Navigating through the new NBA West
The dominos have started to fall, and the west has only gotten better this offseason. The biggest domino, LeBron James, shocked the NBA world when he agreed to a four-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. This, along with other big moves around the league, has changed the landscape of the Western Conference.
Let’s break it all down…
Extremely new-look Lakers
King James is taking his talents to Venice Beach. James signed a four-year, $153 million deal with the Lakers. The Lakers finished 11th in the west last season, but by adding the best player in the league that instantly makes them a playoff team.
The Lakers also went out and signed Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee, as well as re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. They are also still in play to pull off a trade with the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard.
The Lakers could easily be one of the top teams in the west next season.
CP3 back to Houston
The Rockets were a game away from upsetting the Warriors and advancing to the NBA Finals, and that was with an injured Chris Paul.
In free agency, Paul has agreed to a four-year maximum contract worth $160 million to stay in Houston. The Paul and Harden tandem will continue, however, the Rockets did lose Trevor Ariza to the Suns. But, all signs point to the Rockets re-signing center Clint Capela. With the main core still in tact, Houston is still considered a top team in the West.
OKC keeps PG13, signs Nerlens Noel
Just as shocking as the Lakers landing LeBron was, the Thunder retained Paul George. Most fans thought it was a foregone conclusion that George was heading to LA, but Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti was able to convince him otherwise. With PG13 locked up, Presti then went out and added Nerlens Noel to the roster. Noel is a low-risk, high-reward guy that when healthy is more than capable of pulling down a double-double.
Add in a healthy Roberson, the Thunder are poised for another impressive season.
Mavs land DJ
The Mavericks finished 13th in the Western Conference last season after going 24-58. So, things couldn’t get much worse for the Mavs, right?
Yes that’s pretty true, but hey... Dallas got a lot better in the last few weeks. Going into “tank mode” meant a lottery pick and a big splash in free agency for the Mavs.
Dallas moved up in the draft to snag the much talked about Slovenian professional basketball player Luka Doncic. Doncic will learn the ropes from veteran Dirk Nowitzki and as far as mentors go, Dirk is obviously one of the best in the league. Dallas will reportedly most likely re-sign Dirk to a one-year deal.
Now let’s talk about the DeAndre Jordan free agency deal. Who else can envision Dennis Smith Jr. lobbing it up for Jordan for the throw down? You better believe, Mavs fans are thinking about it!
Nuggets Lock it up
The Nuggets finished just a game out of the playoffs last season, and they know they are playoff caliber team. So, the team’s focus was to solidify the core. They did just that by signing Will Barton and Nikola Jokic to long-term deal.
They also have valuable expiring contracts in Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried, with plenty of time to add assets before the season starts. The Nuggets will definitely be in the playoff hunt again in 2018-19.
Blazers have a tough road ahead
The Blazers had a great regular season last year, winning 49 games and finishing third in the Western Conference. However, the west has added talent this year, while the Blazers roster has remained largely unchanged. They did lose Ed Davis to the Nets, but did pick up Nik Stauskas.
The moves aren’t much, and considering non-playoff teams like the Lakers, Mavs, and Nuggets are getting better, it may be a really rough road back to the playoffs. Can they surprise again and land the three seed? Will they be in a season-long race for the 7-8 seed?
Will they be in the lottery when it’s all said and done? Buckle up. 2018-2019 will be a wild ride in Rip City and all over the West.