There was action as soon as the clock hit 6 p.m. The Athletic’s Shams Charania fired out the gates with a report that Lonzo Ball was signing with the Chicago Bulls.
Don’t ask how a deal was agreed to within seconds of free agency opening. Just know it happened.
Other teams wasted little time joining the fun and many of the biggest free agents have already agreed to deals. Here are the biggest transactions through day one.
Vets staying put
Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns: His decision to opt out of a deal paying him $44.2 million in the final year was puzzling to some, but it made sense after he locked up a four-year, $120 million deal to stay with the Suns.
Paul had a resurgent year and led Phoenix to the NBA Finals.
The biggest concern with Paul’s deal is that it ends when he’s 40 years old, but don’t doubt the mastery of James Jones. Ric Bucher reported that the last two years of the deal are not fully guaranteed.
Mike Conley, Utah Jazz: Conley and the Jazz were hit with the injury bug in the second half of last season, but he’s back on a three-year deal. Conley brought stability to the point guard position beside rising star Donovan Mitchell.
Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers: Restricted free agent Jarrett Allen is staying put in Cleveland on a five-year, $100 million deal. The Cavs will now have one of the biggest frontcourts in the NBA with Allen and top-three draft pic Evan Mobley.
Both of Cleveland’s bigs are mobile defensively and Mobley should develop his shooting touch over time. It will be intriguing to see how the Cavs make this work. They’ll be playing with an undersized backcourt and a jumbo frontcourt.
Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat (Honorable Mention): Butler wasn’t a free agent, but he’s signing a major extension in Miami, according to The Athletic. Marc Stein is also reporting that Stephen Curry could be inking an extension, too.
Familiar face, different place
Lonzo Ball, New Orleans Pelicans: As stated earlier, Lonzo Ball is headed to Chicago on a four-year deal worth $85 million.
Chicago needed a point guard and has been rumored to have interest in Ball for months. Since it’s last playoff birth in 2017, the Bulls have tried former top-10 picks Kris Dunn and Coby White, plus Tomáš Satoranský. The results haven’t been promising.
The Bulls finally have a real answer at the position in Ball. They acquired the restricted free agentvia sign and trade. ESPN reported that Satoranský, Garrett Temple and a second-round pick went back to New Orleans.
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors: Lowry won’t be having a homecoming in Philly. Instead, he’s staying down south and joining the Miami Heat.
Maybe Toronto’s one season playing in Tampa encouraged Lowry’s decision. The Florida weather is a big draw.
Evan Fournier, Boston Celtics: Fournier’s decision to head to the Big Apple deserves mention, too. While he struggled in Boston after contracting COVID-19, Fournier was Orlando’s top perimeter scoring option. His three-point shooting and offensive ability will be a welcomed addition for a Knicks team that struggled to score in the postseason.
What free agents are left on the market?
More big deals should be made on day two. Kawhi Leonard is the biggest name available. He’ll reportedly listen to other teams even though he’s expected to return to the Clippers.
Other big name free agents include: Reggie Jackson, DeMar DeRozan, Andre Iguodala, Spencer Dinwiddie, Dennis Shroder, Victor Oladipo and Lauri Markkanen.