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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Starting Five: C: Jusuf Nurkic PF: Kenneth Faried SF: Danilo Gallinari SG: Gary Harris PG: Emmanuel Mudiay
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 8 seed; Out; Out
Mudiay is a sight to see on the court with incredible athleticism, size, and passing at the point guard position. He better be working on his jumper this summer though, because 36/32/67 is not going to cut it in the NBA. If he keeps that up he is going to be the next Ricky Rubio, a player that is thought to be good because there is always a highlight, when in reality its just another empty, worthless play.
Denver’s number 1 draft pick, Jamal Murray, is everything that Mudiay isn’t as a shooter. They both play the point, but Murray may work his way to more of a combo guard before the season is over. This is an VERY young team that would be hard pressed to get 30 wins if they didn’t have the thin mile high air on their side.
Starting Five: C: Gorgui Dieng PF: Karl Anthony Townes SF: Andrew Wiggins SG: Zach LaVine PG: Ricky Rubio
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 6 seed; Out; Out
With the drafting of Chris Dunn at number 5, this may be the last year for Ricky Rubio starting for the T’Wolves. Dunn may be the best point guard that the T’Wolves have ever drafted, including when they took three PGs in the first 18 picks of the 2009 draft, two of which were taken before Steph Curry. Dunn has handles, he can take it to the hole and finish, and if he can learn from Rubio how to read a defense and get the ball to the young rising stars on the team, the T’Wolves will be a force to be reckoned with in the West (in the future).
As for this year, I would be a little surprised to see the season end for Minnesota without a losing record. KAT has all the skills to be one of the best big men in the league and Wiggins has star potential written all over him, but losing KG as the veteren in the locker room will hurt them since he was the big brother that could teach the young guns how to deal with issues faced with the long season. If they do make the playoffs, they will be an easy out for whoever plays them, but this team is all about gaining experience right now and playoff experience would be a huge step for them. From Wiggins’ spin moves, to Lavine’s acrobatics, to Rubio’s no-looks, Dunn’s crossovers, and KAT’s overall fluid game, make sure to press record on your DVR so you can watch it over and over and over.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Starting Five: C: Steven Adams PF: Ersan Ilyasova SF: Kyle Singler SG: Victor Oladipo PG: Russell Westbrook
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 5 seed; Out; 6 seed
This team has so many question marks, its hard to even come up with a starting 5. Will Ilyasova start, or will they keep him on the bench and start Kanter? Will Donovan start Singler at the 3 to get some more length and shooting, or does he want Roberson out their to lockdown opponents’ wing positions with Oladipo? One thing that is for sure, is that Steven Adams has turned into a great big man that does all of the dirty work. It is going to be an interesting season for the Thunder, but I think they can still make some noise in the West. Can they win the title? Probably not, but they can give some headaches to teams in the playoffs.
Westbrook catches hell from some for missing the playoffs when Durant was out for most of the year in 2015. But I feel that is unfair, because Westbrook also missed 15 games that year. They won 45 games and missed the playoffs because of a tiebreaker. But Westbrook wasn’t just playing without Durant, he was also playing without $20 million worth of NBA talent. When you get rid of a superstar, you can replace that $20 million of cap space with a $10 million dollar player and two $5 million dollar layers. Russ didn’t have that, he had nothing. Also, just changing the team dynamic with no practice is crazy. A team has to relearn how to play with each other without a main piece of the puzzle. That would be like trying to take a leg away from a table and making it stand right away. One could find a way, but it would take time, and perhaps some trial and error. The Thunder and Westbrook didn’t have that time, they were thrown to the wolves to figure it out on the fly.
This year, Russ will be ready. He is in a contract year, and is ready to prove to the world that he didn’t play on KDs team, it was their team, and maybe even Russ’. He’s sick of hearing about how everyone else can do this or do that, but they don’t realize that Russ can do this AND that. Yeah, he’s not the best shooter (even if he doesn’t realize it), but when you need a bucket he will
find a way. He’s the closest thing to the Big O we may ever see, and this year his numbers will prove that. That’s right, I am expecting a triple double from Westbrook. Ok, well at least close to one. He is going to be a maniac on the court. He’s going to be the player that forgot to sign up for AAU and has to play in a church league. It’s Russ’ world this year, and he is going to be the most exciting player to watch in the NBA, hands down.
OKC made the smartest choice (and perhaps got good fortune as well) when they got Russ to sign that extension. It’s great for the Thunder because they keep a superstar on their roster. It’s great for Russ because he can become a free agent after his 10th year in the league when he can get 35% of the total salary cap instead of 30%. That will be about $6 million a year. Many thought that he would bolt for LA and become a Laker, but nobody in their right mind would go to that debacle of a team in the prime of their HOF caliber career. The Lakers have a big task, and several trades ahead of them to become Westbrook ready. Maybe being in LA in the offseason is enough for Russ, it’s not as if NBA players have a ton of time during the season anyway. Also, Westbrook does seem to have a loyalty about him that you do not see in all NBA players.
Starting Five: C: Mason Plumlee PF: Al-Farouq Aminu SF: Evan Turner SG: C.J. McCollum PG: Damian Lillard
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed; 8 seed; 4 seed
The Blazers in the playoffs looked like they were on the edge of taking the next step, and all they were missing was experience. The one thing I wish they would’ve done in the offseason is add one or two good veterans, but they did add Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli. That wasn’t necessarily a bad move, because it will give them depth, but maybe they will be able to get Steve Blake back for a one year vet minimum deal to add some age to the team.
One of Portland’s biggest advantages is their bench. They go two deep at every position. Festus Ezeli, Ed Davis, Maurice Harkless, Allen Crabbe, and Shabazz Napier is their second five. Not bad, not bad at all. There might even be a trade in there somewhere to get a good player on a bad team that wants to rebuild. Maybe getting Serge Ibaka from Orlando or Paul Millsap from Atlanta. Lillard is a star, and it is time for him to lead this team to a 50 win season.
Starting Five: C: Rudy Gobert PF: Derrick Favors SF: Gordon Hayward SG: Rodney Hood PG: George Hill
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 6 seed; Out; 8 seed
Utah is set at point guard: George Hill the defensive stopper and Dante Exum the freak athlete, not to mention they still have Shelvin Mack, Raul Neto, and the second round draft pick Marcus Paige. They are going to dump one or two of these in a trade
or put them down in the D league. They’ve also got two big 6’8″ wings in Hayward & Hood that can both score and defend. Another year in and they will be that much better.
Utah is young and inexperienced, and did exactly what young and inexperienced teams need to do in the offseason, they got veteran experience. Signing George Hill, Boris Diaw and Joe Johnson will help this team tremendously. George Hill is a solid starting point guard in the league, and while Joe Johnson is on the downside of his career, he can still score in bunches when you need him to an he’s not afraid to take the shot at the end of the game. Boris Diaw has been winning with the Spurs deep into the playoffs for the past five seasons. What he will be able to bring to the youthful Jazz is priceless. These are the main
reasons Utah will sneak into the postseason in 2017.Views: 0
These are what all 30 NBA teams gained or lost during the Draft & Free Agency. I tried to include only free agents that project to be relevant in the coming NBA season (rookies are italicized).
- Atlanta Hawks
- Additions: John Collins, Tyler Dorsey, Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli
- Losses: Dwight Howard, Tim Hardaway Jr., Paul Millsap, Jose Calderon, Thabo Sefalosha
- Boston Celtics
- Additions: Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Aron Baynes, Marcus Morris, Shane Larkin
- Losses: Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko, Tyler Zeller
- Brooklyn Nets
- Additions: Timofey Mosgov, D’Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, Tyler Zeller, Jarrett Allen, Aleksandar Vezenkov
- Losses: Brook Lopez, Justin Hamilton
- Charlotte Hornets
- Additions: Dwight Howard, Michael Carter-Williams, Malik Monk
- Losses: Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli
- Chicago Bulls
- Additions: Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, Lauri Markkanen, Justin Holiday
- Losses: Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo, Michael Carter-Williams
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Additions: Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose, Jeff Green, Jose Calderon, Cedi Osman
- Losses: Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams, Andrew Bogut, Richard Jefferson
- Dallas Mavericks
- Additions: Dennis Smith Jr., Josh McRoberts, Jeff Withey
- Denver Nuggets
- Additions: Paul Millsap, Richard Jefferson Tyler Lydon, Vlatko Cancar, Monte Morris
- Losses: Danilo Gallinari, Roy Hibbert, Mike Miller
- Detroit Pistons
- Additions: Avery Bradley, Langston Galloway, Luke Kennard
- Losses: Marcus Morris, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
- Golden State Warriors
- Additions: Nick Young, Omri Casspi, Jordan Bell, Chris Boucher
- Losses: Ian Clark
- Houston Rockets
- Additions: Chris Paul, PJ Tucker, Troy Williams, Zhou Qi, Isaiah Hartenstein, Cameron Oliver
- Losses: Patrick Beverly, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker
- Indiana Pacers
- Additions: Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Cory Joseph, Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison, TJ Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, Edmond Sumner
- Losses: Paul George, CJ Miles, Monta Ellis, Jeff Teague
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Additions: Patrick Beverly, Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari, Sam Dekker, Willie Reed, Milos Teodosic, Jawun Evans, Sindarius Thornwell, Isaiah Hicks
- Losses: Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, Raymond Felton, JJ Reddick
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Additions: Lonzo Ball, Brook Lopez, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Thomas Bryant, PJ Dozier
- Losses: D’Angelo Russell, Timofey Mozgov, Nick Young
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Additions: Ben McLemore, Tyreke Evans, Ivan Rabb, Dillon Brooks, Kobi Simmons
- Losses: Vince Carter, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen
- Miami Heat
- Additions: Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo, London Perrantes
- Losses: Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts, Willie Reed
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Additions: DJ Wilson, Sterling Brown, Bronson Koenig
- Losses: Michael Beasley
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Additions: Jimmy Butler, Jamal Crawford, Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague, Justin Patton, VJ Beachem, Charles Cooke
- Losses: Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, Omri Casspi, Shabazz Muhammad
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Additions: Rajon Rondo, Ian Clark, Tony Allen, Frank Jackson, Dwayne Bacon, Peter Jok
- New York Knicks
- Additions: Tim Hardaway Jr., Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, Michael Beasley, Frank Ntilikina, Damyean Dotson, Ognjen Jaramaz, Nigel Hayes
- Losses: Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Additions: Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, Patrick Patterson, Terrance Ferguson
- Losses: Victor Oladipo, Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, Domantas Sabonis, Taj Gibson
- Orlando Magic
- Additions: Jonathon Simmons, Arron Affalo, Shelvin Mack, Jonathan Isaac, Wesley Iwundu, Derrick Walton Jr.
- Losses: Jeff Green
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Additions: Markelle Fultz, JJ Reddick, Amir Johnson, Anzejs Pasecniks, Jonah Bolden, Mathias Lessort, James Blackmon Jr., Melo Trimble, Isaiah Briscoe
- Losses: Gerald Henderson
- Phoenix Suns
- Additions: Josh Jackson, Davon Reed, Alec Peters
- Losses: Leandro Barbosa
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Additions: Zach Collins, Caleb Swanigan
- Sacramento Kings
- Additions: De’Aaron Fox, Vince Carter, Zach Randolph, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles, Frank Mason III
- Losses: Ben McLemore, Tyreke Evans, Rudy Gay, Arron Affalo, Darren Collison, Langston Galloway
- San Antonio Spurs
- Additions: Rudy Gay, Derrick White, Jaron Blossomgame
- Losses: Jonathon Simmons
- Toronto Raptors
- Additions: Justin Hamilton, CJ Miles, OG Anunoby, Kennedy Meeks
- Losses: DeMarre Carroll, Patrick Patterson, Cory Joseph, PJ Tucker
- Utah Jazz
- Additions: Ricky Rubio, Thabo Sefalosha, Jonas Jerebko, Donovan Mitchell, Tony Bradley, Nigel Williams-Goss
- Losses: Gordon Hayward, George Hill, Shelvin Mack, Jeff Withey
- Washington Wizards
- Additions: Marcus Keene, Devin Robinson
- Losses: Bojan Bogdanovic
- Atlanta Hawks
The Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals 129-120, for their second championship in three years. This series featured an amazing amount of star power, including three of the best players in the NBA. Several aspects of the NBA are affected by this outcome, and it may change how the future of the NBA will look.
Warriors: From the outside, this team looks as if they could stay together for a long time to run the West. However, there are only three contributing players that have guaranteed contracts next year: Draymond, Klay, and McCaw. Durant has a contract for next year, but there is a player option in which he could decline it. Curry is an unrestricted free agent and has the freedom to sign with anyone. While it would be surprising to see Curry or Durant go anywhere, expect to see several different role players on the 2017-2018 Warriors. Also, Steve Kerr’s health will be a big deciding factor whether or not he is the head coach next year.
Cavaliers: The Cavs, on the other hand, have guaranteed contracts with 7 of 9 contributing players. They are locked into their core, much to do with Lebron’s influence on the front office. Barring a trade, which is very likely, the Cavs roster will look eerily similar, just one year older. Ty Lue seemed to be outmatched in the coaching battle in the Finals this year, so don’t be surprised if Lebron has a new coach for the 2017-2018 season.
Lebron: Lebron is now 3-5 in the Finals. He saved face by not getting swept, but all G.O.A.T. discussions have been stopped in their tracks. While this Finals outcome may not have hurt his legacy, it definitely did not help it. Lebron seemed nonchalant throughout a good portion of the Finals, almost as if he had given in that the Cavs were not going to win. He had great series stats (averaging a triple double), but actually watching him was frustrating at times. From not stopping the ball on Warriors’ fast breaks to taking covered 3s with plenty of time left on the shot clock so as to not exert energy for that play, Lebron seemed content with losing this series. He seemed almost giddy to welcome Durant back to the Finals before game one, and to wish Kerr well before game two. He really didn’t seem locked in, and that is an ominous look for Cavs fans when Lebron can exercise his own player option after next season.
Durant: Durant was the Finals MVP, and no one in their right mind would question that. He played an unbelievable series, on both sides of the ball. Did he join a 73 win team to get a ring? Yes, but he was also the best player on that team. Would it have been more impressive to win a championship in OKC? Yes, but KD did not back his way into this championship, he went out and took it. 16-1 in the playoffs is nothing to laugh at. KD could exercise his player option, take less money, and allow the Warriors more cap flexibility to sign Steph and role players. He could also, however unlikely this may sound, exercise his player option to leave the Warriors. For now, KD will enjoy his championship and leave those decisions to July.
Steph: Steph still does not have a Finals MVP, but it is obvious he is as important a piece to these championship teams as anyone else, if not more. Steph is an unrestricted free agent, but him leaving the Warriors for another team would be one of the most surprising decisions in NBA history. He was drafted by the Warriors in 2009, and became the franchise player shortly thereafter. Steph is still the best shooter that has ever lived, but next on his list has to be a Finals MVP trophy.
NBA: The stacked class for this year’s Draft and the abundance of players available in free agency will change the look of the league, but Adam Silver better hope for more competition. While seeing the Warriors and Cavs duke it out for three straight Finals has been entertaining, fans may check out if the playoffs are foregone conclusions with no parity. The Cavs may not have been the number one seed, but going 12-1 in the East is nothing short of a snoozefest. Missing Kawhi for the West Finals hurt the competitiveness of the Spurs, but the Warriors were undefeated through the first 15 games of the playoffs.Views: 0