Just two years removed from a 60 win season, the Hawks are attempting the most blatant tank in recent memory(Maybe 2016 Lakers or 2014 Sixers). They quite literally got rid of any big name player off of their roster. They sent the hometown kid Dwight Howard to Charlotte after just one season, Paul Millsap left for Denver, they couldn’t pay Hardaway Jr, and they got Jamal Crawford via trade and were like no he’s too good for what we’re trying to do…and they cut him. The Warriors have truly changed the way GMs in 2017 think, they know that GSW has a dynasty for the next 4-5 years…at least, so many teams are just saying “hey we just don’t have enough fire power right now to take them down so, let’s build through the draft and try and get some young talent to develop” It is so evident that ATL is trying to get any serviceable players off of their team… Like what is their end game here? Their starting five on paper might be the worst in the NBA right now Shroeder, Bazemore, Prince, Muscala, Miles Plumlee…free agency is virtually over and that roster is just destined for the 14 seed in the East…even the Nets have more assets right now than this dumpster fire. The one asset many point to is Dennis Schroeder… but even he isn’t a top 20 point guard in the league right now. Currently their biggest asset is Taurean Prince…but at this moment in time I cannot see Atlanta winding up with anything worse than a top 3 pick in the 2018 draft. Looks like Atlanta is just waiting for the Zion Williamson sweepstakes in 2019.
I really feel for Utah Jazz fans right now. As a fan of a small market team myself(Timberwolves) I know how much it drives a fan nuts to see a player like Hayward, who they drafted, developed, and turned into an all-star…and then now once he is at his peak…*poof* he’s gone and chooses to go to a bigger market. The Jazz even met his demands too, reports said that Hayward really wanted to play with Rubio, so they dished out a 1st round pick and he still walked. That really puts pressure on the Jazz and makes their “How do we beat the Warriors path” much murkier. The Jazz are one of the best organizations in the league, they have a great coach, great fans, and they are just so good at recognizing basketball talent( Gobert with 27th pick & Rodney Hood 23rd) The Jazz had a terrific year this year, they won a playoff series, Gobert made All-NBA 2nd team, and really made some noise in the western conference. I really like the Ricky Rubio trade for them, and they retained Joe Ingles to replace Hayward…I still think this team is like a 6th seed in the West even with the loss of Hayward. The Jazz know how to develop and build a team even when the odds aren’t in their favor as the smallest market in the league.
The Timberwolves have transformed their franchise this offseason from doormat of the NBA to legit players in the Western Conference. I’d equate this 180 degree change to Walter White’s transformation as a meek & mild chemistry teacher to…well you know. I said it in my post Draft column(http://goingfor2.com/2017-nba-draft-initial-thoughts-reactions/ ) …the Jimmy Butler move wasn’t just about getting an All-NBA caliber talent…it was much more than that. Having a core of JB, KAT, and Wiggins is unbelievably attractive for free agents(even if it is Minnesota) It now opens the door for them to get meetings with big names like Paul Millsap(they wouldn’t have even gotten a call with his agent 2 years ago) and they were in talks with getting Lowry, but settled on consolation prize Jeff Teague. They got Jamal Crawford & Taj Gibson to bolster their bench, and have really made excellent use of their salary cap. It’s going to take some time for their roster to become acquainted…but this team top to bottom is the most talented team the Wolves have ever had…much props to Tom Thibodeau and front office, I predict 7th seed in the West next year, and another prediction this is the 3rd most used 2K team in online play besides Cavs & GSW. Definitely going to be a must watch team on League Pass.
GM Kevin Pritchard said he was informed by PG13 a couple weeks before the trade that he was going to leave in 2018 free agency and he said that it felt like “a gut punch” Paul George is probably the most talented player to ever dawn a Pacers uniform, and he did lead them to back to back ECFs, so I understand why Pritchard would be upset. Bill Simmons had an interesting take on his podcast saying that he thinks that Pritchard felt so betrayed and caught off guard by George wanting out of Indy that he was not going to give into PG’s demands of playing within the Eastern conference(Boston, Miami, Cleveland) and just said basically you’re gonna get the 8th seed in the West with OKC, I’m not going to let you compete for a championship in BOS or CLE…and that would really be the only explanation for why he could only get Oladipo and Sabonis for one of the best players in the game(even if it’s only just for one year) Cleveland offered Indy Kevin Love straight up…Boston could have done it with like Smart & Brown, couple late 1st rounders… and Miami could have done it with Justise Winslow & maybe like Josh Richardson. All those deals I would much rather have than Oladipo and Sabonis. (Although it is kind of a cool homecoming to bring Oladipo back to Indiana) I really loved the Cory Joseph trade for them, I think he will probably be their starter by the All-Star break not Collison. Indy is in a weird spot after this trade…they have some young pieces in Sabonis, Oladipo, and Turner, but like no really good veterans on their roster. Just a weird roster all together(Rumors of Lance Stephenson playing PG next year…), but I would have just flipped the 1 year of PG for Love if I was Pritchard…people forget how dominant and offensively gifted Love was in Minnesota.
Random thought, but am I the only one who totally forgets that Al Horford is on the Celtics?? He just puts up the quietest 15 points, 7 rebounds, and like 4 assists/game…definitely over payed for that production. Besides that hiccup, Boston is just a much smarter , more advanced version of Philly’s “The Process” If we are keeping track of tradeable assets that BOS owns right now we’ve got Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Jae Crowder, 2018 Nets pick, 2018 Philly pick, AND their OWN 2018 pick. Many fans and other experts are wondering why they haven’t made that one or two moves to form a super team, but I completely understand why they didn’t trade any of their assets for Paul George, he was just too much of a risk to not re-sign with them…they are just playing it smart, but I am still dumbfounded that they didn’t get Jimmy Butler this offseason…they could have beaten Minnesota’s offer 10x over, which just tells me that they really were just not interested in Butler whatsoever. What I predict their big picture plan is this…It would take a haul, but if the Fire & Ice combo isn’t working out in New Orleans next year, they make an offer for Anthony Davis maybe something like Jaylen Brown/Tatum, and 2018 Nets pick, Crowder and then they can still keep one of their talented young Small forwards and the Philly pick…Thomas, Tatum, Hayward, Davis, Horford lineup beats the Cavs in my mind and if LeBron leaves CLE next summer then they have a dynasty for years to come. The way Danny Ainge has been patient with his assets is incredibly admirable and he is going to shock the entire league next year at the deadline or next summer…just wait, it will all come full circle.
The Heat were so close to sneaking into the playoffs last year, but it’s tough for any team to make it when you start 11-30. This summer didn’t go as planned for Miami, they missed out on Hayward & Blake Griffin, so they had a bunch of extra cap space and they decided to pay a 30 year old James Johnson $60 mill and went all in on Waiters with $52 mill…both of those contracts are egregious, especially considering the cap went down this offseason(The Olynk signing was pretty bad too) The one big question mark/X-factor this team has…that I keep forgetting is on their roster(because he’s been injured so much) is Justice Winslow. I like this team a lot with Whiteside, Dragic, Waiters, but if Winslow can stay healthy and make that jump to stardom like a lot of people think he can, this is a legitimate contender in the East. They have basically the same team they did last year + Kelly Olynk, but if they could have signed Griffin or Hayward and Winslow came back healthy, they might be competing for a championship.
As soon as I thought the Kings turned it around in the draft by taking Fox, Jackson, and Giles(Still salty/dumbfounded that wouldn’t take Monk @ 10 to pair with Fox) they go ahead and just ruin it in free agency. Now Sacramento truly has a ton of young talent I’m really high on in Fox, Hield, Cauley-Stein, heck even Skal Labissiere had some nice games post all-star break last year…and I know Sacramento had exactly 0 veterans when free agency started, but that doesn’t mean you go ahead and pay 31 year old, injury prone George Hill to 3 years $57 million…Hill is not a top 20 PG in the league, you don’t need to pay him 20 mill/year…just get a D.J. Augustine/ Ish Smith platoon guy to provide veteran leadership for like 1/10th of the price. That was the worst contract signed this summer so far. I liked the Vince Carter signing…just not at $8 million year(not sure why VC wouldn’t just take vet min and have a fun farewell tour season in Golden State) They got Zach Randolph for $24/2 at age 35 (GO AFTER JAMYCHAEL GREEN INSTEAD…HE’S GOOD & YOUNG!!) All of these contracts are terrible just simply because these were the highest offers any of these free agents got because it’s SAC…no other team was offering VC $8 mill/year. They might have won the draft, but they lost free agency.