Free agency is a key moment for all NBA franchises, as they can orchestrate a move that completely changes their stance and puts them in a privileged position as Championship contenders.
Year after year, several free agents are always strongly pursuit by various teams that try to convince them to sign by luring them with big-time money and the promise of competing for a title.
And, obviously, some of those moves wind up having a huge impact on the league, either because they start a dynasty, or because they put an end to one. Today, we’re going to count down the best free agency moves of the past 10 seasons:
2010: LeBron James To The Miami Heat
Back in 2010, LeBron James went from being Cleveland’s prodigy son to becoming the most hated men in the state after he decided to “take his talents” to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.
He completed a sign-and-trade in order to play side by side with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and he wound up making it to 4 straight NBA Finals and winning a couple of Championships with the Heat.
2011: Tyson Chandler To The New York Knicks
Back in the day, Tyson Chandler was considered as the league’s most dominant rim protector, and with the New York Knicks trying to put together a championship-contending team, his addition was a huge move by them.
Chandler was a monster in both ends of the glass during his first couple of seasons with the Knicks, but the Carmelo Anthony-led squad was unable to succeed in the playoffs, as you may know by now.
2012: Steve Nash To The Los Angeles Lakers
Steve Nash highlighted the free-agent class of 2012, as he was drawing a lot of attention from the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors, but eventually decided to join Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
Nash’s knees and back were a major issue for Nash going forward and he wasn’t the same prolific scorer and playmaker he was during his tenure with the Phoenix Suns and was eventually forced to retire.
2013: Dwight Howard To The Houston Rockets
Dwight Howard also joined the Los Angeles Lakers via trade to join forces with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash -- but there were major chemistry issues on their injury-plagued roster.
Howard’s relationship with Bryant was untenable and he eventually decided to walk away as a free agent and join the Houston Rockets. Things weren’t much better for him next to James Harden.
2014: LeBron James To The Cleveland Cavaliers
Back in 2014, Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs put an end to the Miami Heat dynasty by beating them in the NBA Finals, pretty much forcing LeBron James out of the team and back to Cleveland.
His second stint with the Cavaliers was way more successful than the first time he was around, making it to 4 straight Finals and finally winning a Championship with his hometown team against the Golden State Warriors.
2015: LaMarcus Aldridge To The San Antonio Spurs
LaMarcus Aldridge was coming off a breakout season with the Portland Trail Blazers and the team’s recent surge as a sleeper in the Western Conference made everybody think he’d extend his stay at RIP City.
However, Aldridge inked his signature on a longterm deal with the San Antonio Spurs but mightily struggled to go back at his former self under Gregg Popovich’s system. Now, he’s the team’s second star after DeMar DeRozan.
2016: Kevin Durant To The Golden State Warriors
Kevin Durant completely shook the world by joining the almighty Golden State Warriors, a team that had made it to 3 straight trips to the Finals, that had won 73 games last year, and that had beat Durant and the Thunder in the playoffs.
Durant made the Warriors even stronger and led them to 3 Finals and 2 Championships as the Finals MVP, but drew a lot of hate from basketball fans all over the world that questioned his character and legacy.
2017: Gordon Hayward To The Boston Celtics
Gordon Hayward was quickly surging as one of the best forwards in the league. He could create his own shot, facilitate for others, and even hold his own on defense against some of the best scorers in the world.
However, his tenure as a member of the Boston Celtics got off to a terrible start, as he suffered a gruesome injury just minutes into his debut. Now, he’s still trying to get back to his former level but has really struggled to find consistency.
2018: LeBron James To The Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James changed the whole picture in the league again 4 years later after he decided that his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers had run out once again and that it was time to take a step forward by joining a legendary franchise like the Lakers.
LeBron was aware of the fact that nobody could ever talk about his legacy and the losing record in the NBA Finals if he took the Lakers back to Championship contention, and while his first season dressed in purple and gold wasn’t successful, he now has yet another dream team to try and make it to the Finals.
2019: Kawhi Leonard To The Los Angeles Clippers
And last but not least, we must talk about what Kawhi Leonard did this summer. He kept insiders guessing, and was in complete control of the situation the whole time en route to signing a multi-year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Moreover, he orchestrated a move to get Paul George next to him as well and build one of the strongest teams we’ve seen in years as he restored balance back to the league. The Big 3 era is over, and we can all thank Kawhi for that.