This year’s NBA offseason was definitely one for the ages. With a number of blockbuster trades, free agency signings, and a promising draft class, the NBA will look drastically different this upcoming season. As the offseason comes to a close, let’s take a look at a few of this summer’s winners and losers.
OKC Thunder -
Shout out to Sam Presti, who has proven time and again to be one of the craftiest GMs in the league. In 12 months, The Thunder went from losing KD and being concerned with Russell Westbrook’s future to becoming contenders once again in the West. They were able to acquire Paul George from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Damontis Sabonis and Victor Oladipo, and re-sign defensive stud Andre Roberson. OKC also bolstered their bench by signing Patrick Patterson and Raymond Felton.
Even though Westbrook has yet to sign an extension with OKC, the Thunder have at least shown that they are trying to build a team around him that can contend for an NBA championship. Paul George gives the Thunder another superstar to take the load off Russell Westbrook and add to the team’s overall production. Now, OKC has one year to put the pieces together and convince both superstars to stay before they hit free agency.
Golden State Warriors -
This is a classic example of the rich getting richer. How do you sustain the success of one of the most talented teams ever assembled? Easy, you re-sign your key players. Well, the Golden State Warriors did that and more. They were able to re-sign core players Kevin Durant and Andre Igoudala for less than their market value while signing Step Curry to a max deal.
They also signed free agents Omri Casspi and Nick Young to replace Matt Barnes and Ian Clark, respectively. Both of the players signed are more versatile and talented than their counterparts. Plus, Javale McGee, who has experienced a revived career in Golden State, just re-signed with the team allowing them to keep a strong defensive presence on the interior. Once again, the rich just keep getting richer.
Houston Rockets -
Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey seems to be making good on his promise to make Houston more competitive against teams like Golden State. The Houston Rockets swung for the fences this summer and acquired Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers by giving up a cache of young role players to get him. In addition to that, they re-signed Nene and added proven 3-and-D players P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute to fill out the roster.
Give credit to Daryl Morey on working to make a top seeded team better. In fact, the Rockets may not be done dealing. There have been talks all summer about them acquiring Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks. While Carmelo and Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni relationship may be questionable, it has been report by ESPN.com’s Ian Begley “landing in Houston remained [Anthony’s] top priority over all other potential destinations, including the Cleveland Cavaliers.”
Boston Celtics -
The Boston Celtics have been tied to high profile trade talks and free agent signings all summer. As players like Jimmy Butler and Paul George were traded, whether or not Boston was going to make a move. Instead of jumping into deals, they stayed patient and it definitely paid off for them. First, they swapped their number 1 pick with the Philadelphia 76ers’ number 3 pick and got a future first round pick from the deal. The Celtics drafted Jayson Tatum who looked like a stud in summer league with his scoring abilities and shot creation. Then, they signed Gordon Hayward reuniting him with Brad Stevens. This gives the Celtics another all-star player to act as a one-two scoring combo with Isaiah Thomas.
Losing Avery Bradley might hurt the Celtics in the short-term, but it was a smart move in order to get Gordon Hayward. Even so, Brad Stevens has a knack for bringing out the best in his players, which is what they expect him to do with top prospects, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Cleveland Cavaliers -
While the Cavaliers have not lost any key players, they have had their fair share of issues this offseason. For starters, they fired David Griffin right before the draft and were without a General Manager during the start of free agency and only recently promoted his successor, Kolby Altman, from within the organization. Now there are reports that Kyrie Irving has requested a trade from the Cavaliers, which has set the Internet and all other media outlets ablaze. With all of the drama that has ensued since the initial report, the Cavs may be forced to trade Kyrie, regardless if the initial reports are true.
On top of the Cavaliers internal issues, they have not made any significant moves to get better so far in the offseason. Even though their roster was good enough to walk through the East, it was made pretty clear in the Finals that the current team lacked the talent to compete against the Warriors. Signing players like Jose Calderon and Jeff Green are serviceable rotational players, but that’s about it. Cleveland did sign Derrick Rose, but he is far removed from his MVP level of playing. It’s possible Derrick Rose can be serviceable as a sixth-man,—assuming Kyrie sticks around— but he’s probably not the piece that puts Cleveland over the defending champions.
New York Knicks -
The Knicks have been nothing short of awful this offseason. The only positive note for them this offseason was that the organization decided to part ways with Phil Jackson. Before his exit, he continuously trashed Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. While the problems with Melo were nothing new since he had expressed his willingness to part with the organization and waive his no-trade clause, Porzingis was a different story. Porzingis voiced his frustration about the organizations direction under Jackson. This ultimately Porzingis being put on the trading block, which made Dolan decide to part ways with Phil Jackson.
After Jackson left, the Knicks decided to give Tim Hardaway Jr. a four-year $71 million contract. Furthermore, they are stuck in limbo with Carmelo Anthony. Melo has expressed his willingness to waive his No-Trade clause to go to a contender—which has since been narrowed down to the Rockets—yet the Knicks have not been able to get a deal done. Even with the front office change, The Knicks still seem to be stuck in turmoil with no end in sight.
Chicago Bulls -
The Chicago Bulls have officially hit the reset button…kinda. After years of trade rumors, the Bulls decided to finally trade their best player, Jimmy Butler, to the Minnesota Timberwolves. In exchange, Chicago received Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and swapped the number 16th pick for the 7th pick. While Zach Lavine is a next-level athlete and has made huge strides offensively since entering the league, he is coming off of a torn ACL injury. In addition to that, his rookie contract is up at the end of the season, so it may be hard for the Bulls to determine his worth coming off of injury. On the other hand, Kris Dunn struggled mightily during his rookie season, and while he is a rookie, Dunn actually older than Lavine who already has 3 years of NBA experience under his belt.
It’s hard to believe the Bulls had not received a better offer from Butler either last season or during the summer. Even so, the level of talent the Bulls received in exchange for an all-star with years left on an affordable contract is a move that doesn’t make sense. The Bulls may have decided to go all-in with rebuilding, but the foundation is already looking shaky.
Los Angeles Clippers -
The Clippers finally received a facelift, but it may not have been the right one. They started the summer off doing a blockbuster sign-and-trade deal sending Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets receiving a haul of players. The only problem with this trade is that the best player the Clippers received was Patrick Beverly, yikes! After that, they decided to give Blake Griffin a five-year $173 million contract extension and signed Danilo Gallinari to a three-year $64 million dollar contract. Neither of them has played more than 67 games in a single season over the least 3 years.
Overall, the Clippers got worse by losing all-NBA guard, Chris Paul, and investing their future in two players that have a problem staying on the court. Not only that, but they still don’t have any cap flexibility, which has plagued them for years. In a Western conference that managed to somehow get better this summer, the Clippers are going to have a tough time competing for a seat at the table come April.