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Grading the major 2022 NBA free agency signings so far

Let’s grade the biggest NBA free agency signings so far.

Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks - Game Six Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

For a certain type of basketball fan, the start of free agency is the most exciting time on the NBA calendar. This year’s free agent moratorium started on June 30 at 6 p.m. ET, and minutes later dozens of deals had already been announced. You can find every NBA free agency contract on our live tracker.

The start of free agency was overshadowed by Kevin Durant’s surprise trade request hours before the moratorium opened. The Nets are reportedly set to trade Durant and Kyrie Irving this offseason in an effort to refill the roster with draft picks and young talent. While the league waits on Durant’s next destination, free agents started flying off the board once players and teams were legally allowed to announce their agreements. You can follow the latest Durant and Irving trade rumors with our tracker.

Here’s our grades for the big moves in NBA free agency so far.

Wolves acquire Rudy Gobert from Utah Jazz for Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Walker Kessler, Jarred Vanderbilt and 4 first-round picks, per Woj. Minnesota is sending unprotected 2023, 2025, and 2027 picks and a top-5 protected 2029 pick to Utah, per Woj.: The Wolves and Jazz came together for the biggest trade of the offseason so far. Three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert is going to Minnesota, and a massive haul of draft picks is going to Utah. The Wolves are all-in on a Gobert/Karl-Anthony Towns pairing in the front court, and still have D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards in the backcourt. Gobert had poor perimeter defenders in front of him in Utah, and it feels like it’s happening again in Minnesota (unless Russell can be flipped). The big question here is who were the Wolves bidding against? Gobert’s large salary and annual postseason issues felt like the right mix to depress the market a bit. Apparently not. Trading this many picks is only worth it if it elevates you to a championship ceiling. The Wolves are still going to be an extreme long shot. Wolves grade: C+, Jazz grade: A.

Kevon Looney, Warriors agree to three-year, $25.5 million deal, per Woj: The Warriors probably never expected to bring back Looney on another deal when they drafted James Wiseman No. 2 overall, but they were happy to have the veteran big man as a key contributor to a championship team this past season. Looney is an expert at playing off Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and gives Golden State a sorely-need pinch of interior size and rebounding. This will be his third contract with Golden State. It’s hard to imagine him on any other team. Grade: B+

Celtics acquire Malcolm Brogdon from Pacers for a 2023 first round pick, Daniel Theis, and Aaron Nesmith, per Woj.: This feels like an amazing trade for the Celtics, and a good enough one for the Pacers. Brogdon is a solid if not spectacular playmaker, can knock down open threes, and has the size (6’5, 230 pounds) to defend well. He averaged 20 points per game over the last two seasons in Indiana, but the problem is that injuries limited him to only 92 games in that span. If he’s healthy, this is an addition that gives Boston another solid two-way guard and add a necessary injection of passing. The Pacers get a first round pick out of it that will probably be in the late 20s, but apparently the injuries killed Brogdon’s market. Celtics grade: A, Pacers grade: B

Bruce Brown, Nuggets agree to two year, $13 million deal, per Andrews: This is one of the best fits of free agency so far. Brown is a ferocious defender who plays bigger than his size, and provides value offensively as a cutter and connective passer. He gives the Nuggets some defensive punch for a team that’s finally getting a healthy Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. back next season alongside two-time MVP Nikola Jokic. Brown can be a big part of a playoff rotation for a team that thinks it can win the championship. Grade: A

Zach LaVine, Bulls agree to five-year, $215 million deal, per Shams: This is a win-win for both sides. The Bulls could offer LaVine more money than other team, and they had no way to replace him if he left. LaVine got a player option in the last year of the deal. If he stays healthy, he should be worth the money. Grade: A

Otto Porter Jr., Raptors agree to two-year deal, per Haynes: Believe it or not, the Raptors signed another tall forward. Porter provides value as a shooter, and also uses his long arms to make an impact defensively. He had a major bounce back year for Golden State this past season, and it will be fascinating to see if he can stay healthy and engaged in a different environment. This is another big blow for the Warriors after also losing Gary Payton II in free agency. Grade: A-

Jusuf Nurkic, Trail Blazers agree to four-year, $70 million deal, per Woj: Nurkic is stay in Portland as a dependable veteran big man who plays well with Damian Lillard. The Blazers could have used a more versatile defensive center, but Nurkic is a skilled interior scorer and rebounder when he’s healthy. This feels like a lot of money, but Portland would have had to make a trade to upgrade at the position. Grade: C+

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks agree to four-year, $110 million deal, per Shams: Brunson quickly established himself a quality rotation piece after being a second round in 2018, but he exploded this past season as the Mavs’ second best player next to Luka Doncic. Brunson isn’t the biggest or fastest guard, but he’s so crafty getting to his spots and finding ways to score around the basket. It will be fascinating to see if he can keep improving with a bigger workload now that he’s away from Doncic. We’re skeptical this move changes a ton for the Knicks in the big picture sense, but the deal covers Brunson’s prime years and he’s a solid bet to be productive, if not an absolute superstar. Grade: B+

Gary Payton II, Trail Blazers agree to three-year, $28 million deal, per Shams: Payton II is one of the best stories in the NBA, going from nearly out of the league to playing crucial minutes in the NBA Finals last year for the Warriors. He’s an awesome point of attack defender and smart cutter on offense who gives Portland a sorely needed defensive edge in the backcourt next to Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons. This is a home run. Grade: A

Kyle Anderson, Timberwolves agree to two-year, $18 deal, per Woj. Anderson is a big wing who defends all over the floor, hits the glass hard, and provides plus playmaking. His three-point shot is shaky, but this feels like an extremely team-friendly deal for someone with Anderson’s all-around skill set. Grade: A

Gary Harris to re-sign with Magic, per Smith. Two years, $26 million, per Woj: This is way more money than anyone thought Harris would get, but it’s the type of contract that could help match salaries in a future trade. Harris quietly had something of a return to form season last year as a three-and-D wing. It’s nice to see him get a real pay day. Grade: B

Nic Claxton, Nets agree to two-year, $20 million deal, per Woj: An explosive rebuild is coming for the Nets, but they were wise to keep around Claxton for the start of it. The 23-year-old big man is extremely mobile defensively, and can slam home lobs and block shots above the rim. Still only 23 years old, Claxton will have a major chance to cash in a significantly larger contract when this one is over. Grade: A

Mitchell Robinson, Knicks agree to four year, $60 million deal, per Woj: Robinson is huge and can jump, but lacks ball skills offensively and a strong feel for the game on both ends. New York’s other front court signing, Isaiah Hartenstein, could be more productive even if he’s not as athletic. Robinson certainly has the talent to live up to this deal, but there’s also a chance this looks like an overpay in the future. Grade: C

Anfernee Simons, Trail Blazers agree to four-year, $100 million deal, per Woj: Simons broke out last year as a microwave scoring guard. He can get buckets from all three levels and put up points in a hurry when he gets hot. The problem is his defense is poor and he doesn’t feel like a great fit next to Damian Lillard because of that. This is an awesome pay day for Simons who should return solid value on this deal, but I’m a bit skeptical how much he’s really moving the needle for Portland. Grade: B

JaVale McGee, Mavericks agree to three-year, $20 million deal, per Haynes: McGee gives the Mavs a better lob threat than Dwight Powell, and adds even more size to a Dallas front line that also recently acquired Christian Wood. This feels like a lot of money for someone with McGee’s skill set, but he was excellent as Deandre Ayton’s backup in Phoenix last year and has more length and athleticism can anyone in Dallas’ front court rotation last season. Grade: B

PJ Tucker, 76ers agree to three-year, $33 million deal, per Shams: Tucker was once the secret weapon for Daryl Morey’s teams in Houston as a high-motor defender who became a corner three specialist. Tucker is older now — he’ll be 37 all season — and looked like he was slowing down recently before having a really impressive season last year in Miami. This feels like a lot of money for someone his age, but Joel Embiid had mentioned adding someone like Tucker by name, and Philly is all-in on the present. This deal probably won’t age well, but all Morey cares about for now is next season. Grade: C+

Malik Monk, Kings agree to two-year, $19 million deal, per Shams: Monk was a top-10 draft pick who felt like a bust in Charlotte before finally finding his groove as a microwave scorer on a minimum deal last year with the Lakers. This is a nice pay bump for Monk, as well as a reunion with former Kentucky teammate De’Aaron Fox. We love the vibes with this move even if the Kings probably could have used a bigger defensive guard. Grade: B+

Isaiah Hartenstein, New York Knicks agree to two-year, $16 million deal, per Shams: Hartenstein was incredibly productive on a per-minute basis last year with the Clippers. He provides great rim protection on defense, and connective passing and efficient finishing on offense. Hartenstein is still only 24 years old, and has a huge frame at 7-foot, 250 pounds. There’s a ton of upside to this deal for the Knicks, getting a smart, productive, and young player on a team-friendly team. Grade: A

Bobby Portis, Bucks agree to four-year, $49 million deal, per Woj: Portis finally gets his bag after being underpaid the last two years in Milwaukee. The 6’10 big man has a perfect skill set to pair with Giannis Antetokounmpo: he can space the floor for Giannis’ drives on offense, and his slow-footed defense can be covered up by Antetokounmpo’s extreme speed, size, and rim protection. This is a nice pay raise for Portis, and a good decision to stick with Giannis and a fan base that loves him. Grade: B+

Tyus Jones, Grizzlies agree to two-year, $30 million deal, per Woj: Jones has developed a reputation as the league’s best backup point guard. The Grizzlies will always be Ja Morant’s team, but their remarkable record last season in games Morant missed is a testament to Jones’ steady hand. This is also a nice payday for Jones, still only 26 years old, that will allow him to hit the market again while he’s still in his prime. Grade: A

Mohamed Bamba, Magic agree to two-year, $21 million deal, per Haynes: Bamba certainly wanted more money than this, but the Magic were able to keep him on a short deal that will allow him a chance to cash in big time if he finally fulfills his potential. Bamba finally shot the ball well in his fourth pro season, and has incredible length as a rim protector. If the shooting holds (38 percent from deep last year), and he keeps adding strength to his frame, the Magic will have a steal and Bamba will get a bigger deal when this one is up. Grade: A

Lu Dort, Thunder agree to five-year, $87.5 million deal, per Woj: Dort was criminally underpaid his first three seasons in the NBA after going undrafted in 2019, barely earning more than $3 million in his first three years despite starting 131 of the 139 games he’s ever played in. The Thunder could have brought back Dort back for just $1.9 million next season, but they declined his team option. Now Dort is getting $87.5 million to stay in OKC for the next five years in one of the biggest bags of free agency. Dort is a tough-nosed defender who has grown into a high-volume, if not always highly efficient, three-point shooter. The Thunder are still have at least one more tanking year left in them, but this is a great move to reward someone who has already brought so much surplus value to the franchise.

Grade: A

It’s easy to view this as an overpay for the Thunder, but this grade is based on what the contract means for Dort. It’s awesome to see him get rewarded.