks pretty strong to me and Covington is one of the most versatile players in the league. He also doesn’t need to score to provide fantasy value, so teaming with him Lillard, CJM and Nurkic looks like a perfect fit. Covington averaged 11.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.6 steals, 2.2 blocks and 2.4 3-pointers in Houston last season. Simply put, he’s going to make the Blazers better this season and they’ll be able to use weapons like Anfernee Simons, Gary Trent Jr., Rodney Hood, Derrick Jones Jr., Zach Collins, Enes Kanter and Harry Giles off the bench. Covington might be just the piece the Blazers needed to get to the next level.

Toronto Raptors – The Raps were able to keep both Fred VanVleet and Chris Boucher, which were big moves. Add in that they lost both Serge Ibaka (Clippers) and Marc Gasol (Lakers) and it's massive fantasy news for Boucher, who along with Christian Wood (Houston) is one of our favorite breakout candidates. A starting lineup of Kyle Lowry, VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Boucher could be really fun and while they didn’t reinvent the wheel or bring in an exciting newcomer to Toronto (or, um Tampa?), they certainly did what they needed to do to compete for another title. And the 34-year-old Lowry is in the final year of his deal, so FVV can take over at point guard for three seasons if/when Lowry leaves a year from now.

Losers

Boston Celtics – After losing Kyrie Irving to free agency last year, the Celtics said goodbye to Gordon Hayward this year, as he’ll take his talents to Charlotte. And while they were able to add Jeff Teague to back up Kemba Walker at the point and Tristan Thompson to help at center, the loss of Hayward is going to hurt their depth significantly. A starting five of Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and either Daniel Theis, Robert Williams or Tristan Thompson at center looks fine on paper. But while the absence of Hayward could do wonders for both Smart’s and Brown’s numbers, the fact is the Celtics might miss Hayward in reality more than they think.

Chicago Bulls – Simply put, the Bulls really didn’t do much in free agency, meaning they’ll be back out there with the same crew this season for new coach Billy Donovan. Yeah, they added Garrett Temple and didn’t lose any big pieces, but this team won 22 games last season. The starters look like my guy Coby White (who I love), Zach LaVine (who I also like), Otto Porter (who is due for a bounce-back season), Lauri Markkanen (the Bulls like him) and Wendell Carter Jr. at center. I struggle to get excited about Carter and Daniel Gafford might be a more fantasy-friendly center, along with Luke Kornet. I don’t actually dislike this Bulls team, but for Bulls fans looking for a free agency splash, it just didn’t happen.

Cleveland Cavaliers – Like the Bulls, the Cavs didn’t do much, outside of losing Tristan Thompson (Celtics) and adding JaVale McGee from the Warriors. That will leave them with a potential starting unit of Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, rookie Isaac Okoro or vet Cedi Osman, old man Kevin Love and Andre Drummond at center. Kevin Porter Jr. and Larry Nance will be intriguing role players for this team, but I’m not sure they got better. But they at least got younger by losing Thompson.

Dallas Mavericks – The Mavs have a Kristaps Porzingis problem; in that he won’t be ready for the start of the season due to his bad knees and didn’t really do anything to address it. Backups James Johnson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Maxi Kleber are fine, but Kleber might have to start at center, Johnson is old and MKG has never done anything all that special throughout his career. They added Josh Richardson and lost Seth Curry, but Richardson didn’t exactly blow minds in Philly last year. Having said that, I’m still a Richardson guy and newcomer Wes Iwundu is psyched about playing alongside Luka Doncic, and he should be a great fit in Dallas. But I’m still concerned about the alternatives to Porzingis if he’s going to miss a lot of time, which seems likely. A starting five of Luka, Richardson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Porzingis and Maxi Kleber can still win a lot of games, but Dallas’ front court is not intimidating without Porzingis. Had they been able to land a guy like Robert Covington, I’d be a lot more excited about my favorite team.

New York Knicks – Instead of collecting power forwards, the Knicks are now apparently in the business of collecting point guards. They re-signed Elfrid Payton and now have newcomers Austin Rivers and rookie Immanuel Quickley, along with Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr. and newly acquired Jacob Evans. That, my friends, is a mess, but you have to think Payton will start again this season. They also added Alec Burks to back up RJ Barrett, whose rookie season was a mixed bag, and brought in Nerlens Noel, who could mess with Mitchell Robinson’s plan to start at center for this bunch. A starting five of Elfrid Payton, RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson with Austin Rivers, Alec Burks, Reggie Bullock, rookie Obi Toppin and Nerlens Noel coming off the bench looks like nothing more than a mess for Tom Thibodeau and James Dolan. Good luck.

Oklahoma City Thunder – My favorite thing to happen to OKC was them trading Chris Paul, which should clear the way for Rotoworld favorite Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to absolutely go off this season. They also traded away Steven Adams and added Al Horford, who could start at center and see a resurgence this season. But a starting lineup of SGA, Luguentz Dort, Trevor Ariza, Mike Muscala and Horford is not all that awe inspiring. They do have adequate backups in George Hill, Darius Bazley and Kenrich Williams, but they are lacking star power badly at both power forward and center. In fact, you may not have even heard of their backup centers – Aleksej Pokusevski and Vincent Poirier, while the power forward stable is equally unknown with Muscala, T.J. Leaf, Deonte Burton and Isaiah Robey. I love SGA and will draft the heck out of him this season, but they made a mistake in trading away Kelly Oubre (after they traded for him), will miss Steven Adams, Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari, and didn’t do enough to fill in the holes in their lineup.

Steve Alexander

Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for NBC Sports Edge and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2020-21 NBA season marks (at least) his 20th year of covering fantasy hoops for NBC Sports. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.