The NBA 2017 offseason has been one for the books. There have been many player movements, whether by trade or by free agency.
Either way, this upcoming NBA season will offer us new looks all around the league giving us more reason to want to tune into every game. Many players had their own fate in their hands and could choose to put themselves in a better position to win the ultimate prize, an NBA championship, while others had no choice in their movement.
I will focus on the biggest decisions made during the NBA off-season and how those decisions may affect this upcoming season and seasons to come.
The 2016 offseason was all about Kevin Durant leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors. That was the same team that crushed the Thunder in the 2016 Western Conference finals.
A year later and Durant, now an NBA Finals MVP and champion, was a free agent again, along with teammate Stephen Curry. We knew the two of them weren’t going anywhere. Durant signed a less lucrative deal so that Curry could get what he clearly has been deserving of for many years.
Summer 2017, the focus was not on just one player. One of the top players who decided to join a new team was Gordon Hayward, who left the Utah Jazz to join the Boston Celtics. The small forward was a huge asset for the Jazz, averaging 21.9 points last season and 15.7 points during his seven-year career, noticeably getting better every season.
He can take tough shots, spot-up shots, drive to the rim, pass out of pick and rolls, post up, cut to the basket and defend on a high level. He may never be the number one player on a championship team but he can definitely be a phenomenal do-it-all second weapon. Also, he is just 27 and hitting his prime.
Blake Griffin and Kyle Lowery both decided to stay with their respective teams, while Chris Paul and Paul Millsap made decisions to move on. Paul left the Los Angeles Clippers to head to the Houston Rockets and Millsap left the Atlanta Hawks to go to the Denver Nuggets.
Jimmy Butler and Paul George did not have the luxury of choosing their new teams because they were traded. Butler was traded from the Chicago Bulls to the Minnesota Timberwolves and George went from the Indiana Pacers to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Butler and George were stars in their own rights on their previous teams and I have no doubt that stardom will continue with their new teams. George will be playing alongside Russell Westbrook, the reigning 2017 NBA MVP. Those two together will surely be interesting to watch.
The biggest offseason trade came later when news broke that Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving wanted out. He requested a trade and the Cavs gave it to him.
He was traded to the Celtics for their star point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and an unprotected 2018 first-round pick via the Brooklyn Nets. Though this trade is not set in stone yet and could still be vetoed by the Cavaliers, it was still a shock for this trade to be made so soon.
The cause for concern came after Cleveland’s physical exam of Thomas’ injured hip and about the timeline for his return this season. The Cavaliers are attempting to seek an additional trade asset before finalizing the deal. Once the sides re-engage, Cavaliers officials may try to make the case that Boston undersold them on the scope of the Thomas injury, but more specifically, how soon Thomas could be prepared to play this season.
Thomas has one year left on his contract, which coincides with LeBron James’ opt-out next summer so Cleveland has an urgency to get Thomas on the court.
How will all of this look for the next season? It should make for an exciting year. With more of the top players now playing in the Western Conference, it will increase the margin of how much better the west is than the east.
The east has a few upcoming stars but for now the only superstars are James, Irving and Thomas. With all the movement, the only question that still arises is who can challenge and beat the Warriors?
Shaquita Newton is a sports blogger. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.