By Nick Forbes, Managing Editor of Design
Ladies and gentlemen, we are just two days away from the month of October, and we all know what that means: NBA basketball is back.
With the league set to tip off on Oct. 17, the wildest NBA offseason in history is still not showing any signs of slowing down as teams continue to wheel and deal, sending superstars to new homes and reconfiguring the landscape of the league as we know it.
Teams in Western Conference scrambled to build teams mighty enough to compete with the seemingly invincible Golden State Warriors.
The Clippers dealt All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets for a bevy of players and draft picks in one of the first major moves of the NBA offseason.
Paul teams up with 2017 MVP runner-up James Harden in what is sure to be one of the most electric offenses in the league, after Harden recorded one of the best offensive seasons last year, on an I-have-to- do-everything-myself Rockets team that lacked depth.
But the storyline in the talent-rich West is still the Thunder vs. the Warriors. Russ vs. KD. Loyalty vs. Champion- ships. Good vs. Evil.
Russell Westbrooks 42 triple-double 2016-17 season will go down as one of the greatest individual efforts ever, but with no help around him, the Thunder could never compete with the Warriors and Kevin Durant, who slithered away from Oklahoma City and his best friend Westbrook last offseason to finally get a taste of the championship that has eluded him for so long.
Boy did that change quick. Oklahoma City acquired superstar forward Paul George in a trade with the Pacers in late June, giving Thunder fans some semblance of hope.
And just when you thought it was all over, the Thunder shocked everyone this past week by dealing Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a draft pick to the Knicks for 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anothony.
With this new big three solidified in OKC, maybe the Thunder FINALLY have a chance to take down the big bad Warriors. Maybe.
Meanwhile in the much less talented Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics seemed to start from almost scratch in assembling a new roster to compete with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In a salary-dump move, the Celtics dealt defensive stud Avery Bradley to Phoenix in exchange for Marcus Morris. With the newly freed salary space, Boston was able to lure All-Star forward Gordon Hayward away from Utah to reunite with his college coach Brad Stevens.
If that wasn’t enough for a team that competed in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cavs last year, the two teams made the biggest blockbuster trade that almost didn’t happen.
Kyrie Irving escaped from the shadow of his father LeBron James in Cleveland to prove he is his own franchise player in Boston.
In return, Cleveland gets their own All-Star point guard in Isaiah Thomas, as well as two other players and a draft pick. Then, just to one-up Boston, Cleveland signed old-man Dwayne Wade, who won two championships in Miami with LeBron James.
The C’s new roster featuring Kyrie, Hayward, Horford and rookie scoring sensation Jayson Tatum out of Duke is looking for revenge against the Cavaliers and the King of the East, LeBron.
Oh yeah, and the Wizards are still kind of relevant in the East too… but that’s about it. Who else is going to compete with those teams? The unproven young “superteam” 76ers? Please. Chicago? Not after losing Dwayne Wade and Jummiy Butler.
Will all of these moves be enough to prevent Warriors vs. Cavaliers: Part IV? Probably not, but a young Celtics fan can dream.