The NBA offseason is a difficult beast for many non-enthusiast fans to understand. It is a true enigma in the sports world, a period consisting of roughly four months when NBA fans, young and old, lose their heads over the possibilities ahead of them. To explain it to a non-enthusiast fan is a difficult thing, in fact, I can’t because there is nothing like it on earth. The sheer unpredictability of it all, the fact that NBA players now choose their own fates (thanks Lebron) and the ever increasing obsession with overpaying for role players, makes it the best time of the year. And after this years slightly predictable Playoffs, combined with a rather one-sided Finals series, panic has ensued…. and long may it reign.
So here they are, the crazy NBA offseason storylines rearing their ugly head:
The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Tale of an unloved Kevin Love.
Ever since Kevin Love joined Lebron James and his merry men, he’s been the clearly defined scapegoat, the one player upon whom all the woes sit. If something goes wrong on the court, it’s Kevin’s fault, if they get completely trashed in the Finals, it’s Kevin’s fault.
This standard NBA rhetoric has driven many of us to madness in recent years because for those of us engaged in the smallest details of the game, Love in-spite-of all his public criticism, has been a star on a team with two of the biggest stars.
His numbers speak for themselves. During the 2016-17 season Love across 60 games averaged 19 points, 11 rebounds and two assists per game. His Player Efficiency Rating of 21.1 was 6.1 above the league average of 15. And during the Playoffs his performances barely faltered, except in the biggest game of them all, Game five in Oakland.
It’s this performance which has yet again unleashed the Love trade-wagon, a wagon which has been tied up in Cleveland since 2014. But where could he go? The obvious answer as of right now is Indiana, in a straight up deal for Paul George. The non-obvious answer is New York, for a certain unhappy European, Kristaps Porzingis, and he has also been linked with the Phoenix Suns.
It remains to be seen just how far the Love saga will develop, but with several wholesale changes taking place inside the Quicken Loans, it could be sooner rather than later. In just the past 48 hours we’ve seen two of the NBA’s top executives leave, Dan Gilbert, who orchestrated the Wiggins for Love trade, ultimately bringing Lebron James home, looks to be heading to Orlando; and former Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations Trent Redden will see his contract expire at the end of the month.
The once mighty ‘Land’, it would appear, is literally crumbling.
Kristaps Porzingis is available, but at what cost…. (EVERYTHING)
The mighty superteam that is the New York Knicks are at it again, and this time it reportedly involves being incredibly willing to trade their young superstar. That’s right, the man who was boo-ed on draft night, the man who has single-handedly given Knicks fans something to cheer about the past two seasons, is up for sale… but please, high bidders only because my name is Phil ‘Motherf**king’ Jackson and I won rings with Michael Jordan.
Kristaps response to all this chaos? Well, it consisted of two letters posted on his Instagram account. FR. Which could either mean ‘freedom rules’ (probably not) or ‘for real’ (more than likely). The letters which feature prominently in-front of Kristaps grinning face suggest he’s not too fond of the rumours circulating, in what is yet again another PR disaster waiting to happen… or did it already happen?
The 7ft 3 forward is sure to attract attention however, and as one of the leagues pre-eminent rim protectors he’s sure to find many suitors. Last season he averaged 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, and two blocks per game at just 21 years old. The aforementioned Cavaliers could offer Kristaps a chance at a championship. Boston could present him with an interesting young core, if they add Gordon Hayward, along with one of the best coaches in the league. Even the Philadelphia 76ers could offer New York a tantalising deal, should they wish to part with a part of their process.
There’s almost no way Knicks fans would receive a Porzingis trade well, it’d be like trading your prized 1999 edition Pokemon Charizard card for a far more easy to find Snorlax… okay, maybe not quite like that, but you get the point.
Rockets looking to move Patrick Beverley in an attempt to entice one Chris Paul, heir to Magic Johnson
This one is almost as unexpected as the Knicks wanting to move Porzingis, but considering the recent yearly occurrence, we should be more than used to it by now. In both 2016 and earlier this year Houston have had Beverley on the board, with teams such as Cleveland and New York being interested.Beverley has played an elite role on this team since being paired with, former defensive siv of the year, James Harden, and is sure to warrant more attention this summer.
Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reports that the Houston Rockets are actively shopping the point guard, whose tenacious defense has permanently placed him on the NBA’s ‘is quite useful’ map. The move also suggests that Daryl Morey (my GM of the year, see: Harden and Houston – Beyond Expectations) may be at it again, as he looks to rejig his Western Conference Quarter Finalists in an attempt to free cap space to sign a potential bigger name; Chris Paul maybe?
That man Jimmy Butler, there he was, just walking down the street
No, really, Jimmy ‘Buckets’ Butler has been in jolly old London town this past week, on summer vacation. How do we know this? Well, besides his instagram posts, we did attempt to lure the Chicago Bulls superstar onto the Podcast…. but alas, we failed. Better luck next time, I guess…
So it may come as no surprise to hear that one of the NBA’s Top 20 players is once again the subject of rampant trade rumours. It’s more than obvious to anyone who follows the league that Butler has had a somewhat, misguided and strained relationship with the Bulls front-office. It’s an existence which has seen him sit behind Derrick Rose on the ‘you’re our superstar’ column, and one which has almost unanimously welcomed trade talks. They also thought partnering one of the league’s best players with an ancient Dwyane Wade and occasionally pissed off Rajon Rondo, was a good idea. How’d that work out for you? To quote Stephen A Smith, that’s damn right disrespectful.
Unlike the Indiana Pacers, who I will get onto in just one moment, the Bulls do not appear to be shopping their superstar to the entire league. They have, instead decided to focus on reportedly two teams, and two teams only. Vincent Goodwill, Bulls insider for CSN Chicago reported yesterday that those two teams were undoubtedly the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers. And it makes sense, as Boston who recently shipped their number 1 pick to Philadelphia appear to have a plan, a plan which involves throwing as many future draft picks as possible towards the Bulls front-office, with that hope that they unanimously collapse under the weight. It’s a sound plan and one which the Bulls should in all honesty, accept. After all, the past three seasons have been a complete write-off for the once proud franchise. A new sense of direction and an injection of young talent, is just what this team needs to get over it’s Rose-ian hangover (yeah, I went there, come at me). Cleveland on the other hand don’t have much to offer, unless we count that Kevin Love guy again. Then there’s that fact that an on the court threesome of Lebron James, Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler is enough to make any NBA fan freakout; so go on, freakout.
The basis for this trade is this, if the Bulls front-office want a future, assets and some form of credibility, the Boston Celtics are the only team that makes sense. They’re stacked with draft picks, open to the idea of parting with them and in drastic need of a guard who can both create his own shot and defend… for two people that is, because we know Isaiah ain’t stopping no-one.
Every team ever wants Paul George, apparently
Whilst that opening heading may or may not be true, one thing is, Paul George is leaving Indiana and he wants the bright lights of Los Angeles. The homesick superstar is practically forcing his way out of town, adding to the recent trend of players positioning themselves to play where they want to play. According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Clippers, Rockets, Wizards, Lakers and Cavaliers have been in trade discussions regarding George. The Clippers, Rockets, Wizards and Cavaliers can all offer a chance to contend, however each situation is radically different and comes with it’s own obstacles to pass. The Clippers reportedly tested the waters with Indiana yesterday but were unable to find any common ground. And then there’s the rental conundrum. Paul George, or rather his agent has made it obvious that George intends to sign with the Lakers next summer, so any move for him now would result in what is effectively a one-year rental. That’s an expensive rental.
As it stands (Wednesday 21 June) the Lakers appear to be the frontrunner to acquire George, either this week or next summer, after they moved D’Angelo Russell and center Timofey Mozgov in exchange for Brook Lopez. It’s a move which has divided the Lakers fan-base but one which is quite obviously part of a bigger masterplan. It starts what could be a tumultuous summer for the NBA’s most global franchise, as new management, including Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka look to make their mark upon the NBA landscape.