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Free agency opened for the NBA this week and we already have some big moves for the upcoming season. Most superstar players are leaving their former team, while a small portion of them signed an extension to stay home.
The biggest news of the NBA offseason was Kevin Durant signing a four-year, $164 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets. The former Golden State Warrior will join Kyrie Irving, who also signed a four-year deal with the Nets, as well as DeAndre Jordan, also signing a four-year contract.
This move will definitely shift power from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference. Durant is going to play for an Eastern Conference team for the first time in his career. I was personally hoping he would sign with his hometown Washington Wizards and my favorite NBA team. I guess the Wizards couldn’t afford to pay Durant, as well as keep John Wall and Bradley Beal. Plus, they are not in contention for a NBA championship anytime soon.
The Nets are looking to make a big splash in the NBA after going 42-40 last year, finishing sixth in the Eastern Conference behind the Indiana Pacers. Their biggest star was D’Angelo Russell, who will now play for Golden State on a four-year, $117 million contract.
The Warriors will have a crowded backcourt, as they also resigned Klay Thompson to a five-year, $190 million contract. It will be interesting to see how Russell, Thompson and Steph Curry will share the ball this upcoming season.
Another big free agent acquisition this season was Kemba Walker leaving the Charlotte Hornets to go play for the Boston Celtics. He will replace Irving as Boston’s point guard after signing a four-year, $141 million contract. That leaves Charlotte without a big-name superstar on their roster.
After a short stint in Philadelphia, Jimmy Butler will play for the Miami Heat this season after agreeing to a four-year, $142 million contract. However, the 76ers picked up another superstar in Al Horford, who signed a four-year, $109 million contract.
Khris Middleton will stay home after resigning with the Milwaukee Bucks to a five-year, $178 million contract. Nikola Vucevic also resigned with the Orlando Magic and Kristaps Porzingis resigned with the Dallas Mavericks after leaving the New York Knicks last year.
One of the big names who stayed with their team is Marc Gasol of the Toronto Raptors.
Speaking of the Raptors, we are all still waiting on Kawhi Leonard’s decision to either stay with Toronto or sign with a new team this year. As of Wednesday afternoon, Leonard is still a free agent. If I were him, I would stay with Toronto and start a legacy and a dynasty with the Raptors.
Most of the NBA journalists and experts say that he’s going to go to Los Angeles, either with the Lakers or the Clippers. It would make sense, since Los Angeles is Leonard’s hometown team. If he goes to the Lakers, he will be the No. 3 player behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who the Lakers just received in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans.
I just don’t see Leonard meshing well with James in Los Angeles. He should stay with a NBA championship team in Toronto and cement his legacy as a player who has won a championship in both the Western and Eastern Conference, something that has rarely been done in the history of the NBA.
With Durant and Andre Iguodala gone from Golden State and DeMarcus Cousins still unsigned as a free agent, Golden State’s dynasty has possibly come to an end. Toronto can break out as the new dynasty of the NBA if Leonard stays with them. We will have to wait and see how this will play out.
If Leonard leaves Toronto, my prediction is that the Brooklyn Nets will rise from the East and take over the conference behind the big three of Durant, Irving and Jordan. Depending on where Leonard signs, the Lakers will rise back up to prominence under James’ leadership and Davis’ talent.
You also have to consider the Denver Nuggets, who finished just three games behind Golden State last year. There’s also the Portland Trail Blazers with Damian Lillard establishing himself as an All-Star player. Then there’s still the Houston Rockets with James Harden putting up big numbers.
It’s a waiting game now to see who will finish with the best offseason in the NBA.