Free agency has been wild. Let’s recap the top moves of the summer!
Way back when I started this blog, I wanted to involve sports some how, and 2 years later, I’m finally putting it together. Let’s talk about what’s been going on in the NBA since the end of the season. Disclaimer, this isn’t in any form of ranking. This is just based off of pure madness.
- Board Man goes home
Kawhi Leonard has had an interesting year. Since being traded from the San Antonio Spurs last summer amidst injury and turmoil, Leonard put the Toronto Raptors‘ franchise on his back and delivered Toronto its first ever championship. As poetic and amazing as his performances were, all eyes were on Leonard’s next team as he was in the final year of his contract. He entered free agency with ties to the his hometown Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, while the Raptors seemingly had no shot to keep him past the year despite the championship run.
Everybody with “sources” seemed convinced the Lakers won Kawhi over, and Lakers fans were pre-celebrating a victory they thought was in the bag … That is until Chris Haynes broke the internet at 1 am EST with Kawhi’s decision to join the “little brother” Clippers. But wait, there’s more! Kawhi brought none other than Paul George with him, as George managed to force a trade from OKC to the Clips. The Clips title odds went up to +275 after Leonard and George united, and it helps that the Clippers resigned Patrick Beverly and have pretty much the same roster that gave the Golden State Warriors fits in the first round. Their defense is going to be sensational.
The battle for LA just got real folks.
- KD and Kyrie take over Brooklyn
Just like Kawhi, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were deemed gone before their seasons started; these claims only encouraged by Draymond Green’s outburst at KD back in November, and Kyrie’s bizarre attitude towards his younger teammates all season long. After the season’s end, the media started fortune telling KD’s next spot, linking him to Kawhi, Kyrie and the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. After KD got surgery on his Achilles with the Nets team doctor, it all kind of pointed to a Nets signing, and a Nets signing we received as KD, Kyrie, and surprisingly, DeAndre Jordan all took their talents to Brooklyn. Unfortunately, fans have to wait until 2020 for KD’s return as he’s recovering from his injury.
I’m interested to see how the KD/Kyrie factor works since Kyrie Irving has a similar play style to one Russell Westbrook (more on him later) albeit a tad more efficient offensively (46.5 vs 43.4 according to Basketball-Reference), and Kyrie demanded a trade so he could be the man somewhere else. Is he going to be okay along side KD? I feel like this year will be an important one for Kyrie.
I just want my KD jersey already.
- Lakers looking fierce
The Los Angeles Lakers already made one of the biggest moves this offseason by securing former New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis. After losing out on Kawhi, they’ve scrambled to sign all the good players left in free agency. They just so happened to sign one year Dubs big man Demarcus Cousins to a one year deal. I like Boogie; he doesn’t get as much credit as he should for making the Sacramento Kings somewhat watchable on tv a few years ago before they traded him. His year with the Warriors wasn’t as good as it could’ve been due to injuries. This is another chance for him to make it big on the Lakers’ version of the 2017-2018 Pelicans.
- Warriors post Kevin Durant
Like I mentioned earlier, Kevin Durant’s departure was pretty much out in the open. Here we are; KD is gone, Klay Thompson is rehabbing a torn ACL, Boogie is in LA, Jordan Bell and Quinn Cook are gone. Oh not to mention Andre Iguodala was traded away after his comments about the team on The Breakfast Club, and Shaun Livingston was surprisingly waived. In their place are D’Angelo Russell and Willie Cauley- Stein. Not bad for replacements, but not enough to fill in for those six dudes. I do wish the Nets managed to keep D’Lo, but I’m also happy that he went somewhere he’ll be taken care of, unless they trade him away. Not to mention that’s going to be a fierce combo of Steph Curry and D’Lo, if the Warriors run a dual PG lineup like the Phoenix Suns used to back in 2013-2014 with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic.
This isn’t the same 73-9 Warriors or the dynasty Kevin Durant Warriors, but compared to those teams, this one looks pretty solid.
- Jimmy Buckets following Wade’s steps
Much was made of what Jimmy Butler was going to do following his trade to the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers could offer him bank, but did he really want to stay? Welp surprisingly, at least for me, Jimmy took a different route. He decided to follow the footsteps of fellow shooting guard Dwyane Wade (I had no idea his name was spelled that way) and took his talents to the Miami Heat.
I think this move shocked a lot of fans and personalities, but most interestingly enough is its highlighting Jimmy’s character. I’m going to try and sound neutral in this scenario since I like Jimmy. He’s a good dude and awesome player. It’s just in Philly, he had a chance to win. It now seems like he wants to be the man on a team that looks like they don’t have a chance to win. Don’t get me wrong; the Heat are solid, but they haven’t been noise makers for a few years now.
- Boston’s change
Kyrie leaving was pretty much set in stone so fast forward to the end of June and the Boston Celtics were looking for a new replacement at the point guard position. Boy did they manage to secure one in the form of Charlotte Hornets legend Kemba Walker. Kemba finally departed the Hornets, and I’m pretty sure every fan of the NBA is focused on how he performs on a team that is capable of competing for a title. The C’s have Walker for the next four years.
- Philly and Milwaukee
Philly’s been throwing out money left and right, keeping Tobias Harris on a 5 year, $180 million deal, resigning veteran rookie Ben Simmons and stealing Al Horford on a 4 year, $109 million deal. Holy height Batman.
The Milwaukee Bucks shocked me at how good they were the 2018-2019 season. If it wasn’t for the Board Man of the North, the Bucks probably could’ve been in the Finals. According to ESPN’s Power Rankings, the Bucks are the top team. Slow your sushi roll though because Milwaukee has been losing a lot of key pieces. Malcolm Brogdon agreed to a deal with the Indiana Pacers, and he was a key player in their roster despite missing time due to injury. Nikola Mirotic has left the team to go back to the EuroLeague and he gave them good buckets. They’ve kept George Hill and Brook Lopez while adding Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews and Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo. Is addition by subtraction the move here for a team that won 60 games and was only two wins away from a Finals appearance?
- Houston, we may have a problem
This one wasn’t a free agency signing, but it just blew my mind. Following Paul George’s trade, and the Thunder reaping in an insane amount of picks for him, it seemed their GM Sam Presti and the team were pretty much focused on rebuilding. All that was left was Russell Westbrook, and word broke out of trade scenarios quick as quick could be. The hottest trade rumor was the possibility of Westbrook going to Miami, but to every logical NBA fan, Westbrook and Jimmy did not sound like a good pairing.
There’s almost two teams guaranteed to be interested when a big name player is available: the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers. Houston was interested, and they won the trade. Houston gave up Chris Paul and his massive contract, protected first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, protected rights to swap picks in 2021 and 2025. Houston reunited two of the original four Thunder buddies, but at what cost?
I’m no expert, but Houston has combined two of the most ball dominant players in modern NBA history. Remember a few years back when Houston acquired Chris Paul from the Clippers? The analysts lost their minds trying to figure out how a traditional point guard and James Harden would work. This is that scenario on steroids. Think of the storylines that will emerge if they don’t work out. This isn’t 2012 where Harden comes off the bench. While the other two Thunder buddies (KD and journeyman Serge Ibaka) are celebrating their championship success, these two have been carrying their teams to no avail, and you’re going to pair them? I give Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey credit because he’s willing to go out and try things, but what if this doesn’t work like some of his previous exploits?
On the other hand it looks like the Thunder are ready to rebuild, unless the want Steven Adams to put the team on his back. Someone on Twitter said Presti was going to trade him to the Justice League. I’m just saying… have you ever seen Aquaman and Adams in the same place at the same time?
- The end of “run it back”
Again this isn’t a signing or a trade, but it’s a pretty interesting point. I was watching an ESPN video the other day, and Zach Lowe said this. (Skip to the 5:06 mark).
Basically he said that teams aren’t running it back anymore or keeping the same core roster intact to take another crack at championship success and that aspect of the league is slowing disappearing. It got me thinking though.
What if the Thunder paid James Harden?
More recently, what if the Rockets kept Chris Paul for the 2019-2020 season?
Just think of the deals and decisions made that had to do with financial issues, and ask “What if?”… I get that this is a business and finances change everything, but there are some situations that could completely be avoided.
Anyways, that’s all I have for free agency news at the moment. It’s been a wild ride, and I think we can all agree that this season is going to be fire.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter. In the meantime, I’m still going to be waiting for my Kevin Durant jersey.