It’s been an NBA offseason for the ages, one that will probably be remembered decades from now as one of the craziest of all time. With a lot of familiar faces in new spaces, it’s time to officially recap this historic offseason, and preview the 2017-2018 season which officially tips off next Tuesday.
Paul George kicked off the crazy summer by announcing he was not going to resign with the Indiana Pacers when his contract ends next summer. That resulted in a few weeks of trade talks that eventually ended with George being sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder to play alongside last year’s MVP Russell Westbrook. This wasn’t the end of shocking transactions for the Thunder as they re-entered in the trade conversation two months later by acquiring future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony. Melo had been the unanswered question of the offseason as his strained relationship with the New York Knicks had reached a new level during the 2016-2017 season. The ten time All-star had made it clear that he wanted out of New York before the start of the season, and with him being one of the few players in the league to hold a no-trade clause, Melo was determined to go to a place of his choice. On September 25, he stamped his approval on a deal with OKC, and officially joined Russell Westbrook and Paul George to form the latest NBA power team.
In the middle of all that, Draft Night came along and news broke that the Chicago Bulls had dealt All-Star shooting guard Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Jimmy (who had previously been the subject of trade rumors) became the talk of the evening, even overshadowing many of the new players being drafted on one of the league’s most special nights of the year. In Minnesota, he joins rising young players such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins to create one of the more talented young trios in the NBA.
The end of draft night means the beginning of the summer free agency period, and with big names such as Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Gordon Hayward on the market, rumors began flying as players began to take phone calls and meetings with other teams. The biggest question of all was what move another future hall of famer would decide to make. It was widely speculated that Chris Paul would go on to resign a five year, 200 million dollar max contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, however word began to leak that CP3 was no longer happy playing in the Clippers Environment, and was considering leaving to play under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. Instead he was unexpectedly dealt to the Houston Rockets, forming a dynamic duo with superstar James Harden. Meanwhile, Blake Griffin signed his max deal (as expected), and All-Star Gordon Hayward made the decision to leave the Utah Jazz and sign with the Boston Celtics.
Things were quiet for a few weeks in the NBA, and then on July 21st a bombshell dropped. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst broke the news that superstar Kyrie Irving had requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers, the same team who had been to the finals three straight years, and had won a championship back in 2016. Nobody saw it coming as many thought Irving was happy in Cleveland. The month that followed was a month filled with speculation and many different trade scenarios to get both Irving out of Cleveland and a good return back for him. Finally on August 22nd, a blockbuster deal was finalized sending Kyrie to Boston, and Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and Ante Zizic to Cleveland. Cleveland wasn’t finished transforming their team though. On September 27th, Dwyane Wade announced his decision to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, reuniting him with his former Miami Heat teammate and best friend Lebron James.
The NBA looks like a completely different league than the one that left us back in the middle of June. The Wild Wild West will be an intense battle all year long, the East has other dangerous teams such as the Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors, and Milwaukee Bucks, and Boston and Cleveland have managed to become even bigger rivals than they were before. The 2017-2018 season is almost upon us, and with both Kyrie and Carmelo scheduled to play their former teams opening week, doesn’t it almost feel as though it was scripted?