Fred VanVleet is a big winner from NBA free agency

Winners & Losers From NBA Free Agency: FVV, Edwards Cash Out

After every NBA free agency cycle, the sports world is left speechless.

Just when we all thought there was a ceiling for the amount of pure dough handed out, the association breaks another ceiling, shattering expectations and making it rain cash. Within one hour, teams dished out a reported $1 billion in contracts. Wow.

Surely, all of that was responsible business, right? Heck, no.

Here are our winners and losers from NBA free agency. 

2023 NBA Free Agency Winners

Here are the biggest winners from this free agency cycle. 

Fred VanVleet

I’m of the mind VanVleet’s “undrafted” persona is a bit pumped up — there are two rounds in the NBA Draft — but I won’t throw shade. FVV broke the bank this summer. His three-year, $128-million deal ($42.8M AAV) with the Rockets is insane, and it represents the largest deal ever given out to an undrafted player.

Houston needed an adult in the locker room, and with VanVleet, a proven leader, running their backcourt, the Rockets might finally start moving in the right direction.

2020 Draft Class

  • Anthony Edwards
  • LaMelo Ball
  • Tyrese Haliburton
  • Desmond Bane

These fellas all cashed in at the same time. Edwards, the new face of the franchise in Minnesota, received a five-year pact worth as much as $250 million. Ball got even more at five years, $260 million (pending incentives). Haliburton and Bane also got deals worth upwards of $200 million. 

This is all life-changing money. Parents, if you’re reading this, smash your children’s cellos and Rubix cubes – kick down the easel and watercolors, too — and stick a basketball in their hands. They might resent you until the end of time, but when your kid buys you a house in 20 years, all those temper tantrums will have been worth it. 

2023 NBA Free Agency Losers

These teams messed up.

Portland Trail Blazers

What the hell happened, Portland? Just a few weeks ago, the Blazers had all kinds of leverage. They entertained trades for the third overall pick, and, more importantly, the front office met with star Damian Lillard to smooth out his concerns. That meeting went well, apparently. 

Fast forward, and Portland did not trade the third pick – instead, the team drafted Scoot Henderson – and Lillard has requested a trade. Henderson is talented, but this squad is sunk without Lillard. The 32-year-old quickness and scoring ability are unparalleled, and the Blazers’ return in a trade for him will consist of multiple first-round picks. That only prolongs the rebuild. 

Philadelphia 76ers

The irony of Philly hiring former Raptors coach Nick Nurse, whom Joel Embiid has frequently criticized, is not lost on me. But the Sixers are not losers this offseason because of staffing hires. No, no.

The whole James Harden saga makes them a big loser. Harden never looked like the scoring monster he was in Houston – perhaps that’s not realistic at 33 years old – and he wound up playing just 79 games over two seasons in Philly. Now he wants out, and the 76ers must pick up the pieces.

Ideally, Philly snags a decent haul for their volatile scoring guard, and maybe that creates a great supporting cast around Embiid. At the same time, the 76ers aren’t extending Tyrese Maxey, an important secondary player for them. I don’t know where Philadelphia is headed, but the squad certainly didn’t “win” anything this summer. 

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