5 Biggest Winners of the NBA offseason so far

Honorable Mentions: 

Clippers: Yes, they lost Chris Paul.  But they could’ve lost him for nothing, instead they received three good players and were able to re-sign Blake Griffin.

Steph Curry, James Harden, John Wall, Blake Griffin: They got paiiiiiid.

Warriors: Rich get richer. Retained all of their free agents (except JaVale McGee) and made improvements to the bench (Nick Young, Jordan Bell).

Sacramento Kings: For once, Vlade looks like he knows what he’s doing.  Good draft, good signings in free agency.

Winners:

Minnesota Timberwolves.  The Timberwolves had a rough 2016-17 season, only winning 31 games, even though many people thought they’d perform much better due to their high potential stars in Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins.  While the future still looked bright after the season was over, no one could have imagined the Timberwolves would now be a potential top 4 seed in the Western conference.  The Wolves were certainly active in the offseason: they traded Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn for Jimmy Butler, Ricky Rubio to clear cap space, and then signed Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, and Jamal Crawford.  While bench depth after Gorgui Dieng and Crawford is a concern, you can be sure opponents won’t be looking forward to playing against them come October.

Jrue Holiday. While many expected tons of players to receive ‘Mozgov Money’ during free agency, not many actually did.  Two comparable guards to Holiday, George Hill and Jeff Teague, signed 3 year deals for $57 million.  But Jrue Holiday received a 5 year $125 million deal, earning 6 million more per year than his counterparts, for a longer period of time.  Holiday got lucky with his situation, as the Pelicans had little cap room but could afford Holiday since they had acquired his bird rights.  They’ll hope their generous offer to Holiday will pay off in the form of a playoff appearance this year.

Oklahoma City.  The Thunder made a power play during the offseason, trading Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis for Paul George.  This move told both the NBA and superstar Russell Westbrook that the Thunder wanted to compete now and weren’t content with just being a playoff team.  The Thunder have a much improved roster compared to the beginning of last season, with major additions like George to minor ones like Raymond Felton and Doug McDermott (acquired at the trade deadline).  While they aren’t on the same level as the Cavaliers, Warriors, or Rockets quite yet, I could definitely see the Thunder being a dark horse Western Conference Finals candidate.

Houston Rockets.  When you’re given the chance to add a top 10 player to your team, you pull the trigger.  That’s exactly what Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey did when he traded for Chris Paul in late June.  Even though Morey had to get rid of multiple valuable assets, like defensive stud Patrick Beverley, to acquire him, the Rockets are undoubtedly a better team than they were when they lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the playoffs this year. They replaced Beverley with Chris Paul, retained the rest of their starters, were able to keep Nene, 6th man of the year Eric Gordon, and also signed decent role players such as P.J. Tucker, Troy Williams, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, and Tarik Black.  Another positive that has came with the Rockets getting Chris Paul?  Carmelo Anthony has reportedly set his heart on a trade to Houston.  If they can acquire Melo, the Rockets have a better chance of beating the Warriors than anyone else does in the NBA.

Los Angeles Lakers.  The Lakers made significant strides this offseason.  While some may not like the D’Angelo Russell trade, I for one think Magic Johnson made the right decision.  For one, it got rid of all the potential controversy over whether Lonzo or Russell should run point and what position each would have to play.  It also got the Lakers a talented veteran center in Brook Lopez who can mentor youngsters Ivica Zubac, Julius Randle, and Kyle Kuzma.  Brook will also serve as the best player on a team that wants to start contending.  But that’s not even the best part of the trade for the Lakers: getting rid of Timofey Mozgov was.  His contract was atrocious, and he did not benefit the team on or off the court.  Getting rid of Mozgov allows the Lakers to win more games, and gives them cap room in the future to potentially sign a star like Paul George or Russell Westbrook, if they weren’t to return to Oklahoma City.  Another big win for the Lakers was signing KCP to a one year deal. Caldwell-Pope fills a hole at two guard and doesn’t bind their books long term.  Finally, they got the perfect rookie for the franchise: Lonzo Ball. Do I even need to explain how they fit each other so well?  The Lakers’ future hasn’t looked this bright in a long time.

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