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NBA News & Notes: Free Agency Around the Corner

With the NBA Draft now complete, all eyes are on free agency. Beginning at 6:00 P.M. Eastern on Friday, things are going to get crazy. But it’s worth making a quick mention of the draft.

Anthony Edwards went first overall to Minnesota, giving them another piece to build around as they continue to overhaul their roster. The Golden State Warriors selected James Wiseman second, and the Charlotte Hornets took LaMelo Ball, the clear-cut best point guard in the draft. All three players will make immediate impacts on their new teams.

Suns Make a Splash

One of the first trades of note this week featured a point guard swap with the Thunder and Suns. The deal centered around Chris Paul heading to Phoenix, with Ricky Rubio and Kelly Oubre Jr. as the main pieces returning to the Thunder.

Phoenix had Ricky Rubio playing next to Devin Booker a season ago, and now with Paul, the Suns have strengthened the point guard position while freeing up minutes for Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. Meanwhile, the Thunder flipped Rubio to Minnesota in another draft day deal.

Bringing in Paul may be what the Suns need to get over the hump and return to the playoffs. Phoenix’s last playoff run came in the 2009-10 season, where they lost in the Western Conference Finals 4-2 to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Warriors Acquire Klay Replacement

Mere hours before the draft, the Warriors announced Klay Thompson would miss the entire 2020-21 season with an Achilles injury. Thompson missed all of the 2019-20 season after suffering a torn ACL. Golden State battled numerous injuries a year ago, and the Warriors seemed poised to return to title contention, but losing Thompson to injury makes the path to the Finals unquestionably more difficult.

Golden State was able to acquire Oubre Jr. Thursday night, trading a future first-round pick. Oubre Jr. has proven over the past two years that he is a highly capable scorer. Plugging in a player of his caliber next to Andrew Wiggins and Steph Curry will keep the Warriors competitive, while being in the frontcourt with Draymond Green will make Oubre Jr. a stronger defender. Steve Kerr is a fantastic head coach, and he’ll maximize the team’s potential.

Sixers Dump Horford, Add Two Guards

It was always going to be hard to trade Al Horford’s contract, but the Philadelphia 76ers found a way to make it happen. By packaging two future picks, they were able to flip his nearly untradeable deal to Oklahoma City. In return, the 76ers brought in Danny Green, a proven winner in the NBA.

Philadelphia also flipped Josh Richardson to the Mavericks on draft night, and brought in Doc Rivers’ son in law, Seth Curry. Curry proved with Dallas in the bubble that he is a capable shot-maker who will bring a winning mentality to his new club.

They will need to find a viable backup for Joel Embiid now that Horford is officially gone, but getting his contract off the books frees up space to do so. The Eastern Conference Finals should now be the goal for Philly in a crowded conference.

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