NBA free agency hasn’t lacked drama.
A few teams aggressively attacked the market making waives through the NBA. But one team has failed to make any major moves and their superstar has been shockingly silent throughout the whole process.
Let’s start with the aggressors…
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder added Paul George via trade giving up Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. They gain a 4-time All-Star, getting what may end up being just a one-year rental with George’s contract expiring at the end of the 2017-18 season. He’s been very vocal about wanting to join the his hometown team the Los Angeles Lakers once he hits free agency in the summer of 2018.
GM Sam Presti is taking a gamble hoping on the job recruitment will give them a legitimate shot at convincing him to make Oklahoma City home beyond 2018.
Other signings included:
- Patrick Patterson, 3-year $16.4 million
- Andre Roberson, 3-years $30 million
- Raymond Felton, 1-year $2.3 million
Before free agency even got under way on July 1st the Rockets executed a trade for Chris Paul that shocked the NBA. There was a lot of questions leading up to it on whether Paul would stay with the Clippers or potentially take his services to San Antonio but the opportunity to play alongside NBA MVP runner-up James Harden was too hard for CP3 to pass up.
Houston gave up Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, a first round pick and more to the Clippers to make it happen. It seems like quite a haul for the Clippers but Rockets GM Daryl Morey has been very vocal that Golden States’ roster makes it necessary to up their risk profile to build a team that could compete with the Warriors.
Considering the fact that the Rockets had $87.6 million in guaranteed contracts and little cap space to work with they would understandably have to give up quite a bit to make the major moves they wanted to make.
What’s scary is they’re not done yet.
The Rockets have been exploring multiple avenues to try and bring Carmelo Anthony to Houston which is no easy feat. Melo does have the no-trade clause in his contract and a long documented beef with head coach and 2017 NBA Coach of the Year Mike D’Antoni.
It was just over two months ago that D’Antoni admitted publicly he resigned as head coach in New York because of Carmelo. However, in a major about face, Melo and D’Antoni have reportedly squashed their beef and Anthony is willing to waive his no-trade clause if it means he would land in Houston.
But figuring out the details will be no easy feat. It may take a four-team trade to get the deal done and Houston may have to give up major assets like Ryan Anderson, 6th Man of the Year Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela.
Other signings included:
- P.J. Tucker, 4-year $32 million
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Houston putting all their eggs in James Harden’s basket when they signed him to a supermax extension worth a reported $228 million that will lock him in with the Rockets through the 2022-23 seasons.
The Celtics were the top seed in the Eastern Conference in 2016-17 eventually falling to the Cavaliers in the conference finals without having put up much of a fight. They have an excellent core and got even better when they won the free agency jackpot getting Gordon Hayward to agree to a 4-year $128 million contract.
Hayward chose Boston over Utah and Miami and left a lot of money on the table when he left the Jazz. His relationship with Celtics head coach Brad Stevens whom coached him in college factored into his eventual decision.
Hayward’s decision was largely affected by Boston’s loss the Cleveland in the conference finals. He wanted to go somewhere where an NBA Championship was a possibility but where his presence would be the difference. He was not interested in a “ready-made” situation like the Kevin Durant-Golden State Warriors situation in 2016.
In order to make the Hayward contract work, the Celtics needed to clear the necessary cap space to offer him a max deal. That led to the eventual trade between the Detroit Pistons for Avery Bradley and a 2019 2nd round pick that sent Marcus Morris to Boston. Bradley is in the final year of his contract and with Isaiah Thomas’ upcoming free agency in 2018 didn’t fit the long term plans of the Celtics maybe more so from a financial perspective than from a basketball one.
After all, Isaiah has made it VERY clear he better get his payday once he hits free agency. In an interview with CSN New England’s A. Sherrod Blakely he said “”My time is coming. They know they’ve got to bring the Brink’s truck” when asked about his upcoming free agency.
And then there’s….
What can I even say?
Let’s start with owner Dan Gilbert firing general manager David Griffin 10 days before the start of NBA free agency.
At that point Griffin was furiously pursuing Jimmy Butler and Paul George via trade in an attempt to load up (even if it was for the short term) to try and compete with the Warriors.
There appears to have been no plan in place once the hammer came down. Gilbert STILL has not hired a general manager.
Chauncey Billups immediately came out as the only target Gilbert was after. Despite that, he offered him a below market contract to become his President of Basketball Operations (with the authority to then name his own general manager). Billups was no fool and ultimately decided he did not want to be a part of the disarray and dysfunction in Cleveland.
While all of the front office drama has played out the only free agency signings the Cavaliers where able to land was Jose Calderon and Jeff Green.
Don’t get me wrong. The Cavs didn’t get worse but they certainly did not get better. Are they still the second best team in the league? Probably. But where teams like Houston and Boston have made key moves, they have been operating rudderless and were unable to execute any key trades or lure any major free agents their way.
And the most troublesome thing about the last two weeks has been their very vocal super star (whom has already left his hometown team once) LeBron James has been eerily silent.
He has made no effort to help assist his team in luring free agents which is a serious departure from we’ve seen in past years. What does this mean?
Well, it means LeBron James is going to desert the Cavaliers once again when he becomes a free agent in 2018!
The answer is no one really knows at this point. If I were the Cavs I would be VERY worried, maybe even enough to consider moving him by the 2017-18 trade deadline so I’m not left empty handed once again trying to start the whole thing from scratch.
I’ll tell you this. IF, LeBron gets traded (I highly doubt this will happen – no one willingly gets rid of a talent like LBJ, they’d rather gamble on him staying and lose than have their city riot) or leaves in free agency, Kyrie Irving is not far behind him.
I know much of this sounds like major conjecture when you factor in they’ve been to the finals 3 straight years and one the whole thing once. It doesn’t make sense that a team as dominate as the Cavs could possibly mess that up but there is some serious crap going on in Cleveland and we cannot be naive enough not to admit it.
It is so bad that there were actually players that are currently on that roster that told Jimmy Butler NOT to come to Cleveland. That is how volitale the situation is there right now. Trophys and winning is nice and all, but it doesn’t mean that just below the surface there is a $#|+ storm brewing.