Now that the Finals are over, the draft lottery set, and league year over there is only one thing left, the off-season! Where free-agents are signed, coaches fired, and teams position themselves to be better than the year before with a select few making moves to capture a title in the coming season. And with so many key players in flex this off-season is looking like it will be one for the books before the draft has even started. With key injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson the west seems to be wide open for the first time in years.
There are so many moving pieces that it may be hard to keep track of them all so forgive us now if we miss anything but first let’s start out in the eastern conference with the defending champs the Toronto Raptors,(it’s been a while since we said champs with someone not named Golden State or Cleveland) because even after winning they still have a lot of questions to answer before the tip-off of the new season like for starters what to do about their star player Kawhi Leonard who is a free agent this summer and has been on record saying that he wants to play in southern California where most of his family lives this however was before he was traded to the Raptors from the Spurs and went on to bring the country its first ever NBA championship. But if you know anything about Kawhi he isn’t going to let the hype of the media or fans for his current team sway his decision on where he wants to play, in fact he is going to take his time and decided when he is ready no matter what kind of offers are made to him like free rent or food at any restaurant in Toronto in hopes to keep the two-time finals MVP in the red and black playing for the Raptors again next season.
But this isn’t the only thing that Toronto has to worry about losing this off-season as their general manger Masai Ujiri has been in rumors to take over different teams all over the association, and who could blame them? He took this young Raptors team when they were virtual nothing and made them into champions, making questionable decisions here and there by firing the coach of the year in Dwayne Casey and trading the franchise player and all-time leader in points DeMar Derozan for Kawhi, which at the time raised all kinds of red flags being that Kawhi had only played nine games the season before dealing with an injury so many weren’t sure if he could get back to that finals MVP form that took down LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and the Miami Heat. But he took a gamble on his guys including rookie head coach Nick Nurse with the addition of a few vets hungry for a championship, so with the copycat league set up the way that it is and everyone looking for the next great thing trying to catch lighting in a bottle look for a few teams to try and make an offer to Masai this off-season. The Milwaukee Bucks have a few questions to answer themselves to this off-season as they were able to win a franchise record 62 games this season but peaked in the eastern conference finals as Giannis Antetokounmpo(MVP hopeful) was turned into a half-court rim protector as the Raptors neutralized his fast break and forced him to beat them by making shots over the top and relying on his teammates to make plays as well as the open shots. Outside of that however, they have some key players that may look to leave if the money isn’t there. For starters Kris Middleton who made his first all-star roster this year showed the league that he can score the ball at a high level and can play both was as well, Broke Lopez has truly re-created himself this season becoming a real threat from distance making the opposing team have to defend out to the three-point line as he showed time and time again that he will make you pay from deep, the Bucks even have to worry about former rookie of the year Malcolm Brogdon possibly leaving if the offer is right, Brogdon has proven a valuable asset off the bench providing great minutes at the backup point guard slot and even started a few games this year, his name has already been in the waters with a few teams in the east so if the Bucks are planning on keeping their guy their going to have to come correct. Then you have the Boston Celtics with all the talent a team could ever need, one of the best coaches in the league, and plenty of picks to make any trade a possibility they also have enough issues for the entire league. For starter we look to Kyrie Irving who at one point demanded to get out of Cleveland to be the star of his own team, to saying he will resign with Boston for the long-term, but now it seems he has had a change of hart by not only refusing to speak about his free agency but also firing his long time agent who he has had since he came into the league. Many believe that Kyrie will sign with the Brooklyn Nets after reports surfaced that he had picked Roc Nation (located in Brooklyn) to represent him. And to touch on that situation the Nets have said if they are able to land Kyrie this summer that they will let their young rising star point guard D’Angelo Russell walk(leave) in free agency.
As we go to the west all eyes land on the Los Angeles Lakers as we all await to see what can be done to bring in some help for LeBron James, we all know the talks that we have heard from last summer of this player here and there that want to come and play for the Lakers but it just never seems to happen until James signed his deal to some to La La Land. Now as the summer approaches yet again we wait and see if the “LeBron Affect,” has anything left to get any other players to come to the Lakers. The Warriors are in a tight spot as well, not having a lot of money to spend on free agents and the fact that will be without Kevin Durant for the entire year with his ruptured Achilles and Klay Thompson who will be out until the all-star break with his torn ACL, both players will be looking to get paid this off-season with the max. So, with that alone the Warriors are in a tight spot one so tight that they will have to rely on older vets to take pay cuts to fill out their roster.