As expected, LeBron James stole the free agency show by signing with the LA Lakers, a 4 year $154 million contract at age 33. The other key free agent signings were reported with very little fanfare although, in my opinion, had much more of an impact on the NBA landscape:
Chris Paul, age 33, signed a 4 year $160 million contract to remain a Houston Rocket
Paul George, age 28, signed a 4 year $137 million contract to remain an OKC Thunder
DeAndre Jordan, age 29, signed a 1 year $24 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks
Trevor Ariza, age 33, signed a 1 year $15 million contract with the Phoenix Suns
To me, the real headline is that none of LeBron’s buddies followed him to Hollywood. Magic Johnson losing Paul George (PG-13) to the Thunder is indeed very surprising and even shocking on many levels. PG-13 is still in his prime and he would have legitimized the Lakers. He grew up in LA and made comments about wanting to go home. Very curious why he chose to stay in OKC. Yes, I agree that the Lakers will be much better with LeBron but without PG-13, their roster now looks much like the Cavs roster that LeBron just left.
Also, in looking at the 4 year contracts for both LeBron and Chris Paul, both are age 33 and on the downhill slope of their careers. While both are still playing at a high level, father time always has a way of catching up. After losing PG-13 to the Thunder, I’m surprised that Magic Johnson didn’t offer a max contract to Uncle Drew. He got game, is from Hollywood, and looks younger than LeBron.
LeBron’s signing with the Lakers immediately became the headline. Then, two days later, the Warriors shocked the NBA world by signing DeMarcus (Boogie) Cousins to a mid-level 1 year contract for $5.3 million. This, in fact, will cost the Warriors more than $20 million due to the NBA luxury tax for going beyond the allowable salary maximum. The World Champions just filled their only weakness with the most dominant Center in the league. Last year, Boogie averaged 25 point, 13 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game and is still only 27 years of age. JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia combined averaged 9 points, 5 rebounds and 0.4 assists per game.
Boogie is an All-NBA Center meaning that the Warriors now have all five starting positions filled with All-Stars (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant). How in the world could this have happened? The short answer is that when an organization develops a winning culture, treats their employees with class, and treats all of their opponents with respect, great players will want to migrate to that organization.
Boogie has a torn Achilles tendon which most likely had a lot to do with him signing with the Warriors for much less than his worth. He said that he is working very hard to be ready for the start of the 2018-2019 season. Knowing the Warriors, they will be very cautious and won’t play him until they are absolutely certain that he is fully recovered.
So here are the events that lead to Boogie’s decision to sign with the Warriors. He couldn’t sleep Sunday night as he had zero offers on the table including nothing from his current team, the New Orleans Pelicans. Boogie called his agent and told them that he is going to call Bob Myers, the GM for the Warriors, to express his interest in joining the team. He then called Kevin Durant, Draymond Green who is vacationing in Greece, and Steph Curry to make sure that they were comfortable with him coming on-board. They all greeted his interest with shock and awe. Boogie said that Steph was especially thrilled thus sealing the deal for Boogie to join the team. Boogie also said that he played his Ace of Spades with the Warriors this year hoping that his role in another successful year will lead him to a lucrative contract next year.
Why the Pelicans didn’t offer him a contract is beyond my comprehension. They had their best season in their franchise history last year and really had the inside track to make some real noise this year. They, instead decided to go in another direction for unknown reasons. The Lakers also had plenty of salary cap space to offer Boogie a good contract. After losing PG-13, you would have thought that the Lakers would go after Cousins. Very curious why they didn’t. Instead, the Lakers signed Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Rajon Rondo and got rid of one their young stars, Julius Randle. I’m not sure that these are LeBron’s kind of guys and I’m fairly certain that they will supply Shaqitin with some good Tweeting materials next year.
These are the kinds of decisions that make teams like the Pelicans and Lakers just average teams. I can say that about most teams who are desperately trying to catch the Warriors. They start on the right path but if they don’t win immediately, they make desperate decisions. Take, for example, the Toronto Raptors. They had the 2nd best record in the league next to the Rockets last year. Their coach, Dwayne Casey, won the NBA Coach of the Year award but they lost to the Cavs in the playoffs so they fired Casey. Another example is the Houston Rockets who had the best record last year but bought players putting them at their max salary. This year, they were forced to give Chris Paul a max deal for 4 years at $160 million even though he is 33 years old and has a history of leg injuries. Because they are at the salary cap, they couldn’t afford to bring another star to their team and instead lost one of their stars, Trevor Ariza. This is a big blow to them as Ariza was their best defender.
For Warrior haters who dislike their “Super Team” image, of the 5 super-stars, Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were all draft picks. Kevin Durant, is the only super-star who signed from another team whom the Warriors recruited. The Boogie signing was initiated by him and not by the Warriors. I am also very curious if these Warrior haters also hated the Celtics, Bulls, Spurs, and Lakers in their dominant years. Or, are most of these haters just millennials who never saw those other dynasties play? The NBA has survived all of these dynasties and will also survive the current Warrior dynasty. After all, they are the model of greatness and plain fun to watch.
All of the other “Super Team” pretenders have spent millions (up to their salary cap) to sign the next level stars in their attempt to beat the Warriors. If these teams would draft better and/or sign complimentary “team” players instead of signing individuals who play for themselves, they would have a better chance to catch up to the Warriors. They would also be better off to stick with their plans instead of blowing it up if they don’t win immediately. The Warriors won their first title in 1975 and took another 40 long years to win another championship in 2015. So Warrior fans have suffered through many lackluster years prior to the current organization putting together this dynastic team.
NBA fans may hate the Warriors now but they will continue to spend money on their teams in the hope that their team will one day become champions themselves. Everything is cyclical so Warrior fans are enjoying their time to shine while it lasts.