NBA Offseason & Free Agency—Summer Heats Up


Keith Allison

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game against the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on November 21, 2014 in Washington, DC.

As soon as the NBA season came to a close in June, after the Golden State Warriors were yet again crowned champions, teams made moves to acquire the biggest free agent superstars on the market. This offseason was one like no other: LeBron James joined the Los Angeles Lakers.

During the final year of James’ contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, rumors of his departure spread like wildfire throughout the league. Philadelphia, Houston, Boston, and San Antonio were alleged possible landing spots for LeBron, but he chose Magic Johnson and the Lakers when he inked a four year 154 million-dollar contract.

The Lakers have young developing talent in Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram, but this is not a team that will have an easy route through the playoffs. It’s hard to bet against LeBron James, having appeared in eight consecutive NBA Finals with the Heat and Cavaliers since 2010. But the Lakers finished just 35-47 last year and 11th in the Western Conference, the same conference with the Warriors and the Rockets.

After an injury in the 2017 Western Conference Finals, Kawhi Leonard played on a minutes restriction before suffering a partial tear in his left shoulder the following January. After a long rehabilitation process, a feud within the San Antonio Spurs organization ended in a fallout between Leonard, coach Greg Popovich, and the general manager of the team. This concluded with a blockbuster trade with the Toronto Raptors: a four player deal that would send Kawhi to the Raptors and All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio.

The two superstars involved in the trade, however, weren’t very excited about it. League sources told ESPN in mid-July that Leonard had no desire to play for the Raptors, and DeRozan took to his Instagram story for his take: “Be told one thing & the outcome another,” he wrote, “Can’t trust em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing…”. Both parties are clearly not happy about this trade, but it is expected they will embrace their new roles once the season begins.

The signing that has given NBA fans the most headaches this summer, however, is certainly All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins signing with the defending champion Golden State Warriors for a mere one year five million-dollar contract. The only weak point of this powerhouse team was the center, and they found themselves one of the best in the league.

While the Boston Celtics didn’t make any noise in the free agency market, they will get their two stars, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, back from injury over the summer. Both are expected to make a full recovery. Hayward suffered a dislocated ankle and broken tibia in the first game of the season last year against the Cavaliers, and Irving underwent knee surgery on March 24 that would effectively have him sitting out the entire NBA playoffs. The Celtics still took LeBron’s Cavaliers to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, and with James out of the conference, they are the frontrunner to win the East.

The upcoming season this winter will have its fair share of old faces in new places, but only time will tell if these teams have what it takes for a playoff push. The first games of the NBA season begin October 16th of this year.