Free Agency Day 1 Was Bonkers (Part 1)
Well it's official Free Agency started yesterday in the NBA and teams have waited no time to start making moves.
Kemba steps in for Kyrie
Drafted in 2011 and after 8 years with the Charlotte Hornets Kemba Walker signed a 4 year $141 million deal with the Boston Celtics last night becoming Boston's clear go to guy and the star of the franchise for the foreseeable future after Kyrie's departure from the team. After 8 seasons in which he averaged 19.8 points and 5.5 assists per game Kemba Walker packs his bags and moves to Boston. In Charlotte, Kemba became a three time all-star and a third team all-NBA player once, last season, after averaging 25.6 points and 5.9 assists.
Kemba becomes the most natural replacement for Kyrie Irving, who leaves the Celtics for the Nets. The 6'1" guard is probably the most similar thing to Kyrie around the league and becomes more of a plus when you think that he's a more willing team player than Kyrie appears to be. Kemba should fit nicely into coach Stevens' schemes operating alongside Brown and Tatum, perhaps more as a unit than possible with Irving.
However good the signing might be, Celtics fans should be slightly worried: With both Horford and Kyrie out of the team the Celtics now have two glaring wholes in their squad. The two left big cap spaces behind, which have now been filled mostly by Kemba, who besides his energy and scoring output won't add much more to the team, at least nothing different from what Kyrie was able to add. With this signing the Celtics loose an opportunity to sign lesser known system players who in retrospective under coach Stevens would add much more to the team.
Philadelphia position themselves as Eastern favorites
With all the moves that took place around the Easter Conference last night, the 76ers probably made the least talked about, yet best moves.
The Philadelphia team dealt Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat in a sign and trade involving guard Josh Richardson. With this move the 76ers acquire a great two-way guard who actually compliments Simmons much better than Butler. They also deal away Butler, who in recent seasons hasn't seemed like the friendliest guy after multiple aggressive exchanges with coaches and teammates alike (you are not Michael Jordan, you can't be pulling that kind of s**t), we all remember that Minnesota practice.
The 76ers also re-signed Tobias Harris, who with Butler out of the team should be taking a more central role when it comes to outside and mid-range scoring, hopefully allowing Simmons to do his thing inside the paint.
But the biggest move of them all, the Sixers secure the signing of former Boston Celtic stud Al Horford, who signs a $109 million contract over 4 seasons, with $97 million guaranteed and $12 tied to bonuses regarding championships. Horford is precisely why I see the Sixers as the favorites to get out of the East next year. Horford adds a three point threat at the forward spot and defensive solidity to a team that outside of Embiid lacks the defensive ability to stop players inside. The Dominican's defensive IQ alongside Embiid will help anchor, possibly, one of the best defenses in the league.
Philly fills the glaring gaps they had last year: defense and shooting, and considering they were a buzzer beater away from a Conference Final birth it shouldn't be much of a stretch to see them pushing to be in the Finals next season.