The off-season for the NBA this season has been the equivalent of Los Angeles traffic before Christmas. Nothing but chaos. The face of the NBA has shifted and teams futures will be altered greatly, some more so than others. Let’s take a good look at the biggest trades and signings made by teams this off-season!
Biggest Moves of the NBA Off-Season
Honorable Mention: Paul Millsap signs to the Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets miss the playoffs, and it’s blatantly obvious. They miss it so much that they threw a three year and $90 million contract to nab the power forward, making their front court one of the better in the league. Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic make a formidable team down low that will potentially give the Nuggets the boost that they need to get a playoff bid, something that they haven’t accomplished since the 2012–13 season. Being only 2 games out of the playoff picture last year, you can look to Millsap and Jokic to carry the Nuggets to another year of contention. Although, Millsap is coming off a career high in points last season (18.1 ppg), there are other teams that have made changes to make that run at a playoff berth as well. It won’t come easy for Denver, but signing Millsap is a step in the right direction for the young Denver team.
Honorable Mention: Dwight Howard traded to the Charlotte Hornets
It’s crazy seeing the once dominant center, Dwight Howard, not near the top of a trade move ranking report. But, let’s be honest, Howard has been a shell of his former self, in decline since leaving the Orlando Magic in 2012. He has since spent a season with the Los Angeles Lakers, three seasons with the Houston Rockets who got tired of his antics and lack of production, and a season with the Atlanta Hawks. Howard has struggled to find the dominance in a league that requires big men to be more than just a large-bodied Shaq mimic. But, when Michael Jordan calls you to come play for your franchise, you go.
#10: Derrick Rose signs with the Cleveland Cavaliers
Signing Derrick Rose was a good move when the Cavs didn’t have Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas gifted to them from the Boston Celtics. Now, it’s a fantastic signing. LeBron James has the incredible ability to get the best out of all the players around him (I call this the Tom Brady effect), case and point Matthew Dellavedova in the NBA Finals in 2016. King James looks to take former MVP, Derrick Rose, and bring him back into the hey day and make him a key contributor to what the Cavaliers hope to be is a journey to resign LeBron James. Rose gives the Cavs depth and experience at point guard. If Rose can give the push they need while Thomas is on the bench resting, he can be a sleeper for 6th man this year, especially under James’ wisdom and guidance as a player. It’s a bit of a gamble, being as injury prone as Rose is, but, if healthy, it will pay off.
#9: Rajon Rondo signs with the New Orleans Pelicans
Kentucky. That looks to be what has to be on your resume when being looked at by New Orleans. Adding Rajon Rondo to the Pelicans’ best-in-league front court, gives them experience needed. Rondo has been there. He has a title. As Pelicans owner, Tom Benson, looks to take his basketball team seriously, Rondo can be key with his ability to open up plays for other players, specifically Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Add Jrue Holiday to shooting guard and you look to have a pretty solid starting five that should make a run at the playoffs, even if the west is as tough as it is. The Pelicans will continue to look for ways to get the ball in Boogie and AD’s hands. Keep up with that formula, and success will follow.
#8: Gordon Hayward signs with the Boston Celtics
This one was really hard to rank before or after the next entry. Gordon Hayward spent the first seven seasons as a member of the Utah Jazz. He showed up in the playoffs this past season averaging right at 24 points per game. Ultimately, the Jazz were stopped by the Warriors trip to destiny, but Hayward turned heads. His addition to the Celtics was paired with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford, of which Thomas is no longer with the team. Instead we have Hayward matched up with Kyrie Irving and Horford. Boston was the number one team in the East last year, and they’ve gotten even better adding Hayward and Irving. More on that later though…
#7: Jimmy Butler traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves
Jimmy Butler is one of the leagues best guards who has been stuck in a rough situation in the highly dysfunctional Chicago Bulls organization. After getting Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo, the Bulls fell apart. Wade didn’t gel with the rest of the organization. Right as Butler pledged his loyalty to Chicago, he’s traded on draft night, something that he took to heart. But now, you pair Butler with Andrew Wiggins, and Karl-Anthony Towns, and you now have a playoff baby incubating in Minnesota. With the young talent on the T-Wolves, you can look for Butler to take the bull by the horn (pun intended), and make Chicago regret trading him away to such a talented young team. Look for the Timberwolves to make a lot of noise this year.
#6: Dwyane Wade signs with the Cleveland Cavaliers
The dynamic duo are back at it again. For the second time we get to see Dwyane Wade team up with LeBron James. This time, it’s in Cleveland. Wade might not be the player he once was, but he is still a force to be reckoned with. Adding Dwayne Wade to the Cavaliers not only brings his experience, but he makes the bench for the Cavs that much deeper. Weather Wade comes off the bench, or he starts and J.R. Smith comes off the bench, the Cavs likely have the DEEPEST bench in the NBA. With plenty of age, experience, and young talent all in the mix. It looks like we will have a wonderful reunion for Wade and James in The Finals once again this year.
#5: Carmelo Anthony traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder
Carmelo Anthony has wanted out of New York for so long under his conditions. Well, that wish was granted. After adding Paul George earlier in the off-season, the Thunder make a serious move by adding Anthony. The prospect of Russell Westbrook and Paul George together made us all excited. Now, you throw Melo in the mix and you have one of the top backcourts in basketball. The question with Anthony will be if he can play with the most talented team he has played for in the NBA. The Olympic teams suggest he will be just fine. Anthony may not be in his prime anymore, the offensive output Anthony posses is still a force to be reckoned with. Being back out west will be a different pace for him for sure. But, for the Thunder, adding Anthony will create a team better than any they’ve had before.
#4: Paul George traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder
Putting the off-season in perspective, Paul freaking George is ranked #4 on the list of moves. FOUR! When Kevin Durant left OKC, it left a void in the team. Russell Westbrook had to show up. Boy, did Westbrook show up. Averaging a triple-double on the season, breaking the single season triple-double record, and an MVP later, Westbrook still needs help. After George being rumored to go to Cleveland, San Antonio, Los Angeles, and every other team in the NBA, he ended up at the Thunder’s doorstep met with praise. The Thunder made the playoffs, but being put down by the Rockets in the first round was a tough pill to swallow. George fills that void and makes them deep again. If only the Thunder can keep him from going out to the Lakers after his contract is up this year. That’s Westbrook’s job this season…
#3: Chris Paul traded to the Houston Rockets
As if Houston wasn’t good enough, they go and add the best tactician in the game. Chris Paul has long needed to leave the Los Angeles Clippers and he fell into the right spot. James Harden took the team to the playoffs, only to fall to the San Antonio Spurs. The offense put out by the Rockets was second in the league, behind the Warriors. Adding Chris Paul puts them that much closer to the Warriors offensive onslaught. Although, they gave up a bunch, 7 players and a draft pick, the Rockets come out looking better in this situation with Paul’s leadership. Having Harden and Paul on the court at the same time will be a sight to behold next season. It could very well lead to a Houston and Golden State conference finals next season.
#2: Kyrie Irving traded to the Boston Celtics
KYRIE WANTS OUT! That is what all the news outlets were saying a couple weeks after the Cavs being beaten soundly in the NBA Finals. LeBron James, the best player in the game, was to blame. Irving was not communicating with coaches and teammates, telling potential teammates not to come to Cleveland, the whole nine yards. It was obvious Irving wanted out. Irving’s wish was granted and he landed in a great situation. Boston dethroned the Cavs as the #1 seed in the east, ultimately falling to Cleveland in the conference finals. But, as seen earlier, Boston picked up Gordon Hayward. The two seemed to have hit it off quite well and look to have great chemistry. Boston wants to get back to the Finals for the first time since 2008. Irving has been there, done that all be it, with LeBron James, who took the Cavs to the Finals each year since his return.
But for the first time in his career, Irving will likely have to play James in the playoffs, a wrath he has not yet faced. Boston is banking on Irving-Hayward. Time will tell if it’s a repeat of the 2008 team that arguably started the super team league we’ve known for some time now…
#1: Isaiah Thomas traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers
Isaiah Thomas does things for the Cavs that is border-line not yet comprehensible. Thomas was an incredible scorer last season, averaging 28.9 points per game. Put THAT on the court with the best player in the world, LeBron James, and you have trouble. Let’s be honest, who do you double team, the best player in the world or the guy who beats anyone in isolation? Don’t forget about Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, Jae Crowder, who came from the Celtics in the trade with Thomas, Richard Jefferson, Kyle Korver, Derrick Rose, and Tristan Thompson (that was a mouth full), and you can almost bet that the Cavaliers will be the favorite to come out the east to challenge the Warriors for the fourth straight year in the NBA Finals.
It’s hard to bet against King James, then you add the second best player in the conference and you have a bona fide super team. Admittedly, Warriors-Cavaliers 4 is a bit too predictable, but Isaiah Thomas and LeBron James teaming becoming an offensive juggernaut will be incredibly fun to watch as it terrorizes the NBA.
CLEVELAND, OH – JUNE 09: Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts against the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 9, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)