Things in the NBA have gone a little crazy since the end of the 2017/18 season just over a month ago. The draft has been and gone, summer league has begun and the NBA’s movers and shakers have found their new homes for 2018/19.
It seems there is plenty left to unfold before the season kicks off in October, but for now let’s take a look at 3 of the biggest talking points of the off season so far.
1. What an earth is happening to the San Antonio Spurs?
Possibly the most fascinating story of the offseason so far continues to be the drama surrounding Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs. Leonard has all but left the team, with mixed reports suggesting clashes with teammates and team officials has caused a standoff between management and Leonard’s camp.
Tensions in the Spurs camp have boiled over, causing team legend Tony Parker to shock the NBA and sign with the Charlotte Hornets… as The Herd’s Colin Cowherd explains.
There's a reason why Kawhi Leonard wants to leave the San Antonio Spurs and why Tony Parker just signed with the Charlotte HornetsColin Cowherd explains
Posted by FOX Sports on Monday, 9 July 2018
The breakdown between the two camps suggests that this one could get nasty, with the Spurs every chance to hold Leonard to the remaining one year on his contract if a trade package to their desire does not arise. Leonard also holds some leverage over the Spurs, he has shown this season that if required by the situation he will happily sit out.
2. How on earth did Demarcus Cousins fall in to the Warriors’ hands?
The potential was unfathomable when Kevin Durant shocked the world and signed with the Warriors two years ago. Already a champion team, those Warriors managed to add a generational scorer and defensive presence rarely seen in the wing position. Back to back titles would follow Durant’s inclusion, making it three in four years for this Warrior dynasty.
This may explain why NBA fans across the globe might have been a little shocked that in-between celebrating their most recent title, the Warriors front office somehow managed to sign All-Star Centre Demarcus Cousins to a 1 year $US5.3 million dollar deal ($AU7.14 million).
Cousins will turn 28 before the season begins, and is unlikely to play until early 2019 as he recovers from a torn achillies, but will be a welcome late season addition to the Warriors. At 6’11 (210cm) and 270 pounds (122.5kg) he gives the squad an edge that has been seen as the only weakness in their ‘Small Ball’ or ‘Hamptons Five’ lineup.
He has shown capabilities as a versatile double double machine throughout his career (21.5 Points Per Game, 11 Rebounds Per Game), but has also improved dramatically from downtown, raising his clip to 35% on just under 300 attempts last season. Cousins is also a better passer than his career average (3.2 Assists Per Game) shows, and will play a pivotal role in the Warriors’ post and pick and roll game.
NBA defences will have the nightmarish task of planning for a starting five that could read as Curry/Thompson/Durant/Green/Cousins, who averaged a combined 109 points per game in 2017/18. Good luck.
3. “L.A Bron” and his band of one year deals?
LeBron signing with the Lakers was possibly the worst kept secret of the offseason so far. While it was still a surprise when he inked a 4 year deal worth a cool $US153 million ($AU 206 million), the bigger shock came in the moves the Lakers made in the days following.
Instead of the expected announcement of a fellow star and running mate for King James such as a Kawhi Leonard or Demarcus Cousins, Lakers fans were met with the news that Magic Johnson had extended the cheque book to Rajon Rondo, Javale McGee and Lance Stephenson for one-year deals.
It is possible that the Lakers are attempting to feel out the Warriors this season though, with the hopes of assembling a team that can compete the following year, as the First Things First team explains.
"If I were drafting players in the league to beat the Warriors, my #1 pick would be LeBron James. My #2 pick would be Kawhi Leonard. The Lakers might end up with both those guys." — Nick Wright
Posted by First Things First on FS1 on Thursday, 12 July 2018
It’s well known that LeBron prefers to play with veterans over rookies, but this couldn’t have been the vision that Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka had for L.A. prior to free agency. It appears that the Lakers will have to play the waiting game until next summer and chase the likes of Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler or Kevin Durant on the open market.
With the Summer League currently underway, and the trade and free agency periods well and truly open, there should be plenty of entertainment and news for NBA fans.
The noise at the moment touting the league as ‘unwatchable’ is almost laughable. There will be plenty of moves made before the season begins, and a number of narratives for NBA fans to enjoy. The most telling will be if the Golden State Warriors can add to their place in history with an elusive “three-peat”… or if the rest of the league can catch up.