Ah, the offseason. It truly is one of the best parts of the year. Sports analysts, players and reporters come from around the world to overhype a couple days of expected signings because they’re so desperate to have something to talk about in the month of July, (sorry MLB). While this offseason certainly wasn’t as exciting as last, there were still some very solid moves and some unexpected decisions. All teams are built in the offseason, and there were some that really excelled this year.
Los Angeles Lakers
Key Acquisitions: SF Lebron James, PG Rajon Rondo, SG Lance Stephenson, PF Michael Beasley, C Javale McGee
Key Losses: PF Julius Randle, C Brook Lopez, PG Isaiah Thomas, PF Channing Frye
I had a hard time figuring out what I think about this one. Obviously, I have to put the Lakers on this list. If you land the best player in the NBA, regardless of what else occurred, it is a good offseason. Lebron will be an obvious difference maker in LA, and while he will certainly bring them to the playoffs, it’s a different question whether or not they’ll be able to get by other Western Conference powerhouses.
The other acquisitions are what made me scratch my head. When I look at that list of new guys, I see a lot of ego. Yes, including Lebron. Between James, Rondo, Beasley and Stephenson, there’s a lot of guys who like the spotlight, and I think some problems with the chemistry on this team are inevitable. However, along with their ego comes Rondo and Stephenson’s ball movement, and Beasley’s incredible post scoring, so if they can all learn to take a backseat role, which I think is possible, they can easily succeed.
While big men Julius Randle and Brook Lopez were both incredibly reliable players, obviously sacrifices must be made when signing Lebron James.
The biggest question mark I have about this offseason is why L.A. didn’t target any efficient 3-point shooters. It’s 2018. If you haven’t noticed, every competitive NBA franchise is loaded with sharpshooters, and this team will really struggle from beyond the arch.
Overall, I think outside of Lebron, L.A.’s moves were very risky. While I see it unlikely that all of those players mesh together very well, any offseason where a team lands Lebron is a good one.
Key Acquisitions: PG Isaiah Thomas
Key Losses: SF Wilson Chandler, PF Darrell Arthur, PF Kenneth Faried
Other Moves: Resigned C Nikola Jokic, SG Will Barton
While the Nuggets had an incredibly quiet offseason, they had an efficient one. To make money to resign their stars, they finally did everything they could to get the cancerous contracts off their hands. Wilson Chandler, Darrell Arthur and Kenneth Faried combined for over $33,000,000 just last season alone, despite averaging a combined 18.7ppg. Obviously the trades to get these guys off of Denver’s hands were pretty one-sided, but long term, they gave themselves a lot of room to resign guys like PG Jamal Murray or look in to free agency in the future.
To pair with these moves, the Nuggets did a great job retaining their talent. They started by signing their 23-year-old superstar C Nikola Jokic to a 5yr/147M deal. While obviously max contracts are a hefty price, Jokic has quietly become the best passing big in the game, and runs the Nuggets offense like no other big man can. Along with this move the Nuggets resigned 6th man of the year candidate Will Barton to a 4yr/53m deal and while Barton needs to work on his decision making, $13,000,000 a year for any scorer that talented is a good deal.
As frosting on the cake, the Nuggets made one of my favorite moves off the offseason, the acquisition of PG Isaiah Thomas. Now, I’m not a huge fan of IT. I think in the past he’s been a little bit selfish, and his ego can get in the way of the team. But signing a guy who was an MVP candidate two years ago for $2,000,000 a year will NEVER be a bad deal. If Thomas can become half the player he was in Boston this year, it will be a steal for the Nuggets.
The Nuggets have a ton of young talent, and they did exactly what they needed to do to make sure they have it for years to come.
Key Acquisitions: C Dwight Howard, PG Austin Rivers, PF Jeff Green
Key Losses: C Marcin Gortat
Just like Denver, this was a pretty low-key offseason for the Wizards. Sometimes, however, keeping the core and just getting a couple guys who can work around them is the best option possible. The Wizards started in June, trading C Marcin Gortat for PG Austin Rivers from the LA Clippers. This was a great trade for Washington. The Clippers were desperate to replace C Deandre Jordan, and so they traded their 26-year-old point guard, who had a relatively breakout season in 2017, averaging 15.1ppg and 4apg. Keep in mind Gortat, while solid, is 34 years old. Now John Wall will have some very solid depth behind him.
Shortly after this, the Wizards signed C Dwight Howard. Obviously Howard is a pretty polarizing player. He’s incredibly egotistic, and singlehandedly ruins locker rooms. But the man is a future hall-of-famer who had a monstrous season with Atlanta last year (16.6ppg, 12.5rpg). Howard will have to keep his ego in check for this to work out, but for $5,000,000 a year, “Superman” could be an absolute monster for the Wizards.
Along with this, Washington signed PF Jeff Green who was a hero with Cleveland last season, displaying his athleticism and defense in the late rounds of the playoffs.
I’m not a huge fan of the Wizards team overall, I just don’t think John Wall can really be a winning point guard, but the moves from this year’s offseason certainly don’t hurt.
Key Acquisitions: SG Tyreke Evans, C Kyle O’Quinn, SF Doug McDermott
Key Losses: SG Lance Stephenson
The Pacers are flat-out scary this year. It’s basically the same 2017-18 team as last year, just with some great depth. Keep in mind that last year’s Pacers took Lebron to 7 games. All the talk in the East is about Philly, Boston and Toronto, but after this offseason, Indiana is a sleeper.
The pacers started off free agency with a bang, snagging SG Tyreke Evans for only $12,500,000 on a one year deal. Evans has a very odd story. He was the 2009-10 ROTY, and averaged about 20.0 ppg, however his lack of shooting caused his play to decline for the next 7 seasons. Yet, somehow, Evans seems to have gotten his groove back after a very proficient year in Memphis (19.4ppg, 5.2rpg, 5.1apg). It’s unclear if he will start, as All-Star Victor Oladipo has the SG spot, but wherever he ends up on this team, he will make a huge impact.
The other two signings, while not as impactful as Evans, make Indiana one of the deepest teams in the NBA. The Pacers first signed C Kyle O’Quinn, a guy who had a very underrated career with the Knicks, he was forced into a smaller role behind Enes Kanter, but I think he has starter talent. The Doug McDermott signing is a little bit riskier given the fact that he has been on five teams in just four seasons, but anybody with his shooting ability is valuable in today’s NBA.
Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner captaining the first unit, combined with Tyreke Evans, Kyle O’Quinn and Domantas Sabonis coming off of the bench will be absolutely lethal, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Indiana in at least the ECF.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Key Acquisitions: PG Dennis Schroder, SF Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot
Key Losses: PF Carmelo Anthony
Other Moves: Resigned SF Paul George, SF Jerami Grant
There are a couple easy ways to make it on this list. One of them, as previously demonstrated, is signing Lebron James. The other, is getting Carmelo Anthony as far away from one’s team as they possibly can. The Thunder were able to not only do this, but get some solid talent in return, and retain their previous stars.
This Melo trade was really solid for the Thunder. Obviously it did mean giving up a first round pick, but for a team like Oklahoma City, that wouldn’t be very valuable anyways. In return for giving Melo away, OKC received Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, an athletic, 23-year-old from the 76ers, and PG Dennis Schroder from the Hawks. Schroder has become an all-star caliber player (19.4ppg, 6.2apg in 2017), and will become the best backup point guard in the NBA.
On top of all this, Oklahoma City was able to resign Paul George. While it was almost certain among the NBA community that George, the 5x All-Star was headed to Los Angeles, to join Lebron, the Thunder were able to convince “PG-13” to stay on a 4yr/$137m deal. Alongside George, SF Jerami Grant resigned with the team as well. Grant in my opinion is one of the most underrated players in the NBA, and the Thunder desperately need his athleticism and defense.
Even after this offseason, I’m not a huge fan of this team. I don’t ever think two guys like George and Westbrook can ever really play together (unless, of course there were two basketballs), but getting rid of the cancerous Carmelo Anthony, and adding some depth can’t hurt.
Honorable Mention: Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks