Clippers Win Big Prize and a Bonus; Get Kawhi and Paul George

The NBA off-season had started with a bang with the Lakers and Pelicans finally agreeing to a trade of Anthony Davis. The moves after (Durant and Kyrie to the Nets, Walker to the Celtics, etc.) had also great significance. But the last major domino fell last night as the prized free agent of this summer, Kawhi Leonard, agreed to sign with the Clippers.

And for an added bonus, the Clippers went out and got Paul George which stunned nearly everyone. The Clippers sent Shai Gilegous-Alexander (10.8 PPG, 3.3 APG), Danilo Gallinari (19.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG), and a bevvy of draft picks which are unprotected (Miami’s 2021, Clippers 2022, 2024, and 2026) and one more (Miami’s 2023 first rounder).

Wow is all I can say.

Leonard’s year has been one of intrigue as his demand to his old team, the Spurs was to trade him to Los Angeles, notably the Lakers. However, given the issues the Spurs and Leonard had with each other, that didn’t happen (and San Antonio didn’t want to trade them to their historic rival) so he was shipped to the Raptors. Leonard didn’t whine about the move to Toronto and took Toronto over the top for their first NBA Championship. Leonard also re-established himself as one of the best all-around players in the game if not the best all-around player.

Instead of joining LeBron, Leonard opted to join the Clippers. And will have Paul George with him, which I think George will be in a better situation with Leonard than Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City.

So let’s look at some takes.

Clippers have to be the favorites in the Western Conference. Despite the moves, the Clippers still have depth (Beverly, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, etc.) which along with Leonard and George, will make that team unbelievably strong. With the Warriors losing Durant and going to miss Klay Thompson for a while next season and the Lakers not having a whole lot of major depth to this point, the Clippers have to be considered the favorites.

The Raptors will still be a threat in the East but…. Toronto was surprisingly deep last year with Leonard and still have Kyle Lowry (assuming he doesn’t get traded himself). However, you have to figure Boston, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee are banging down on the door (and honestly, the Sixers and Bucks are better than Toronto especially without Kawhi). But Toronto could still make a move or two to improve their squad now with out Leonard there. But I wouldn’t expect a repeat to the NBA Finals if I am a Raptors fan barring a major trade for another superstar.

The Lakers issues were too much I think for Leonard to sign, even with LeBron and Davis there. It seemed like the Lakers issues were really exposed at the end of the season when Magic Johnson left and of course running gags about how LeBron is the real GM of the team anyway. Leonard I think did his homework with the Lakers (because if he really wanted to go to the Lakers, he would have) which is why he wanted to talk to Magic. It also speaks volumes to me if LeBron can’t bring in a big star to team with now (honestly, I think franchise players like Leonard would prefer to be on their own squad than team with the franchise player in LeBron at this point-and think about it: Durant, Irving, and now Leonard whom all have been linked to the Lakers, are elsewhere). I also believe the Lakers are NOT NBA championship contenders given the moves made this year and really gutting the depth they had.

Russell Westbrook may be the next big star on the move. Seems like rumors of a mega-deal being made by the Raptors (once they found out Leonard wouldn’t return) and Thunder of Westbrook/George on the move are high, which means probably the end of Westbrook’s tenure in Oklahoma City. Toronto would really benefit from getting Westbrook as he would have the depth he could be around that lacked somewhat in Oklahoma City. The Raptors hit a home run with Leonard there last year and many thought it wouldn’t work. Why wouldn’t they do it again? Let’s face it, the Thunder aren’t going anywhere and since Durant has left, Oklahoma City have been first round casualties every year so they need to just start over anyway.

The NBA may be interesting and for the first time in a good while, pretty wide open. For the last 4-5 years we have pretty much sensed what the end result was: Golden State vs. LeBron and the Cavs. Last year the dynamic changed more with LeBron out of Cleveland and the East being wide open with Milwaukee, Toronto, and Philadelphia. Now, the moves made makes the East wider (Boston) and the west is going to be interesting with the Warriors down a bit (still have to be considered a favorite though) and then you have some teams that could make things exciting with the youth pushes (New Orleans, Atlanta). So the NBA will be fun to see in 2019-2020.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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LeBron James to the Lakers: Numerous Obstructed Thoughts

So last night the word came down that many had been expecting (and ESPN probably partied once more): LeBron James agreed to become a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.

So the NBA is now shaken up cross country as there is no more major favorite in the East save Philadelphia and Boston while many would pen them as being inept to any team that the West would throw out in the Finals.  Or that’s what has been said (and maybe true).  So I will look at different thoughts and angles of this signing and the effect it has on LeBron, the Lakers, the Cavaliers, the Western Conference, and the Eastern Conference and whatever else.

(1) LEBRON LOOKED AT EVERYTHING, NOT JUST WINNING, ON SIGNING HIS NEXT TEAM:  If the rumors were true that he wanted to make sure that he wants what’s best for his family while looking at post-NBA future (i.e. joining the entertainment industry in LA), this was obvious.  And I’m not saying James doesn’t want to win.  He does.  But he’s 33 and he signed a contract that may be his last as when he’s done he will hit 37.  I don’t see him being one that plays one year too long.  He will retire on top of his game.  And anywhere he went he would make an instant contender even if it is the Hawks or Kings.  And I think right now while he could still rule the East with Cleveland and he would have more of an issue with Golden State, Houston, and MAYBE Oklahoma City he’s still in the mix.  But being in Los Angeles is where he’s at which makes sense instead of staying in Cleveland or going to Philadelphia.  And if it was the money, he’d definitely stay put with the Cavaliers.

(2)  THE CAVALIERS FRONT OFFICE PROBABLY WAS THE DECIDING FACTOR:  James and the Cavs management seemed to have their differences over the last couple of seasons.  It seemed like the Cavs management was tired of giving into LeBron and LeBron was equally frustrated of the Cavaliers possibly tuning him out with his demands and it sounds like James and owner Dan Gilbert weren’t keen with each other.  If you go to work for a guy you don’t really care for, and know that there may be something else out there, you probably would want to leave too.  I personally wished LeBron would have stayed in Cleveland, but after thinking about it, I can see why he left.

(3)  THE WESTERN CONFERENCE IS STILL GOLDEN STATE’S (FOR NOW):  The Lakers have a young corps and honestly, if they keep that group in tact, it would be stronger than any team LeBron has played with in a long time.  Why would they have to trade Brandon Ingram?  Why would they have to trade Kyle Kuzma?  Why would they have to trade Lonzo Ball?  Yeah, there are some players they could move (Luol Deng) and get a key piece back, but to me, keeping those guys would be better than saying trading two or three of those guys for Kawhi Leonard.  But keep that group together for another couple of seasons and you can have the Lakers back in no time.

(4) ONCE AGAIN, THE CAVALIERS MANAGEMENT MESSED UP WITH LEBRON’S EXODUS AND MAYBE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE CONFERENCE:  IF Cleveland’s plans in the off-season was to keep LeBron in the mix, they failed again.  Now you have a team of players that are possibly past their primes.  This is not how to run an NBA squad.

(5) THE CELTICS, SIXERS, AND MAYBE RAPTORS ARE THE HEAVY FAVORITES TO BE THE EASTERN CONFERENCE FAVORITES:  And they all play in the same division.  Yikes.

(6) THE LAKERS MAY JUST GET ONLY LEBRON INSTEAD OF LEBRON +2 STARS AND IT MAY BE THEIR BEST IDEA YET:  Yesterday the Lakers also signed Lance Stephenson and re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.  It makes getting that 2nd big star through trade or free agency a bit of an issue.  However, it also looks like the Lakers are saving for that big star next year.  Maybe Kevin Durant joins next season?  His new deal has a player option after 2019.  It would make more sense to sign him than Kawhi or anybody else.  Just saying.

Lakers

(7) ASSUMING LONZO BALL DOESN’T GET TRADED, WE MAY HEAR MORE AND MORE OF LAVAR BALL’S CHOMPING.  Let’s say the Lakers win the championship, two things will happen. 1. Lavar Ball will get tons of face time on ESPN.  2. Lavar Ball will say it is Lonzo, not LeBron, that was instrumental and the team MVP of the Lakers.  Prepare yourselves.  If the Lakers struggle with LeBron, watch Lavar shift the blame on LeBron and how he needs to fit Lonzo’s game.  But hey, ESPN can make an entire hour-long of Sportscenter to Monday Night Raw with it as it isn’t much of a sports highlight show as is anymore.

Lakers

(8) THE MEDIA NEEDS TO CHILL OUT ALREADY: Bleacher Report jokingly put a meme out that LeBron replaced Kobe as the greatest Laker ever and people have eaten that up.  First off, LeBron even if he wins a ring or two with LA, he won’t be the greatest Laker ever.  And the other bit is that if you are a true Lakers fan, you view LeBron as a hired gun.  He may retire as a Laker, but as a “beloved” Laker like Kobe, Magic, Kareem, Worthy, etc. because those guys stayed around nearly forever in LA.  LeBron will be there for four years and quite possibly by that third or fourth year, not play on that high caliber level that we’ve seen for nearly the past 15 years, thus he will not be the greatest Lakers player ever or even come close to it.  And if you look around the other sports, we don’t view Deion Sanders as being one of the all-time Cowboy greats as more of that hired gun in the late 90’s for them.  Yankees fans had a love/hate relationship with Alex Rodriguez and many don’t view him being a true Yankee.  Brett Hull was a hired gun for the Stars and Red Wings and helped win Stanley Cups for both teams.  We don’t consider him to be one of the greats in those franchises.  So let’s cool it on LeBron being on the same line as the others.  We know when the smoke is cleared the greatest Cavaliers player of all-time because of what he did in Cleveland.

(9) BETTER GET YOUR NAPS IN DURING THE DAYTIME:  You will see a lot of Western Conference games being televised on TNT and ESPN.  I would say you will see all the Lakers/Warriors, Lakers/Rockets, Lakers/Thunder games on those stations as well as the Lakers/Cavaliers for both meetings.  Not griping.  Just the nature of the beast.  But it means you will see far more 10-10:30 games out west than what we’ve seen in the past if you are on the east coast.

Should be an interesting season for sure.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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NBA Free Agency: Should the Cavs consider a sign and trade for Lebron?

The NBA season is almost over and the Playoffs are just around the corner. The Cavs have a problem and his name is LeBron James. LeBron is once again a free agent and it’s already been speculated that he could once again leave Cleveland. LeBron is an attraction within himself. Players around the league all want to play alongside him even if they have to come to Cleveland. But the Cavs organization cannot bet their money on him staying while he is considering the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Image result for lebron james free agent choices

There is only one solution for the Cavs if LeBron decides to walk out again. They have to try and do a sign and trade with whichever team he decides to take his talents to.

Why Sign and trade?

The Cavs already have some youth and a top 5 pick with the net’s pick but I wouldn’t let LeBron leave a second time without getting something in return. Every team he is considering has some remarkable pieces that they can try and get out of the deal so that they can have more assets to either work with or use as trade bait. Now we have to be honest with ourselves. The Cavs are not going to get a Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ben Simmons, or a Joel Embiid. Most likely they will end up with Role players or Draft picks.

The Bad side and why they have to convince LeBron to do it

Now even though this is a possibility it is definitely a long shot. LeBron has 2 teams on his radar that can give him a max contract without losing a single asset. The tricky part to a sign and trade is if LeBron leaves then I know he wouldn’t want to give up anything on his new team in a sign and trade if he doesn’t have to. But with his love for the city of Cleveland I think he will consider it so that they can at least have something to either build around or use as trade bait in the offseason.

Now the best bet for this to happen is if LeBron chooses Houston. They already don’t have the cap to sign LeBron to a max but they have leverage over all of candidates because his best friend Chris Paul plays in Houston and LeBron would love to play alongside him. They would have to make some room on the roster to make this happen and Cleveland can take advantage of that to add some more pieces to their team.

Now LeBron staying is still a possibility for all my cavs fans but just in case he doesn’t this would be a good chance to secure your future. You guys are in good hands with GM Koby Altman whom I think will consider this option if LeBron chooses to walk. But what do you think?

Will LeBron walk once again this offseason? Should the Cavs try to do a sign and trade if he decides to walk?