Top 10 NBA offseason additions
BOSTON – The NBA has been a big boon for moving companies this summer with several players on the move, many of whom have taken their talents out West.
Boston’s big offseason pickup, Gordon Hayward, was the exception to the rule having left Utah after six seasons with the Jazz.
Despite joining a Celtics roster that already includes a pair of All-Stars in Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford, there’s no mistaking the reality that Hayward will come into town with heightened expectations that he can take Boston one step further than a year ago and get them to the NBA Finals.
But he’s not the only guy who changed zip codes who will be burdened with the pressure to produce for a new team.
Here are 10 players who changed teams this offseason that will be looked upon to deliver in a big way for their new team (old team in parentheses).
10. Danilo Gallinari, Los Angeles Clippers (Denver Nuggets) Three years, $65 million
Adding Gallinari to the roster provides some hope of getting back to the postseason despite trading Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets. Gallinari can play both forward positions which gives team president and head coach Doc Rivers the kind of big-man flexibility he’s looking for. Last season, Gallinari was one of just eight players in the NBA to average at least five 3-pointers taken and six free throw attempts. From that grouping, Gallinari was the only one not to be named to an all-star team which is a distinction the 6-foot-9 forward hopes to end this season.
9. Derrick Rose, Cleveland (New York) One-year, $2.1 million
You would be hard-pressed to find a former league MVP fall from super-elite status as quickly as we have seen with Rose. Injuries have certainly played a role, but more than anything else has been Rose simply not being as dominant as he was just a few years ago. Joining the Cavs, Rose won’t have that kind of pressure on him. He can still get buckets with the best of them, and he’ll do that in Cleveland either coming off the bench or potentially as a starter if the Cavs trade Kyrie Irving. Regardless, Rose is a good place now with a title contender minus the pressure of being the face of the franchise.
8. George Hill, Sacramento (Utah) Three years, $57 million (Year 3, $1 million guaranteed)
For once it feels as though the Sacramento Kings got a free agent signing right. Hill is exactly what this young, consistently-underachieving team needs. Not only does he provide some much-needed leadership in the locker room, but his impact on the floor will also bode well for the Kings. We saw last season just how good the Utah Jazz were with him (33-16) and how they struggled (18-15) in his absence. By no means are the Kings a playoff-caliber squad with the addition of Hill, but adding him to the mix is certainly a step in the right direction.
7. Avery Bradley, Detroit (Boston) Last year of four-year deal, will earn $8.8 million this season
The former Celtics guard will fit in well in Detroit, a player who is an upgrade over Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who later signed with the Lakers. Bradley provides leadership, a great work ethic that the younger players should follow and maybe most important, an absolute kick-ass defender whose gritty, on-the-ball coverage will make him a huge fan favorite and remind the Pistons of the early 2000s when they were among the best teams in the NBA courtesy of a grind-it-out, physically punishing brand of basketball.
6. Paul Millsap, Denver (Atlanta) Two years, $61 million
There were a number of teams scared off because of his age, but not the Nuggets. They made acquiring the 32-year-old forward a top priority, and to do so with a short-term deal is huge in terms of their salary cap flexibility going forward. His inside-outside game, toughness around the basket and overall talent will bode well for the Nuggets as they try and field a team that can legitimately compete for a playoff spot this season.
5. Jeff Teague, Minnesota (Indiana) Three years, $57 million
Tremendous speed and quickness with the ball, Teague provides a better scoring point guard than his predecessor Ricky Rubio who was traded to Utah. The struggles the Pacers endured last season has made some folks forget that Teague is just a couple years removed from being an All-Star in the East. He’s not quite back at that level, but there’s no question he will be one of the keys to the Timberwolves’ improved play this season.
4. Chris Paul, Houston (Los Angeles Clippers) Five years, $107.3 million
Paul with the Rockets is one of the more hit-or-miss moves made this offseason. There’s no disputing Paul ranks among the best point guards of his generation, a respected leader both on the floor and inside the locker room. But him joining forces with a Rockets team led by James Harden, will be interesting to see how it plays out. Both players are extremely effective with the ball in hand, with both having to give some in order for this union to work. They are saying all the right things which is easy to do now when there aren’t practices or games to be played. But even with Paul playing well and this relationship working, it’s hard to imagine Houston will finish any better than second in the West.
3. Paul George, Indiana (Oklahoma City) In Year 4 of 5-year, $91.6 million deal (player option for ’18-19)
In one of the more stealth trades in recent memory, the Thunder got their best player Russell Westbrook some seriously talented help this offseason with their trade for George. While rumors have swirled for months that George will bolt for the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2018, Oklahoma City officials believe they can put together a successful enough team to convince George to stay long-term with him and Westbrook forming one of the best 1-2 punches in the NBA along with an emerging Steven Adams in the frontcourt. Westbrook, who was named the league’s MVP this past season, led the Thunder to the postseason with limited help and contributions along the way. Adding George who is one of the league’s best two-way players along with the re-signing of all-NBA defender Andre Roberson, gives the Thunder legit hope that they can do more than just get to the playoffs but actually put together a decent run.
2. Gordon Hayward, Boston (Utah) Four years, $127.8 million (player option ’20-21 season)
Landing Hayward gave Boston one of the top two free agents for the second straight season. Of course much of the talk leading up to him signing with Boston centered around the relationship between him and his college coach, Brad Stevens. But far more important in the decision was the fact that the Celtics were among the top teams in what’s shaking out to be a watered-down Eastern Conference which meant he would have a much better shot at getting to the Finals and winning a championship coming East to Boston, instead of staying put in Salt Lake City or taking his talents to South Beach and play for the Heat (the other team he considered besides Boston and Utah).
1. Jimmy Butler, Minnesota (Chicago) In year 3 of Five year, $92.3 million deal (player option ’19-20 season)
The Timberwolves’ theme song this season should be Peaches and Herb’s “Reunited” with Butler re-joining forces with his old coach in Chicago, Tom Thibodeau. When Minnesota acquired him, it was an instant game changer. No longer were the Timberpups seen as a team on the rise that could maybe sniff the playoffs this season. They have legitimate hopes of being able to make some noise in the playoffs this season. Karl Anthony-Towns is on the cusp of being an all-star. Ditto for Andrew Wiggins. Jeff Teague, Gorgui Dieng, and Taj Gibson (another one of Tib’s guys from Chicago) are all solid pros as well. It is a team on paper at least, that has a chance to be really good this year due to the talent added during the offseason. But the addition of Butler, more than anything else, is why the Timberwolves have every reason to believe their play this season will be good enough to get them to the playoffs.