gordon hayward by Matthew McKibben July 7, 2017
After a wild two weeks, it’s safe to say the NBA has become a year-round sport.
So many front offices reshuffled the deck this offseason, either adding or unloading superstars in an attempt to pivot their franchises in a new direction.
Hopefully the league will settle down in the next few days so we can all take a collective breath and watch the summer league in peace.
But before we shift our attention to the league’s next generation of stars, here’s a look at the winners and losers of the NBA’s offseason so far.
Following a first-round loss to the Houston Rockets, I thought the Thunder would have been happy unloading Victor Oladipo’s four year/$84 million contract for an expiring contract and a second round pick.
Instead they threw in Damontis Sabonis, who struggled at the end of last year, and landed Paul freaking George, a top-15 player who should fit perfectly next to Russell Westbrook.
The Thunder will need to make a serious run at the Finals for George to even consider staying in OKC. Word around the league is that this is a rental and he is 100 percent leaving for Los Angeles next season.
Additionally, the Thunder were able to replace Taj Gibson with Patrick Patterson, a floor spacing power forward, who should provide the Thunder with some much-needed shooting.
Look out, by the end of the season the Thunder might be the second best team in the Western Conference.
No matter what you think of the fit, the Rockets just added the best point guard of the last 15 years. If Chris Paul and James Harden are willing to sacrifice, they will form one of the most dynamic backcourts in NBA history.
The Rockets still have some depth and will play small-ball lineups with Trevor Ariza at power forward that will feature an incredible amount of shooting.
Paul is used to playing with two conventional big men and the Rockets system will open driving lanes he hasn’t seen in his career.
If the situation in Houston becomes untenable, they can flip Paul at the deadline to a team looking to vault into the league’s upper-echelon.
The P.J. Tucker signing will provide some strength and defense on the perimeter. Tucker, a solid 3-point shooter, can play with Ariza in small ball lineups.
It was looking bleak for a few weeks in Boston but they rallied and were able to sign their guy, Gordon Hayward. They weren’t able to add that elusive second star but Hayward should provide the extra punch on offense that they were missing last year.
Jayson Tatum has looked brilliant in the Utah Summer League, nailing fallaway jumpers, throwing down put-back dunks, and flashing some ball handling ability.
The Celtics will also expect second-year player Jaylen Brown to take on an increased role offensively and defensively, where he should be able to guard the other team’s best wing player.
The Celtics are still flush with assets and may be loading up for a blockbuster Anthony Davis trade. Who knows, you can never count Danny Ainge out of anything.
UPDATE: The Celtics sent Avery Bradley and a second round draft pick to the Detroit Pistons for Marcus Morris. The move will clear enough cap space for the Celtics to sign Hayward to a max deal.
Not only did the Warriors get Finals MVP Kevin Durant to take a massive pay cut, but they were also able to re-sign Steph Curry, Sean Livingston, and Andre Iguodala.
Then they used the mid-level exception to sign Nick Young and somehow convinced Omri Casspi to sign for the veteran minimum.
It’s an embarrassment of riches in The Bay and the Warriors will be even better next year- a very scary thought for the rest of the league.
Honorable mention: Denver Nuggets
I really like what the Nuggets did by adding Paul Millsap, a playmaking power forward who should fit very well next to Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets have an intriguing team that should make the playoffs for years to come.
The Cavs are a mess. After getting thoroughly outplayed in last year’s Finals, the Cavs entered the offseason knowing they had to revamp their team.
But then they fired the guy who’s responsible for doing just that. Worse yet, owner Dan Gilbert still hasn’t replaced former GM David Griffin.
The Cavs had long talks with the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers about Jimmy Butler and Paul George, respectively.
It seems they overrated how much Kevin Love would be worth on the trade market and unless they swing a deal for Carmelo Anthony, the Cavs will head into next season with the same team as last year.
To top it all off, LeBron James is a free agent at the end of this season and there is wide speculation around the league that he will be taking his talents to Los Angeles. It’s been a rough summer on the shores of Lake Eerie.
The Knicks just keep on Knicksing.
This has been another brutal offseason for the Knicks filled with all the usual drama off the court and no prospects for better play on it.
Let’s recap: Kristaps Porzingis is pissed off, Carmelo Anthony wants out, Phil Jackson is gone and then Thursday night they signed Tim Hardaway Jr. to a 4 year/ $71 million deal.
All credit in the world should go to Hardaway’s agent. How did he create the leverage to get the Knicks to fork over all the money?
The Knicks probably know Hardaway better than any other franchise, considering he spent his first few years in New York before they traded him for Jerrian Grant.
Grant was then part of the trade that landed Derrick Rose. Now the Knicks will have to renounce Rose to make room for Hardaway. Oh, the circle of life in the Mecca of Basketball.
Could things have gone any worse in Indiana this offseason?
It was no secret that Paul George wanted out of Indiana but it was a surprise when GM Kevin Pritchard called it a “gut punch.”
There were reports of potential trades with the Cavs, Nuggets, Celtics, or Lakers but the Pacers sent George to OKC in a trade that will never make sense.
They gave up an incredible asset and didn’t get a single draft pick back in return. Indiana will be riding the treadmill of mediocrity for the next five years.
It’s hard to call the Jazz a loser because they did everything in their power to retain Gordon Hayward.
But in the NBA, All-Star caliber small forwards don’t grow on trees and the Jazz don’t have a path to replace him. Now they are left with some nice parts but no star to tie it all together.
The Jazz just had their ladder to the top of the Western Conference kicked out from under them.