We’re barely a week into the 2022 NBA free agency period and the news wire has been abuzz with all sorts of headlines. From trades to trade requests to signings, we’ve seen a little bit of everything. With that in mind, let’s take a look back at the five biggest things that have surprised us so far.
Durant Trade Request
Without question, the biggest surprise of free agency was the fact that superstar Kevin Durant requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets. Many people in Brooklyn were worried that Kyrie Irving wouldn’t return to the Nets, but when he opted in, it felt like the team had one more season – one more window of opportunity – to make one last run at a championship.
And then Durant requested a trade.
The Nets have gone from the favorite to win the NBA championship to who knows what in the span of six months. We’ll have to see where the chips fall if and when they trade Durant. Until a deal is reached, this remains the biggest surprise of free agency.
Timberwolves Mortgage Future for Gobert
The Minnesota Timberwolves are coming off a nice season, winning 46 games and making it back to the playoffs. They have decided now is the time to go all-in and make a serious run. They pushed a lot of chips to the middle of the table when they acquired three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert from the Utah Jazz to pair him with Karl-Anthony Towns in the frontcourt.
On many levels, this team does look good with these two twin towers up front with D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards in the backcourt. However, the Timberwolves gave up a whopping four first-round picks, heart-and-soul player Patrick Beverley and a useful piece in Malik Beasley. They’ll find a way to fill out the bench, but this is a whole heck of a lot for a player who might not make them a championship contender.
How good is Minnesota now? It’s hard to say. Their sportsbook odds haven’t changed much. Maybe the Timberwolves are a No. 4 seed in the Western Conference instead of a No. 7. Maybe they’re not even that much better. That’s the problem with this deal and why it surprised so many. If it goes left and the Timberwolves have to break things down, losing four first-rounders in this deal could really come back to haunt them.
Sixers Give Tucker Three-Year Deal
The Philadelphia 76ers needed toughness, leadership and playoff grit, and they got that in veteran P.J. Tucker. He brings “three-and-D” and should give them that backbone that they’ve been lacking in the playoff at times. If he can bring what he’s brought in the past, this team might be worth a shot on the NBA betting odds to win it all.
At the same time, it is a bit odd that the 76ers are committing such a long contract to Tucker. He’s now 37 years old, so by the time this three-year deal will be up, Tucker will be 40. We just saw the 76ers flop with another three-and-D style veteran in Danny Green, who offered the team very little last season. It just feels like they might – at some point – regret this deal.
Thunder Commit To Dort
The Oklahoma City Thunder have been a team that’s been building toward the future. They have a slew of first-round draft picks coming up in the next few years and are trying to load up the roster with the right foundation of stars. They committed to Luguentz Dort and now he’s clearly part of that foundation, but is that a good thing? Additionally, to check out more specific information about the NBA Conference available for the Raptors vs. Wizards matchup.
Dort signed for five years and $87 million, but he’s quite limited offensively. If you bet online, you know he’s not a real threat at that end of the court. He did average 17 points last season, but he shot only 33 percent. He’s an excellent defensive player, but is that what this team needs right now – especially since they’re always trying to find superstar talent of the future? If this were a championship-ready team that needed a solid, young role player, this would make more sense.
Trail Blazers Give Simons $100 Million
Maybe this wasn’t so much of a surprise than it was a head-scratcher, but it’s unclear why the Portland Trail Blazers want to invest so much into Anfernee Simons. He stepped into the limelight last season when the team traded away C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard was injured. He averaged 17.3 points and was the focal point of their offense. While he’s only 23, he still seems to have a fairly one-dimensional game: scoring. That’s a cheap commodity to find in the NBA these days.
The Trail Blazers spent $100 million here and this won’t help them for the NBA odds. They’re still about the same that they were before signing this extension.