Free Agency 2021

2021 NBA Free Agency: Which teams are the biggest winners and losers?

It's been a week since teams could begin negotiating deals with this year's free agents (Aug. 2, 6:00 p.m). Since 12:01 p.m. ET on Aug. 6, all the deals that were reported early on have now been made official.

Most teams still have a decent number of spots to fill but a lot of the rosters are taking shape.

MORE: Updated list of roster moves for every team

Now that the dust has settled in free agency, our NBA.com Staff looks at which teams were the biggest winners and which were the biggest losers.

Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): For me, the winners are the Chicago Bulls while the losers are the New Orleans Pelicans.

There are, of course, the popular selections of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets for winners, but I like the moves the Bulls have made.

They don't suddenly look like a threat to enter the top half of the East Conference and a legitimate argument can be made for there to be a "TBD" on their season. However, barring injuries, I think the Bulls are winners simply because of their talent leap. Lonzo Ball is a phenomenal 3-and-D playmaking point guard alongside All-Star Zach LaVine, while DeMar DeRozan is lethal from the midrange and can be a great go-to player for them to make plays when the game slows down in the halfcourt. Alex Caruso, alongside Coby White, is a great two-way spark to add as well.

Purely from a talent standpoint, the Bulls have the potential to be one of the most interesting teams in the league - probably for the first time since 2017.

On the Pelicans front, individually, each of their moves don't seem bad so far, but collectively, it's a little head-scratching. They essentially turned Ball, two pick swaps (a first and second) and two first-rounders into Devonte' Graham, Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple, Jonas Valanciunas and two second-rounders.

Coming off firing their second coach in as many years and reports of their generational talent in Zion Williamson - heading into his third year - being disgruntled with the franchise, this doesn't look great.

Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): My winner of free agency has to be the Miami Heat

I don't think any team raised their ceiling as much as the Heat did with the acquisitions of Kyle Lowry, PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris.

Can you think of three players who fit the "Heat culture" better than the abovementioned? This is going to be a tough, hard-nosed team that opponents will dread coming up against and not only do they fit personality-wise, on-court they address plenty of the Heat's needs.

Lowry is the best point guard the Heat have had on the roster in quite some time and with his ability to shoot, pass and defend, he can take some of the workload off Jimmy Butler's shoulders. Meanwhile, Tucker is a perfect fit next to Bam Adebayo in smaller lineups, giving them a nice dose of defence and shooting from the corners. Signing Morris to a one-year, $2.6 million deal could prove to be one of the bargains of the summer as he'll provide some valuable minutes at power forward off the bench and with his ability to space the floor as a career as a 34.1 percent 3-point shooter, he allows them some lineup flexibility.

The additions are one thing, but the Heat also locked down Butler and Duncan Robinson to long-term extensions, solidifying their core group for a strong title window. Victor Oladipo returning on a minimum gives them another X-factor for the second half of the season if he can return to full health, plus they re-signed Dewayne Dedmon, who averaged 7.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per game in 16 games last season.

Are they as good as the Brooklyn Nets or Milwaukee Bucks? Probably not, but I don't think there's another team in the East better positioned to make some noise at the top of the standings. After finishing as the sixth seed and getting swept in the first round of the playoffs last season, the Heat are a team that could be Finals bound if everything breaks their way.

On the other side of the coin, the Boston Celtics appear to be treading water.

With teams around them in the East bolstering their rosters and getting considerably better, the Celtics' moves so far don't exactly scream title contender.

They traded Kemba Walker for Al Horford and Moses Brown, who they flipped for Josh Richardson, and turned Tristan Thompson into Kris Dunn, while letting Evan Fournier walk.

Perhaps they have more up their sleeve, but on paper, they look no better than they did last season.

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): It's hard to disagree with Yash on the Bulls or Benyam on the Heat, but to get another team in the mix, I think the Charlotte Hornets have been one of the biggest winners this offseason.

Behind 2021 Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball, the Hornets began to form something fun and exciting last year. Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges and PJ Washington all showed a ton of promise, and they built on that core this offseason.

I think Charlotte had as good of an NBA Draft as any team in the league, with electrifying UConn guard James Bouknight falling to it at pick No. 11, then trading to select athletic and versatile center Kai Jones at pick No. 19 to help fill out its frontcourt.

The Hornets also traded for a solid starting center in Mason Plumlee before the draft began, then followed up with a quality free agency period, adding a veteran backup point guard in Ish Smith to replace Devonte' Graham and a prolific scoring forward in Kelly Oubre Jr. at a cheap price coming off of a down season.

Charlotte is building something special.

As for the biggest losers, it's hard not to look at the Portland Trail Blazers, who are trying to keep their superstar guard Damian Lillard happy. They re-signed Norman Powell, which was one of their biggest priorities, but I'm not sure their plans lined up thereafter. With Cody Zeller and Tony Snell being their only other free agency signings, it doesn't seem like the Blazers got any better this offseason.

I'm shocked they weren't more aggressive to put complementary pieces around Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic.

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): To keep up with the theme of switching things up, I've gotta give the Golden State Warriors some credit for what they've done this offseason.

Leading up to the draft, there were plenty of questions surrounding what Golden State would do with its two lottery picks and it ended up knocking it out of the park, selecting Jonathan Kuminga seventh and Moses Moody 14th, two players who stand to make an immediate impact while not feeling too much pressure to do so.

Given their cap limitations, I'd understand if the Warriors were inactive this offseason, but instead, they brought in a solid rotational piece in Otto Porter Jr. on a prove-it deal and a player in Nemanja Bjelica, who is looking to bounce back.

Of course, the ultimate signing was bringing in Andre Iguodala to close his career and serve as a mentor for the young talent in the locker room.

There weren't any major splashes signing-wise, but with Klay Thompson and James Wiseman returning to the floor this upcoming season, Golden State has brought in the necessary depth at multiple positions to return to relevance.

On the opposite end, the San Antonio Spurs didn't have the most encouraging offseason. I think Joshua Primo will prove to be a great pick, so it's not about him, but they have officially kicked in the rebuild as they lost DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Patty Mills to free agency.

It's not much of a surprise that those players chose to move on, but it's San Antonio's corresponding moves that leave me wondering what the team will even look like next season. This offseason, they've added a few veterans in Al-Farouq Aminu, Zach Collins, Bryn Forbes, Doug McDermott and Thaddeus Young, but I think a few of their additions might take away from the young guys' ability to develop and shine.

Don't get me wrong, Young is a great locker room vet and a necessary inclusion to facilitate the DeRozan deal, but I think a few of the signings don't align with a rebuild, and the focus should be on Primo, Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV, Jakob Poeltl and Keldon Johnson and stocking up draft capital, not bringing in guys like McDermott, who is better suited on a playoff contender.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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