Then, And Now

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Courtesy Associated Press

Not that you were especially curious about my opinion, but being that we’re all curious about everyone’s opinions – only to the extent that we can then espouse upon our own, I suspect – let me be clear about what has happened over the past week: no, I have no idea what’s going on in the NBA, other than that players are doing whatever the hell they want, which is good for fans from an objectivity standpoint and bad for fans from a “We want a title at all costs!” standpoint[1].

In case you lost track, which – who could blame you, because I certainly have too – here are a few people, and facts about them that are true:

  • Anthony Davis is now a Los Angeles Laker courtesy of a heretofore unprecedented amount of picks and players, and with no delay – we’ll get there immediately. DeMarcus Cousins joined him there late Saturday afternoon, as did Rajon Rondo.
  • Paul George is a Los Angeles Clipper(!), courtesy of the Oklahoma City Thunder trading him for an unprecedented haul of draft picks and players. As of right now, Paul George is the most sought-after player by trade trail in NBA history. Value is always in the eyes of the beholder, but what Thunder general manager Sam Presti, always a trade hawk[2], netted for George is impressive, as per Adrian Wojnarowski: four unprotected first-round picks, one protected first-round pick and the rights to two pick swaps, as well as Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, both of whom are more than capable players and the latter of whom projects as a potential All-Star.
  • Kawhi Leonard is a Los Angeles Clipper, courtesy of the Paul George trade mentioned above. Nobody knows anything about this man, despite the Sports Illustrated profile, and we all need to accept that. The Board Man got paid, in case you were curious, and now he’s voluntarily walking into a title contender yet again. He is the greatest manipulator this side of POTUS, but with results to back himself.
  • Kevin Durant (ex-Warrior; injured until further notice) and Kyrie Irving (ex-Space Gawd and Celtic) are both Brooklyn Nets
  • Kemba Walker is a Boston Celtic, which pains everyone who felt that Michael Jordan was going to provide better coverage than George Shinn ever did.
  • D’Angelo Russell is a Golden State Warrior; Klay Thompson stuck around.
  • Al Horford is a Philadelphia 76er!
    • Jimmy Butler is not ☹
    • JJ Redick is not either ☹
    • Jimmy Butler – not James – is a member of the Miami Heat
    • Redick went to the New Orleans Pelicans for two years, which will be a really nice time for him to see what leisurely retirement might be like
  • Khris Middleton stuck with Giannis, because he is not a butthead
  • Malcolm Brogdon, on the other hand, is a butthead, because he chose to join the Indiana Pacers

This may be the ideal FreeDarko offseason. I don’t want to denote every single free agency transaction, which is a thing you can do here, but the league has shifted. It is no longer a Warriors league, and this may have come a year earlier than many expected, especially after the injuries Klay and Durant suffered in the Finals.

Kawhi Leonard just completed the greatest mercenary season in NBA history – his cross-section of talent, wherewithal and situational calculation is, really, without precedent. He went to a team for one year, and he won that team a championship basically of his own accord. That is INSANE. Right now, Kawhi Leonard could run for President of the United States and Prime Minister of Canada at the same time, and I’m not sure he would miss a vote.

At the same time, he expressed what he wanted from the jump: to go to Los Angeles, in some form or another, and become the Kawhiet Assassin on his terms. He had to make sure someone else would be involved; it seems that Sindarius Thornwell was not enough[3] on his own, so Kawhi conducted sufficient meetings on his own time in order to get Paul George to request a trade from the place in which he’d signed a massive deal only a year prior. Sam Presti, ever the whirligig, was only so happy to oblige.

As a result, the Lakers, a marquee franchise in the NBA, are scrambling for people you’ve heard of under circumstances that do not resonate the brightest confidence. The Thunder may have just pulled in the greatest trade haul of all-time, but they have their own questions to answer. The Clippers are in grand standing, supposing George’s health.

No one knows how this NBA season is going to turn out, which stands in stark contrast to everything the Warriors had provided up until injuries got the best of them. Rodney McGruder signed a three-year deal worth $15 million with the Clippers on July 2nd. The fact that that could mean something is an indication of where the Western Conference, and the NBA as a whole, may be going.

*     *     *

[1] Unless you’re a Raptors fan, in which case: congratulations; I’m sorry; but also, your team did the very thing to which all of basketball is supposed to aspire. Retain your pride: keep on listening to Scorpion if you so choose.

[2] Open invitation to all James Harden trade jokes, but you and I both know that was never just going to work itself out. Also: Steven Adams!

[3] Go Cocks.

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