5 NBA TEAMS WHO HAVE MADE HEADLINES THIS OFF-SEASON

James Harden

Five Teams Who Made Headlines This Off-season

 

You’ll be hard-pressed to find any sports fan who won’t agree with the following statement: the roller coaster-ride that was the 2017 NBA offseason absolutely blows away even the highest levels of excitement and intrigue from the NFL’s offseason, or the MLB’s “hot stove”. Between the flurry of rumors, near-deals, completed deals, and then deals that seem to be set up for next year, basketball didn’t have an offseason. We went straight from the Golden State Warriors winning the NBA championship to a whole bevy of basketball drama.

Given that, we wanted to take a look at five teams in particular who made the biggest headlines this offseason (in a good or bad way):

 

Houston — A 55-win team managed went out this offseason and added one of the 20 best player in the entire NBA. It’s as simple as that. Yes, the Houston Rockets gave up a bevy of players, as well as a very capable guard playing on a great contract in Patrick Beverly. But just imagine Chris Paul and James Harden playing in the same backcourt together; who are teams supposed to try and focus on? There are still questions as to who will be the more ‘ball-dominant’ player of the two within the construct of Mike D’Antoni’s offense, but it wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprising to see Paul take more of the traditional point guard responsibilities, with Harden being set free to take shots or further facilitate the offense. And for those who wonder whether Harden would be willing to accept this role, don’t forget that he’s the one who helped recruit Paul to come to Houston. On a side note: P.J. Tucker, who Houston also added, is quietly a really nice player as well, and can be a rock-solid defender against a prolific offense like the one in Golden State.

 

Oklahoma City — When it seemed like nearly every single team in the NBA with championship aspirations was chasing Paul George, the Oklahoma City Thunder swooped in and swiped the rights to George away from everyone else. And it’s just as much about the price they paid to get George that makes them a winner, as the fact that they were able to get him in the first place. In exchange, the Thunder were able to get themselves out of the $84 million contract of Victor Oladipo, as it simply seemed destined to not reach his potential in Oklahoma City, and handed over Domantas Sabonis, who had a very shaky rookie season last year. But now, with George playing alongside the reigning NBA MVP in Russell Westbrook, the Thunder may have positioned themselves as one of the four best teams in the Western Conference. They might not be good enough to overthrow the Warriors, but might they be good enough to convince Paul George to stick around, and not leave town for Los Angeles next season?

 

Houston — A 55-win team managed went out this offseason and added one of the 20 best player in the entire NBA. It’s as simple as that. Yes, the Houston Rockets gave up a bevy of players, as well as a very capable guard playing on a great contract in Patrick Beverly. But just imagine Chris Paul and James Harden playing in the same backcourt together; who are teams supposed to try and focus on? There are still questions as to who will be the more ‘ball-dominant’ player of the two within the construct of Mike D’Antoni’s offense, but it wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprising to see Paul take more of the traditional point guard responsibilities, with Harden being set free to take shots or further facilitate the offense. And for those who wonder whether Harden would be willing to accept this role, don’t forget that he’s the one who helped recruit Paul to come to Houston. On a side note: P.J. Tucker, who Houston also added, is quietly a really nice player as well, and can be a rock-solid defender against a prolific offense like the one in Golden State.

 

Golden State — The Golden State Warriors proved one age-old maxim correct to the rest of the NBA: sometimes, life isn’t fair. How on Earth did the rest of the league allow a team that won 67 games in regular season, and lost only one game in the entire postseason, to somehow get better? How is it that a team that’s embarrassingly rich somehow managed to get richer? It all started with Kevin Durant, to whom everyone who chastised him for signing with Golden State owes an apology. Durant opted out of his contract with the Warriors, only to re-sign with them for $4 million less this season, allowing the Warriors to have the cap space to bring back their entire core of key reserves: Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and David West. So now, the seven best players on a team that won the NBA championship will be returning next season. And then, they go and add swingman Nick Young to help bolster their bench, and provide yet another scorer off the bench. And don’t sleep on Golden State’s acquisition of Omri Casspi, a quality 3-point shooter who could be be a stretch 4 off the bench for them as well. It’s almost impossible to see any team in the NBA stand any chance at beating this Warriors team next year.

 

Chicago — In stark contrast to the first three teams on this list, it is totally legitimate to question as to whether the front office of the Chicago Bulls has any semblance of a long-term plan in place. This team simply has no idea who or what it wants to be, or how to be competitive in today’s NBA landscape for that matter. For starters, the idea of signing a bunch of washed up guards who were mediocre shooters in Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo, and placing them in a pace-and-space-style offense seemingly run by head coach Fred Hoiberg, already turned out to be a catastrophe. Then, the team went out and traded their best player in Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves, in exchange for two more guards who are miserable shooters in Zach Lavine and Kris Dunn. Moreover, Lavine is coming off a torn ACL, and while Dunn was a top-five selection in the 2016 NBA Draft, the combination of his miserable rookie season and that he’ll turn 24 years old next spring raises serious doubts as to whether he’ll ever develop into a meaningful NBA contributor. Sure, the Bulls also got the 7th overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft in return, but used that pick to select forward Lauri Markkanen, who basically is a slightly better version of Nikola Mirotić, a guy that’s already on their roster. And as if the trade wasn’t confounding enough, why did Chicago feel compelled to send back the #16 overall pick in the draft to Minnesota? Anyone with half a brain knows the Timberwolves would have still done the deal if Chicago balked at sending back that pick. But said “half a brain” seems like a bit too much to ask of the people running the Bulls these days.

 

New York — At first glance, it might not seem like the New York Knicks had all that bad of an offseason. They mercifully pushed Phil Jackson out the door, ensuring he’ll stop submarining this team with his insistence on running the antiquated triangle offense, and that he won’t fall asleep when prospects come in for workouts. Also, they selected guard Frank Ntilikina with the 8th overall pick in the draft, who could very much be described as a “French De’Aaron Fox.” But with all of that in mind, why on Earth did they commit $71 million over four years to Tim Hardaway Jr., just two years after they traded him away? And while Ntilikina could end up being a very good player, why in the world would they pass on a player like Malik Monk from the University of Kentucky, who simply seemed destined to entertain the masses at Madison Square Garden? With this franchise, every single time it looks like they’re taking one step forward, they always find a way to make sure they take two steps backward.