All right, take a deep breath. The 2022 edition of NBA free agency began with the typical flurry of moves that were somehow finalized in the first 30 seconds of the negotiation window, but things have finally slowed down, giving us time to reflect on all the movement, surprises, and Oscar-worthy Brian Windhorst memes.
Each free-agency period is different, as sometimes superstars make shocking decisions to change teams, and other times we’re left waiting and wondering while key decisions are left until the dog days of July — or later. This time around, there’s one crucial name everyone is waiting to see move (psst, it rhymes with Devin Kurant), and once that happens it will surely set off a chain reaction that will shape the league for the 2022-23 season.
For now, however, let’s take a step back and look at six things we learned from the first weekend of 2022 NBA free agency.
1. It pays to be a superstar
Within hours of the official start of 2022 free agency on Thursday, NBA teams had already committed a total of over $1 billion to five players. Yes, five players:
Not much later, New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson agreed to a five-year extension that could reach $231 million with incentives. Reminder: He’s played 85 games (including no playoff appearances) in three seasons. All-Star guard Darius Garland, who has yet to hit the 70-game plateau in a single season, agreed to an almost identical deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The lesson is simple, however trite it’s become. The NBA is a superstar’s league, and it’s nearly impossible to win without one. Steph Curry. Giannis Antetokounmpo. LeBron James. Kawhi Leonard. Kevin Durant. Those are just the last five title winners. To find a team that last won a title without any player you could…