The Big Moves of NBA Free Agency
After talking about the impact of Ronaldo's transfer, we figured it was only fair if we switched gears to talk about NBA this week.
A lot of big moves happened in the NBA Free Agency this summer and we're here to dissect them.
Lebron James left his hometown team Cleveland Cavaliers... again, this time to join the heralded Purple and Gold in Los Angeles, where his family resides. James is 33 and going strong but most people figure that this would be his large big contract, unless he somehow manages to turn back the clock.
This move didn't surprise many, given the lacklustre team within the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals and the potential of the Laker's young squad. But it sends a ripple effect throughout the league.
It is rebuild time. You don't lose one of the greatest players of all time and still stay the same. With James's departure, the Cavaliers have to look for a direction as their team is stuck in the middle - young players with old veterans. The most obvious solution would be to place the new rookie Collin Sexton as the new face of the franchise, who has shown promise in the NBA Summer League. But then, there is also Kevin Love and Jr Smith, both supposed to be complementary pieces to the King, who isn't there anymore. Expect some moves to be made by the Cavaliers soon enough.
If you have an opportunity to sign Lebron, you do that without a moment of hesitation. That part they got right. But the rest of their signings after Lebron's left many scratching their heads. A non-shooter Rondo, James's nemesis Stephenson, Shaqtin Regular McGee and problem child Beasley were the myriad of signings after. Perhaps it is part of a genius plan, perhaps they are bad moves. When the season starts, we will find out.
Well, the West just got more competitive. From a 2-way race to a 3-way race, there's now another contender in the West to compete with the defending champions Warriors (more below). Houston brought back the team that was probably one injury and one game away from beating the Warriors, while the Lakers got James. Now, homecourt advantage will be crucial this postseason.
Take the King out of the East, and now the path to the NBA Finals just got easier. It was a fixture that any team wishing to make the NBA Finals had to go through the King. Well, the King of the East just switched to the West so now the Eastern Conference is pretty much wide open. Raptors (more below), Sixers and Celtics now vie for the chance to be in the NBA Finals. Winning it.....probably not, but hey, at least they could say they were close!
The rich got richer. The defending champions added a versatile and strong center in Cousins to their already stacked roster. Cousins was a beast in the block for the Pelicans last season and he fills a much-needed gap for the Warriors when he returns. People have always knocked the Warriors for lacking inside presence and a true center being their only weakness. Guess they don't have a weakness anymore.
The deal made sense to both sides. Cousins wanted a chance to prove himself as a player, and where better to do that than on the biggest stage with the defending champions. If Cousins return healthy, Warriors add another no-brainer dominant player to their roster. Even if he doesn't, they did not lose much by signing him either. Win-win. But who loses?
The rest of the League.
It is literally unfair if Cousins return healthy to the two-time defending champions. Their starting lineup literally wipes the floor with 90% of the league. The road to the championship just got harder. The only plus side is Cousins signed for a 1-year deal.
And the Pelicans.
They gambled and they lost. Now, they have to find another way to keep young star Anthony Davis happy. That wouldn't be easy as they are in the now stacked West They have to do something big and soon or they risk losing their star player in the offseason.
This was a shocker. Ever since Leonard wanted out, most people expected the San Antonio Spurs to make a deal with either the Lakers or Clippers given the star's request. Instead, they send him up North to Toronto Raptors. This trade left many shaking their heads, especially long-time Raptor star DeRozan, who felt betrayed. So what are we talking about here?
A star who gave 9 years of heart and soul to the Toronto Raptors, who never wavered in showing loyalty to them has been traded for a possible 1-year rental in Kawhi Leonard. To top it off, the Raptors GM lied to him in a face-to-face meeting right before the trade was pulled off. To be fair, he has a chance to play for Greg Popovich and the Spurs now, a team better than 70% of the league. But still, the blatant disrespect was real. It would be an interesting game to watch when the Spurs played the Raptors at Toronto.
Well, it's definitely not Los Angeles. Although he has repeatedly named Los Angeles as his preferred location, Leonard did not get his wish and instead has to play for the Raptors, for at least 1 season. Maybe he warms up (Oh the irony...) to the Raptors, but still, this 1 season, he will have to prove he is still the same player before the injuries and the Raptors could get a top 3 MVP candidate to lead them in the East.
San Antonio Spurs
Popovich is still there, so the Spurs will still compete. Contend...? I don't know. DeRozan has some big shoes to fill in that area but they will remain competitive with Pop running the show.
While they did obtain an MVP candidate at his best, all signs point to Leonard leaving next season. They have to do whatever it takes to win in the East this season to be close to retaining the superstar. But they did improve their defense tremendously to contend in a Lebron-less East now. Perhaps Leonard stays, weirder things have happened, like George staying in OKC. Whatever the case, it would all depend on this season's happenings and results.
Leonard fills James's role in the East now (if he is healthy). But he is not Lebron James. The East will have a 3-way race between Sixers, Celtics and Raptors as mentioned above. Sixers should have a health #1 pick in Markelle Fultz back, ditto to Celtics with Gordon Hayward while Raptors will have a new squad as well.
So many talking points, so many reasons to follow the NBA this season. So which team are you repping this season?