2018 NBA Free Agency
LeBBBronzo is happening. The Lakers are clear winners to start out the 2018 NBA Free Agency period (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Nobody has cap space. It’s what has made the start of the 2018 NBA Free Agency off to a slow start. While there a limited number of teams that can make noise, there are several promising players on the market that can shift the paradigm of the NBA. It’s starting to look like more and more teams are catching up to the Warriors. With teams tampering left and right with verbal agreements, we can get a gauge of who make smart moves at the start of free agency. Who won and lost the start of the 2018 NBA Free Agency period?

Winner: Los Angeles Lakers

Magic Johnson said he would step down from the Lakers if he struck out in free agency the next two years. Well… Johnson no longer has to worry about that because he landed LeBron James. The Lakers are back after being a dumpster fire for the past five years. A team that had no chance of winning the title this season now does because LeBron is that good. Even I can admit that as a known adversary. I have to give James props. He did not hold a circus to announce the decision and the two came together and made smart moves to build up this team.

It’s now been proven that LeBron James doesn’t make his teammates better. In fact, he probably makes them worse. Building a team around LeBron is not easy because he’s taken the role of the ultimate decider. However, LA has done a good job putting pieces around him. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a good defender who can hit 3’s. Lance Stephenson is a knucklehead but a complete pain in the ass for opponents. JaVale McGee brings energy and rebounding. The key here is all of those guys don’t need the ball in their hands which is exactly what LeBron needs. The Lakers are officially back. Dan Gilbert got his team back and so did Magic Johnson all in one.

Loser: Cleveland Cavaliers

Remember that time when I tried to tell you how the Cavs essentially handed the Lakers, LeBron? Let me walk you through it. Here’s an excerpt from that article.

Winners – Losers From the 2018 NBA Trade Deadline

“Cleveland Cavaliers: Grade D

Additions: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., George Hill, Rodney Hood

Subtractions: Cavs 2018 first-round pick, Dwyane Wade, Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose, Jae Crowder”

“What if this trade paves the way for LeBron to join the Lakers? That might be exactly what the Cavs just did for the Lakers. With the clearing of Nance and Clarkson, the Lakers now have the pathway to clear not just one but two max deals. Taking on the contract of Clarkson worth an average of $12.5 million for three more years was something LA needed to clear to open up the room.

Cleveland not only did the Lakers a favor, they handed the Lakers a first-round pick to do Los Angeles that favor. If the Lakers do land LeBron, Cleveland will only have themselves to blame. While I would never want LeBron on my favorite team, a small market team can’t afford to lose him. Bankers can’t save Cleveland! LeBron might be the only thing saving Cleveland from an economic crisis. The Cavs just handed LeBron to the Lakers next summer and now likely face the harsh reality that the city will turn into a dumpster fire economically.”

Goodbye Cleveland. Welcome back to irrelevance. That funniest part is they only have themselves to blame for losing LeBron because they helped make it happen. IDIOTS.

Winner: Dallas Mavericks

Look, $24 million is a lot of money for a center who is very one dimensional. If he can’t dunk, DeAndre Jordan isn’t much of an offensive threat. However, this is kinda what the Mavs needed and they get a guy they have been targeting for years. With Dirk at the 4, Jordan gives Dallas a defensive presence in the middle. Dallas has already given up their 2019 first round pick for Luka Doncic (Which was the right move) so there is no reason not to win now. A starting five of Dennis Smith, Wesley Matthews, Luka Doncic, Dirk Nowitzki, and DeAndre Jordan has the potential to be a 40 plus win team. Dallas was one of the few teams that had cap space and you can’t really argue with the one-year investment of Jordan. Doncic is the young core that’s in place and surrounding him with Vets to help him succeed is what matters.

Winners / Losers Of The 2018 NBA Draft

Loser: Oklahoma Thunder

Why in the world are we celebrating the Paul George deal back to OKC? This team is going nowhere. Essentially all the Thunder did was bring back the same team that lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Jazz.  The Thunder now have a payroll of $286 million for the upcoming season with just 11 players on the books so far. This is going to be a $300 million team that flat out isn’t good. OKC re-signed Paul George. Tell me again why I should be excited?

Winner: Boston Celtics

All the Celtics did so far was re-sign Aron Baynes but when you look at the financials, this was a win for Boston. A 2-year deal worth $11 million is more than fair. Baynes was a big part of the Celtis number one rated defense a year ago. The Celtics gave up 97 points per 100 possessions with the Australian center on the court compared to 104.3 without him. The other good news is that they kept their $8.7 million mid-level exceptions as well signing Baynes with the highest non-bird right figure. The Celtics also signed Brad Wanamaker from Europe who I assume is good Danny Ainge signed him. Then again, if Boston loses Marcus Smart they move into the loser category but for now, did well keeping Baynes at a low rate.

Loser: Houston Rockets

I’m sorry but I wouldn’t have given Chris Paul the max. Chris Paul isn’t just 33, he’s an old 33. If CP3 wasn’t hurt during the Rockets playoff run, they probably win the title. I love Chris Paul the player but he’s falling apart. Just look at his games played list.

2014-2015: 82 games

2015-2016: 74 games

2016-2017: 61 games

2017-2018: 54 games

Good luck paying CP3 $44 million when he’s 37-years-old. This won’t end well and Houston probably will never beat Golden State when this roster only continues to age. Losing Trevor Ariza doesn’t help. Clint Capela is no lock to return either and will put them deep into the tax if he does.

Does LeBron James Really Make His Teammates Better? You Be The Judge

QUICK HITTERS

Orlando Magic: D / Aaron Gordon is not worth $84 million over 4-years. A forward that shoots 43 percent making over $20 million per year is a bad investment.

Toronto Raptors: B+ / I like Fred Van Vleet. He shot over 41 percent from deep a year ago and doesn’t turn the ball over. He’s undersized but an overall quality backup point in the league. 2 years for $18 million seems fair.

Phoenix Suns: B- / I would have preferred Phoenix use cap space to absorb bad deals and add draft assets but Trevor Ariza gives them a good vet voice in the locker room. The Suns were also the worst defense in the NBA and Ariza gives them a big boost in that regard. He also becomes a trade chip at the deadline when the Suns fall out of contention so you can’t complain with the logic.