The NBA offseason started off with a bang with the NBA Awards show. In less than a week, we were treated to the 2017 NBA Draft, which had a promising core of incoming rookies. This summer was going to be epic because of how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement would hit its ceiling. The free agency festivities started during the draft with a blockbuster trade when the Minnesota Timberwolves traded Zach Lavine and Chris Dunn to Chicago for Jimmy Butler. But that was just the tip of the iceberg as the free agency signing and trades over the next few weeks would reshape the NBA landscape.
Indiana Trades Paul George to OKC
The biggest name out of all the free agents this summer was definitely Paul George. Yes, he still had a year left in contract with the Pacers, but everyone knew that they were likely to trade him rather than risk George walking away and leaving the Pacers with nothing. But the trade to OKC shocked pretty much everyone in the NBA. PG13 is a premier player in the NBA, and all the Pacers got in return was Oladipo and Sabonis? Surely there were other teams that could have offered more? George was also among the All Star staples in the East, but his move to the Western Conference makes the West that much more competitive and makes Lebron’s path to the finals that much easier. We’ve seen several memes on how depleted the Eastern Conference is on talent, and how stacked the Western Conference has become. Another storyline in this trade has to be how the Thunder have now become a much more potent playoff team. We just have to wait and see if Russ and PG can coexist together.
Another surprising trade the past week was when the Clippers traded Chris Paul to Houston for Patrick Beverly, Sam Dekker, and a couple of other players. It seems that the core group of the Clippers are scattering for greener pastures, effectively ending the Lob City era in Los Angeles. It all began with the Chris Paul trade. CP3 has been the face of the franchise for years and was officially their leader on the floor. But they were unable to find success in the postseason during his tenure. His departure may have signaled a sinking ship to the other players in the roster. JJ Redick signed with the Sixers, Jamaal Crawford signed with the T-Wolves, and Luc Mbah A Moute is expected to leave as well. That’s three of the five players on the Clippers starting lineup. The Clippers decided to invest everything on Blake Griffin, signing him to 5 years and $173 million. They basically gave the franchise over to Griffin and hope that he can stay on the floor long enough without getting injured and guide the new Clips to a new era. This isn’t completely a bad thing. When CP3 was out a couple of years ago, Blake performed well enough to be considered an MVP candidate. Also, watching an offense run through Griffin could be exciting and entertaining to watch. On the flip side of things, CP3 goes to a contender in Houston but there are doubts on whether Harden and CP can share the floor together. Harden’s impressive 2016-2017 campaign was based on the fact that he played point guard for D’Antoni. With Paul coming in, he has to relinquish floor general role to the best point guard in the league… right?
Curry and Harden Get Theirs
Among the biggest headlines in the off season has to be the record breaking contracts signed by arguably the two of the best guards in the league. It started when the Golden State Warriors signed 2-time MVP Steph Curry to a then record 5-year $201 million contract. That brings his yearly contract to a record average of $40 million for each year. But if anyone was going to benefit from an expanding cap limit, it was going to be Curry. Saying that the best shooter in the league has been underpaid in the past few seasons is an understatement. Curry’s last contract was for 4 years and $44 million. He has since guided the Warriors to three straight NBA finals and two championships while garnering the NBA MVP two straight times. It was his time to get paid, and he did so in record numbers.
That was until a few days later when James Harden signed with the Houston Rockets for $228 million, breaking the record that Curry just broke a few days ago. Harden renegotiated his deal with Houston to up his yearly salary and to keep him in Texas until 2023. Harden has been the face of the franchise since signing with the Rockets in 2012. The Beard has made the Rockets a contender each season he has been in Houston, and he was a legitimate contender for last year’s MVP. Say what you want about his defense, but Harden definitely deserved his contract as well.
Gordon Hayward Signs with Boston
With all the attention being set on the Western Conference poaching eastern Conference All-stars, the trend was sure to break. And it did when the Boston Celtics signed All-Star Gordon Hayward from the Utah Jazz. Hayward had a breakout year this past season and was among the top forwards to enter free agency. There was a lot of back and forth regarding his decision with reports saying that he was heading to bean town and even more reports saying he was still thinking about it. Eventually Hayward made the official announcement via the Player’s Tribune website that he was going to be a Celtic next year. His addition bolsters a Boston team that competed with the Cavaliers for Eastern supremacy. Hayward is also familiar with Boston head coach Brad Stevens. Stevens coached Butler to the National Championship Round twice, with Hayward in the lineup the first time. Hayward famously missed the half court buzzer beating shot that would have won the championship for Butler. Hayward said in his statement that Stevens was one of the reasons why he chose to go with Boston. He said they still had some “unfinished business” to attend to.