This NBA offseason has been absolutely insane. Deals have been going down left and right, and the entire dynamic of the league has shifted. The man who has represented the Eastern conference in the NBA Finals for the last 8 years, decided to take his talents to LA. There were also many other surprise signings, and a blockbuster trade helped change everyone’s mind about one team in the East.
Let’s start off with the biggest move of the offseason. This was of course LeBron James deciding to take his talents to the Los Angeles Lakers. Though it was a common thought for many that LeBron was going to choose the Lakers in free agency, no one was expecting a 4 year contract with a player option in the 4th year. This essentially locks him in LA for the remainder of his prime. Another surprise coming out of this whole situation is that LeBron said that he was willing to wait for the Lakers to build around him. This is the first time in nearly 10 years that LeBron has been quoted saying anything outside of the ‘win now’ mentality. Aside from LeBron, the Lakers have also made some free agency moves that many are questioning. These include signing PG Rajon Rondo, C Javale McGee, SF Michael Beasley, and even SG Lance Stephenson. The common theme here is that all of these players are veterans who have history with LeBron. Whether it be the Heat v Celtics rivalry that Rondo was engaged in, the Finals between the Cavaliers and the Warriors in which McGee has played for the opposition or the infamous video of Lance Stephenson blowing in LeBron’s ear. The players also have a reputation as being hard to coach, which may become a problem for the young Luke Walton.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were able to shock the world by re signing Paul George after many thought that he would become a Laker. When he was on the Pacers, George demanded a trade, and his primary destination was his hometown of Los Angeles. After he was dealt to the Thunder, many thought he would be a one-and-done with OKC, but he instead decided to sign a 4 year deal to stay with Russell Westbrook. In other news for the Thunder, they were able to dump Carmelo Anthony and his $28 Million contract to the Hawks. After 1 day as a Hawk, he was released to free agency and decided to sign with the Houston Rockets on a reconstructed deal.
The New Orleans Pelicans were shocked when they learned that center Demarcus Cousins would sign a 1 year deal with none other than the Golden State Warriors. The bigger surprise is that he signed for the Veterans minimum. NOLA was able to somewhat compensate for this move by signing former Lakers PF Julius Randle. Randle had a good season last year, and with Anthony Davis able to play both the 4 and 5, this combination could be a problem against bigger, slower teams.
Last but certainly not least, after superstar Kawhi Leonard put pressure on the Spurs organization, he was sent to Toronto in a blockbuster trade. This sent Leonard and Danny Green to the Raptors, while San Antonio received perennial All-Star Demar DeRozan and young center Jakob Poeltl. Though it appears that Toronto won the trade, Kawhi has made it clear that he still wants to be in LA, and Toronto is just about the polar opposite of that.
All in all, this was a FAR more entertaining offseason than last year’s Kyrie and Gordon Hayward moves. The East has become the clearly inferior conference now that LeBron left, but that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Young talent on Boston and Philadelphia, as well as the addition of Leonard make the East a 4 team race, assuming Giannis Antetokounmpo plays at the same level he did last year. Also, we only have 2 months until the NBA season, and I can’t wait to see how all this plays out.