THE Summer League may have commenced, but NBA fans are glued to their Twitter feeds instead. July signals the crazy season in the NBA with trades, free agency and power shifts making waves throughout the entire league, as teams gear up to tackle the 2017-18 season. In season past free agency has consumed the majority of the offseason headlines, but this year a handful of blockbuster trades are the biggest talking point. Can free agency still win the offseason?
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SO far free agency has somewhat gone the way most of us expected. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant stayed in Golden State, All-Stars Blake Griffin and Kyle Lowry re-upped with their squads and so far the biggest name to switch teams was Paul Millsap signing with the Denver Nuggets. Other relevant free agents like Andre Iguodala, Serge Ibaka, Jrue Holiday, Patty Mills and Joe Ingles all opted to stay with the same franchises.
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SOME free agents that are still on the table could very well stir the pot and cause plenty of drama before the season gets underway. Imagine if Dirk Nowitzki opted to leave the Mavericks? Derrick Rose re-signed with the Bulls? Gordon Hayward decided to turn his back on Miami, Boston AND Utah and sign with Brooklyn Nets?! FYI I don’t think any of these things will happen, but there are storylines that could play out and help the free agents steal back the major headlines from the trades that threw the league into flux.
THOSE trades by the way saw two of the best players in the Eastern Conference traded to Western Conference teams, but not to the places we expected. Paul George went from the Indiana Pacers to Oklahoma City Thunder and Jimmy Butler was moved to the Minnesota Timberwolves with the Chicago Bulls opted to trade away the ‘face of the franchise’. The surprising thing isn’t that the two of them were traded it was the landing spot.
THE Boston Celtics were a team that was long linked to acquiring both Paul George and Jimmy Butler, but ultimately the Pacers and Bulls front offices couldn’t manufacture a deal with them. Seeing Paul George as Russell Westbrook’s running mate is a move that was extremely left of field and caught most NBA pundits off guard. It’s those kind of trades that draw the attention of the NBA community and cause us to ask questions about the new team structure. Can George and Westbrook now co-exist? What can the pair achieve next season? Will Paul George leave in a year’s time for the Lakers in free agency, ultimately screwing OKC? These types of questions are going to be on the tip of everyone’s lips next year. Butler’s move posses plenty of questions as well. With the 6th year pro once again teaming up with former head coach Tom Thibodeau, it seems like Butler is in a great position to lead the Timberwolves youthful stars Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns into the promised playoff land for the first time in their careers. Will Jimmy Butler emerge as a true leader and help the Wolves make a deep postseason run? Or will they falter with Wiggins/Butler/Towns struggling to fight for touches? Both of those trades alone were enough to make basketball fans flip out, but we haven’t even addressed the Chris Paul move yet!!
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CHRIS Paul’s inter conference trade to the Rockets sets up the potential of another ‘super team’ formation. Ever since the trade for Paul the Rockets have been linked to other stars as trade partners to perhaps form a ‘Big 3’ of their own to try and challenge the Golden State Warriors for the crown out West. It comes as no surprise that after the trade of George and Butler, Carmelo Anthony is the name linked to Houston the most. The current Knicks star has apparently agreed to waive his no-trade clause should the two sides be able to manufacture a deal that will see him move to Houston.
THESE types of trades make it hard for free agency to dictate the discussions between NBA fans at this point of the year. As discussed above there are 1,003 different questions surrounding Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler and Paul George and what they can achieve next season with their new teams. A discussion point amongst all this hysteria is the fact that the Eastern Conference is going to be significantly weaker next year now that some of the stars are West-bound. Will this influence the decision making of the leftover free agents? Probably, but there aren’t many people avidly following free agency. Now we are just waiting for the Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Kristaps Porzingis trade rumours to eventuate into real trades. That’s the pattern this offseason right?
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