Free Agency Frenzy: Winners of the NBA Offseason Thus Far

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By Ethan Pearce, Assistant Sports Editor

 

The NBA has quickly begun preparations for next season, as it is scheduled to begin on December 22. The NBA Draft was last week and free agency started soon after, and teams are gearing up for yet another challenging season. There are plenty of teams who could come out on top, and while rosters are not quite finalized yet, we have a pretty good idea of who the contenders are going to be. Here are a few teams who made some major moves in free agency, and what that does to their chances next year. 

 

Los Angeles Lakers

The defending champions just got better. One of the only flaws that LeBron James and company had last year was a slight lack of depth, being a little top-heavy with their two stars and lacking much else. They have completely remedied that this year with the addition of reigning 6th Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, Dennis Schroder (who was a finalist for the same award), former Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol and veteran shooter Wesley Matthews, as well as retaining free agents Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Markieff Morris, and Anthony Davis (who hasn’t agreed yet, but it’s only a matter of time before they work a deal out). Former Ute Kyle Kuzma also remains on the roster. This is a classic case of the rich getting richer, as they’ve acquired veterans who can shoot, defend and round out the roster. The Lakers will be better next year, and that’s scary for the rest of the league.

 

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks have been rebuilding for a few years now, but they’re finally ready to jump back into the playoff picture. Entering Trae Young’s third season, they’ve given him a fully rebuilt roster, adding stretch big Danilo Gallinari, top-6 draft pick Onyeka Okongwu, veteran guard Rajon Rondo, defensive specialist Kris Dunn and signing sharpshooter Bogdan Bogdanovic to an offer sheet, which the Sacramento Kings will have a chance to match. Atlanta is now a real contender for the postseason and they’ve set themselves up to make some noise while their star is still young. Look out for the Hawks.

 

Portland Trail Blazers

Portland struggled last year with a combination of injuries and inconsistency, but they’ve retooled this roster around Damian Lillard and are likely to be back as a top competitor in the West. They’ve added veteran wing defender Robert Covington, athletic forward Derrick Jones Jr., offensive center Enes Kanter and brought back Rodney Hood, who should be healthy this year. Jusuf Nurkic is another year removed due to injury and Lillard, along with CJ McCollum, will be back for another season as a top NBA backcourt.

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves had the first overall pick in this year’s draft, selecting Anthony Edwards out of Georgia, along with Leandro Bolmaro and Jaden McDaniels late in the first round. They retained restricted free agents Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez, as well as trading for Ricky Rubio, a former player who is loved by the organization and fans. Additionally, Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell are healthy and ready to prove what they can do and they’ve deepened the roster with veterans and young, talented players. They should be significantly better than last year and will attempt to be competitive in a loaded Western Conference.

 

Philadelphia 76ers

The second the Sixers hired Daryl Morey to run the front office, we knew changes were coming. He immediately fixed a lot of the problems on this roster, getting rid of Al Horford’s contract for veteran shooter Danny Green, flipping Josh Richardson for Seth Curry (who has one of the best 3 point percentages in the league), adding Tyrese Maxey in the draft, and signing veteran center Dwight Howard. They needed shooting and better positional distribution, and boy did they get it. The Sixers should be back on track towards fulfilling their potential.

Beyond those teams, there are many others who made significant moves. The Phoenix Suns added Chris Paul to capitalize on their strong Bubble run. The Golden State Warriors added veteran contributors and a young center in James Wiseman, despite the depressing, season-ending loss of Klay Thompson. The Oklahoma City Thunder tore down the roster for more draft picks than you can count on your fingers and toes. The Milwaukee Bucks added Jrue Holiday and rounded out the roster with solid veterans and defenders to try to convince MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to stick around. I’ll cut it there, but overall the league is loading up to make another run at the Larry O’Brien trophy. Next season is sure to be just as entertaining as the last as teams gear up for the December 22nd start date.

 

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