CANTON,Ohio- The NBA sure knew how to remain in the spotlight after the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history.
I knew that free agency was going to be a bit crazy, but seeing role players and even bench warmers who only play when the game is too far out of reach for one team, getting paid $30 plus is insane.
I’m going to try and break down some of the moves made by teams that I feel are worth noting. I’ll tell you if I think they made a smart move or not.
Golden State Warriors: No shocker I start out with the Warriors who went after the biggest free agent. Kevin Durant left OKC. Maybe it’s the old school competitive individual in me, but Durant had his Thunder up 3-1 on GSW and had a chance to go to close out the series at home and fell short.
Durant Tweeted out his frustrations of an unbalanced NBA. So you leaving a good Thunder team to form a “super team” in Oakland isn’t going to make the NBA more unbalanced? Oklahoma City will likely have to now trade Russell Westbrook because he’s likely to leave for the Lakers or Knicks this time next year.
Out of Curry, Thompson and Green, who will be willing to give up shots? There’s only 1 basketball. Or will Kevin Durant be willing to go from averaging 28 PPG down to around 17 or so?
IN MY OPINION- Golden State should have upgraded an already good bench. You won 73 games. You lost in the Finals because of a combination of good Cleveland defense and missed shots you’d been hitting all season long. Durant should have stayed in OKC.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: The champs have actually done very well, considering the lack of money Cleveland has to spend. So far the Cavs have traded Delly to Milwaukee for a trade exception and used some of that money to acquire sharp shooter Mike Dunleavy from Chicago.
James wanted him last Summer but Chicago was able to keep him. Dunleavy will get plenty of open looks this year. But he has to stay relatively healthy.
Cleveland was also able to retain Richard Jefferson, who played well, not only in the regular season, but throughout the playoffs.
So now the Cavaliers need to figure out what they can do to keep J.R. Smith. I wasn’t exactly thrilled when we first acquired him from New York but his defense is underrated and when he gets hot from long range, he can single handily take away the opposing teams will. He worked so hard on containing his emotions last year and it showed. Hopefully he returns to Cleveland.
The Two final questions for me are this. Who do the Cavs go after as a backup center and will future hall of fame 3 point shooter Ray Allen bring his talent to Cleveland? Allen is 40 now but he still the ability to knock down long range shots. He’s a liability on defense but Cleveland isn’t asking for him to be Iman Shumpert.
IN MY OPINION: So far it’s been a good free agency period in Cleveland.
DETROIT PISTONS: He’s arguably the best center in the game and Andre Drummond signed a 5 year $130 deal to stay in the motor city. Imagine how dangerous he can be if he develops the ability to hit free throws?
IN MY OPINION: If the Piston’s can find a solid 3rd scorer and have a decent bench, they will be a tough out for any team. Most people might forget this but they actually gave Cleveland the toughest series in the playoffs other than Golden State. That includes Toronto. Plus they have a good coach in Stan Van Gundy.
BOSTON CELTICS: Picking up Al Horford was a nice signing to go with that young but talented group of players. Brad Stevens has proven he’s an NBA caliber coach.
IN MY OPINION: Boston will be one of the best home teams in the entire Association. No one will want to play them in the playoffs next year.
TORONTO RAPTORS: “We the North” managed to keep DeMar DeRozan but lost Bismack Biyombo. As long as they can find a legit backup center, the Raptors shouldn’t skip a beat.
IN MY OPINION: I can see another deep run in Toronto for 2016-2017.
WASHINGTON WIZARDS: Kept Bradley Beal and still have John Wall, but this team amazes me at how poorly they play.
IN MY OPINION: This year they need to decide of this team is built to make any serious noise or do the Wizards play rebuild again? Sorry, but at this point they can’t settle for the 7th or 8th seed.
MIAMI HEAT: Not shocked they allowed Wade to leave, but clearly they want to build around Hassan Whiteside at center. Problem. Is he ready to the face of an organization? Is he mature enough to be the focal point of a team that’s had so much success the last 10 years?
IN MY OPINION: This will be an interesting year for the Heat. They have Goran Dragic at point guard who I really like. Who knows if Bosh will ever be fully healthy again for an entire season. Smart move to let go of Wade to see what they have for the future.
CHICAGO BULLS: The best move they could have made was ship Rose off. He’ll never be the player he was when the Bulls drafted him. They convinced Dwayne Wade to come home and They have Jimmy Butler as the face of their team. Adding Robin Lopez is a good addition. Rondo runs the point now.
IN MY OPINION: I’m not sure if Wade has enough left in his tank to help his supporting cast of Rondo, Butler and Lopez to make the playoffs.
ATLANTA HAWKS: I’ve been saying for 3 years now that a rebuild is in need. Well, they finally listened. Just not to me. Horford is gone along with Jeff Teague. But hey, they signed Dwight Howard *Golf Claps*. Please sense the sarcasm.
IN MY OPINION: No playoffs and they need to figure out before the trade deadline next season who they want to build around. I think Atlanta will need to make more trades. It’s only a matter of time before Kyle Korver is traded to a contender.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS: I think Duncan should call it a career. The Spurs will make the playoffs, but this might be the final year they are considered legit title contenders.
IN MY OPINION: Patty Mills, LeMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard are good talent to build around. Let’s see how things play out in the deep South of Texas.
DALLAS MAVERICKS: This might be the last year Dallas is also in the mix of just being in the playoffs. They added former Warriors Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut but this team might not win enough games to get the 7th or 8th seed in the West.
IN MY OPINION: The Mavericks will need to figure out if they have any players on this roster they can/want to build around. I don’t think they do.
HOUSTON ROCKETS: James Harden is still young enough to build around but they need better role players to be a legit contender.
IN MY OPINION: If they can’t trade for a legit 3rd scorer and improve the bench. They might have to consider a rebuild. But hey! On the bright side, they traded the headache known as Dwight Howard.
MILWAUKEE BUCKS: Yes, you can believe the Bucks are back. A group of young, hungry and talented players. They also added Delly from the 2016 champion Cavaliers.
IN MY OPINION: If they can keep their key players healthy and the role players don’t miss a lot of games, Milwaukee is definitely on the rise in the East. PLAYOFFS?! PLAYOFFS?! Yes, they are a serious threat to make the playoffs.
INDIANA PACERS: I like the addition of Teague. Teaming him with Paul George plus they have some shooters on this team.
IN MY OPINION: The Pacers will be a force.
NEW YORK KNICKS: Will they ever get the clue that a rebuild is in order? Obviously not! New York brought in Rose from Chicago which was a mistake. Their still trying to build around Carmelo Anthony.On top of that, they added Brandon Jennings who is a ball hog. I’m glad the Pistons let him go, and I’m not even a Pistons fan.
IN MY OPINION: It’s time to let go of Anthony and get draft picks in exchange for him. Realize that he’s not going to win a title in the big apple. Build around Kristaps Porzingis. Young man that has more to offer than Carmelo. Argue all you want with that but it’s the truth. Or the Knicks can continue to for being the 8th seed and going nowhere.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: Look, if they don’t come within 1 game of advancing to the NBA Finals, time to rebuild.
IN MY OPINION: Chris Paul is a great player and person. DeAndre Jordan can only dunk the ball just like Blake Griffin. I just don’t see them getting past the second round in the West.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS: Continue to be bad and maybe in 2 or 3 years we’ll talk.
PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS: They have a good young group of guys. I really like how hard they play.
IN MY OPINION: If they can make a trade or two before the deadline, I can see them being a legit contender next year.
MINNESOTA T’WOLVES: Andrew Wiggins leads a group of young but talented players.
IN MY OPINION: If they can win early, they might be able to put themselves in a situation to add a nice players through a trade or two so that they can at least get the 7th or 8th seed and get some playoff experience. But I like the direction their going.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: Let Russell Westbrook play out of his mind then either trade for a young all-star who will commit long term and build around him or trade Westbrook for multiple draft picks.
IN MY OPINION: I give the Thunder a zero percent chance of bringing back Westbrook. Just accept the fact that a rebuild is coming. Victor Oladipo was a nice addition.
OK, so that was a pretty extensive breakdown of quite a few teams. I know I left out more than a few teams, but I think I did a decent job.
Thanks to those of you that took the 10 or 15 minutes out of your day to read this long article.
I’m very curious to see how the NBA will be doing 5 years from now. I think these “super teams” forming will only get worse. So, at the end of the day, we already have 4 or 5 teams MAYBE, that have a legit shot at the title. All of the rest are simple schedule fillers.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Broulis