Last year The Perth Wildcats and Melbourne United were clearly the two best teams.
This year the gap has narrowed significantly. The other two playoff teams, Brisbane and Sydney mostly not improving. Two non playoff teams landed major free agent acquisitions vaulting them into the playoff conversation.
The Illawarra Hawks signed Lamelo Ball and young potential NBA superstar RJ Hampton joined the New Zealand Breakers. Former NBA player Lamar Patterson returns for Brisbane allowing them to stay in the playoff conversation.
Bryce Cotton leads defending NBL champion Perth as we enter a new season. With as many as 7 teams in the hunt for 4 playoff spots should be an excited year.
In August the NBL or National Basketball League begins exhibition games with several NBA teams.
Perth or Melbourne United could win it all but our dark horse to watch is the New Zealand Breakers. Looking forward to an exciting year.
Chris Paul could very well start the season with the OKC Thunder.
Thus far interest has been relatively light.
Okc has agreed to attach Terrence Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo as possible sweetners.
The Washington Wizards and Orlando Magic most recent teams in contact.
The Wizards have been approached by OKC about a John Wall/ Chris Paul swap as the posting of this still waiting on Washington's response.
If OKC doesn't find a deal they like like December 15th is the next date to watch from Chris Paul trade front.
If we move toward a deal or hear more will update as we receive.
It's not often you wonder about the viability of a team with two superstars. However the Lakers are a clear example.
Lebron James is probably more star than superstar as his production has seen a clear drop especially on defense. Anthony Davis is a superstar big in his prime. As great as these two are the rest of the Lakers roster leaves much to be desired.
Kyle Kuzma is arguably the Lakers third best player. A volume scorer, below average defender who grades out as essentially a high level bench player.
Let's take a closer look at the rest of their projected rotation.
Demarcus Cousins is the wild card. Can he play at a all star or star level again? After two major injuries no way to know for sure.
Javale Mcgee is also bench fodder.
Avery Bradley is terrible and hasn't been more than a below average defender in nearly two seasons.
Rajon Rondo is a shell of his former self grading out as below average defensively and still a terrible shooter as a not so added bonus.
Danny Green is a good 3 and D player but this year he posted his lowest ever defensive rating and just turned 32. How much does he have left?
Lebron and AD are good enough to make the playoffs without much help but the Lakers have little room for error. If either misses extended time they lack the depth to try to weather the storm.
Lakers fans better pray both play 75 or more games or things could quickly get ugly.
Marcus Morris signed a one year 14.8 million dollar contract with the New York Knicks.
Reggie Bullock restructured his agreement with Knicks for two years 8 million.
The NBA board of governer's approved a replay/ challenge system.
The Golden State Warriors waived PG/SG/SF Shaun Livingston.
The Memphis Grizzlies poached RFA Tyus Jones from Minn.
Kelly Oubre Jr agree to a two year 30 million dollar deal with Phoenix Suns.
The OKC Thunder have traded Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul and 2024, 2026 first round picks and 2021 ,2025 pick swaps.
Tyson Chandler is signing a one year deal with Houston Rockets.
Tyler Lydon is signing a two year deal with Sac Kings.
David Nwaba is signing a two year deal with Brooklyn Nets.
Now that free agency has mostly drawn to a close let's take a look at this years winners and losers:
New York Knicks-
This will be a controversial opinion but here is what the Knicks accomplished this summer. They signed a 24 year old Julius Randle who I firmly believe can be a star. Bobby Portis is one of the best lunch pail bigs in the league and will make a great addition as well. Marcus Morris is a great veteran SF pickup additionally. New York after missing out on Durant could have chased B tier free agents and given out big money but they maintained long term financial flexibility instead.
The Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard a clear top 5 player and kept the core of a 48 win team. The Paul George trade was just icing on the cake.
The Miami Heat-
Although it was a sign and trade getting Jimmy Butler and solidifying their playoff chances is a clear win.
Bojan Bogdanovic is one of the most underrated players in the league. The Jazz with the Mike Conley trade now have three options on offense to pair with an elite defense. The stuff of nightmares once the playoffs begin.
Losing Bogdanovic hurts but adding Brogdon not only improves their shooting the TJ Warren trade likely replaces most of Bogdanovic scoring. The Pacers are even deeper in a much improved East.
Kyrie Irving is great not denying that but here is my worry. They have a post Achilles Kevin Durant on a max contract and punted on all star PG D'Angelo Russell. My other concern is Durant he's about to be 32 coming off an Achilles injury how well will he recover? That's Brooklyn's problem now.
The Hornets lost there only star for nothing and have a cap sheet that is literally tear inducing. Things are real dark in NC.
Kawhi Leonard left for nothing, a championship still doesn't change that. Although you can argue it was worth the cost.
Where do I even begin? The Suns paid Indiana to take Warren, signed Baynes instead of keeping the less expensive Holmes, paid Memphis to take former top 5 pick Josh Jackson. Even worse was anybody else going to pay Ricky Rubio 17 million long term? I seriously doubt it.
It's looking promising for Miami Heat fan's as they are currently the clear frontrunners.
One executive with knowledge of the situation went as far as to say " if Russell Westbrook is not a part of Miami Heat within a week I will be shocked."*
*Note this executive does not work for Miami Heat and was offering third party opinion.
However the Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, Minn Timberwolves and Houston Rockets are still in pursuit.
The following teams have rejected or said not interested in regards to trading for Russell Westbrook:
San Antonio Spurs
New York Knicks
It appears the rebuild is starting in OKC. Paul George is gone and the Thunder have made everyone available.
Thus far several teams have had at least a conversation regarding a Russell Westbrook trade:
New York Knicks
Our sources confirm the 3 most interested teams thus far are Bucks, Heat, Pistons
Steven Adams being packaged in deal was among scenarios discussed.
More to come as we hear it.
Paul George is on the move.
Turns out the NBA fireworks were only beginning.
Paul George and Kawhi Leonard got to talking recently and George requested a trade to LAC.
Sam Presti did an excellent job getting 5 1st round picks, Shai Gilgeous Alexander and Danilo Gallinari in return.
The trade package includes:
2021 Miami 1st unprotected
2022 Clippers 1st unprotected
2023 Miami 1st top 14 protected
2024 Clippers 1st unprotected
2025 pick swap
2026 Clipper 1st unprotected.
Win/ win in our opinion.
Kawhi watch is officially over.
Kawhi Leonard who most know is the humble superstar who the Spurs developed from raw potential. He was snubbed by UCLA and drafted outside the lottery after going to San Diego State.
We reported on Kawhi have the Clippers as his preferred destination for more than a week and despite a late push from the Toronto Raptors making it a very difficult decision he is LAC bound.
With Kawhi Leonard added and the Paul George trade the Clippers become a top 3 team in the Western conference.