NBA Free Agency Stock Watch: The Biggest Moves and the Futures Bets They Impact

NBA Free Agency Stock Watch: The Biggest Moves and the Futures Bets They Impact article feature image

Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Paul George

The Highlights

  • A flurry of moves went down in the opening hours of NBA free agency, including Paul George staying with the Thunder.
  • We broke down every move, how it affects those teams and how it changes their outlook in the futures betting market.

NBA Free Agency opened Saturday night at midnight, and the fireworks were more than expected. LeBron James remains without a deal, but Paul George, DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul and others came to agreements on where they’ll play in 2018-19.

Here’s a look at the deals agreed to Saturday night with impacts on the team’s figurative stock, as well as how various futures are impacted.


Durant agrees to re-sign a two-year, $61.5 million deal with the Warriors.

Five-Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I mean, it’s Kevin Durant. You give him whatever he wants. Getting him on a one-and-one with a player option after last year is distressing. There was a lot of weirdness around the Warriors and no one really knows what the deal is. Everyone expected Durant to re-sign with Golden State despite that weirdness.

Get ready for a lot of speculation over the next year.

Stock watch: ➖

Futures to watch: Warriors title odds. Golden State remains the best team, and there’s no conceivable move that changes that, no matter what LeBron James does. If James goes to the Lakers, the Warriors’ odds may get longer as well. Durant keeps the Warriors light years ahead of the competition.


Paul George agrees to four-year, $137 million deal with Thunder. Jerami Grant re-signs for three years, $27 million.

Five-Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Not bad for a small market team that took a huge gamble in getting a free-agent-to-be with a clear interest to return home to Los Angeles. The Thunder’s big bet on their team culture paid off as George bought back in. His relationship with Russell Westbrook clearly played a significant part. The move means that no matter what, the Thunder can have Westbrook and George as the pillars of their team for at least another three years.


They can figure out better ways to use their talent than what they showed last year, but to do so they had to keep that talent. They did. It’s a bold move by George, and one that shows his drive to plot his own course. Grant was quietly one of their best perimeter weapons on both ends, and a sneaky cutter.

Thunder stock: ?

Futures to watch:  Thunder under win total. OKC has Roberson coming back from a major injury and is likely to lose Anthony’s scoring for nothing. Factor in a brutal division and their struggles last year, and OKC might improve on 48 wins last season and still come up short.

Northwest Division: If this number comes in at a plus figure, the return for what is the most talented team in the division is considerable.


Paul agrees to a four-year, $160 million max deal to stay in Houston.

Five-star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Rockets had little alternative. Once LeBron James was not coming, CP3 was going to want the max. It’s his last major contract, and his tenure as head of the NBPA has been defined by a push toward star players making the most. It’s a lot of money for a player not only of his age, but with his injury concerns.

However, the Rockets were the best regular season team in the league last year and one quarter away, twice, from beating the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. You don’t break the kind of combo Paul and Harden made up if you can avoid it.

Rockets Stock: ➖

Futures to watch: Rockets win total over. Trevor Ariza signed with Phoenix; that’s a bigger loss than the headlines will show. However, the Rockets won 65 games with CP3 and Harden both missing time. Getting this combo back even without Ariza means consistency. If the number is south of 60, the over seems solid.

Rockets title odds. Stay away from this one. Not everything went their way last year, but a lot did, and they still came up short. Teams don’t often get that close, come up short, and then get over the top the following year.

Harden MVP. Back-to-back titles for the Beard? CP3 re-signing lowers those odds; his performance with Paul out to start the year helped his candidacy. Another avoid.


Nikola Jokic agrees to four years, $146.5 million with the Nuggets. They also bring back Will Barton at four years, $53 million.

Five-Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jokic was a no-brainer and was decided on long ago. He’s Denver’s best player, and despite his defensive limitations, he is one of the best offensive players in the league. They were always going to sign him to a max. They’re tied to him, for better or worse.

Barton was more complicated. Denver had hopes of a lesser deal, but a market developed for Barton late in the process, forcing their hand. Cap-strapped, their choices were Barton at this figure or losing him with no real chance of a replacement. Barton also is one of the few players to strongly identify with wanting to be in Denver and on this team as he’s watched it grow up since being traded from Portland. Both players make this team better.

Stock watch: ?

Futures to watch: Denver over win total and odds to make playoffs. Paul Millsap missed 44 games, and the Nuggets missed the playoffs by a single game. They should be heavy favorites to make the playoffs and for good reason.


Rudy Gay agrees to re-sign with the Spurs at one year, $10 million.

Five-Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Gay was San Antonio’s second-best player this season with Kawhi Leonard out. He’s still limited, especially after his Achilles injury and with so many miles, but he’s effective. And on a one-year deal, this is good value, even if the Spurs probably aren’t going anywhere with the Leonard situation hanging over them.

Stock watch: ➖


Jordan agrees to a one-year, $24 million deal with the Mavs.

Five-Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The one-year part of this makes sense for both sides. The Mavericks can try it out and see if he’s a good fit with their young backcourt of Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic; Jordan can see if he likes the fit. The value of a traditional center like Jordan has never been lower, but Jordan’s ability to free the wings with screens and drive gravity with his roll to the rim helps, as well as how he can compensate for any defensive issues on the perimeter.


That is, of course, if he doesn’t back out of it in the next six days after Lou Williams and Tobias Harris capture him in his home. Not that that would ever happen, because that’s a crazy idea.

Stock watch: ?

Futures to watch: Mavericks win total. Jordan makes them meaningfully better on both ends. If this number pops in the low 30s, Dallas should coast over. Anything over 37 is suspect, however.

Luka Doncic ROY. Jordan will boost his assist total and provide him more space to navigate.


McDermott agrees to a three-year, $22 million deal with the Pacers.

Five-Star Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

McDermott is an 86th percentile spot-up shooter, and his defensive ability is underrated. He’s a perfect fit with Indiana, who needs to put shooters with size around Oladipo. To get him under $8 million per year is good value at age 26.

Stock Watch: ?


Joe Harris agrees to re-up with the Nets for two years and $16 million.

Five-Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Harris is almost 27, so it’s a low-upside move, but he’s effectively better in every key area than McDermott, for a shorter deal. Brooklyn is building a 3-point volume team, and Harris not only helps the team now but provides a good trade chip as well.

Stock watch: ?


Baynes returns to Boston for $11 million over two years.

Five-Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sneaky underrated move. Baynes had the lowest defensive rating of any rotation player last season (97.0). He proved in the playoffs he can stretch the floor surprisingly well, is a decent passer and is a devastating screen-setter. The Celtics got a player back who helps them win in measurable ways for less than $6 million per year. Total steal.


Stock watch: ?


Ilyasova is back with the Bucks after agreeing to a three-year, $21 million deal.

Five-Star Rating: ⭐⭐

The first real overpay of the summer. Ilyasova is 31 and hasn’t shot above 40% from 3-point range since 2016. The Bucks do need more offense, but it’s hard to see where Ilyasova fits, especially for that kind of salary. Three years at that price seems bonkers.

Stock watch: ?


Davis heads to Brooklyn for a one-year, $4.4 million deal.

Five-Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Davis was the Blazers’ best big last season. They’re badly going to miss him. The Nets keep amassing valuable role players who help their team win more than put up stats.

Stock watch: ?


Rose agrees to re-sign with Minnesota on a one-year deal.

Five-Star Rating: ⭐⭐

Rose wasn’t bad offensively last year, but his defense is horrendous for one of the worse defensive teams in the league. This also puts another roadblock in the way of Tyus Jones minutes. Thibs’ obsession with former Chicago Bulls doesn’t help things.

Stock watch: ?


Ariza will ink a one-year, $15 million deal with the Suns.

Five-Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Weird deal. The Suns are stocked at wing but short on point guards. They already have Tyson Chandler and Jared Dudley for veteran leadership. It’s one year for a good player who can shoot and defend at a high level. It doesn’t hurt at that length. It doesn’t help them much, either. It’s a stop-gap. The deal is kind of comparable to J.J. Redick’s deal with the Sixers, but Philly was well ahead of where the Suns are. An odd fit.

Rockets Stock: ➖

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