This year’s NBA Offseason has been one of the most hectic offseasons to date. Multiple blockbuster trades took place, including Paul George getting traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chris Paul getting traded to the Houston Rockets, and Kyrie Irving getting traded to the Boston Celtics. So, since everyone in the league is trying to keep up with the monstrosity of a team in Oakland, California (the Golden State Warriors), how did these moves (and others) impact the league?
First off, the Paul George-Oklahoma City Thunder trade was clearly won by the Thunder. The Thunder traded 25-year-old Victor Oladipo and 21-year-old Domantas Sabonis for the 4-time All-Star in Paul George. Yes, Oladipo and Sabonis are both intriguing, raw, prospects, but Paul George is a bona fide superstar in the NBA. Him, along with the current MVP of the league, Russell Westbrook, form an interesting two-headed monster.
Secondly, the Houston Rockets are doing everything they can to surround the MVP runner-up James Harden with teammates that could challenge the Golden State Warriors. They recently traded Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Kyle Wiltjer, a protected first round pick, and cash considerations for a 31-year-old Chris Paul. Paul, a 9-time NBA All Star, a 4-time All-NBA First Team Member, and a 7-time All-Defensive First Team Member, should be able to take some of the offensive load off of Harden. Although Chris Paul is on the wrong side of 30, he is still a superstar to pair with James Harden. The Rockets should be in a three-way race this year for the second seed in the Western Conference along with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs.
Next, the Boston Celtics traded Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Nets 2018 pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving. In my opinion, the Celtics entirely decimated their bench in order for this trade to occur, which means that the Cavs won the deal. The Cavaliers also signed former MVP Derrick Rose this year to the veteran’s minimum (2.1 million dollars on a one-year deal). Although Rose will likely never return to his once-dominant self, it is possible that he revives his career in Cleveland, surrounded by a cast of All-Stars. The Celtics also signed All-Star Gordon Hayward this offseason, which is a great pairing for Kyrie Irving. The two should mesh well together on and off the court. Regardless of all this, the Cavaliers still have the best player in the league: Lebron James, which means that they will again, most likely beat the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals this year.
The Minnesota Timberwolves made one of the biggest free agency splashes in recent years, trading Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and the 2017 7th overall pick (which turned out to be the 7-foot Lauri Markkanen out of Arizona) for Jimmy Butler and the 16th overall pick (Justin Patton out of Creighton). It’s safe to say that the Timberwolves won this trade. Tom Thibodeau coached Butler in Chicago. They have a core that will be contending in the next few years consisting of Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng, and now, Jimmy Butler. The Chicago Bulls essentially traded a 3-time All-Star in Jimmy Butler and a young, although raw, player with serious potential in Justin Patton for Zach Lavine and Lauri Markkanen. Lavine has been plagued with injuries throughout his career, and most recently tore his ACL. What’s more, in this year’s summer league, Lauri Markkanen shot 0-11 on three-pointers in a game. Since Markkanen cannot defend extremely well, he must depend on his overall offensive prowess. If this is any indication of what’s to come for Markkanen, well…
Overall, this has been one hectic year for all teams in the NBA. Almost every single team made drastic moves to try to keep up with the rest of the league. In my opinion, however, the only teams with a shot to beat the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs this year are the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs in the West and the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics in the East. Hopefully, this means we won’t have another championship between the Cavaliers and the Warriors again for the fourth year in a row!