New Jersey Nets: The Nets made an impression with the first meeting of LeBron James' free agency tour and came away feeling good about things. They also may have inadvertently benefited from the Knicks' proposal , which too obviously ignored them.
Toronto Raptors: The Raptors made a signing that was defense-focused , signing young Amir Johnson to a 5-year, $34 million dollar deal. Some will question whether his production warrants such a deal, but look at his per-minute numbers (outside of fouls), and his age, consider the deal Andrew Bynum was rewarded with, and realize that Johnson is only 23. Good move for the Raps who are in for a rocky year.
Los Angeles Lakers: Any time you can bring back a guy who has 13 rings and is the only one to make your team's offensive system work, and the only person Kobe Bryant has won titles with, that's a good day, even if you didn't sign a soul.
Memphis Grizzlies: There were a lot of complications that led to Rudy Gay being inked to a near-max contract at 5 years, $82 million despite having never been an All-Star. The Grizzlies couldn't lose Gay. They would have been stranded without a small-forward. The fanbase already considers ownership cheap. And Gay is the best player under 26 on the team. They also couldn't really wait to see what offer sheets Gay came upon or signed. If a team offered a max contract, front-loaded, it would have hurt them financially, and may have forced them into a less flexible position, particularly if teams had waited till later in the summer to formally extend the offer sheet in an effort to squeeze the Grizz. But that doesn't change the facts of the deal, nor does it change that they could have avoided this mess by getting an agreement done a year ago, and likely at a lower price when demand wasn't so high as it is now. The Grizzlies gave a near-max to a player who has been inconsistent, is young, but not super-young, and has never been an All-Star. By hook or by crook, the Grizzlies wound up losers today.
Atlanta Hawks: First they made everyone think they were insane by offering Joe Johnson the absolute max, right off the bat. Then things got worse as Johnson still hasn't agreed to the deal, and has taken a secondary meeting with his agent from which no resolution has been made.
New York Knicks: They have the money. They have the brand. They have the PowerPoint . And yet they still seem to be on the outside looking in at the top free agents while Chicago, Miami, and even the Nets gain traction. Now, they're getting the ear and are still firmly in on this thing, but the prevailing wisdom doesn't speak to them having had a rousingly successful day. And when the stakes are this high, not winning is losing. There are no draws.