NBA free agency: Winners and losers from Day 1, from Nets to Rockets

The opening hours of NBA free agency were dizzying. Agreements were reached left and right, one right after another, big and small.

Teams committed nearly $3 billion in salary to players on the first day of free agency.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to Brooklyn, Kemba Walker to Boston, Al Horford to Philadelphia, Jimmy Butler to Miami, Bojan Bodganovic and Ed Davis to Utah,Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb to Indiana and Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and George Hill back with Milwaukee.

Kawhi Leonard hasn’t made his decision yet, and Toronto, the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers believe they still have a chance of signing him.

Hidden among all the action: Portland’s Damian Lillard, who wasn't scheduled to become a free agent until after the 2020-21 season, reached a max extension deal that will pay him $196 million over four years. In the final season of the deal in 2024-25, Lillard will make $54.2 million.

Let’s take a look at the early winners and losers in free agency:

Khris Middleton will stay in Milwaukee. (Photo: Jeff Hanisch, USA TODAY Sports)


Brooklyn Nets – Durant and Irving plus DeAndre Jordan says it all for the Nets, who were the one team that came away with two All-Stars. Sunday was a major victory for a franchise that was woebegone just a few seasons ago.

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Utah Jazz – The Jazz landed shooter Bogdanovic and rugged forward Ed Davis, and the Jazz got better offensively and defensively especially if you count the Mike Conley acquisition. Low key, the Jazz can contend for a title in the Western Conference if all goes their way.

Milwaukee Bucks – Losing Brogdon to Indiana hurts but bringing back Middleton, Lopez and Hill with the availability to make another move keeps the Bucks a significant factor in the Eastern Conference. Signing Middleton might go a long way in helping convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to stay in Milwaukee when it’s time for him to make that decision.

Philadelphia 76ers – They wanted to keep Butler but short of that, they reached deals with Tobias Harris and Horford and plan to acquire Josh Richardson from the Heat in the Butler deal.

New Orleans Pelicans – Executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin wanted shooting and veterans to bolster his young roster, led by Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, and he continues to get the job done, bringing in J.J. Redick and Derrick Favors.

Fans wave towels with a dedication to injured player Kevin Durant during Game 6 of the NBA Finals. (Photo: Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports)


New York Knicks – The Knicks had salary cap space for two All-Stars, and they didn’t land one. Durant and Irving ended up in Brooklyn, making it a worst-case scenario for the Knicks. With that said, the Knicks should be more competitive with free-agent commitments Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Wayne Ellington and Reggie Bullock.

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Golden State Warriors – The Warriors lost Durant as they’re about to move into a billion-dollar arena in San Francisco. They would've liked Durant to be part of that spectacle for the next few seasons.

Houston Rockets – The Rockets wanted in on Butler and didn’t get him, and all the while, teams around them are getting better, especially Utah. It will be worse for Houston if Leonard chooses a Western Conference team.

Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt

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