Thoughts on Day 1 of the 2023 NBA Offseason and Free Agent Signings
June 30th, 2023
by Alan Lu
Right as free agency kicked off, NBA teams couldn’t wait to sign some free agents, and it was the start of another fun and hectic free agency period. Fred VanVleet, Kyrie Irving, and Jerami Grant got massive paydays, and plenty of players received eight-figure contracts from NBA teams. Here are my thoughts on how free agency went down on the first day of the 2023 NBA offseason.
Fred VanVleet was arguably the biggest winner on Day 1 of free agency in the NBA. He got a massive contract from the Houston Rockets, as he signed a 3-year, $130 million deal on the first day of free agency this year.
(Photo: Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)
Also, The Sporting News has contracts that players signed, although some of them did not technically hit the free agent market, as James Harden had opted in and accepted his player option, all while demanding a trade from Philadelphia. Some of the players accepted player options and opted in, so that may be why they’re not listed here.
Also, here are the players that these teams signed, with the estimated contract details next to them.
Oshae Brissett – Contract details unknown
The Boston Celtics get a talented, young forward that will bolster their depth, and they get an athletic, 3 and D player that will for a rotation spot next season. He’s inconsistent, but has shown he can be a solid role player in games. A solid signing for minimal cost.
Boston Celtics’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: B-
Cameron Johnson – 4 years, $108 million
The Nets made a big move to re-sign Cam Johnson, and they were able to keep one of their best players on their team. He’s a very athletic 3 and D forward that has been a solid role player for the Phoenix Suns, as well as the Nets this past season, and while it did seem like an overpay, they were able to keep a talented player that will ensure that they will make a playoff run next season.
Brooklyn Nets’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: B-
The Bulls were able to add a slew of fairly solid role players to their team, and keeping Coby White is a big move ensures that they were able to keep an athletic, versatile combo guard with promising offensive skills on their roster. They also added a steady backup point guard in Jevon Carter, who brings toughness and defense. The Bulls may have overpaid to make these moves, but they were able to ensure the move of keeping Coby White while building upon their depth.
Chicago Bulls’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: C
The Cavaliers made the expected move of re-signing Caris LeVert, a starter on their team that made the playoffs this past year, and he’s an athletic swingman that can score and has a variety of skills. The Cavaliers also signed Niang away from Philadelphia, and they get a bench player that can shoot and move the basketball. But they also swung a major move to sign Max Strus to steal him away from Miami, and they get a proven shooter and scorer that will help the Cavs bolster their team, especially on the offensive end.
They may have overpaid their players to sign them, especially in regards to the Niang move, but the Cavaliers were able to make some major moves to insure that they’ll be a contender for next season.
Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: C
The Dallas Mavericks signed Kyrie Irving to a whopping 3 year, $126 million contract. While he’s enormously talented, this also is a very risky move and may be a massive overpay, given his history of playing on underperforming teams ever since he won the championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers, his mercurial behavior and tendency to make questionable comments, and that he was added during the middle of the season via trade, but Dallas ended up being one of the ten worst teams in the league this past season, and missed the 2023 NBA playoffs.
The Mavericks are taking a big risk and they’re banking on the hopes that Luka and Kyrie will mesh and bring their team back to the Western Conference Finals again someday, but they’ll set themselves back if they fall way short of that, which happened this past year and could happen again.
Seth Curry signed with Dallas, and they may have gotten a bargain by adding Seth Curry on a relatively cheap contract. He is a sharpshooting combo guard that will help bolster their offense. He might not add much else other than shooting and scoring, but Dallas gets a sharpshooter that will add to their team.
Dallas Mavericks’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: C
The Denver Nuggets understandably decided to back away from re-signing Bruce Brown despite Brown’s tremendous season and playoff performance, especially in Game 4 of the 2023 NBA Finals, because they didn’t want to spend $20 million or more per year on what would probably have been the sixth man on their roster for next season. Also, the Nuggets will likely give Christian Braun and Peyton Watson increased roles while also giving their new rookies, Strawther, Pickett, and Tyson a chance to be on the roster and earn some minutes next year. That said, losing Bruce Brown is a significant loss and blow to their team.
They decided to keep Reggie Jackson, who is a talented point guard that didn’t play much for Denver this past season or in the playoffs, and this move may be curious, more than anything. He’s an athletic playmaker that can make plays on offense and defend, but he’ll need to be a more consistent shooter in games. It’s uncertain as to how much he can bring to their team next season, but he’s a veteran that was on their NBA championship roster this year, and it’s likely that he’ll at least play a bigger role for Denver’s team next season.
They also re-signed DeAndre Jordan, who played a pivotal role and gave them some solid minutes in Game 4 of the 2023 NBA Finals. They get a solid veteran who can provide stability, and he’s proven that he can be a solid interior player, as he’ll likely play a backup center role for a really good Denver Nuggets squad next season.
Denver Nuggets’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: C
Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green – 4 years, $100 million
The Warriors made the expected move of keeping Draymond Green, and he’s a proven winner that has helped them win 4 NBA titles. He’s a gifted playmaker and is one of the league’s best defenders. While there are little things he’ll need to work on, like improving his jump shot and on trying to keep his emotions in check so that he doesn’t get kicked out of crucial games in the playoffs, Green has been a valuable role player for the Warriors, and it’s a move that ensures that Warriors culture is here to stay.
Golden State Warriors’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: B-
Fred VanVleet – 3 years, $130 million
The Rockets made perhaps the biggest splash by signing Fred VanVleet to a 3 year, $130 million contract. They signed the one-time All-Star away from Toronto, and they get a crafty, skilled playmaker that has a solid set of all-around skills. While Houston probably overpaid for him, they made a big move that signaled that they want their rebuild to end, and they are going to amp up their intention to make the big playoff push for next season.
Houston Rockets’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: B-
Bruce Brown – 2 years, $45 million
I think it’s great that Bruce Brown got his well-deserved payday in the offseason, and he got a sizable offer that may have been much more than most people expected. He’s an athletic swingman that is a lockdown defender and is a tremendous hustle player, and he’s flashed offensive skills, as evidenced by his terrific Game 4 performance in the 2023 NBA Finals.
While it’s a shame that he’ll no longer play for the Denver Nuggets, the team he helped get the championship this year, Brown will get a chance to show more of his offensive skills, and he could get a bigger role on offense to show that maybe he can also be the scorer the Pacers need, in addition to that he’ll bring playmaking, defense, and toughness to their ballclub.
Indiana Pacers’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: B-
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers kept Rui Hachimura by giving him a sizable contract to prevent other teams from being able to offer him in restricted free agency, and they keep an athletic, combo forward that will bring versatile scoring skills. They also added a solid backup point guard in Gabe Vincent, who will bring some shot making and defense, but lost Dennis Schroder, who was solid for them, especially in the playoffs.
They also added a 3 and D role player in Taurean Prince, along with an athletic, upside wing in Cam Reddish that can score to bolster their depth. The Lakers didn’t make many big moves, but they made sensible moves to help round out their roster.
Los Angeles Lakers’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: C
Derrick Rose – 2 years, $6.5 million
In light of Ja Morant’s newest scandal and that he’ll be suspended 25 games for the 2023-24 NBA season, and that Grizzlies traded away Tyus Jones in a move to get Marcus Smart, the Grizzlies decided to add another point guard to bolster their depth in Morant’s absence.
Rose is a one-time MVP that used to be a really good point guard, but he didn’t see many minutes on the New York Knicks’ team this past season. It can be argued that it may be an overpay, but the Grizzlies do need a point guard that can earn minutes while Morant is out due to suspension.
Memphis Grizzlies’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: C
Josh Richardson – 2 years, other contract details unknown
The Miami Heat lost a key piece to their rotation in Strus, but they’re getting a solid role player back that can ably fill that role in Josh Richardson. Josh Richardson is a solid role player that can shoot, distribute the ball, and defend, and he is a veteran that plays his role well. This is a move that screams Heat culture, and it’s a solid, quiet move for the Heat.
Miami Heat’s 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: B
The Milwaukee Bucks quietly may have made the best move on Day 1 of free agency, and they signed three-time NBA All-Star and member of the 2021 NBA championship squad, Khris Middleton to a deal that may have been a bit less than expected.
(Photo: Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports, via GMA Network)
Khris Middleton – 3 years, $102 million
The Bucks kept arguably the best free agent in this offseason, and they were able to re-sign Khris Middleton at a reasonable price that was perhaps lower than expected. Middleton has helped the Bucks win the 2021 NBA championship, and when healthy, has shown that he can be one of the best two-way wings in the NBA. He hasn’t really been fully healthy in the past couple of seasons and has struggled with injuries, but re-signing Middleton ensures that the Bucks will make another strong push for an NBA title next season.
Milwaukee Bucks’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: B+
The Timberwolves made some small moves to help add depth to their roster. Milton is a skilled combo guard that can shoot, score, and pass the basketball. Troy Brown is a playmaking wing that can distribute the ball and defend. Also, Nickeil Alexander-Walker has shown that he can be a solid shooter and scorer off the bench, and could provide them with a movement shooter to their offense. While neither player will put up All-Star numbers next season, the players they signed could be solid pieces to their rotation next season.
Minnesota Timberwolves’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: C+
Herb Jones is a very athletic forward that is a lockdown defender and is a key player on the New Orleans Pelicans, and the Pelicans re-signed him to keep him for both next season and the future.
(Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images, via FiveThirtyEight)
New Orleans Pelicans
Herbert Jones – 4 years, $55 million
The Pelicans re-signed Herbert Jones, and they keep a young, very athletic glue guy that could be a key building block to their team both next season and in the future. He is one of the best defensive players in the league, he’s a high-flyer that will make hustle plays on both ends of the floor, and he is also a good ball mover. The Pelicans made a great move to keep him while making sure he’s under contract for the long haul, and this is a very good move from their organization.
New Orleans Pelicans’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: A
Joe Ingles – 2 years, $22 million
The Orlando Magic signed a savvy veteran in Joe Ingles, and they get a solid role player that can make shots and distribute the basketball. Ingles has dealt with some injuries recently and is an aging role player that has seen a bit of decline in production, but he is a skilled forward that can help their squad, especially on offense, and can provide them with some much needed tutelage while he’s there.
Orlando Magic’s 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: C+
Yuta Watanabe – Contract details unknown
Josh Okogie – Contract details unknown
Damion Lee – Contract details unknown
Chimezie Metu – Contract details unknown
Keita Bates-Diop – Contract details unknown
Drew Eubanks – Contract details unknown
The Phoenix Suns added a group of bench players to help fill out their roster. Among them, signing Watanabe and Okogie were the best moves for them, as they added a very good shooter, and keep a solid role player in Okogie. Watanabe is a sharpshooting forward that will bolster their offense and will help make their offense even more potent. Josh Okogie had a solid season this past year, and he is an athletic guard that will make hustle plays and is a solid defender.
Damion Lee is a 3 and D swingman that can play his role well at the end of a team’s rotation. Chimezie Metu is an athletic, energetic swingman that has shown some shooting and defensive skills, and could vie for a backup big man role in their rotation. Keita Bates-Diop is a 3 and D role player and Drew Eubanks is a high-motor center, and both players will fight for rotation spots next season.
Phoenix Suns’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: C+
Portland Trail Blazers
Jerami Grant – 5 years, $160 million
The Blazers signed Grant to a massive, 5 year, $160 million deal. This ensures that they will make the playoff push for next season, and Grant is an athletic, skilled combo forward that can do a little bit of everything. It might have been a significant overpay, since Grant has never made an All-Star team, and the Blazers did not even make the play-in tournament this past season, even with a healthy Damian Lillard. On the other hand, the Blazers will get Lillard and Grant back, as well as Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe, and will get Scoot Henderson to join them, so things should be interesting for them.
Portland Trail Blazers’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: C+
Trey Lyles – 2 years, $16 million
The Kings keep Lyles, a solid, versatile combo forward who helped their team make the playoffs this year, and he will help their bench for next season.
Sacramento Kings’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: C+
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs made a move to re-sign Tre Jones, a point guard who saw a significant increase in minutes and playing time. He is a tough, hard-nosed playmaker that can distribute the basketball and defend, but will need to improve his jump shot. This might have been an overpay, but Jones is a fairly solid role player that can reliably run the point.
San Antonio Spurs’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: C+
The Raptors re-signed Poeltl to a hefty contract, and they also signed Schroder away from the Lakers. They lost VanVleet in free agency to Houston, which will be a significant blow to them, but the Raptors keep a solid interior player in Poeltl, and add a quality point guard in Schroder, who has proven that he can excel in any role, whether if it’s as a starter or if he’s coming off the bench.
Toronto Raptors’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: C
Kyle Kuzma – 4 years, $102 million
The Wizards decided to re-sign Kuzma to a sizable deal, and it’s a move that signals that Kuzma will be an essential and core player to their team. He is a skilled combo forward that can shoot and score the basketball, and he helped the 2020 Los Angeles Lakers win the NBA championship that year. It might have been an overpay, but the Wizards have insured themselves that Kuzma will play a crucial role to their team both for next season and in the future.
Washington Wizards’ 2023 Day 1 of Free Agency Grade: C+
Still Unsigned – Best of the Currently Unsigned Free Agents
Tier 1 – the Surefire All-Stars:
Tier 2: Borderline All-Stars/Very Solid Role Players
Tier 3: Solid Role Players
3. Grant Williams (RFA)
4. D’Angelo Russell (UFA)
5. Russell Westbrook (UFA)
6. Eric Gordon (UFA)
7. P.J. Washington (RFA)
8. Christian Wood (UFA)
9. Matisse Thybulle (RFA)
10. Ayo Dosunmu (RFA)
11. Kevin Love (UFA)
12. Mason Plumlee (UFA)
Tier 4: Solid Rotation Players
13. Jae Crowder (UFA)
14. Jeff Green (UFA)
15. Torrey Craig (UFA)
16. Jock Landale (UFA)
17. Donte DiVincenzo (UFA)
18. Lonnie Walker IV (UFA)
19. Mo Bamba (UFA)
20. Jaxson Hayes (RFA)
21. Paul Reed (RFA)
22. Malik Beasley (UFA)
23. Darius Bazley (UFA)
24. Patrick Beverley (UFA)
25. Dalano Banton (UFA)
All in all, those are my thoughts on how teams did on Day 1 of the 2023 NBA free agency. Another note, I forgot that Seth Curry was an impending free agent, so he would’ve been ranked 27th in the UFAs in the previous article, as he would’ve slotted above Lonnie Walker IV and below Josh Richardson. For sources as to who signed and where, The Athletic’s Shams Charania and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski have been very reliable sources.
There are still a lot more signings that will probably be made by NBA teams from now until the start of the 2023-24 NBA season. Thanks for reading.