The NBA has become a year long event. And its’ summer transaction period may be more exciting than actual games. The draft brings in the latest crop of talent, and the free agent signings and trades of July are national news. Summer 2017 has been especially active, so we have a point-counterpoint discussion at the winners and losers thus far in this year’s busy offseason.
Will Maloney: Gordon Hayward signs with the Boston Celtics
Hayward was the cornerstone of the Utah Jazz. But while improving and playoff bound, the Jazz were limited in the stacked Western Conference. It’s NBA Finals or nothing for a player in his prime like Hayward. And while the Warriors will rule the West for years to come, the East is up in the air. With the addition of Hayward, Boston becomes a serious contender.
Shar Bahmani: Everything the Minnesota Timberwolves have done
Hayward? I find myself on the other end there. More on this later. For now, let’s discuss the fan base that should be the most excited by the changes its franchise made this offseason. Minnesota. Minnesota? That’s right, Minnesota. The Jimmy Butler draft night trade was an A+ for Minnesota, giving it a legitimate top tier player to pair with developing star Karl Anthony Towns. I’m not as high on Andrew Wiggins as most, however, I believe you can absolutely win a championship with Wiggins as your third best player. The Butler trade wasn’t the only move the Timberwolves made. Bringing in solid veterans like Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, and Jamaal Crawford (who can still ball) are the type of solid moves that championship franchises make. This Minnesota team really has a chance to be special next year and barring injury, I believe they just punched their tickets to the playoffs with these moves.
WM: Paul George traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook is a tough guy to pair with. However, if there is one player tailor-made for Westbrook’s game, it’s Paul George. He likes to play off the ball, within the flow of the game without needing to be ball dominant. Westbrook is the opposite, known for driving and dishing to shooters. Exactly how Paul George likes to be set up. Let’s hope this duo stay on the same page.
SB: Nuggets sign Paul Milsap and allow Danilo Galinari to leave
I couldn’t agree more regarding Paul George. He is absolutely the perfect player to pair with Russell Westbrook.
I’m a big fan of Paul Milsap. He’s the perfect power forward for the modern NBA that emphasizes speed over size and versatility. Milsap, initially a bruiser in Utah, has added an outside shot to his arsenal and has slimmed down quite a bit. Galinari on the other hand is someone who I want to be a fan of. The dude sounds perfect on paper. But he’s too injured and too inconsistent when he’s not. Even when he was on the court last year, I found myself thinking Wilson Chandler was the Nuggest best small forward, if not their best player last year. Letting Gallo go to hopefully free up time for Chandler to play alongside Milsap and Nikola Jokic provides the Nuggets with an interesting frontcourt. If second year player Jamall Murray finds more court time and continues to grow, the Nuggets could be one of NBA League Pass’ must-watch teams next year and a team fighting for the playoffs for the first time in a long time.
WM: Blake Griffin re-signs with Clippers for 5 years, $173 Million
Since missing an entire rookie season with a stress fracture in his left knee, Blake Griffin has missed nearly two more full seasons with injuries including a broken kneecap, meniscus tear, torn quadriceps, knee bone bruise, sprained knee, and broken right hand. And he’s twenty-eight years old, around when most big men start their decline. And it usually happens fast, take Amare Stoudemire or Dwight Howard for example. With Chris Paul gone to Houston, now Griffin will be asked to carry the weight of the team. Adding mileage to an already fragile player.
SB: The Celtics’ moves
I’ve been telling you for quite some time that Lonzo Ball was the best player in the draft and it’s not even close. The Celtics had a golden opportunity to not only draft the best player in the draft with the number 1 pick, but also throw it in the face of their age-old rival in the process. To heck with what Lavar Ball wanted, I would have taken Lonzo with the number 1. Make no mistake, the Celtics trading down for a future potential lottery pick and Jayson Tatum was a solid option B, but nonetheless it was option B. They haven’t done much better in free agency. Hayward is a nice addition. However, he’s the third best small forward to change teams this offseason. Given the pile of poop that Indiana and Chicago accepted for Paul George and Jimmy Butler, its perplexing how the Celtics couldn’t have parlayed their array of picks and other assets into one of those two players. The move is particularly perplexing when the Celtics last two lottery picks both play the same position. Butler, who can also play the 2-guard would have been more of a natural fit. Additionally, the move forced the team to trade locker room presence Avery Bradley and allow Game 7 hero Kelly Olynyk to go.
I like Hayward as a player. But Boston should have done MUCH better given the amazing position it found itself in heading into the offseason.
WM: Chris Paul traded to the Houston Rockets
Chris Paul needs the ball in his hands. So a pairing with James Harden, already playing the point in Houston, seems strange. While Paul is hailed as one of the games’ best, his career tells a different story. He’s never taken a team past the second round, and doesn’t make any of his teammates particularly better. Though Paul collects assists, everything seems to be about him rather than the men he’s passing too. And in Houston, he could be poison.
SB: The Pacers’ front office sniffing glue
I’m not even going to dive into this because it would be insulting your intelligence. That’s how bad the Paul George trade was.
Ok, I’ll say one thing. Victor Oladipo – by all accounts a solid player, but in no way a superstar – is grossly overpaid. He is so overpaid that every talking head, so-called expert, NBA executive, and human whose brain hasn’t been fried yet expected Oklahoma City to have to give something up merely to dump Oladipo’s contract. Instead, Indiana was willing to take on the Oladipo mess of a contract and give up arguably this year’s top free agent with time still left on his contract. This trade is inexplicably insane.