By Matt Lunde and Hal Schwimmer
NBA fans have seen almost as much action in the league during this offseason as they did during the regular season. Here are a few teams that have made a lot of noise thus far in free agency.
Golden State Warriors
We begin with the team that has and will continue to have the most buzz around the league for years to come: the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors officially awarded their Golden Boy, Steph Curry, with a whopping 5-year, $201M contract, making him the highest paid player in any of the four major U.S. sports leagues. With their leftover cash, the Dubs were able to retain most of their key rotation players, re-signing Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. The Warriors still might not be done in free agency, as rumors have surfaced that they are pursuing veteran swingman Nick Young as yet another perimeter threat.
Additionally, Finals MVP Kevin Durant inked a 2 year, $53M contract. While this is still an enormous sum, Durant actually took a $10M cut from the max he could have received, partly to help the team pursue other free agents. Take this as you will, but perhaps KD is setting a selfless precedent for his teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, who are both set to become free agents in two years. Barring injury, it would appear that the Warriors core will remain intact for at least the next two years. What a terrifying prospect for the rest of the league.
Oklahoma City Thunder
In other news, the Western Conference continues to get stronger as the Eastern Conference watches in despair. Pacers All-Star forward Paul George was shipped to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo and big man Domantas Sabonis. While George would normally have demanded a larger return, the Pacers had little leverage as most teams were afraid of George walking after his contract expires.
It will be an interesting experiment, as the Thunder now have two elite players in reigning league MVP Russell Westbrook and his new running mate George. While it’s uncertain if this duo will remain together long term, at the very least this next season should be a fun one for Thunder fans.
Jeff Teague left the Pacers to sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves, replacing starter Ricky Rubio, who was traded to Utah. The T-Wolves appear hungry as ever to end their NBA-high 13 season playoff drought, as they now boast a roster that includes Jimmy Butler, Karl Anthony-Towns, Teague, and Andrew Wiggins. With a starting five that boasts a former all star (Teague), a current all star (Butler), and a future all star (Towns), this Wolves team should have enough talent to compete with anyone else in the league. Reaching the playoffs should be an expectation, at the very least, for Tom Thibodeau’s squad.
While the Warriors are looking to build the next great NBA dynasty, several teams have gone all in this summer to challenge the Golden State supremacy. Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets paid a heavy price when they traded for Clippers point guard Chris Paul, but the payoff may be well worth it. Paul is a future hall of famer, and one of the greatest pure point guards to ever play the game. He and James Harden are both basketball geniuses who make everyone around them better with their pin point passing and playmaking acumen. In addition to high volume scoring, Houston will also boast a significantly improved defense with Paul now hounding opposing guards at the point of attack.
Houston isn’t done making moves. While they lost most of their assets in the Paul trade, never count out Morey and his front office from finding a way to land a third star to the mix. A name being throw around currently is disgruntled Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony. If any team in the west can take out the Warriors, it might be these Rockets.
In an offseason that has seen heavy westward migration, Gordon Hayward zigged when the rest of the league zagged. The All-Star forward decided to reunite with his former Butler head coach, Brad Stevens, and play for the Boston Celtics. GM Danny Ainge has finally assembled Boston’s next great big three. Hayward will play alongside all-star point guard Isaiah Thomas and former all-star center Al Horford.
The acquisition of Hayward solidified Boston’s status as the best team in the Eastern Conference that doesn’t have Lebron James. While the Celtics were overmatched by Cleveland in last year’s conference finals, Hayward projects to narrow the gap between the two teams. Boston has one of the most well-rounded rosters in the league now, and aims to return to the finals for the first time since 2010.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, 76ers fans are not just trusting the process; they’re loving it. Philly already has an uber-talented young core in Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid. The Sixers decided to surround their young big three with veteran talent as a means of expediting the growth of the team. The team brought in sharp shooting guard J.J. Reddick and hard working forward Amir Johnson. Reddick will provide much needed spacing to the offense, keeping floor defenses honest to create driving lanes for Fultz and Simmons. Johnson provides a physical presence down low and a hard-working veteran mentality the young players can learn from.
This whirlwind of an offseason has raised the bar for the level of excitement in the upcoming NBA season. You can see these familiar faces in new places from the comfort of a luxury suite. Book your suite today at www.suiteexperiencegroup.com. What are you waiting for?