The make-or-break season for the Wolves is upcoming. With growing questions about Karl-Anthony Towns’ future in Minnesota, paired with an Anthony Edwards max extension and Naz Reid extension, the Wolves have one of the largest payrolls in the NBA (10th, $149,441,150) and are approaching the new, deadly second apron if they aren’t careful in 2023-24. With the team poised to make Anthony Edwards the franchise player, moving on from KAT looks more likely.
Trading for Rudy Gobert hindered Minnesota’s roster construction, and their long-term plans considering the haul they traded for Gobert. Minnesota’s wings are still improving (Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Nickeil Alexander-Walker), and they had a strong draft class (Jaylen Clark, Leonard Miller). With Mike Conley still rostered, adding Shake Milton and Troy Brown, the Wolves have increased their depth, guard/wing play, and versatility for next season, but will be play-in at best.
The biggest spenders as a result of the CBA, the Houston Rockets opened up the checkbooks this free agency. After a phenomenal draft, which saw them bring in Overtime Elite’s versatile Amen Thompson and lottery talent Cam Whitmore (who fell outside the top 20), Houston became one of the most active teams in July. Fred VanVleet signed a MASSIVE 3-year, $130M deal, along with Dillon Brooks‘ 4-year, $80M bag from the team and Jock Landale’s 4 years, $32M contract.
Houston added some established veterans to an extremely young, but promising team. The most underrated of their signings: Jeff Green’s 1 year, $6M deal. With Ime Udoka leading in Houston, he clearly wants a culture change, and by establishing VanVleet and Green as locker-room leaders, the Rockets look determined to try and compete this upcoming season and in the future. While it likely wasn’t enough to make the playoffs, they could be a sneaky play-in team next season.
Another team that surprised the league last year, the Jazz experienced a breakout season from Lauri Markannen and had an excellent draft, selecting UCF’s Taylor Hendricks in the lottery, followed by Baylor’s Keyonte George, and Ohio State’s Brice Sensabaugh all in the first round. Their other offseason moves? Trade for Atlanta’s John Collins, who could blossom in a new situation away from the Hawks, and resigning Jordan Clarkson (3 years, $55M).
The Jazz also got an opt-in from Talen Horton-Tucker on his player option after a very promising last season, as they look to continue to build around him, Collin Sexton, Ochai Agbaji, and Clarkson in the backcourt, with Markannen and Walker Kessler. With near unlimited depth, draft assets for years, and a few valuable players (Clarkson, THT, Kelly Olynyk, among others), watch out for Utah to be active if any superstars request out in the next year, as they attempt to take that next step.
The Wemby sweepstakes were won by the Spurs! The lottery winners had a celebratory offseason, finding their next franchise player in 7’4″ French phenom Victor Wembanyama, and locking up Tre Jones to bargain deal through a restricted free agency deal. The Spurs have quietly established one of the best young cores in the NBA, but they will still have to develop Wemby and get him acclimated to the NBA. Expect big things for the Spurs, just not in 2023-24.
Dame Time in Portland has finally come to an end. The trade request has come, and now the entire league waits. Specifically, the Miami Heat, who Lillard has vowed his public desire to be traded, but uncertainty on when or if the Blazers will ever trade their franchise player to Miami. Besides that, Portland actually had a beautiful off-season. Not only did they draft the heir apparent to Dame in Scoot Henderson, but they added Kris Murray, Rayan Rupert through the draft.
Although they resigned Jerami Grant to a huge 5 year, $160M contract, Portland will be sure to consider moving him and veteran big man Jusuf Nurkic when the time comes and both are eligible (along with Lillard). Portland also matched a Dallas offer sheet on Matisse Thybulle ultimately worth $33M over the course of the deal. Portland’s done a quiet rebuild for two seasons, but no longer have to hide it and can enter the next phase of their franchise’s future with a Dame trade.