This year’s NBA free agency produced some high quality drama. As one would expect from this genre, the main ingredients such as temptation, disrespect, and desperation were on display. Get ready to subscribe to next year’s NBA season. Here are some of the more intriguing plot lines brought on by this year’s free agency signings.Shooting stars
Oklahoma City, the small market team built through the draft, which is apparently the only acceptable method according to the basketball purists, lost Kevin Durant, the star who appeared oblivious to any other teams’ advances. After stretching the Golden State Warriors to the breaking point in the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder appeared poised for NBA Finals glory, so why would Kevin Durant leave? Well, when multiple stars in the form of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green come calling, along with the “Logo” Jerry West as the closer, who can say no? Kevin Durant now resides with the other shooting stars in California.The tactician makes a business decision
DeWayne Wade was the face of the Miami Heat. Without Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh do not join the Heat to eventually win multiple titles. Wade sacrificed status, statistics, and money for the “Big Three Era”. He also opted out of his contract in an effort to re-sign LeBron James the year James left for Cleveland. Pat Riley played the part of the cold tactician, sacrificing a relationship for not only better economics, but he also attached himself to a younger player, Hassan Whiteside. (He offered Whiteside 98 million dollars.) Riley has had a history of making these type of business decision moves. Maybe Wade felt that he was different from the previous players Riley shrewdly dealt with in the past, but as the story of the ruthless tactician usually unfolds, the result was that DeWayne felt disrespected enough to leave Miami for Chicago.
The Lakers 2:00 am desperation move
The Los Angeles Lakers have lost their mojo these days as evidenced by their lack of splash via free agency signings. The Lakers, a team where players used to covet as a final destination, now struggle to acquire players like Nicolas Batum or DeMar DeRozan. Neither of those players are playing in cities remotely as glamorous as LA. (No offense to Charlotte or Toronto.) The Lakers added Luol Deng, a steady veteran player, but his signing doesn’t provide the prerequisite sizzle. Realizing that their star has tarnished, the Lakers executed the 2:00 am desperation move where normal requirements are left behind – just sign any player willing to join. Ya know, because almost anything looks good at 2:00 am, and sure enough, the 2:00 am desperation move resulted in landing Timofey Mosgov at a price of 64 million dollars. Yes, the salary cap increased so players are signing for more money than last year’s market, but Mosgov at 64 million seems a bit costly.The old guys get together for one more ride
Picture Hollywood’s romanticized version of the “Old West” where several gunslingers are scarred from old injuries, and realizing that their best days are over, they’ve taken other jobs that are not as dangerous. They are Deputies or Sherifs of towns where nothing bad really happens. Of course, some of them can still ride and shoot, but no one would expect them to save anyone from a real threat. Then, Phil Jackson rides around on a white horse, gathers all of the old gunslingers together, and convinces them to saddle up and ride again to save the town from younger, more ruthless bad guys. Never mind that these old guys are one move away from their body breaking down before the first battle takes place. Now, replace the old gunslingers with Derek Rose, Joakim Noah, and Brandon Jennings. Yeah, anyone really believe these guys can make it through the NBA season without getting injured? Good luck, New York Knicks – we wish you the best.
The Dwight Howard revitalization project
The Atlanta Hawks decided that Al Horford was too expensive to retain, so they replaced him with Dwight Howard, a player who definitely needed another change of scenery and was only partially less costly. Howard was signed for three years, 70.5 million dollars, while Horford’s contract netted him 113 million dollars over four years. Why would the Hawks choose Howard over Horford? Perhaps, the Hawks champion the idea of a rim protector revitalizing his career in Atlanta, which isn’t a horrible idea considering that they have to face the Cavaliers, a team with two outstanding finishers in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. However, Howard is entering year 13, and he couldn’t make things work in LA or Houston. Some of the blame should point to Howard – it can’t always rest at someone else’s feet.
Blame the General
Larry Bird parted ways with Indian Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel, which he obviously has the right to do since he is paid to make those type of personnel decisions, but Frank Vogel was not holding the Pacers back from winning. This move is similar to a war movie’s Chief Commander unwilling to see past blaming the General for failures in the field when there are other problems with the army such as lack of fighting soldiers, weapons, etc. Of course, the General is fired, but the war is still lost due to the lack of resources, which is the real issue facing the Indiana Pacers, and they received no help from the free agency market.Dirk’s last stand
According to formers players like Charles Barkley, since Dirk Nowitzki stayed in Dallas and slugged it out with the same team over the years, Dirk is the shining example in a world tainted with players trying to “cheat” their way to a title by joining other teams supposedly stacked with can’t miss title winners. Salute to Dirk! However, Dirk’s incredible career is waining. He still has his outside shot, but his play on the defensive end…well… Let’s just say, he struggles playing defense. As Father Time is closing in on Dirk’s career, the rebuild process would undoubtedly take too long, so the Dallas Mavericks have decided to unite the “cast-offs” from other teams to make the final stand with Dirk. The cast-offs include Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut from the Golden State Warriors. Can Andrew Bogut’s body hold out long enough to give the Mavericks a solid presence from the Center position? Sure, Harrison Barnes didn’t shoot well in the NBA Finals, but he is still a productive player who can also provide options defensively. Who knows? Maybe the rag-tag castoffs along with the core players on the Dallas roster can stand with Dirk and make nice playoff run.
With these free agency signings and other possible trades before the deadline, the upcoming NBA season will have a chance to build on the momentum already gained from several players playing for new teams. New teams bring new storylines. Good times for the NBA fans. See you when the season starts.