From blockbuster trades to star draft picks to rebuilding teams, the 2017 NBA offseason has been one for the books. General managers all over the league have been trying to put their team in the best possible position to face either the reigning champion Golden State Warriors or the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Rumors quickly turned into signed contracts with an epic trade among two of the best teams the East has to offer. Arguably one of the biggest announcements this year was the Cleveland-Boston trade, swapping the Cavs’ star point guard Kyrie Irving for Celtics’ star point guard Isaiah Thomas along with Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and a 2018 first-round draft pick.
Irving indicated his desire to leave in late July, claiming he did not want to be LeBron James’ shadow any longer. When considering the fact that Irving signed to the team well before James, it is a pretty valid reason to be frustrated.
Boston also made another big trade, this time with the Philadelphia 76ers. First pick of the 2017 draft Markelle Fultz was sent to “The City of Brotherly Love” for Jayson Taytum and a 2018 1st-round pick from the Los Angeles Lakers.
This has been one of the most successful off-seasons in a while for the Lakers, acquiring UCLA star and 1st-round pick Lonzo Ball with hopes of rebuilding post-Kobe’s retirement. The team also got forward Brook Lopez and 1st-round pick Kyle Kuzma from the Brooklyn Nets for D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov.
L.A.’s more dominant team, the Clippers, also made a huge trade this offseason. Star point guard Chris Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets for Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, a 2018 1st-round pick, and others. Although the deal might seem unbalanced given that one team is receiving one player while the other gets eight, Houston’s intention was to clear up cap space for its new faces of the franchise: CP3 and James Harden.
One of the more recent blockbuster trades came just last week involving New York Knicks captain Carmelo Anthony. Melo’s future with the organization has been shaky for a while, but he finally found a home in Oklahoma City. The Thunder acquired the small forward for center Enes Kanter, forward Doug McDermott, and a 2018 2nd-round draft pick.
OKC also acquired another East captain, Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George, turning the dynamic duo of Paul and Harden into a tenacious trio. In an effort to rebuild, the Pacers traded George for young stars Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
One inter-conference trade in particular reunited a coach (and president of the organization), Tom Thibodeau, and former protégé, point guard Jimmy Butler after two seasons apart. The Minnesota Timberwolves got Butler and a 1st-round pick Justin Patton from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for star guard Zach Levine, guard Kris Dunn, and 1st-round draft pick Lauri Markkanen.
Although these are not all the trades made this offseason, it gives an idea of just how chaotic it has been. This is mainly a result of the fact that competition seems to only stem from two record-breaking teams, Cleveland and Golden State. With LeBron and Curry at the forefront of the league, the other 28 organizations used as many resources as they could to build a team that would try and stop the recent reigning champs’ dominance.
These past few months have highlighted the shift of power dynamics in basketball. It suddenly felt as though we were back in the eighties when it seemed like the only two teams that could win a championship were the Celtics and Lakers. With all of the new teams being formed, it is clear that the Cavs and Warriors have much more to worry about than each other.
By: Almaz Abedje
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