5 Greatest NBA Free Agency signings since 2010
Once a champion is crowned every year in June, NBA fans suffer from basketball withdrawal. They are left with the NBA Draft, free agency and trades between late June and early October of the off-season to get hyped about. However, depending on your favorite team, draft position, cap space for free agents, and trades may not even create a buzz in the slightest.
For example, the New York Knicks had $72 million in cap space this offseason and their fans are disappointed with Julius Randle being their major free-agent addition to the roster. As for the defending NBA Champions, the Toronto Raptors, they sacrificed a 2019 NBA Draft pick last summer in a trade to secure the services of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green ultimately getting them their first-ever NBA title. This means that in one year, the Raptors have lost Leonard and Green to free agency and had no first-round selection in the 2019 NBA Draft.
But, free agency has played a major factor in creating new landscapes of power that seemed impossible in the NBA. Teams, since 2010, that have had meteoric and sustained rises to prominence due to their free agency signings include Miami, Golden State, Cleveland, and the Los Angeles Clippers. It has also signaled a shift in the power to the players who communicate with each other and arrange, when possible, an amalgamation of their talents at certain destinations.
The norm lately for contract signings seems to be 3 years plus one year as an option. Players such as Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James started this trend back in 2010 and it seems to have caught on throughout the league.
Here is a look at 5 of the greatest free agent signings since 2010:
#5 Kawhi Leonard signs with the Los Angeles Clippers (2019)
In the summer of 2018 before getting traded to Toronto along with Spurs teammate Danny Green, it was rumored that Kawhi Leonard wanted to go back to his home town of Los Angeles to continue his pro-basketball career. Either to spite Leonard or because it was the best offer, Leonard was sent to Toronto. He had missed 73 games in the 2017-18 season due to a disputed quad injury.
With the threat of him not resigning in the summer of 2019, the Raptors ran with the upgrade on former team star DeMar DeRozan and wound up winning their first NBA Title. However, the rumors that Leonard would bolt for Los Angeles never went away and the Raptors on-court productivity is now in question as they could do nothing but watch as Leonard left the newly crowned champions for the comforts of home with the Los Angeles Clippers.
This signing announced on July 5th, 2019 and completed on July 10th, 2019 makes the Los Angeles Clippers an instant NBA Title contender and perhaps the favorite to win the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2020. The Clippers up until now have always been considered the second-best team in town behind the Lakers.
The Clippers won their division title in 2013 and 2014 but are woefully devoid of accolades as in comparison to the Lakers who have won 16 NBA Titles. Leonard perhaps changes all of that. He is now a two-time NBA Finals MVP with two different teams, his 2019 playoff scoring outburst is third-best in NBA history. Leonard inked a 3-year $103 million contract with the Clippers and is in the prime of his career.
The Clippers also traded to acquire Paul George this off-season. With a roster mainly intact from a season in which the Clippers finished 8th in the West, made the playoffs, and a roster that had the winner and runner up to the Sixth Man of the Year award in Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. The NBA title is definitely in reach for the Clippers if they stay healthy enough to compete for it.