Marquee Free Agent Signing Set Scene for NBA Season

The NBA offseason is usually filled with drama. However, none have ever been as eventful or exciting as the 2017 offseason. With six marquee superstars relocating and a total of eight current all-stars moving to new teams, the drama and trades kept NBA fanatics on edge.

After losing in five games to the Golden State Warriors, the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to make some moves. They added Derrick Rose, Jeff Green, Jose Calderon and Dwyane Wade through free agency. The 2010-11 MVP [Rose] will begin the season at the top of the depth chart for point guard position and will provide supreme athleticism and finishing ability at the 1 spot. The addition of new starting shooting guard Dwyane Wade must not be overlooked, as Wade and LeBron James are best friends and match each other’s playing styles exceptionally well.

The Cavaliers also traded all-star guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics in exchange for guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Net’s 2018 first round pick. Irving requested a trade in mid-July because of his dissatisfaction in Cleveland’s LeBron-centric atmosphere. Once Thomas recovers from a hip ailment, his scoring ability will be on full display and will show he is a very capable replacement for Irving. Crowder provides the Cavaliers with the much needed defensive versatility and complements the team’s already-excellent shooting ability. If the Cavs decide not to trade the Net’s pick for another all-star, it will be a very valuable resource next June.

By acquiring future hall of famer Carmelo Anthony and all-star Paul George through trades, the Oklahoma City Thunder created a frightening “big three” to compete with the “best of the west.” 2016-17 MVP Russell Westbrook will continue to produce and now has the help to guide the Thunder through the tough Western Conference.

The Houston Rockets had a fantastic offseason as well. While losing some depth, the Rockets added Chris Paul, a top five point guard. The Rockets were also expected to land the aforementioned Anthony, but Ryan Anderson’s contract complicated matters.

Up north, the Minnesota Timberwolves acquired stud guard Jimmy Butler in exchange for Zach LaVine, guard Kris Dunn and a mid to late first round pick. In Denver, the Nuggets made a very underappreciated signing of star forward Paul Millsap. Throughout his career, Millsap has been the epitome of an overlooked, yet marquee talent. He joins Nikola Jokic to form a terrifying frontcourt in the Mile-High City. Out east, the Heat and Celtics were the only other teams with major additions. The Celtics signed all-star forward Gordon Hayward, and the Heat inked Canadian forward Kelly Olynyk.

Outlandish contract extensions were prevalent this offseason. The rise in salary cap and players’ monetary demands force teams to pay preposterous amounts of money to their players. For example, superstar guards Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook both inked 5 year, $200+ million contract extensions. Houston Rockets’ guard James Harden signed a $228 million extensionas well. Role players and fringe starters are now making nearly $15 million annually.

Leading up to the draft, guards Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz were unquestionably the top two prospects. Although Fultz is the better player, Ball is a far more intriguing icon. By picking Ball, the Los Angeles Lakers are subject to the opinion of his father, LaVar Ball. The elder Ball has made alarmingly-outlandish comments, not only about his son, but also about many all time greats, including Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. Hopefully, [Lonzo] Ball’s production will overshadow his father’s talk.

To state that the 2017 NBA offseason exceeded expectations would be a massive understatement. Because of the numerous matchups, trades, signings and everything that makes professional basketball exciting, we are set up for a phenomenal 2017-18 NBA Season.

– Vijay Sastry ’20

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