I was able to watch the Spurs close out Miami on Sunday night in an air conditioned tent at Bonnaroo. I passed on seeing Wiz Khalifa’s set to watch Manu Ginobili dunk on Chris Bosh and Patty Mills sink five three-pointers. I would be lying to you if I told you I didn’t want San Antonio to win this year’s Finals. So much has been written about the Spurs, and how dominant they were this season. Shout out to yung Retti’s Dallas Mavericks, though. Dallas nearly beat San Antonio in the first round. That Dallas offense was incredible, and didn’t get the credit it deserves as being one of the three most efficient offenses in the NBA all year.(Side note, I’d love Carmelo Anthony to sign with the Mavericks). Anyway, San Antonio dominated on both ends, and at times it looked like Miami didn’t know what to do on offense. Miami’s role players, minus Rashard Lewis, didn’t show up, which made it even easier for San Antonio. Kawhi Leonard’s improved shooting continues to amaze me. For everyone saying that the Spur system let Kawhi Leonard win Most Valuable Player in the Finals discredits the hard work Leonard put into his jump shot since entering the League. He’s a living example that you need to continue to work
hard once you enter the League. Leonard is a model for every young player who is about to enter the NBA–potential is one thing, but it’s what how hard you work with that potential that can make you very successful in the NBA. Kawhi Leonard always had some phenomenal physical intangibles in terms of length and size of his hands, but he works hard, listens to what his coach and players tell him and that ultimately made him the youngest player to win Finals MVP since Tim Duncan in 1999. The Spurs should be favorites near year, unless like Melo joins Miami, which I don’t think would be fair. This NBA offseason has so much intrigue, but then there’s a chance nothing too dramatic happens in free agency. I mean Miami could very well bring back Bosh, James and Wade, and then maybe sign a Trevor Ariza, Vince Carter, Rodney Stuckey, Danny Granger type of veteran who can give Miami much needed scoring. Carmelo Anthony could return to New York. Minnesota could hold off on trading Kevin Love until February, or just wait and see if he’ll sign with them next summer. Lance Stephenson might take his versatility to another city, say Chicago, but then again Indiana can match any offer a team gives Stephenson. The draft, however, will guarantee to bring intrigue, especially for Philadelphia fans. I’m under the impression, based on what I’ve read and what my gut tells me, Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid will be a Sixer on June 26. Sam Hinkie will do whatever it takes to move up one spot to Milwaukee or two spots to Cleveland to get one of the Jayhawks. My money is on Wiggins just because he makes way too much sense. Philly has a clear style of play (fast, up and down pace), and already have a point guard and big man in place, all they need is a dominant wing, and I believe Wiggins is that guy. Rumors have surfaced that Julius Randle’s injury might hurt his draft stock, which would be a blessing for Philadelphia, who could scoop him up at 10, or maybe even trade up from 10 to eight (Sacramento) or seven (Los Angeles) to snag the Kentucky freshman. Again, this is all speculation, and things will definitely clear up as the next eight days go by prior to next Thursday. I’m going to break down five teams who have major questions this offseason.
Chicago Bulls – Derrick Rose is already healthy, and will play with Team USA this summer. He’s staying put, as was reported that Rose is the only untouchable asset on the Bulls. Joakim Noah will be a Bull next year; I can almost guarantee that. Carlos Boozer should be amnestied, especially if they are making a serious play at Carmelo Anthony. Or they could package draft picks, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler for Kevin Love. Chicago will make a move this summer. They need to since they’re wasting one of the best defensive teams in the NBA the last three years in the playoffs. Obviously it would be different if Rose had been healthy. Who knows what would have happened to Miami if Rose had been healthy these last three years? That’s a big what if question for the 2010s. But the fact is, Chicago has cap space to sign Melo or LeBron or Wade or Lance Stephenson, or trade for Kevin Love. They have assets on their team and in the draft. Chicago will make a move or two in free agency or trades, so expect Chicago to greatly upgrade their offense this offseason. My money’s on Chicago signing Carmelo Anthony.
Houston Rockets – Houston is in a tough spot because they’re in the Western Conference, and I think stars are shying away from the competitive West, and even though Carmelo Anthony couldn’t even make the Eastern Conference playoffs I think he stays in the East. Trading Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik would be great, but they need to find a suitor willing to take one or both of those contracts. Rebuilding teams who aren’t ready to make a playoff push don’t want to take on more cap space. Philly, Boston, Orlando, etc won’t overbid or take a contract because they need that space to pay bigger names later. So, I really don’t know what Houston will do this summer, especially if Carmelo goes to Chicago, Miami or stays in New York. Houston could make a push for Kevin Love, but they don’t have the No. six overall pick like Boston does, nor do they have a future lottery pick to offer. Pau Gasol, however, could fit nicely with the Rockets. Houston has lots of intrigue, but they might have a eerily similar roster next year unless they can snag Pau Gasol.
Boston Celtics – I think they get Kevin Love eventually. It just might not be this offseason. I think the Timberwolves are reluctant to trade Love this summer because who knows what’ll happen in terms of the draft and free agency for Minnesota. The Timberwolves could pick up a solid contributor in this draft, and then have a really strong season, but if January hits and the Timberwolves are out of playoff contention, why would Boston give up some juicy assets to Minnesota for Love if he’ll just sign later that summer? This situation is similar to Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets. Boston has so much to work with thanks to the Brooklyn Nets’ trade, and the No. six pick in the draft. Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh, Marcus Smart, among others are in play for the Celtics. I’m sure Boston will be working the phones up until that sixth selection next Thursday. There’s no secret they want Kevin Love, but will the Timberwolves trade another super star to Boston on draft night?
Miami Heat – Next year you will see Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in Miami unless something unforeseeable happens. This team has little to work with, so it should remain somewhat in tact. Maybe Ray Allen retires. Or maybe Chris Andersen is no longer on the team. They could sign Carmelo or Pau Gasol, I guess, but I find that rather impossible to add another marquee free agent. I know Miami would love to get Asik, but what can they offer Houston? Miami could let Mario Chalmers walk, and sign a Kirk Hinrich-type point guard. They need offensive and defensive minded guards who can contribute deep in the postseason. They also need a big man who has the versatility to matchup against Boris Diaw and Tim Duncan. Boris Diaw really made his imprint on that series, and Miami’s shaky defense on him is something I will greatly remember from that five-game series. Jordan Hill is a guy to keep an eye on, or Kris Humphries as a backup power forward. As for center, Spencer Hawes would give them great offense, and Chris Kaman could be a solid all-around contributor. Miami needs to do something, though.
Los Angeles Lakers – Can they convince Carmelo Anthony to sign out West? Will they re-sign Pau Gasol? Who will be their head coach? What will they do with the number seven pick? So much questions for the Lakers this offseason, as Kobe Bryant enters the finals stages of his career. I expect a fully healthy, rejuvenated Bryant. The Lakers could trade Steve Nash and their first round pick for Thad Young and Philly’s 10th pick. They have many options with such a high draft pick, and there’s also a number of free agents they could sign. The Lakers could also just clear up more cap space to make a push for Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook the following two summers.
The summer features so many fun things, including barbecues and summer concerts, but the NBA offseason is near the top of my lists of fun summer things. I’m looking forward to the next month as so many teams’ futures will change with the draft, free agency and trades.