NBA Free Agency: The Lakers Reunion Tour has begun

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Ryan Murphy

August 3rd, 2021

NBA teams did their best to resurrect the U.S. economy on Monday evening by collectively spending more than $1.5 billion within the first five hours of free agency. It was the kind of spending spree that would make even Carrie Bradshaw blush, and it’s set to continue today as teams around the league attempt to fill out their rosters ahead of the 2021-22 season.

We’ve surveyed the landscape and have laid out our first impressions below.

Reunited and it feels so good

We're curious to look at the calendar in the Lakers’ war room. Although ours says August 2021, I suspect theirs may be stuck on August 2015. How else can you explain the signings of former Lakers Trevor Ariza (36), Dwight Howard (35), Wayne Ellington (33), and Kent Bazemore (32), all of whom are on the wrong side of 30. We can hardly wait for Day 2 when L.A. GM Rob Pelinka boldly announces the signings of Kurt Rambis and A.C. Green.

Start spreading the news

Apparently Knicks brass have been watching the 2020 Summer Games. That became evident on Monday evening when New York signed guard Evan Fournier to a four-year, $78 million deal one week after the French star torched Team USA for 28 points in the opening game of the Olympic tournament.

That’s the good news for New York. The bad news is they burned through nearly $50 million in cap space over a four-hour period without drastically improving their roster. Knicks GM Scott Perry is clearly banking on internal improvement in year two under Tom Thibodeau.

Undrafted players cash in

A pair of undrafted free agents parlayed years of hard work into huge contracts on Monday evening. Alex Caruso agreed to a four-year, $37 million deal with the Chicago Bulls, while Duncan Robinson agreed to a five-year, $90 million pact to stay in Miami. Both contracts are a testament to their persistence and offer a glimmer of hope for every player who's ever been dismissed by scouts as being a step slow or too soft to play with the big boys.

Pelicans will regret Graham deal

It’s still early, but the award for worst signing of the offseason goes to New Orleans after the Pelicans sent their 2022 first-round pick to the Charlotte Hornets for restricted free agent guard Devonte' Graham in a sign-and-trade deal.

The Pelicans will pay Graham $47 million over the next four years, which is a lot to shell out for a career 37% shooter and substandard defender who has yet to prove he can make a team meaningfully better. Making matters worse, the first round pick NOLA unloaded could potentially become a far better player than Graham a year or two down the line.

Miami has found its point guard

Kyle Lowry is officially taking his talents to South Beach after agreeing to a generous three-year, $90 million deal with the Heat. Lowry and Jimmy Butler will form a formidable backcourt next season, but it's fair to wonder how this deal will be viewed by year three.

The Raptors legend hasn't played a full season since 2007-08 and, at age 34, may have difficulty staying in front of rival point guards. Lowry will certainly make Miami better, but his presence alone may not be enough to push the Heat past the Brooklyn Nets and defending champion Milwaukee Bucks in the suddenly relevant Eastern Conference.