The cat is out of the bag on the first day of the NBA Free Agency Moratorium: The King will be taking his talents to Los Angeles. Klutch Sports Group, the agency that represents LeBron, released a statement on Twitter earlier today, “LeBron James, four time NBA MVP, three time NBA finals MVP, fourteen time NBA All Star, and two time Olympic gold medalist has agreed to a four year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.”
This free agency was much less of a circus than the first time LeBron left Cleveland in the summer of 2010 with “The Decision”. This time there was no hour TV special with Jim Gray that sent the entire city of Cleveland into a whirlwind. This was something that LeBron obviously knew he wanted to do and there was no point in putting anyone (fans or teams) through the drama of a week long recruiting trip. Cleveland will also be much more understanding this time since LeBron delivered on his promise of bringing a championship to “The Land” with the memorable comeback from a 3-1 deficit against the Golden State Warriors in 2015.
The question now is, who will be playing with LeBron? Paul George has already agreed to stay in OKC with Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. There is no way LeBron made a decision to go to a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2011, if there were not wheels in motion to bring in All Star caliber talent like he did when he went back to Cleveland in 2014.
Could this push the Lakers to be more aggressive in trading for Kawhi Leonard by offering the Spurs something they can’t refuse? Will LeBron’s signing in LA attract any other free agents to the Lakers? Will Lonzo Ball, last year’s 2nd overall pick, be ready to play this season after tearing his meniscus?
As it stands now, the 2018 Lakers roster consists of Lonzo Ball, Thomas Bryant, Tyler Ennis, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, and a washed up Luol Deng making $18 million. That is hardly a group that LeBron looks forward to playing with at age 33. Look for the Lakers to be making some big trades and signing before the start of the season.
This is uncharted territory for The King. LeBron has never played in the Western Conference since he came into the NBA in 2003. The Eastern Conference has had, by all accounts, a much easier path to the Finals for the last 15 years, so it will be interesting to see LeBron enter a monster playoff field that should include: the reigning champion Golden State Warriors with the Hampton 5, the Houston Rockets with Chris Paul and the reigning MVP James Harden, and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Big 3 of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Should be fun.
UPDATE: The Lakers are set to sign Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lance Stephenson & Rajon Rondo. The have renounced the rights to Julius Randle and may waive Luol Deng as well to spread the $36 million owed to him over the next 5 seasons to open up more salary cap space.
About the AuthorDoctor Matt is 1/2 of the Sports Over Served Podcast and skilled in the art of creative writing (according to his 3rd-grade English teacher). He also says he knows a thing or two about basketball, which qualifies him as our NBA Expert? Don't agree with Matt? Feel free to leave a comment!
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By Matt Robinson — 5 years ago
I feel as if I’m in the Seinfeld Bizzaro World. KD is a Warrior, DWade is a Bull, and we will see the first NBA season of the millennium without Kobe, KG, or Duncan. The increased salary cap, crazy free agent signings, and trades in the summer of 2016 gave a whole new look to the NBA. It’s almost as if Adam Silver created a franchise on NBA2K and selected random draft. It was the most exciting NBA offseason ever, with almost no team unchanged, and sets up what looks to be one of the most exciting NBA seasons ever. Let’s go through a team by team breakdown of what the NBA will look like next year, and
perhaps make some predictions as well.
Starting Five: C: Andrew Bogut PF: Dirk Nowitzki SF: Harrison Barnes SG: Wesley Matthews PG: Deron Williams
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed; 8 seed; 5 seed
The Mavs were the ‘winner by default’ of the KD signing in Golden State. If KD doesn’t sign there, Barnes stays on and the Warriors have no reason to trade Bogut, and the Mavs would be left in shambles. So, as much as I hated the KD signing for the league, as a MFFL, I feel I owe KD a drink. Grabbing Barnes and Bogut, as well as resigning Dirk & Deron Williams gives the Mavs one of the best starting 5’s in the West. With Rick Carlisle still being a top 5 coach in the league, the Mavs will continue to be a team that gets the most from its players. Thankfully, this year Carlisle will have more talent to work with.
The two areas that the Mavs have weaknesses are depth & durability. Bogut & Williams have a history of various injuries and missing a big chunk of games in multiple seasons, while Matthews is still not 100% where he was before his Achilles tear. Depth will be a big factor for the Mavs with 4 of the 5 starters being in their 30s this season. Young guns Dwight Powell and Justin Anderson need to keep improving, while the Mavs will still need to rely on veterans Devin Harris & JJ Barea (although I am more impressed with JJ dating two Miss Universe contestants than anything he has done on the court since 2011). Also, look for rookie AJ Hammons to get more playing time than you might think this year. The big ‘if’ for the Mavs could be Steph’s little brother, Seth Curry. When I say he hasn’t done much in the league in his first three seasons, I mean it. He has played about half a season worth of games, with almost all of that being last season. The one positive from his play last season was that he shot 45% from 3 on 111 attempts. The best help an aging Dirk can ask for is competent shooters around him that will space the floor and allow him to launch his signature fade away jumper. All in all, let’s all pray really, really, really hard for a healthy Mavs starting rotation this year, because without that, it will be another 1st round exit for Dirk and Dallas.
Starting Five: C: Clint Capela PF: Ryan Anderson SF: Trevor Ariza SG: Eric Gordon PG: James Harden
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 5 seed; Out; Out
It looks as if moving James Harden from the shooting guard to the point guard was to make room for Eric Gordon in the starting lineup. This will make the Houston starting defense even more deplorable by moving Patrick Beverly to the bench. However, that is not surprising when the head coach is Mike D’Antoni, the man who created the ‘7 seconds or less’ offense in Phoenix. It may be smart to keep Beverly in the starting lineup and keep Gordon as first man off the bench, possibly striving for 6th Man of the Year award. Gordon will give the Rockets a great scoring threat off the bench, to play alongside Terrance Jones, Nene & Corey Brewer. Not a bad bench crew, but depth is not the Rockets concern in 2017…
James Harden needs to find out what he is going to be in the league. Is he going to be a superstar that can bring his team a title or at least be in competition for one, which he has the talent to do, or is Harden more worried about ‘The flick of his wrist’ after every made basket? Harden may be the next Carmelo Anthony, always tearing up box scores, but also getting to admire the NBA playoffs from a tropical location as he makes his exit in late April/early May. James Harden is a great individual talent, but that does not always translate to team success. Let’s see if Mike D’Antoni can revive his career in Houston. But honestly, this seems more like the Lakers stint than what D’Antoni did in Phoenix.
Starting Five: C: Marc Gasol PF: Zach Randolph SF: Chandler Parsons SG: Tony Allen PG: Mike Conley
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed; 8 seed; 7 seed
The self-proclaimed ‘Ultimate player GM’ who will get your team the big stars you’ve been longing for because he’s ‘bros’ with everyone, just got recruited to another team. Apparently, Mike Conley convinced Chandler Parsons to come to Memphis, and honestly, I don’t see how this helps them very much. They now own the best pump-fake in the NBA (for max money, mind you).
The Grizz also are proud owners of the highest played player in the NBA! No, they didn’t steal Lebron from the Cavs. Mike Conley, the 2013 NBA All-Defense Second Team & 2014 NBA Sportsmanship winner (yes, those are his highest NBA accolades) is the HIGHEST PAID PLAYER IN THE NBA at 5 years $153 million!!! KD, Lebron, Kawhi, Russ & Steph better get to work if they want to catch this ZERO TIME ALL STAR! The contracts given out this summer are just laughable.
Probably the weakest point for the Grizz will be the coaching. They hired lifetime assistant coach, David Fizdale, to lead this team. You know what, that isn’t completely fair, he did coach Team Shaq to a loss against Team Chuck in the 2013 Rising Stars Challenge. I’d be more impressed if he were under the tutelage of a great coach, but it has been Eric Musselman, Mike Woodson, and Erik Spoelstra. Good luck Memphis, you’re gonna need it this year!
New Orleans Pelicans
Starting Five: C: Omer Asik PF: Anthony Davis SF: Dante Cunningham SG: Tyreke Evans/Buddy Hield PG: Jrue Holiday
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 7 seed; Out; Out
Anthony Davis must have felt like he was in hell on this Pelicans team last season. The team just isn’t good, period. There is some talent, but it doesn’t mesh. Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday do not understand that the ball needs to run through Davis, and it makes the offense unwatchable. Davis has to be frustrated, but he isn’t the type of player to make it known publicly. The Pelicans better do something to change the culture on this team, or The Big Easy is going to be exactly that when opposing teams come to play.
With the addition of 6th overall pick, Buddy Hield, the Pelicans need to look for some kind of trade to dump Evans to get a defensive, all about the team type of player. The Miami Heat may have a few trade option to try to replace some of Dwyane Wade’s (and possibly Chris Bosh’s) offense. This team will be fun to watch to see if Buddy Hield can develop into Robin to Anthony Davis’ Batman. The Pels could be a team that scares people in the future, but that is several players and several years away from happening. Until then, enjoy the crawfish, oysters, and gumbo Buddy.
San Antonio Spurs
Starting Five: C: Pau Gasol PF: LaMarcus Aldridge SF: Kawhi Leonard SG: Danny Green PG: Tony Parker
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 1 seed; 5 seed; 2 seed
San Antonio just lost probably the greatest power forward the NBA has ever seen. As a Mavericks & Dirk fan, that may have been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to admit. But the numbers don’t lie. 5 rings, 3 Finals MVPs, 2 MVPs, 1 All Star MVP, 15 All Stars, 15 All NBAs, 15 All Defense NBAs. Kareem is the only other player to have 26k points, 15k rebounds and 3k blocks. Only player with 1,000 wins on one team. 2nd most playoff games played and wins (1st if you don’t count role players like Derek Fisher). He has played in more playoff games than 18 franchises, and won more playoff games than 22 franchises.
Ok, enough butt kissing. Onto the gripes. I’m pissed that the Spurs got Duncan in the first place. Having an all-time great in David Robinson go down for a year, so you bottom out, win the lottery and get another all-time great? BS. And now Duncan is retiring and the Spurs are still not going to even miss the playoffs? More BS. And can someone explain to me why Duncan is considered a PF and not a C? Just because Robinson was a center, now Duncan is considered a power forward. So instead of being just another great center, he is considered the greatest power forward ever (a much weaker all-time position). The most BS. I need a shot of whisky.
Now onto this year’s Spurs. After winning 67 games, there is not a lot you need to do, just retool a little bit. That’s exactly what they did in getting Pau Gasol. It is a good move for them, giving them a low post scorer and a capable defender. David West stopped ring chasing with the Spurs to go chase one with the Warriors, so they picked up David Lee to backup the front court. The Spurs will do what the Spurs always do, and will be looking to win another 55-60 games with Pop at the helm.Views: 0
By Matt Robinson — 5 years ago
Starting Five: C: Robin Lopez PF: Taj Gibson SF: Jimmy Butler SG: Dwyane Wade PG: Rajon Rondo
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed; out; 8 seed
Its not quite clear yet if Wade is going to Chicago to retire at home or to try to keep winning, because if he wanted to win, Chicago isn’t exactly the best option. Wade gets to play in front of family and friends while making a lot more than the Heat were willing to pay him. Since the Chicago winters are about 60 degrees colder than in Miami, he might be joining Lebron on that midseason sabbatical.
Team chemistry is going to be a huge obstacle for the 2017 Bulls. Who knows how Fred Hoiberg plans to deal with Rondo and Butler going back and forth in practice, the locker room, and games. Street gangs in Chicago will be watching games together in suites at the United Center before this group of players begins to even resemble a cohesive team. This may be the push the front
office will need to put Jimmy Butler on the trade block, where they will definitely get offers from either Minnesota or Boston.
Starting Five: C: Tristan Thompson PF: Kevin Love SF: Lebron James SG: Iman Shumpert PG: Kyrie Irving
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 1 seed; 3 seed; 1 seed
The only question if the Cavs are going to be the number 1 seed in the East, is how much does Lebron want it. After six straight finals, the gold medal in the 2012 Olympics, and finally bringing home the hardware for his hometown, he may have a sense of accomplishment that battles with his competitive drive. It’s easy to come back and try to succeed after failed attempts, but after Lebron has reached his goal, it is going to be much harder to have the same determination. After the free agency move the Warriors made, to go get KD to try to beat him, Lebron may want to prove that it doesn’t matter who is put against him, Lebron will persevere.
The most interesting storyline to watch, is what will the Cavs do with Kevin Love? Kyrie is showing that he is definitely going to be a star in this league, so that really leaves three possibilities for Love. Is he going to continue to be a corner distraction, or will they find another way to integrate him into the offense? The best option would probably be a trade if they can find a trade partner. Will the Lakers go after Love in an attempt to lure Westbrook in 2018? The Cavs could use some young talent, considering Kyrie will probably be the youngest one on their 12 man roster.
Starting Five: C: Andre Drummond PF: Tobias Harris SF: Marcus Morris SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope PG: Reggie Jackson
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 4 seed; Out; Out
Having your best player be an exclusively low post player was the first ingredient in the recipe to be holding the Larry O’Brien trophy in June…15 years ago. Times have changed and Andre Drummond being the franchise player for Detroit pretty much guarantees the Pistons won’t be a force in the East anytime soon. Stan Van does have a very similar to the Magic team he took to the Finals with Dwight Howard in 2009, they play a 4 out 1 in type of offense. The difference between these two teams is that the East is a lot stronger today than it was in 2009, and these Pistons are more likely to miss the playoffs than make the Finals.
Unfortunately, the biggest worry for the Pistons is that Reggie Jackson thinks he’s the best player on the team, when he’s probably number three. Having your sixth man think he’s the best player on the team is usually a positive, because it will bring you extra points off the bench for 20 minutes per game. However, when your starting point guard thinks that, it turns into the pickup game at LA Fitness where the 35-year-old Uncle Rico tries to relive the glory days, and the only time anyone ever touches the ball is off a rebound. Detroit was one of only four teams with less than 20 assists per game last year. That has a lot to do with each player trying to get his, due to the fear of not getting the ball again if he passes.
Starting Five: C: Al Jefferson PF: Thaddeus Young SF: Paul George SG: Monta Ellis PG: Jeff Teague
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 1 seed; 8 seed; 3 seed
In 2011, “The Decision” made everyone absolutely sure that the ‘superteam’ the Miami Heat created with Lebron, Wade, and Bosh were shoe ins to win the NBA title. The Dallas Mavericks came in and ruined the party with Dirk being the only All-Star on the team. There are a lot of similarities between the 2011 Mavs and the 2017 Pacers.
Both teams picked up a center from Charlotte (Tyson Chandler & Al Jefferson) that came straight out of high school and had an injury issue coming to the team. Both teams have high scoring shooting guards (Jason Terry & Monta Ellis) that can take over a game at any time and have the stones to take the last shot. Both teams have a defensive-minded guard (DeShawn Stevenson & Rodney Stuckey) that has a dangerous enough 3 ball to keep opposing defenses from doubling off of them. Both teams have superstars (Dirk & Paul George) that analysts wonder if they will ever have a chance at a championship (PG13 was because of injury).
Does this mean I am picking the Pacers to sweep the Cavs in the second round (as the Mavs did to the title defending Lakers in 2011) and go on to beat the Warriors in the Finals? Not exactly, because Nate McMillan is nowhere near the level of coach that Rick Carlisle is. However, I won’t be shocked if the Pacers go to the Eastern Conference Finals, NBA Finals or even win it all. With 100:1 odds to win the NBA Finals, they may just be best value pick out there. The Pacers had the best offseason in the East by adding Al Jefferson, Thaddeus Young, and Jeff Teague to a team that has the 3rd best two-way player in the league in Paul George (only Lebron & Kawhi can compete with him). Myles Turner is also going to be one year better, and with his rookie season under his belt he will be a great big coming off the bench in his second season. Watch out for the 2017 Pacers.
Starting Five: C: Greg Monroe PF: Jabari Parker SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo SG: Tony Snell PG: Matthew Dellavedova
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 4 seed; Out; 7 seed
The Bucks have a great future to look towards with their two young rising stars, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker. Giannis is one of those once in a generation type talent, a 6’11” freak of an athlete that can play any position on the floor. His game is complimented perfectly by Parker, who is one step above Tim Duncan in excitement and athleticism. Parker is a very fundamental player, who has a sweet J and can post up on the block. Both need to improve their shooting from three (25%), and need to be at 80% from the charity stripe.
I also like what the Bucks did in the offseason, strengthening their bench at almost every position with Miles Plumlee, Mirza Teltovic, Steve Novak, Jason Terry. The Delly contract might be borderline insane (4 years, $38 million), but it might also be the new era of the NBA where Mike Conley has the largest contract in the league. Players were overpaid left and right this offseason, and Delly, Mr. All Heart & Hustle himself, jumped at the chance to make nearly $10 million a year. Dave Chappelle never knew how famous the POTUS was until Monica Lewinsky became a household name for doing….a thing. Well, I don’t think I ever truly knew how good Lebron was, until an Aussie that used to pass him the ball and dive at opponents ankles is making $10 million dollars a year. This contract screams JJ Barea on the T’Wolves from 2011-2014, but I’ll keep my mouth shut and watch.
This should be a decent season for the Bucks, I see about a 10-game-jump in wins, somewhere in the 42-45 range and a playoff
berth. Hopefully, they can find a trade partner to dump at least one of their big men, since they are very deep there, and could definitely use some help in the backcourt. In the playoffs, I see probably what happened to them two years ago to Chicago. Pushing a superior team more than they thought they would, butultimately falling short. The Bucks, similar to their neighbors in Minnesota, have a couple more years until they actually make some noise in the playoffs, but they will be an exciting team to watch.Views: 0
By Matt Robinson — 3 years ago
The Cavs have almost half a new team after Thursday’s shenanigans.
First, they traded away Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a protected 1st round pick to the LA Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. Clarkson is a young, quality starter who can pass and score with ease, but has some struggles on the defensive end. He is signed for the next two years at a not so cap friendly $13 million a year. Nance, on the other hand, is a show-stopping dunker, who can awe crowds with his posterizing slams. Just ask Brook Lopez or Kevin Durant. If you haven’t seen him, wait until you see him in the dunk contest next weekend.
They weren’t done yet, no, not even close. Rodney Hood is coming to Cleveland from Utah, and George Hill is coming from Sacramento. Rodney Hood has a $3.5 million qualifying offer next season, and George Hill is under a partially guaranteed contract for the next two season. The Kings will get Joe Johnson, Iman Shumpert and a 2020 second round pick from Miami, while the Jazz will get Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose.
Finally, they traded Dwyane Wade back to the Miami Heat for a heavily protected second round pick.
To sum up….
The Cavs lost: Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose,
Dwyane Wade, and protected 1st round pick
The Cavs got: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Jr., Rodney Hood, and George Hill.
Every single player the Cavaliers got in this trade is signed through at least next year (or has qualifying offers). Not bad new Cavs GM, Koby Altman. Not bad at all.
The only question left to answer is, can the Cavaliers get everyone in sync in time for another playoff push? Who knows, but it will definitely be fun to watch it all unfold.Views: 0