The biggest names on the 2024 NBA free agent market disappeared almost immediately from the board. Paul George kept NBA insiders up until 3 a.m. before selecting the Philadelphia 76ers, and the rest of the big names quickly followed suit the next morning.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are gearing up for an NBA championship run, the Orlando Magic have found a veteran who perfectly complements their young core, and the Dallas Mavericks have been creative in adding talent to an NBA Finals team.

Not everyone can be a winner in free agency. Some teams lost key players on the open market, while others remained static as their rivals improved. While there’s still plenty of time in the offseason to add talent, the 2025 NBA championship is already taking shape. With most of the big names now home, here’s our look at the winners and losers of NBA free agency.

Winner: Philadelphia 76ers

When Paul George changes teams, there are usually All-NBA players and a bundle of first-round picks heading the other way. The Oklahoma City Thunder gave up Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo when they acquired George in 2017, while the Los Angeles Clippers lost Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a flood of draft capital to acquire George in 2019.

The Philadelphia 76ers agreed to terms with George at the start of free agency, and they all surrendered to do so in cap space. George’s four-year, $212 million deal with Philly is certainly rich for a 34-year-old, but acquiring a talent like this for nothing but money is an undeniable win for Philly.

Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and George aren’t just the league’s best “big three” based on raw talent — they’re also a trio that mesh perfectly. Embiid can dominate the paint, Maxey pressures the rim with his quickness, and George can space the floor and move the ball in a pinch. It won’t be easy to break through in the East with the Celtics residing in power and the Knicks looming, but the Sixers have given themselves a real chance.

Loser: Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers drew a hard line for George: accept a three-year contract similar to Kawhi Leonard’s, or walk. George was determined to sign a four-year deal, and when Philadelphia offered one, he was gone.

The Clippers cited the new CBA and second suspension as fears in their bizarre explanation for George’s departure, but the worst of those punishments wouldn’t come into effect for years. While the Kawhi Leonard-George pairing never lived up to expectations, losing him for nothing is simply a disastrous outcome for the Clippers. Making matters worse, the Sixers already own the Clippers’ unprotected 2028 pick and have swap rights in 2029.

Couldn’t the Clippers just offer George a fourth year and deal with the consequences later? There would likely always be a trade market for George and Leonard if the Clippers ever decided to split the team. LA has rebounded with some solid role players in Derrick Jones Jr., Nic Batum, Kris Dunn and Mo Bamba, but they don’t make up for the PG-13 impact. The Clippers’ ceiling is so much lower this year without George, and they still don’t control their first-round draft picks until 2030.

The Clippers have a smart front office and great ownership. They will likely find a way to stay competitive in the short term and keep their options open in the long term. Still, losing George for nothing doesn’t look good.

Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder started the offseason by stealing Alex Caruso from the Bulls for just Josh Giddey. OKC then drafted the No. 1 overall pick on our draft board with the No. 12 pick by selecting Nikola Topic. The Thunder needed some meat up the middle and help on the glass, and they filled those holes in a big way with a great addition in free agency.

Isaiah Hartenstein signed a three-year, $87 million contract with the Thunder. Hartenstein is a perfect fit: he’s an elite interior defender, a solid passer and a terrific rebounder. The fact that the Thunder got him to agree to the non-guaranteed final year of the deal makes this an even better signing.

The Thunder were No. 29 in defensive rebounding percentage and No. 28 in offensive rebounding percentage last year. Hartenstein was just about the best offensive rebounder in the league and he was also great at cleaning the glass on the defensive end.

OKC’s poor rebounding didn’t stop it from winning 57 games and earning the No. 1 seed in the West last year. It liked to play with five players last year, and Hartenstein isn’t a shooter, so his addition will change the dynamic of the team. Whether he can play alongside Chet Holmgren or largely replace him when he’s on the bench, this is still an inspired signing who adds the kind of toughness and physicality up the middle that OKC desperately needed. The Thunder appear to be the best team in the West on paper heading into the season.

Loser: Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets continue to drain talent from their 2023 championship team and nothing is coming back. First it was Bruce Brown and Jeff Green last offseason. Now it’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

KCP was a perfect fit for the Nuggets as a three-and-D wing who could handle the toughest defensive assignments and make catch-and-shoot threes. He was something approaching an elite spot-up shooter and the team’s best defender against faster guards. Denver could have re-signed him, but they were too afraid of the second apron — and too cheap! — to do so.

Nikola Jokic is the best player in the world and at 29 years old, he’s in the thick of his prime. These should be the years Denver is going all out to win championships, but instead they’re choosing to stay flexible going forward. If the Nuggets’ young players like Christian Braun, Peyton Watson and Julian Strawther develop, Denver can still be a championship-caliber team. It’s just a very bold bet to make when you have the three-time MVP and a player who fits in so seamlessly with him in Caldwell-Pope.

Winner: Orlando Magic

The Magic were the biggest surprise team in the Eastern Conference last year, winning 47 games. Orlando made a big jump up the rankings despite being one of the worst teams in the NBA in volume and percentage. With the signing of KCP, the Magic get an experienced floor spacer who can get shots around Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner without taking the ball out of their hands.

The defensive fit is also great for KCP in Orlando. Jalen Suggs and Caldwell-Pope form one of the league’s fiercest defensive backcourts. Add in an elite defender in Jonathan Isaac off the bench, and versatility in Franz Wagner, Anthony Black and Wendell Carter Jr., and the Magic are starting to build a complete team on both ends of the court.

Replacing Markelle Fultz with KCP is a huge improvement for the Magic.

Winner: Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs entered this offseason with limited flexibility, but still found a way to add talent to a team that had just reached the NBA Finals. Dallas created cap space by trading Tim Hardaway Jr. for Quentin Grimes, then aggressively targeted free agents who could help their defense and improve their shooting.

Naji Marshall felt like one of the better under-the-radar players on the free-agent market, and Dallas landed him on a three-year, $27 million deal. Marshall will be the team’s de facto replacement for Derrick Jones Jr., and while he’s not as explosive or quick on defense, he’s a more powerful offensive player with a bit more shooting ability. Speaking of shooting, the Mavs also brought in Klay Thompson to a three-year, $50 million deal. Thompson is still a great shooter around screens, and with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving commanding attention on defense, he should be able to create open shots whenever he wants.

It won’t be easy for Dallas to make another Finals appearance in the West, but it feels like it has improved its roster even after losing Jones. That deserves some credit.

Loser: Milwaukee Bucks

Eastern Conference contenders have been flocking to chase the champion Celtics this summer. The Sixers added Paul George , the Knicks added OG Anunoby , and the Milwaukee Bucks … well, they haven’t done anything. After a Giannis Antetokounmpo injury sabotaged their first-round playoff run last season, Milwaukee’s plan appears to be nothing more than crossing its fingers and hoping that a flawed roster can stay healthy and find some answers.

The Bucks looked good under Doc Rivers when the entire roster was available. The team never had much opportunity to add talent in the summer. Still, it’s disappointing that Milwaukee is doing a lot of nothing as its key players age another year and the Knicks and Sixers add premium talent afterward. If the Giannis-Damian Lillard duo is ever going to work, it has to happen this year.