The 2019 free agency class is touted as the best one we’ve seen in the history of the NBA. It’s hard to argue against this notion given how so many superstars hit the market — and opted to switch sides.
Needless to say, last summer’s activity in the free agency market has had a tremendous impact on the future of the NBA, thus far.
So now that we have the benefit of hindsight, we take a look at the biggest winners of the memorable NBA free agency summer of 2019.
Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers had to shell out $85 million for a four-year deal on Malcolm Brogdon, and so far, the former NBA Rookie of the Year has been paying dividends. Unfortunately, injuries have prevented the 27-year-old from being extremely effective for his team all season long, but there’s no denying that Brogdon has played a huge role in the Pacers sitting on the fifth seed in the East right now.
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks had no choice but to let Brogdon walk away last summer, simply because they wanted to keep Khris Middleton on board. This came out to the tune of $177.5 million for five years for the NBA All-Star swingman, and it has proven to be the right decision for the Bucks thus far. By keeping Middleton, Milwaukee was able to keep their core intact, and as a result, they still remain to be the owners of the best record in the entire league.
Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers
For the Philadelphia 76ers, it was a choice between Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler. They couldn’t keep both guys on last summer. They opted for Harris, who has rewarded them with an excellent 2019-20 campaign, so far. The Sixers haven’t exactly been the best team in the East — they have hit a few road bumps here and there — but there’s no denying that Harris has been on of, if not the most consistent guy on their roster this year.
Bojan Bogdanovic, Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz’ signing of Bojan Bogdanovic ($73.1 million for four years) is perhaps the biggest, low-key win of the 2019 offseason. By low-key we mean not as headline-grabbing as the other bona fide superstars on our list. Then again, the Jazz still needed to dig deep into their pockets to bring in veteran swingman. Boy did it prove to be an excellent move by the team. Bogdanovic turned out to be a perfect fit for head coach Quinn Snyder’s system, and he’s helped the Jazz to the fourth-best record in the West prior to the hiatus.
Unfortunately, Bogdanovic recently underwent season-ending surgery on his right wrist, which is obviously a huge blow for the Jazz and their (slim) title hopes this season.
Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
Technically, Jimmy Butler was traded to the Miami Heat on a sign-and-trade deal with the Sixers. Nevertheless, he was an unrestricted free agent, so he definitely makes it on our list. Especially since he has led the charge for the Heat not only becoming one of the best teams in the East (they’re currently fourth with a 41-24 record), but his outstanding play has been pivotal in propelling Miami into dark horse-status for the 2020 NBA championship. Another nod to the greatness of Heat long-time puppet master Pat Riley.
Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics
When Kemba Walker signed for the Celtics last summer, he was supposed to be the heir apparent to Kyrie Irving, who in turn took his talents to The Big Apple with the Brooklyn Nets. Walker did not disappoint.
This season, the four-time NBA All-Star point guard is averaging 21.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists, while also connecting on 3.3 triples per game on a 37.7-percent clip. His numbers may have been taken a hit from his days as the lone superstar of the Charlotte Hornets, but with the Celtics sitting on the third spot in the East, Walker has proven to be a tremendous summer signing for Boston. This storied franchise seems to have found its next cornerstone superstar of the future.
Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi Leonard was the biggest name in the free-agent market last season, and rightfully so. The reigning NBA Finals MVP led the Toronto Raptors to an amazing championship-winning season, and pretty much put an end (or a pause?) to the dynasty of the Golden State Warriors.
The Clippers signed him on a huge, $103 million, three-year max deal, and so far, he has been worth every penny. Leonard, along with fellow newcomer Paul George, is looking to perform an encore from last season’s title-winning success, and based on what we’ve seen thus far, the Clippers have a legitimate shot at reaching this lofty goal.