Now that the NBA’s moratorium on roster moves has lifted and deals can become official, it is time to discuss who won the NBA’s second season. If I had unlimited space to write, I could talk about some of the fringe moves that helped teams like Boston and Houston, but I’m focusing on the big winners. The DeAndre Jordan saga threw a wrench in a few teams’ plans, but for the most part the offseason work is over.
San Antonio Spurs
I don’t know how the Spurs do it, but it looks like they just nabbed the heir apparent to Tim Duncan in free agency. LaMarcus Aldridge will come in and immediately make an impact for the Spurs. He will be able to give Duncan a lot of rest during the season and then the two of them will be able to make a scary post tandem during the playoffs. Another key move was getting David West to take a massive pay cut to chase a ring. The Spurs also found a way to re-sign Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard. One of the keys to Leonard’s deal was that it was for five years, meaning the team has him locked in to a long term deal at what might end up being a bargain once the cap increases. With the moves that the Spurs made it looks like they will stay in contention for the next few seasons.
Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers
How often is it in any sport that the two teams that met for a title the previous year come back the next season intact? Well both of these teams took care of their business this offseason and should start next year as the favorites to return to the finals. The Warriors signed restricted free agent Draymond Green and the Cavs resigned their free agents in Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert and Tristian Thompson (we all knew LeBron was coming back). The Warriors also made an interesting move by trading David Lee’s massive contract for Gerald Wallace, who is a solid veteran who makes winning plays night in and night out. I would be shocked to see these teams do worse than they did last season.
Greg Monroe was one of the best free agents out there, and his choice of destination was a home run for him and the team. Monroe will fit perfectly on a team that values size and athleticism. Monroe’s polished post game will help take the offensive pressure off of the younger players on the team and Monroe’s defense is actually better than people think. The Bucks also made a solid move to acquire Greivis Vasquez, one of my favorite backup point guards. Expect the Bucks to be the team to take a massive step forward in the Eastern Conference this year like Washington did last year.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers looked to be stuck in the water after losing DeAndre Jordan to the Mavericks. They had made some solid moves to address their weakness on the wing by signing acquiring Paul Pierce and Lance Stephenson, but had a massive hole in the middle of the floor after losing Jordan. But his last minute change of heart allowed the team to keep one of the best defensive centers and rebounders in the game. Now this team has no apparent holes and would be one of the favorites in the West if the rest of the conference wasn’t absolutely stacked.
The team on the other end of the Jordan saga, the Mavs, are now in a terrible position. The team had signed Wes Matthews, a solid two way player, to go along with Jordan and at least keep the team in the playoff hunt. Now the team has no point guard, no center, an aging superstar and a whole lot of money to spend but no one to spend it on. The Mavs might not be a playoff team this season and they should try and see if Dirk Nowitzki would be interested in a trade to a contending team. Tanking seems like the only way the Mavs can get better at this point.
Los Angeles Lakers
In a vacuum, the moves that the Lakers made were solid. They struck out on a big name, which was a surprise to no one but the Lakers. But Lou Williams, Roy Hibbert and Brandon Bass are all solid veteran players who could help a contender and fit really well with Kobe, Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell. The only thing is that the Lakers play in the Western Conference, meaning that this team will probably not make the playoffs. These moves can only hurt the Lakers if they miss the playoffs, as this roster looks too good to truly tank. The Lakers are missing the chance to nab another coveted early lottery pick with these moves.
I feel like I have to talk about the Pacers, as this team made some solid moves. They got rid of Roy Hibbert’s massive contract and while he was a good player, he needed a change of scenery badly. It also looks like his replacement, the eleventh overall pick Miles Turner, is handling himself well so far in the summer league. They also signed Monta Ellis to add a much needed perimeter weapon to go along with Paul George. But this team lost their heart and soul in David West. He brought the toughness and grit that made this team a true rival to Miami during the “Big 3” era. It will be interesting to see how this team fares next season with George returning from his gruesome injury.