Note: This sports column appears in the Wednesday, July 3 newspaper on Page B1.
When the summertime comes around and sports sort of die down for a little bit, there’s always one thing I can truly count to get me through.
That is NBA free agency. It never lets me down, and this year is probably the craziest I can ever remember.
So far, over $3 billion has been spent on NBA free agents. Three BILLION. $3,000,000,000. I won’t lie, my jaw is still on the floor seeing out many zeros I typed.
I scrolled through my Twitter feed all day on Sunday seeing where the newest crop of free agents would sign. Some caught me off guard, others didn’t.
It’s just crazy to me how these guys will make multi-millions over the next two to five years. It must be nice.
But nonetheless, let’s count down the top five moves from NBA free agency that caught me by surprise.
5 Bucks trade Malcolm Brodgen to Indiana for 1st and 2nd round picks
Indiana just got a whole lot better and Milwaukee better hope that Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez step their games up.
Losing Brogden means losing possibly their best on-ball defender, plus a guy who shot 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from distance and 90 percent at the charity stripe.
For Indiana, they get a talent who pairs nicely with Victor Oladipo once he’s healthy and the one thing the world knows about Indiana is they play hard and overachieve.
4Jimmy Butler is traded to Miami in a four-team trade
Jimmy wanted the money and the fame. Well, he got what he wanted, but at what cost?
He’s no longer contending for a championship. He’s now playing for a Heat team that is just hoping to make the playoffs (and with who they gave up, it’s a long shot).
However, Butler got the long-term deal and security he wanted. Plus, living in South Beach with no state income taxes isn’t a bad deal at all.
3Al Horford signs 4-year, $109 million with the Philadelphia 76ers
When Horford opted out of his $30.5 million player option, it raised my ears quite a bit. I mean, who opts out of 30-plus million?
But Horford knew he had a team that wanted him long term, and it was finally revealed to be the Sixers. What a move.
Horford is a natural power forward who has the ability to shoot the outside shot. Plus he can switch to the center position whenever Embiid isn’t in the game.
The big question is: how will the trio of Horford, Simmons and Embiid mesh? With Tobias Harris getting $180 million from the Sixers, the Sixers have the the most formidable lineup in the East. It all comes down to chemistry.
2Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant sign with the Brooklyn Nets
It’s not so much Kyrie that shocks me. It’s Durant that caught me off guard.
I thought for sure he’d sign with the Knicks, until it was reported New York didn’t even offer him the max deal. I can’t begin to describe how hard I laughed. That’s classic James Dolan.
Also, listening to Stephen A. Smith react on The Jump afterwards was gold.
While Durant won’t play until 2020-21, the Nets have officially put the NBA on notice that they are coming for the championship in two years.
1 D’Angelo Russell signs 4-year, $117 million with the Golden State Warriors
This was the last signing I saw before I fell asleep, and this was the biggest shocker to me. Even more than Durant to the Nets.
Thinking about how Russell would fit on the Warriors once they’re fully healthy, I actually like it. Even though he had the third-highest usage rate in the NBA last season, he had to go that in order for the Nets to get to the playoffs.
Ultimately, I do believe that the Warriors will trade Russell after next season because keeping Draymond Green should be their biggest priority next offseason.
He won’t be half of the defender that Klay Thompson is while recovering from a torn ACL, but he can bring his impact from the offensive end, despite not being the 3-point shooter Thompson is.
The big question still remains about where reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard will land. I believe he’ll be a Laker alongside LeBron by the end of the week.