So, last Friday I wrote about how I, like pretty much everyone else, was awaiting Kawhi's free agency decision. Well, he made it at 4 am the next morning, and he made it loudly. I was absolutely stunned, not by the fact that he joined the Clippers, but that Paul George was a part of this all along, and that Kawhi pretty much knew where he wanted to go from the start.
This is a monumental move by an enormous free agent, and the NBA finally, mercifully, has parity again. There is a big number of teams I could see competing for the title in this upcoming season now. The Clippers are the prohibitive favorites in mine, and pretty much everyone else's eyes. They have 2 of the best 2 way players in the game, Patrick Beverly is the perfect point guard for this team, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell make for one hell of a duo coming off the bench and Mo Harkless was a solid trade pickup. They did mortgage their future, but they got Kawhi and Paul George. That is a move I would make 10 out of 10 times. The other LA team was left to scramble, much to my delight. I have loved hearing columnists say that "they are making out okay" with the signings of Boogie Cousins and Avery Bradley and Danny Green. Oh, they also brought back Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee. Hilarious. They do have LeBron and AD though, and that is enough for me the make them a playoff team, but they are now the second team in LA. The Clippers have the better, more well rounded and younger dynamic duo. They also have a far superior head coach.
Also, these journalists trying to say the Lakers did fine, stop. They waited for Kawhi and he shunned them. They blew it, just like the Knicks did with KD. I love that Kawhi chose the Clippers because this means Rich Paul doesn't have as much pull as he thinks he does, and it proves how stupid Rob Pelinka is.
The Thunder are going to be an absolute mess next year, and for awhile. I hope for his sake they trade Russ. He deserves to go somewhere that wants him, and won't trade away super star players all the time. I would love to see him go to Miami, but time will tell. I will say, the Thunder made out like bandits in the trade. They got SEVEN future draft picks, 5 first rounders and Shai Gilgeous Alexander and Danilo Gallinari. Gilgeous Alexander is a guy they can rebuild around, and Gallinari is a great trade asset. But, they are going to be bad for awhile, especially if they trade Russ.
Back to the other contenders besides the Lakers and Clippers. In the West, we cannot just push aside teams like the Trailblazers, Nuggets, Rockets and Warriors. The Trailblazers did some weird stuff this offseason, but they still have Dame and CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic should be back at some point this year. The Nuggets have everyone back from a team that earned the 2 seed last season. The Rockets, even though they are totally dysfunctional, are still one of the better small ball teams in the league, and they can shoot the lights out. The Warriors have Steph, managed to somehow trade for D'Angelo Russell, get Klay back at some point, still have Draymond and they resigned Kevon Looney. While they won't be as dominant, they are still a playoff team. I can't forget the Jazz. Man did they did so much better this offseason. They are going to be real, real good. The Kings are up and coming too. New Orleans is going to be my favorite League Pass team. The West is going to be so much fun to watch this year.
The East is, in my opinion, Philly's to lose. They are so big, will eat teams up in defense and on the boards and will score just enough to win 55 or so games. They need to stay healthy, but if they do, they are legit. Milwaukee has the reigning MVP, they brought almost everyone back and they were the one seed last year. Giannis will only get better, and the shooting around him is key. The loss of Malcolm Brogdon will hurt more than they think, but they will still be good to great. Miami, especially if they acquire Westbrook, will be solid. They already have Jimmy Butler too. And they play hard and rough and solid defense. They want to take your will away, and I think they have the guys to do it. Boston should be thrilled that they don't have to deal with Kyrie anymore, and Kemba is a good replacement. They also have solid young guys like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. But, Brad Stevens loyalty to Gordon Hayward is a concern, and losing Al Horford is going to sting. The Pacers got some solid pickups in Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb, and when Victor Oladipo gets back, they will be a top 4 seed. The Nets will be a playoff team again this year with the addition of Kyrie. But, next year, even if he is only 70 to 80 percent of his former self, the Nets will be the Clippers biggest threat out East.
I cannot wait to watch the regular season again. This time it will actually count. A game in the middle of the year that features Orlando and Milwaukee, or the Clippers and Nuggets will be fun, and important. This offseason has been wild, and when Kawhi made his choice it was epic. It makes the NBA so much more fun. I can't wait.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the greatest basketball writer on the internet.
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