I didn’t want to feed the beast with wild speculation on projected landing spots for various NBA stars. I figure 90% of what we hear from “sources” is nonsense and spin, meant to provide more leverage to teams, players and agents. Hence I stayed out of the conversation. All the “experts” do is guess. They have no more knowledge than you or I. Sources can’t always be trusted, and information isn’t always reliable.
But now that two of the NBA’s biggest stars have landed, we can begin looking at the landscape and assessing what’s going to happen next. Admittedly, Lebron going back to Cleveland was a bit of surprise to me. However, it makes sense from a story, legend, legacy standpoint. He can “right his wrongs” and bring a championship back to his home state. That is if Johnny Manziel doesn’t do it first.
Carmelo Anthony resigned with the Knicks. This was not a shocker at all. He’s from New York, he played college in-state and, oh yes, NY is the #1 media market in the country. ‘Melo wants to be a star, wants to take shots and both of those things trump winning to him, at least that’s my observation.
Teams looking to make big improvements this off-season outside of Cleveland and New York, now look at Kevin Love as the biggest prize still available. Though he’s technically not a free agent, he is in all reality because the Timberwolves either trade him now or risk losing him for nothing but emptiness on the payroll after the 2014-15 season. Rumors still swirl that Love is going to Cleveland IF the Cavs offer up 2014 #1 overall draft pick, Andrew Wiggins, and a combination of Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, 2013 #1 pick Anthony Bennett, or a 1st round pick in the 2015 draft. This has to be Flip Saunders ideal situation. However, the Cavs could be fine with a rotation including Kyrie Irving (another #1 overall pick), Wiggins, Lebron and any other two players from your office. If that’s the case, the next-best option is the Golden State trade possibility of Klay Thompson and David Lee, though reports vary on what the Warriors are willing to offer the Wolves.
Pau Gasol to Chicago is another intriguing move, as is Luol Deng to Miami. The Bulls now have 2 of the best passing big men in the NBA with Joakim Noah and Gasol. But winning in the NBA now is about guards, small forwards and the ability to space the floor and hit 3′s (see Spurs, San Antonio; Heat, Miami; Thunder, Oklahoma City). The Bulls get markedly better from Derrick Rose returning from injury if he’s healthy, than Pau joining Noah in the frontcourt. Deng with Bosh and Wade in Miami is behind Cleveland and Indiana in the Eastern Conference hierarchy. But if losing Lebron and adding Deng allows Miami cap space to upgrade their inside play or point guard, and IF Wade can find some new legs, they can still be a top 4 seed in the East.
The intrigue of the NBA off-season is over, but storylines are still out there. Teams will still be trying to improve. Summer League is giving teams a look at their recent draft picks. The big moves have been made, but the most important moves, the supplement pieces that win championships could still be coming.