Three weeks from today, the NBA season will be underway. This was clearly the shortest offseason any of us will experience, and we should be in for a very interesting year. Even though the list of free agents this year was not as star-studded as last year’s or next year’s, decisions these players made will change the direction of the league for years to come.
Today we will be taking a look at three winners from the offseason and three losers from the offseason and how these teams will succeed or fail because of it.
Winner #1 – Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are the defending champs, which means many would expect them to stay put during the offseason while believing they do not have a lot of changes to make, however, this was the total opposite approach the Lakers took. They lost Rondo, Green, and Howard to the Hawks and Sixers so they needed to replace these guys who were a special part of the title run in the bubble.
They acquired Schroder in a trade while also picking up Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol in free agency. These players were also targets of the Clippers, so the Lakers getting them is even bigger for the LA rivalry. It’s safe to say that the Lakers won the offseason, at least in the West, and the rich get richer.
Winner #2 – Philadelphia 76ers
We can say what we want about the Sixers, they have been easily one of the most disappointing and underachieving teams in the league for the better part of the past three to four years. Prior to now, they had four really expensive contracts on paper with Embid, Simmons, Harris, and Horford.
They managed to get rid of the Horford deal by acquiring Danny Green from the OKC Thunder. They also added another sharpshooter in Seth Curry. On top of that, they also added Dwight Howard as a free agent.
It is yet to be known if they are better on paper, but what they did do is get rid of a big contract and added proven winners that can help get this team to where it should be. With a new head coach in Doc Rivers, this team will once again have high expectations.
Winner #3 – Phoenix Suns
We all know the Suns as one of the laughing stocks of the NBA, at least for the better part of this past decade. They have a young, promising star in Devin Booker and another young prodigy in DeAndre Ayton. In a trade, they just acquired veteran PG Chris Paul who will bring some much-needed leadership to this young team.
They sent a lot back to OKC in the move, including Ricky Rubio. They also lost Kelly Ombre because of this move as well. For the first time in years, this team has a chance to make a real run at the playoffs and even be competitive in any series they play in.
Loser #1 – Houston Rockets
The Rockets have been in the news for most of this offseason but it’s not because of the moves they are making. It’s been widely reported that both James Harden and Russell Westbrook want out of Houston and are looking for a move before the December 22nd start.
It seems as of now, that this will end up going in the favor of the players, as it usually does in this league. The experiment in Houston might be coming to an end if both of the franchise players don’t even want to be there anymore. They need to have a plan in the coming weeks based on what decisions need to be made, or else this may get even worse.
Loser #2 – Toronto Raptors
The champs from two years ago look like a completely different team in the current moment. They lost Ibaka and Gasol to the two Los Angeles teams, just like they did with Kawhi the year before.
The highlight of the Raptors offseason was overpaying for a very good but slightly overvalued Van Fleet and they signed Aron Baynes as a big man replacement. These are some great players they have, but it may not be enough to keep up with and compete with the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
Loser #3 – Charlotte Hornets
Michael Jordan may be one of the best players to ever live, but it’s also safe to say he is one of the worst owners of all time. It was pretty clear that he was going to draft LaMelo Ball at the #3 pick, he has the hype and it will certainly attract a lot of attention to a small market town like Charlotte.
The contract that they signed Gordon Hayward to, however, is not ideal what so ever. He is making around $30 million dollars a year and will be on his second max deal of his career, his first one was in Boston. The Hornets seemed to be the only team that was willing to pay Hayward that type of money and we’ll see how it pays off for them. They will be tied down to that contract for the next four years so it will be interesting to see how and if they will get better year by year.
Every year in the NBA we see the surprising teams that either overachieve or underachieve, and I’m sure one of these teams I just wrote about will prove me wrong one way or the other.
We still may see moves from now until the start of the season in three weeks. Watch for teams like the Clippers and the Nets to have major expectations going into this season and other teams may eventually join that list.