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2024 NBA free agency winners and losers

Analyzing 2024 NBA Draft's 'French invasion'
The Dan Patrick Show crew breaks down the "French invasion" in the 2024 NBA Draft and rising global representation across the league.

by Zak Hanshew, Rotoworld

The NBA free agency period opened at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday with… far less than a bang. The first hour of free agency saw James Harden return to the Clippers on a two-year, $70 million deal. Big men Luke Kornet and Neemias Queta signed new deals to return to the champion Celtics, and Kevin Love re-upped with Miami. Their respective teams waived Omer Yurtseven and Chris Paul, and news came through that both Klay Thompson and Nic Batum would not be back with the Warriors and 76ers, respectively.

The night eventually heated up, as Andre Drummond joined the Sixers on a two-year deal to kick off hour two of the free-agent fun. From there, impactful deals came across the wire more consistently. The first night of free agency may not have offered the most compelling kickoff we’ve witnessed in recent years, but there were still a plethora of moves with significant fantasy basketball ramifications.

This article will be updated frequently as new deals and trades are announced.

Two major deals were announced before the official start of free agency, and the impacts of the Mikal Bridges trade and the Dejounte Murray deal can be viewed here:

Knicks acquire Mikal Bridges

Dejounte Murray traded to Pelicans

James Harden returns to Clippers on 2-year, $70 million deal

Winners: James Harden

Harden enjoyed a productive first season with the Clippers, finishing with averages of 16.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.8 blocks and 2.6 triples. Most of those numbers were declines in last season’s production, particularly his points, but Harden still finished as an early third-rounder in fantasy hoops. His ability to stuff the stat sheet should keep him in the third-round range for 2024-25, and he could see a bump in production if Paul George leaves in free agency. He’s a winner with this deal, though his return to the team doesn’t have a ripple effect on his Clippers’ teammates from a fantasy perspective.

Andre Drummond signs two-year, $10+ million deal with 76ers

Winners: Andre Drummond
Philly struggled at the center position while Joel Embiid was injured last season, as Paul Reed and Mo Bamba underwhelmed in his place. Drummond should fill in for Embiid much more reliably than Reed or Bamba, and he brings a strong backup big-man presence. The veteran center averaged 14.1 points, 17.9 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.8 blocks in 10 starts for Chicago last season. Drummond is a winner here because the guy ahead of him in Chicago - Nikola Vucevic - does not get injured as often as Embiid. The backup center gig in Philly should be a boon for Drummond and his eager fantasy managers.

Losers: Paul Reed, Mo Bamba
Reed is under contract for at least two more seasons, but Bamba is set to hit free agency. The arrival of Drummond could signal the end of Bamba’s time in Philly. Neither big man will have much fantasy appeal with Drummond on the roster.

Neutral: Joel Embiid
Drummond won’t steal meaningful minutes from Embiid when the 2022-23 MVP is healthy, so Embiid’s fantasy stock is unchanged with this signing.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope joins Magic on 3-year, $66 million deal

Winners: Christian Braun
KCP’s exit clears the runway for the Braun breakout we’ve all be waiting on. Braun showed plenty of promise as a rookie, logging meaningful rotation minutes for the champion Nuggets. After the team lost Bruce Brown and Jeff Green in free agency last summer, Braun’s role was expected to expand significantly. His minutes increased only slightly, and he was not on the radar in 12-team leagues. A starting opportunity may mean 30+ minutes per night for the Kansas product, which makes him an intriguing, late-round option in 2024-25 fantasy drafts.

Losers: Gary Harris, Cole Anthony
Orlando’s backup guards will lose a lot of their deep-league luster with KCP in the fold. Caldwell-Pope is a phenomenal defender and three-pointer shooter who should see plenty of minutes as a full-time starter with his new team.

Neutral: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
KCP is unlikely to get a boost or lose fantasy value in Orlando. Over the last three seasons (one in Washington, two in Denver), Caldwell-Pope finished as a top-115 per-game player and a top-70 player in totals. He’s available and reliable, and fantasy managers should expect more of the same in 2024-25.

Kevin Porter Jr. signs 2-year deal with Clippers

Winners: Kevin Porter Jr.
Russell Westbrook will likely be playing for a different team in 2024-25, which means KPJ could have a major role in the backcourt alongside James Harden. He averaged 19.2 points, 5.7 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 2.4 triples across 59 appearances in 2022-23, and he didn’t play last season after Houston released him due to a domestic incident shortly before the start of the season. KPJ’s role with Los Angeles won’t be anywhere close to as large as it was with Houston, so don’t expect 19/5/5 averages.

Jonas Valanciunas signs 3-year, $30 million deal with Wizards

Winners: Yves Missi
New Orleans lost Larry Nance Jr. to the Hawks in the Dejounte Murray trade, so the Pelicans may be forced to give big minutes to rookie center Yves Missi right away. The team’s center depth is dreadfully shallow, so he could be a starter on the opening day of the 2024-25 campaign. Missi is a prototypical rim-running center, which means that he may be able to contribute earlier on than other prospects in this class. The 20-year-old 7-footer played 34 games during his freshman season at Baylor and averaged 10.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while shooting 61.4% from the floor across 23 minutes per game. Missi is the big winner of this deal.

Losers: Jonas Valanciunas, Alex Sarr, Richaun Holmes, Marvin Bagley III
It’s a bit of a surprising move for both sides as Valanciunas opts to sign with a rebuilding team, and Washington adds another center to a frontcourt that includes Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley III and just drafted Alex Sarr with the No. 2 pick in the draft. Valanciunas’ minutes were cut in his last season with New Orleans, and his production suffered because of it. It’s unclear what kind of role he’ll have in Washington, but all of the abovementioned players likely get a ding in fantasy value in this crowded rotation.

Chris Paul signs 1-year, $11 million deal with Spurs

Winners: Chris Paul, Brandin Podziemski
According to Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report, “Paul had a great talk with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and was sold on the culture and opportunity to help elevate the game of Victor Wembanyama. CP is eager and motivated to showcase he’s still an elite guard in this league.” Paul had a disappointing 2023-24 season with Golden State, mostly coming off the bench behind Stephen Curry with lackluster fantasy results. He should compete for the starting PG job in San Antonio, but even if he comes off the bench again, he should see more playing time than he did with the Warriors.

With both Paul and Klay Thompson out the door, Podz should see more opportunities in Golden State’s backcourt. He showed plenty of promise in Year 1, making an immediate impact when called upon to pick up extra minutes. Podziemski could be a full-time starter in the Warriors’ backcourt alongside Steph Curry in 2024-25, which makes him worth a late-round selection in next season’s fantasy drafts.

Losers: Tre Jones
The Spurs drafted guard Stephon Castle in the lottery and added Paul in free agency, which means Jones could be an odd man out in San Antonio’s backcourt rotation. Even if Jones remains with San Antonio for the upcoming season, his role will surely be reduced, making him an unappealing fantasy option.

Mason Plumlee signs 1-year deal with Suns

Winners: Daniel Theis
He’ll be Ivica Zubac’s primary backup which could make him appealing as a bench option in deep leagues.

Losers: Mason Plumlee, Bol Bol, Thaddeus Young
All three players will cannibalize one another’s minutes and production, and none of them will hold much fantasy value behind starter Jusuf Nurkic.

Naji Marshall signs 3-year, $27 million deal with Mavericks

Winners: Herb Jones, Trey Murphy III, Naji Marshall
Jones and Murphy III (respectable options in 12-team leagues on their own merit) should see more playing time with Marshall no longer on the team. Marshall - who averaged 7.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.9 triples across 19.0 minutes per game last season - should see a substantial increase in playing time with Dallas, and he could even become a full-time starter now that Derrick Jones Jr. has signed with the Clippers in free agency. And speaking of Jones Jr…

Derrick Jones Jr. signs 3-year, $30 million deal with Clippers

Winners: Naji Marshall
As mentioned above, Marshall is a big winner and has a shot to start for Dallas next season in place of DJJ.

Losers: Amir Coffey, Norman Powell
Neither Coffey nor Powell was a particularly productive fantasy option last season, and that won’t change in 2024-25, even in the absence of Paul George. Jones Jr. should absorb most of PG’s vacated minutes, leaving Coffey and Powell off the fantasy radar in 12-team leagues.

Neutral: Derrick Jones Jr.
Playing with the Clippers won’t move the needle on Jones Jr.’s fantasy value. He should see similar playing time and handle a similar role as a 3-and-D specialist.

Paul George signs 4-year, $212 million deal with 76ers

Winners: Terance Mann, Derrick Jones Jr.
George’s departure from Los Angeles means the newly-signed Derrick Jones Jr. should see plenty of minutes, and Terance Mann could see more opportunities as a scorer and playmaker.

Losers: Tyrese Maxey, Kelly Oubre Jr.
George’s arrival will likely mean less touches for Tyrese Maxey and Kelly Oubre (who just re-signed with Philadelphia on a two-year deal). Maxey broke out a season ago with a career-best performance, but his numbers were a given a boost with Joel Embiid on the sidelines for most of the campaign and a shallow roster around him. Maxey is still worthy of a third-round pick, but he’s out of the first or second-round range. Oubre Jr. was a fringe option in 12-team leagues, and he’s less appealing in 2024-25 with George in the fold.

Neutral: Paul George
Free agency’s next big domino has fallen, as the two-way star heads East to form a new “Big 3" with Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid. George’s biggest concern as a Clipper was availability, but he appeared in 74 games last season and posted averages of 22.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 3.3 triples. So long as he can stay healthy, he should be able to replicate the success he had in Los Angeles a season ago when he played with the “Big 3” comprised of he, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard.

Kelly Oubre Jr. returns to 76ers on 2-year, $16.3 million deal

Losers: Kelly Oubre Jr.

As mentioned above, Oubre Jr. has less fantasy appeal for 2024-25 with Paul George on the roster. There are no fantasy winners here.

De’Anthony Melton inks 1-year, $12.8 million deal with Warriors

Neutral: De’Anthony Melton, Brandin Podziemski
Melton was a sneaky, top-100 producer on a per-game basis last season, but he had trouble staying on the court. He should fill the same role he did in Philly as a high-energy defender off the bench with passing and three-point shooting upside. The losses of Klay Thompson and Chris Paul give Podziemski a “Golden” opportunity to take the next step in 2024-25. Melton’s arrival is certainly not going to help Podz see more minutes or usage, but it won’t have a major impact, either.

Gary Harris re-signs with Magic on 2-year, $14 million deal

Losers: Gary Harris
Harris ranked outside the top 200 in per-game fantasy value a season ago, and his prospects won’t improve with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in Orlando. Harris isn’t worth drafting outside of deep leagues for the upcoming campaign.

Nicolas Batum signs 2-year, $10.6 million deal with Clippers

Neutral: Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, KJ Martin
Batum’s exit from Philly could mean a few more minutes for RoCo or Martin, but the extra playing time won’t amount to much in the world of fantasy hoops. The move from Philly to LA is a lateral one, and Batum’s fantasy outlook remains unchanged ahead of the 2024-25 season.

Klay Thompson joins Mavs on 3-year, $50 million sign-and-trade deal

Josh Green traded to Hornets

Winners: Klay Thompson, Brandin Podziemski, Josh Green
Let’s be clear. Klay isn’t going to suddenly get his shooting touch or durability back, but his starting job in Dallas is far more secure than it was in Golden State last season. Rumors of his split from the Warriors grew louder as the season wore on, and a change of scenery should be a positive for his play.

Podziemski should be Steph Curry’s backcourt running mate this season, and the young gun has top-100 potential in Year 2 if he takes the next step. This is a big win for him, and fantasy managers should target him with a late-round pick in 2024-25 drafts.

Green has flashed upside throughout his brief career, and he’ll presumably have more opportunities for the rebuilding Hornets than he did with Dallas last season.

Losers: Naji Marshall
Farewell, sweet prince. Marshall was on the fantasy radar for mere hours after he signed with Dallas and Derrick Jones Jr. signed with the Clippers. Thompson will now round out the starting five alongside Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford.

Derrick White inks 4-year, $125.9 million extension with defending champs

Neutral: Derrick White
He was phenomenal last season, even playing alongside Jrue Holiday. Expect elite fantasy production for years to come.

Delon Wright signs 1-year, $3.3 million deal with Bucks

Winners: Delon Wright
The journeyman will join his ninth team after logging just 15.8 mintues per tilt across 47 appearances for the Heat and Wizards last season. He could see more minutes off the bench behind Damian Lillard in Milwaukee. This is a small win, but a win nonetheless.

Drew Eubanks signs 2-year, $10 million deal with Jazz

Neutral: Drew Eubanks
Eubanks will be buried on Utah’s depth chart, so this move does little to impact his fantasy value.

Tobias Harris signs 2-year, $52 million deal to join Pistons

Winners: Tobias Harris
Harris moves from being the third option on a contending team to the second option on one of the worst teams in the Association. His usage and production should get significant boosts, making him an intriguing fantasy option for next season.

Losers: Any Piston not named Cade Cunningham
Jaden Ivey and Ausar Thompson in particular will get dinged, but any of Detroit’s options outside of the star point guard are likely to be negatively impacted by this signing.

Jalen Smith signs 3-year, $27 million deal with Bulls

Winners: Jalen Smith

Smith is a big winner here. He goes from being buried on Indiana’s depth chart to seeing a clear path to a starting role with a bad team. Nikola Vucevic is still the starting center in Chicago, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he was dealt as part of Chicago’s imminent blowup and rebuild. Andre Drummond is now in Philly, so the runway is cleared for a Smith breakout in 2024-25. The bespectacled big is worth a look in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.

Isaiah Hartenstein inks 3-year, $87 million deal with Thunder

Winners: Isaiah Hartenstein, Mitchell Robinson
OKC’s lack of size was a problem for the team all last season, as the Thunder were consistently crushed on the boards. Hartenstein could be an immediate part of the starting lineup if Chet Holmgren is moved to PF. Even if he comes off the bench, I-Hart is in line for a bigger role than the one he had backing up Mitchell Robinson in New York.

Speaking of Robinson, the center depth behind him is quite shallow, so there’s a good chance he sees increased playing time in 2024-25 if he returns to the Knicks.