NBA free agency -- the financial contract version of a Super Toy Run, a video game bonus level, and Hungry Hungry Hippos all in one -- started Sunday at 6 PM, and the results have already been spectacular. The basic concept is that players whose contracts have expired are 'free agents,' and they're all able to start signing contracts at the exact same minute, meaning that when we're lucky, the first day of free agency is a beautiful, chaotic scramble. Yesterday, we were lucky. The headlines so far: the L.A. Lakers are back, the Philadelphia 76ers are stacked, the Brooklyn Nets are in the building, the Golden State Warriors' reign of terror may finally be over, and there's only one major piece -- though it's arguably the most major piece -- left in the free agency puzzle. More specifically:
- The New York Knicks started Sunday with a plan: superstar Kevin Durant and regular-star Kyrie Irving were both going to come to New York, restoring glory to the troubled franchise. They were off by a borough -- both those guys eschewed Manhattan to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, making the Nets a threat in the Eastern Conference for the next few years, and keeping the Knicks terrible and sad.
- The L.A. Lakers actually made their big move last week, trading basically their entire team to pair superstar Anthony Davis with the star of Space Jam 2 himself, LeBron James.
- The Philadelphia 76ers lost a couple of good players but gained a couple more -- and for the team that came closer than anyone to beating the Toronto Raptors in last year's playoffs, that's pretty good news.
- And speaking of the Raptors... and the Lakers... and the Knicks... the one superstar who's still biding his time is the weird, brilliant, reigning NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard. The Knicks still have the salary cap room (don't worry about it) to sign him, but that won't happen. If he goes to the Lakers, he'll form a new super-duper-team, and everyone will hate him. He could easily re-sign with the Raptors and defend their NBA Championship... or he could bolt for his hometown L.A. Clippers, or do something else entirely. Intrigue!
- Oh right, and the team he beat in the Finals, the Warriors: hours after losing Durant, they just traded for a young sort-of star, but had to part with the 2015 NBA Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala, to make it happen (he's not quite a star, but one of their key core players). They still have the talent to compete for an NBA title next year, but after a long and successful run, it'll be a different-looking squad.