NBA free agency opened on Friday, and with the usual whirlwind of signings in the first few hours after the 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time start of activity, it’s not easy to say what team really did the best.
Montrezl Harrell went from the Clippers to the Lakers, which is one of the most hilarious “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” moves in recent memory and makes the defending champs even better. The Pistons loaded up on all sorts of new players, some possibly even good. The Knicks didn’t do anything incredibly stupid — yet.
All in all, it’s still a superstar league, and LeBron James is still with the Lakers, Jimmy Butler is still with the Heat, Giannis Antetokounmpo is still with the Bucks, and Kawhi Leonard is still with the Clippers. Can someone else squeeze their way into title contention? Maybe. But knowing that the landscape of the league wasn’t really altered on Friday, we can focus on the real competition: Woj vs. Shams.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania, once teammates at Yahoo, are the premier breakers of NBA news. Other reporters get scoops, sure, but if you’re not deeply enmeshed in all things Association, it’s Wojnarowski and Charania who are the two must-follows to keep up with the league. The phrase “Woj Bomb” is part of the lexicon, and while “Shams Wow” hasn’t caught on, the two are usually neck-and-neck in the news race, and free agency night is when they take center stage.
So, who had the edge on Friday, Woj or Shams? Let’s see how it played out …
6:03: Shams opens the night with the news of Goran Dragic re-signing in Miami, but it’s more of a ceremonial first pitch kind of thing, as Dragic announced his own news two minutes earlier. Shams is first with the terms, though — two years, $37.4 million.
6:16: Woj has the next Heat deal, Meyers Leonard for two years and “nearly $20M.”
6:21: Facundo Campazzo signs with Denver (Woj)
6:24: Wes Matthews signs with the Lakers (Shams)
6:29: Drew Eubanks stays in San Antonio (Woj)
6:44: Mason Plumlee signs with Detroit (Woj)
7:04: Jahlil Okafor signs with Detroit (Woj)
7:11: Patrick Patterson signs the Clippers (Woj)
7:18: De’Aaron Fox signs an extension with Sacramento (Shams)
7:25: Jordan Clarkson re-signs in Utah (Woj)
8:17: Josh Jackson signs with Detroit (Woj)
8:29: Danilo Gallinari signs with Atlanta (Woj)
8:32: Dwight Howard signs with Philadelphia (Shams)
8:34: Rodney Hood re-signs in Portland (Woj)
8:45: Malik Beasley re-signs in Minnesota (Shams)
9:05: Anthony Gill signs with Washington (Woj)
9:04: Trey Burke re-signs in Dallas (Tim McMahon, retweeted by Woj)
9:39: The first player to warrant tweets from both Shams and Woj is Montrezl Harrell, who goes from the Clippers to the Lakers. Shams has the news first, by five minutes over Woj, while Woj is first to report the signing terms being the Lakers’ mid-level exception.
9:52: Davis Bertans re-signs in Washington (Woj)
9:55: Alec Burks signs with New York (Woj, with Zach Lowe)
9:59: Jerami Grant signs with Detroit (Shams)
10:05: Garrett Temple signs with Chicago (Woj)
10:13: Christian Wood signs with Houston (Woj)
10:21: Derrick Jones signs with Portland (Shams)
10:59: Marcus Morris re-signs with the Clippers (Woj)
11:32: James Ennis re-signs in Orlando (Shams)
11:38: Justin Holiday re-signs in Indiana (Shams)
11:49: Jakob Poeltl re-signs in San Antonio (Shams)
12:14 a.m.: Pat Connaughton re-signs in Milwaukee (Woj)
12:58: Shams is first to report that New Orleans is “finalizing a deal” for Steven Adams from Oklahoma City, with Woj reporting four minutes later that it’s an expansion of the Jrue Holiday trade from New Orleans to Milwaukee. At 1:04, Woj says the trade “has a lot of moving parts and still has work to finish.” At 1:25, Woj brings more parts into view, as it’s “a multi-team trade” with the Thunder getting “wait for it,” Woj says… a “future first-round pick and second-round picks.” At 1:33, the other team is revealed to be the Nuggets, but a minute later, Woj says it’s just Denver’s 2023 lottery-protected first-round pick going to the Thunder.
1:03: Woj breaks the first part of another Oklahoma City trade, with James Johnson heading to Dallas. Seven minutes later, he reports that it’s a three-team trade, with Delon Wright going to Detroit and Trevor Ariza to Dallas, with a “clarification” at 1:21 that Ariza and Justin Jackson are going to Oklahoma City. At 1:22, he puts it together: Johnson to Dallas, Wright to Detroit, and Ariza, Jackson, and a pick to Oklahoma City.
1:41: JaMychal Green signs with Denver (Shams)
That’s a 17-12 edge for Woj on free-agent signings, but Shams had quality over quantity with the scoops on Harrell and Harris, as well as Howard, although that situation is a little weird because it came after Howard tweeted he was returning to the Lakers, and deleted it, leading Shams to delete his own tweet and provide an “update” that Howard was still on the market, with “no deal done.” Still, when Howard did land with the 76ers, it was Shams who had it.
Woj was the clear winner on getting all the pieces of trades as they happened, especially given how confusing these deals were. What’s funny is, for the most part, neither man tweeted the other’s news. Once Woj had something, it was like it didn’t exist to Shams, while Woj only repeated a few of Shams’ items.
It’s kind of a silly game, because news of all the deals immediately becomes widespread, but then, what game do we have that isn’t silly? And Woj, the GOAT, was the winner of Friday night’s contest.
Speaking of silly games, there was college football on Friday night, including, for some reason, UMass going to Florida Atlantic and losing, 24-2… the closest of the Minutemen’s three games this season after a 41-0 loss at Georgia Southern and a 51-10 drubbing by No. 16 Marshall.
UMass hasn’t had a 100-yard passer or a 50-yard rusher in any of its games, and its only remaining contest is next Friday at No. 21 Liberty, which doesn’t figure to go any better. The only points the Minutemen put on the board against the Owls came on a blocked punt for a safety.
Somehow, with 147 yards of total offense, UMass wasn’t the least productive footballing outfit of the night. That would be Syracuse, which gained only 137 yards in a 30-0 loss at Louisville. The Orange also managed only 18:14 of possession time, compared to 25:10 for the Minutemen in their blowout loss. Meanwhile, in Colorado Springs, Air Force’s Brad Roberts outgained both Syracuse and UMass, rushing for 177 yards and three touchdowns in the Falcons’ 28-0 romp over winless New Mexico.
While the misery is soon to end for UMass, it’s actually going to get worse for Syracuse, which is last in the ACC and faces N.C. State next week before a December 5 season finale at… yikes… Notre Dame.