As the NBA season opener draws closer, it’s time to take a look back over the summer. Between major hirings, firings, signings, trades, and the draft there is plenty to analyze. Here are the five biggest moves from the offseason.
1. Lamarcus Aldridge to the San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs had a great summer. They re-signed former Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard to a max 5-year, 90-million dollar extension. “Three and D” stud, Danny Green, was locked up on a steal of a deal at 4 years and 40 million dollars, while other 3-D players, Wes Matthews, Khris Middleton, and Demarre Carrol were all paid anywhere from 14 to 17 million dollars a year.
Future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan and sixth man extraordinaire Manu Ginobili were also re-signed. David West was stolen away from the Indiana Pacers for the veteran minimum of one year and 1.4 million dollars. This is all quite common for the Spurs in the offseason: re-sign key players and role players, sign a few veterans who take bargain deals to play for a title contender.
The Spurs typically don’t often go after the big fish of free agency. However, they broke that trend this summer with the addition of all-star Lamarcus Aldridge. Aldridge was signed to a four-year, 80-million dollar max contract. This signing makes sense in the idea of bringing in an established star in his prime to pair with budding star and Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard. However, Aldridge will have some growing pains getting used to the Spurs free-flowing, ball movement offense, where an emphasis is placed on passing up a good shot for a great shot.
Aldridge will also be subject to Gregg Popovich’s reduced minutes and likely won’t play the 35.4 minutes per game he received under Trail Blazers Coach, Terry Stotts. As a high volume player Aldridge will have to learn to adapt to an offense where he won’t get his normal 15 to 20 shots per game. In my opinion Marc Gasol would have been a better fit as he is an efficient, defensive-minded center and is one of the most gifted passing bigs in the league.
2. Los Angeles Clippers Resign Deandre Jordan and add Paul Pierce
The Los Angeles Clippers seemed destined for a doomed season when it was announced DeAndre Jordan had verbally agreed to sign with the Dallas Mavericks. The Clippers continued their offseason however by adding bench depth that they desperately needed. The Clippers bench perennially ranks in the lower half of NBA bench scoring. Jamal Crawford was plagued by injury last year and showed major decline. The bench was weak without his presence, so the Clippers shipped out Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes for Lance Stephenson, who provides a wing playmaker that they sorely lacked.
They also re-signed guard Austin Rivers who showed what he could do near the end of the season and into last year’s playoffs. They added wing defender and lottery pick Wesley Johnson. They also added Josh Smith who showed flashes of his Atlanta Hawks days in his resurgence with the Houston Rockets.
However, the big grab was 17-year vet, 10-time all star, and 2008 Finals MVP Paul Pierce to a 3-year 10 million dollar deal. The Truth showed what a big shot taker and shot maker he still is for the Washington Wizards in a thrilling 6-game series against the Atlanta Hawks. He gives the Clippers that steady go to hand that they want in the clutch.
As the deadline approached Coach Doc Rivers, and players Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Paul Pierce went to DeAndre Jordan’s home and convinced him to re-sign for a 4-year 88-million dollar deal with the Clippers, saving them from perhaps slipping out of the playoffs. Though DeAndre Jordan is a little overpaid for his severely limited offensive game. He is a liability in late-game situations due to his poor free throw shooting, but his defensive presence far outweighs those negatives. Pierce’s veteran presence and late game shot making and Jordan’s defensive ferocity represent something the Clippers had to get and they went out and got it. Not a bad haul, Doc.
3. New Orleans Pelicans re-sign Anthony Davis and hire Alvin Gentry as the new Head Coach
Alvin Gentry is an offensively brilliant coach. Some of his best work came with the Phoenix Suns. However, this past year behind his and Steve Kerr’s offensively philosophies the Golden State Warriors went on to tear through the regular season and won their first NBA championship in 40 years. If anyone can unlock even more of Anthony Davis’ still untapped potential it is Alvin Gentry. Anthony Davis will win MVPs and rings; it’s only a matter of time. Re-signing Anthony Davis to any amount of money was an absolute no-brainer. Though the Pelicans didn’t do much else to their roster, what they did do with Anthony Davis and Alvin Gentry is enough.
4. Heat take Justise Winslow with the 10th pick in the NBA draft
The Miami Heat boast one of the NBA’s best starting fives. With Goran Dragic running the show along with all-stars Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade there’s no shortage of offensive fire power. With Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside the Heat will be lockdown on the wing and in the middle. The Heat’s biggest weakness, however, was their bench, which they addressed by adding Gerald Green in free agency. But their biggest and brightest acquisition came through the draft with the selection of Justise Winslow from Duke. Winslow provides defense and offense off the bench and is my dark horse pick for sixth man of the year. Having Winslow fall to them at 10th is a gift from the NBA gods. After all the Boston Celtics offered the Charlotte Hornets four first round picks for the chance to move up to 9th to draft Winslow. Though Winslow addresses some needs the Heat still have work to do for the bench.
5. Houston Rockets trade for Ty Lawson
The Houston Rockets desperately needed a secondary playmaker. This was evidenced by James Harden’s record-setting 13 turnover performance in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. However, they traded for an immature defensive liability in Ty Lawson. Though Ty Lawson can be a bullet and offensive dynamo on the court. He has had two DUIs as well as questionable activity on social media, specifically a video posted by him on Instagram smoking a hookah saying that he was going to be traded after the Denver Nuggets selected PG Emmanuel Mudiay.
The Rockets hardly gave up any assets for Lawson, which is why this trade is worth the risk for the potential reward. If Lawson can improve his shaky three point shooting and take some of the playmaking responsibilities off James Harden, as well as play some semblance of defense and mature off the court than this trade is well worth the risk and could quite possibly push the Rockets over the hump. If this trade pans out, the NBA Finals are not out of the question.
There were many more big time moves that didn’t appear on the list. What did you think was one of the biggest moves not listed above? Leave a comment below and look for more NBA articles as the season grows ever closer.