Not even a week into NBA free agency, there’s already been a huge amount of movement across the league. Changes big and small that impact teams both close to title contention (hello, Sixers and Knicks!) and…not so much (apologies, Wizards and Pistons).

To recap, so far we’ve seen Klay Thompson, a cornerstone of the Golden State Warriors dynasty, move to the Dallas Mavericks. The 76ers now have a formidable Big 3 after signing Paul George, while the Knicks brought back OG Anunoby and brought in Mikal Bridges — but at a steep price.

In light of that, we’ve identified three teams that appear to be early winners of free agency, three others that appear to be losers — and one club that has us collectively going, “Huh?”


Oklahoma City Thunder
What they did: Improved their perimeter defense; signed a coveted big man

No team improved its immediate title prospects more than Oklahoma City, which acquired winger Alex Caruso in a trade with the Chicago Bulls and then signed coveted Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein in free agency.

The Thunder, already a top-four defense, gain a guard in Caruso who made the All-Defensive Team each of the past two seasons and a 26-year-old rim protector who held opposing shooters more than 11.2 percentage points below their averages around the basket last season.

Hartenstein also gives OKC — third-to-last in NBA offensive-rebounding percentage — a much-needed boost on the glass. He’s not a floor spacer like rising star Chet Holmgren, and it remains to be seen how well (and how often) the two play alongside each other. But he’s a fantastic passer for a big, and he should take advantage of any openings the Thunder offense creates.

Caruso’s improved jump shot is a huge boon, as he can easily replace Josh Giddey, who was repeatedly ignored by perimeter defenses in the postseason due to his subpar shooting.

Philadelphia 76ers
What they did: Used salary cap space to form league’s new Big 3; added depth

By simply freeing up the amount of salary cap space, Philadelphia made it clear what their intentions were: They wanted to bring in a top player to team up with former MVP Joel Embiid and All-Star guard Tyrese Maxey.

Paul George checks all the boxes. He’ll be a huge upgrade over Tobias Harris if he’s healthy and available to play. (George, 34, has played in 90 percent of the Clippers’ games this season, his highest percentage in six years.) With Maxey, who agreed to a five-year extension this week, George should stay off the ball and preserve his body.

Re-signing Kelly Oubre Jr., who averaged 15 points per game with Philly last season, also makes sense as a fourth option who can create his own looks. And don’t forget Sixers landing wing Eric Gordon and center Andre Drummond, who led the NBA in offensive-rebounding percentage each of the past two seasons among players who recorded 60 appearances.

Magic of Orlando
What they did: 3-and-D threat added with KCP; important reserves retained

Orlando pulled off perhaps the most strikingly solid free agency deal yet, signing two-time NBA champion wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a three-year, $66 million deal. He fills several needs for them as both a standout defender and a knockdown shooter who has made more than 40 percent of his 3-point attempts over the past five seasons. (The Magic have made fewer 3-pointers than any other team in the league in 2023-24.)

The Magic could still use a point guard, but there’s still time to add one. The club has done well to retain swingman Gary Harris, as well as the frontcourt duo of Goga Bitadze and Moritz Wagner.


Golden State Warriors
What they did: Let Klay Thompson and CP3 go for minimal return; Paul George missed out

The Dubs entered the midseason with an attempt to enter the Paul George sweepstakes, even extending Chris Paul’s guarantee date to facilitate a potential sign-and-trade. But that backfired, as Paul was fired, saving the team $30 million, and George joined the Sixers.

Then came the news that Klay Thompson, an icon of the franchise, would not be returning.

Now, the team is focused on trying to acquire Utah Jazz center Lauri Markkanen, who has been linked to several other teams, including the San Antonio Spurs. But what if they miss out there, too? What exactly is the franchise’s plan to build around the 36-year-old Stephen Curry? That’s what the next two years will be about — one final battle with the best player in franchise history.

Wing De’Anthony Melton and forward Kyle Anderson are solid additions, but Golden State has had more misses than hits during this crucial period.

Los Angeles Lakers
What they did: Failed so far to give LeBron and Davis more help

What is the Lakers’ plan to build around LeBron James and Anthony Davis? Despite a call-up from James early in free agency and calls from his father to finish his career in Los Angeles, Thompson opted to go to Dallas. Dejounte Murray, long a potential target to become the Lakers’ lead guard, was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans. James Harden re-signed with the Clippers.

Who can still make a difference?

The Lakers reportedly had interest in free agent DeMar DeRozan, but lost some of their cap flexibility after players like D’Angelo Russell and Cam Reddish opted into the final year of their contracts. It’s a disappointing reality — the Lakers are left with two aging but remarkably healthy superstars, and a supporting cast that isn’t deep enough to be much of a contender.

Denver Nuggets
What they did: Let a key player leave their NBA title race

Caldwell-Pope’s departure to Orlando could be a big blow for Denver, which will now rely more on Christian Braun. That’s not to say the third-year wing won’t be able to step up. He’s an efficient player, so it’s possible he’ll do well with the added responsibility.

It’s more about the unnecessary gamble, as the Nuggets could have simply paid Caldwell-Pope and avoided the question altogether. The tax implications would have been daunting, but so is the idea of ​​winning just one championship with the Nikola Jokic-Jamal Murray partnership when potentially more are on the table.


LA Clippers
What they did: Let PG run without getting anything in return

If the Clippers knew they only wanted George for the next three seasons — similar to what they agreed to with Kawhi Leonard — and George knew definitively that he only wanted a four-year deal, it begs the question of why the Clippers didn’t seriously consider signing him elsewhere during the season in which the team was already failing in the first round of the playoffs.

There’s certainly an upside to not paying the hefty apron taxes for a team with a slim chance of winning a title. But leaving Leonard and James Harden without a third star at this point in their careers — and without getting anything in return for George — seems like an odd choice, to say the least.

The Clippers surrendered so much in the 2019 deal to pair George with Leonard, including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who could become a permanent candidate for the Thunder’s MVP award in the near future.

Los Angeles has made some notable free-agency moves in recent days, including signings of Derrick Jones Jr. and Nicolas Batum. But the team lacks a clear direction — and is short on resources despite nearly betting on its title hopes — as it opens the new $2 billion Intuit Arena.