Biggest takeaways from NBA Free Agency

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We are now over 24 hours removed from the most exciting free agency period of any sport in the history of sports in this country. Before I break down my thoughts on everything, let's first recognize how much better the NBA is at free agency than Major League Baseball.

In the Major League Baseball offseason we were using the words "collusion" and "embarrassing" when discussing where Bryce Harper and Manny Machado were going to go. A quality closer in Craig Kimbrel didn't even make it to a roster before the season started. It is literally a 180 degree difference in the two sports when it comes to offseason entertainment. The root of the difference comes down to something very simple. In baseball, value is not clearly defined. We did not exactly know what Bryce Harper wanted for his next contract going into the offseason. We knew that he wanted to set a benchmark, but did he want to the most total money in baseball history? Did he want the most years in baseball history? Did he want the most money PER year? That was the very difficult part of reading the Harper free agency, we did not know what he was going for exactly.

In basketball, we know what these guys are going for. We can specifically categorize every athlete. Kemba Walker and Anthony Davis wanted a chance to grow a contender. Jimmy Butler wanted a respectable organization. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving wanted to play together. We knew all of this before free agency began so it makes total sense that we would see deals for all of these free agents on day one. Baseball drags on and on because of that difference, however also the "max contract" requires a much longer commitment in baseball. Harper's "max contract" is a 13 year deal. 13!!!!! For a power hitter! Kemba Walker's max deal is a 4 year deal. I use these two players as examples because I think they were at very similar points in their careers heading into their free agency. Both young superstars who were about to get paid, and we could potentially see both of them as Hall of Famers one day, yet neither had been near a championship yet. Naturally, their mindsets would be similar.
So lets get to my biggest takeaways so far


Kemba Walker deal saves Boston

This will net him roughly $35 million dollars per year and it is the definition of a "deep breath" for the organization. It's amazing how quickly things can change in this sport. We saw it with the Pelicans when they brought in David Griffen to help save the day when Anthony Davis said he was not going to re-sign. The team went from no hope and losing a super star, to drafting Zion Williamson and getting a boat load of talent back for Anthony Davis in a very short amount of time and it will not surprise me if they make the playoffs very soon. The Celtics change happened over the span of a year. At the beginning of this NBA season, the Celtics were the CLEAR favorites. Everybody kept saying that if a team led by Terry Rozier, Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown can make it to the East Finals, adding Kyrie and Gordon Hayward into the mix will get them in the NBA Finals for sure. That simply was not the case, the team underperformed in the playoffs which led to Kyrie and Al Horford walking. Kemba now is the face of that Celtics and I think will be a great fit for a team that looked like it was going to take a nosedive.

The Knicks and Hornets are still big losers

As good as it is for Boston to get Kemba, it is equally as bad for Charlotte that they let him walk. The reported Charlotte offer to Kemba was a five year deal worth $160 million dollars. They could have offered $221 million if they wanted to. If I'm the Hornets, I was thinking to myself as the Anthony Davis drama was happening this year, thankfully that's not us. Thankfully our superstar has not publicly requested a trade because he does believes we can't win. That's what happened with Davis in New Orleans, and frankly it was the same situation in Charlotte. The AD situation should have been a warning sign to the Hornets that this stuff happens. Star players walk from small markets all the time, it's up to the organization to convince our superstar that we have a direction. The Pelicans didn't do that for Davis, the Knicks didn't do that with Kristops and the Hornets clearly did not do that with Kemba. To offer Kemba $50 million less than what they could have is insulting, and they had to know they were going to be outbid. If I'm a Hornet fan I am livid.

Not quite as livid as a Knick fan however. This franchise, led by the worst owner in sports in James Dolan, has repeatedly made horrible decisions. The Eddy Curry contract, the Carmelo Anthony trade, the Isiah Thomas debacle at general manager… At some point when you are in the lottery every year and you clear cap space every three years, you are supposed to get better. They don't get better because of the incompetence in the front office. Kevin Durant specifically said that the Nets front office was a major reason he and Kyrie made the move. Even if you don't believe the Knicks statement of not wanting to give Durant the max contract because of his injury, it is still an embarrassment when you clear all the cap space they did in the Porzingis deal, and come away with Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Reggie Bullock, and Taj Gibson. On top of it all, Durant and Kyrie will be IN NEW YORK. I said when the Giants passed on Sam Darnold, the one team they better hope doesn't grab him was the Jets because he will have a successful career in the same city while you struggle at the quarterback position for years. That's what happened again in New York yesterday, just different sports.

Brooklyn hits jackpot, but time will tell if it works

Incompetence leads to success for others. That's the way of the world, and the Knicks terribleness has led to the Nets fortune. Kyrie gets another fresh start after failing in Boston. Make no mistake about it, what happened for Kyrie in Boston was a failure. Kyrie wins a championship with LeBron in Cleveland and decides he wants to be his own guy, so he demands a trade. After his injury two years ago and the success of the team without him, this year was a struggle for him being "the guy" from both from a production standpoint and a leadership standpoint. He chooses to leave AGAIN even after telling season ticket holders at the beginning of the year that he is going to stay. This new fresh start will be telling because he will get to be "the guy" next year without Kevin Durant. How will it work with him accepting Durant in next year? When Durant comes back it will be his team and Kyrie will have to fall backwards into a supporting act. It is natural to question if Kyrie will be ok, sliding back into a non star role. Here is what I will tell the doubters: This situation in Brooklyn is different than his situation in Cleveland. With LeBron he was CLEARLY the number 2 player on the team. With Durant, I think he will blend into a 1B Player. This means equal playing time, equal or slightly less shots, a trade off in who's "night" it will be, and a tradeoff for who will get the last shot in close games. If we're comparing the situations to movies, Kyrie will be the lead actress compared to the supporting male actor. I think this will work.

Jimmy Butler to Miami confuses me

This was the most eye popping move from over the weekend. I really thought Jimmy was a great fit in Philly primarily because of his personality. As an east coaster I can tell you that part of the country enjoy's big personalities and straight shooters. That is exactly what Butler is, and it sounded like from everything we heard all Butler wanted to do was win. The interesting part about this deal for me is Butler talking about how blown away impressed he was at the respect they showed Dwayne Wade at the end of his career. He was impressed by the respect and love the fans showed Dwayne Wade at the end of his career. I find it puzzling that Butler thinks that he will receive "Dwayne Wade love." That was earned over a long period of time, and I actually think he would have had a better chance of receiving that in Philly.


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Yordan Alvarez's homer in Wednesday's game gave him 100 RBI on the season. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Winners of three straight, six of their last seven, and eight of their last ten, the Astros had the chance to move yet another game closer to clinching their playoff spot if they could secure the series with a win against the Angels on Wednesday. Even though it looked as though they were headed towards a loss in extra innings, they would ultimately come out ahead.

Final Score (12 innings): Astros 9, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 91-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yimi Garcia (4-9)

Losing Pitcher: Sam Selman (0-1)

Garcia goes six shutout innings

Although he didn't have swing-and-miss dominance in this start, Luis Garcia could still capitalize on a struggling Angels offense and post a shutout quality start against them. He allowed three walks and three hits throughout his outing but stranded all of them while getting outs on balls in play. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 79 P.

Alvarez reaches 100 RBI as Houston's offense keeps rolling

That performance had Garcia in line for the win, as two homers handed him a 3-0 advantage which he held. Houston once again used early offense to take a first-inning lead, as a leadoff walk by Jose Altuve turned into a monster 456-foot by Yordan Alvarez, pushing him to 100 RBI on the season. The score held at 2-0 until the top of the fifth, when Jason Castro led that frame off with a solo homer to extend the lead to three runs.

Extras in Anaheim

Phil Maton was first out of Houston's bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, but a single, double, and walk loaded the bases with no outs to put him in a jam. A lineout kept the runners put for the first out, but a single and a walk would make it a one-run game and left the bases loaded as Maton would get pulled.

Kendall Graveman entered to try and stop the bleeding, but after a force out at home to put that within reach, Jack Mayfield came through for Los Angeles with a go-ahead three-run double, giving the Angels their first lead of the series at 5-3. In the top of the eighth, a walk by Alex Bregman brought Alvarez back to the plate, and he would nearly miss a game-tying homer and instead got an RBI-single to make it 5-4.

Alvarez would still come in to tie the game, hustling home from second on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel to knot things up 5-5. Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he sat down LA in order with two strikeouts. Still tied in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly came in to force extras, and despite being shadowed by the winning run on the bases after a leadoff single, retired the next three batters to send the game to the tenth.

Astros keep battling and take it in the twelfth

Jake Meyers took second base as Houston's free runner in the top of the tenth, but he would go nowhere as the Astros went down in order, giving the Angels another chance at a walk-off. Instead of giving Shohei Ohtani a free pass immediately, Houston would let Blake Taylor throw two balls to him before giving him the intentional walk.

Taylor then gave up a single to load the bases with no outs, and after getting a force out at home for the first out, Yimi Garcia would replace him. Thanks to a great play by Chas McCormick, giving him multiple in the game, the Astros would live to see another inning as he would make a great catch in right field and then throw out Ohtani at home.

In the top of the eleventh, a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel moved Aledmys Diaz to third, but that's as close as Houston would come, leaving them stuck at five runs. After Garcia retired three more batters in the bottom of the eleventh, the game moved to the twelfth, where Houston would get back in front on an RBI single by Jake Meyers, then padded the new lead on a two-RBI double by Jose Altuve, who would also score on a sac fly by Alex Bregman, making it 9-5. Josh James came in and wrapped things up in the bottom half as Houston secured the series victory and reduced their magic number to two against Oakland and three against Seattle.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game series, and the last time these two teams will meet this year, will be an 8:38 PM Central start on Thursday. The expected pitching matchup is Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.59 ERA) for Los Angeles and Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.11 ERA) for Houston.

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