This offseason has been packed with big time moves from the moment the Cleveland Cavaliers held the NBA Championship trophy over their heads.
From big name players’ contracts expiring, to average players getting huge deals.
The NBA raised the salary cap to over $94 million, $24 million more than the 2014-2015 year. The raise in salary cap allows already loaded teams to make pushes for big players, and even more so, teams are giving previous role players massive contracts.
Here are the five best moves made so far this offseason.
1. The Warriors Land Kevin Durant
The Warriors and Kevin Durant agreed to a two year, $54.3 million contract.
Durant signing with the Warriors will go down as the biggest move of the offseason, whether the team wins it all or comes up short.
Durant came into free-agency as the top player on the market and a player with a lot of potential suitors. The big teams in the race were the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Clippers.
It is still unclear how Steve Kerr plans on using Durant with the rest of the team, especially with the team now lacking quality big men. It is possible the Warriors will play a lot of small ball with Durant and Draymond Green at the four and five, Andre Igoudala and Klay Thompson at the wing, and with Steph Curry running the point. But even then, the Warriors are going to need some backup and size to come in off the bench.
The trio of Durant, Curry and Thompson creates the greatest shooting team of all time. The offense of possibilities are seemingly endless.
The Warriors now have two MVP’s, Curry and Durant, still in their prime, on the same team. They also have probably the best spot up shooter in the league in Thompson, and maybe one the most complete players in the league in Green.
With the addition of Durant, the Warriors have become the favorites to win the Championship next year and any other year after that in which these key players are together.
2. The Knicks Secure two Bulls
The Knicks signed Joakim Noah to a four year, $72 million contract.
Not every deal on this list makes somebody a championship front runner or even a contender, but they all make their team substantially better.
That is exactly what the deals to bring Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah from the Chicago Bulls to the New York Knicks did.
Last year the Knicks were a bottom dwelling team that had a promising young prospect, Kristaps Porzingis, and an offensive superstar, Carmelo Anthony, who people question whether he can win it all or not, and not much else.
Bringing Rose to the team adds a player who is established in running a team, distributing and scoring the ball. Last year was Rose’s first full season back from his long list of injuries and offers the potential to get back to his MVP form.
Noah offers a defensive force on the inside which the Knicks desperately need. He also provides a strong energy and leadership role.
The two ex-Bulls can immediately bring the Knicks out of the basement and become a playoff team once again.
3. The Boston Celtics Sign Al Horford
The Celtics sign Al Horford to a four year, $113 million contract.
No one expected the Celtics to become a team that made noise in the playoffs, but that is exactly what they did.
After a promising season full of emerging young players, the Celtics had a loaded draft class with six selections, including the number three pick, Jaylen Brown. After the Celtics drafted their future prospects, they went out and signed Al Horford to a huge deal to help their near future as well as help develop their young talent.
He makes the Celtics a perennial playoff team and a much more attractive destination for superstars in the future. Boston is now one star away from becoming title contenders.
Horford creates an identity for the Celtics that they did not have last year. Boston now has a legitimate offensive threat outside of Thomas.
4. The Dallas Mavericks Bring Over Two Warriors
The Mavericks trade the Warriors a 2nd round pick for Andrew Bogut.
Dallas signs Harrison Barnes to a max, four year, $94 million contract.
The Mavericks went after big men DeAndre Jordan last year and Hassan Whiteside this year, and came up short on both players.
Luckily for the Mavs, the Warriors landed superstar Kevin Durant, forcing the Warriors to cut ties or not resign with a few key players. Two of those players, Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes, ended up going to the Mavericks.
Barnes was a restricted free agent who was demanding a big pay day, and after the Warriors signed Durant for almost $30 million, they no longer had the cap room to match Barnes’ offers. Bogut was acquired in a salary-dump transaction, which the Mavs only need to give up a second round pick.
Since his freshman year at North Carolina, Barnes has always possessed the potential to become a special player in the NBA. Although he has yet to reach his full potential, given the right situation Barnes could finally take that next step to stardom. At Golden State, Barnes was limited to be a spot-up shooter that could defend multiple positions. In Dallas, he has a chance to finally take on the role of being the go-to player and become the player everyone always thought he could be.
Bogut is a tough, complete all-around big man. On offense, Bogut can offer a solid inside contributor, rebounder and fantastic passer. Bogut also provides solid rim protection and underrated athleticism.
5. San Antonio Spurs sign Pau Gasol
The Spurs signed Pau Gasol to a two year, $30 million contract.
The Spurs signed Gasol after hearing Durant chose to play for the Warriors next season.
The Spurs had a historic season last year and were only a win away from making a deep push into the playoffs.
Even with the Big Three’s years limited, even though we have been saying that for years, the Spurs front office have done a great job at preparing for the future as well as continuing to be title contenders.
Tim Duncan’s future is in question, even if it wasn’t, he is getting old and cannot give the minutes he use to.
Gasol fits perfectly with what the Spurs are looking to do. Gasol is able to bang down low with the other centers, as well as, stretch the floor and provide space for stars Kawhi Leonard and Lamarcus Aldridge to do their work.
While Gasol is getting up there in age, he doesn’t show it like a lot of other players because his style of play is based of his skill and knowledge. He is battle tested and NBA champion in the league so if the Spurs do start losing some of their veteran leaders this year, Gasol will be able to step in and try to fill their shoes.