Associate Sports Editor
The 2016-2017 NBA season begins on October 25, with the reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers hosting a revamped New York Knicks squad. Coming off the first championship in their franchise’s history, the Cavaliers solidified their roster by re-signing the Finals MVP Lebron James to a 3-year deal worth $100 million. The Cavaliers also renewed the contracts of some of their bench players, many of whom added depth during the team’s title run.
The Knicks, looking to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-2013 season, completely remodeled their roster by making a blockbuster trade for the Chicago Bulls point guard, Derrick Rose. In addition to trading for the former MVP, the Knicks signed guards Courtney Lee, Brandon Jennings and Rose’s teammate in Chicago, center Joakim Noah. Many eyes will be on the Knicks to see if the incoming talent can generate enough team chemistry to propel them into title contention.
Looking to remain in title contention after losing Rose, the Chicago Bulls signed journeyman point guard Rajon Rondo from the Kings, and former Miami shooting guard Dwayne Wade. Wade had played his entire career for the Miami Heat, winning championships in 2006, 2012 and 2013. His departure shocked the league, as many thought Wade would spend the rest of his career playing for the same team that drafted him.
But, perhaps the biggest surprise of the off-season came when Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder to play alongside Steph Curry and Klay Thompson for the Warriors, in Golden State. Kevin Durant, a former MVP and a top five player in the league, will join a Warriors team that just recently set a record for most wins in a season, with 73.
The Thunder, after losing a cornerstone to their success, traded away their center Serge Ibaka, and received guard Victor Oladipo. While Oladipo is a promising young talent, he will not be able to replace the skill set of Durant.
Despite signing Durant, the Warriors were unable to keep Harrison Barnes, a crucial part of the Warriors record breaking success over the last two years. Barnes signed with the Dallas Mavericks for a 4-year, $94 million deal.
The Mavericks were also able to re-sign their aging superstar, Dirk Nowitzki to a 2-year, $50 million contract, which will keep him on the team through his age-40 season.
Another team that was able to re-sign an aging superstar was the San Antonio Spurs who agreed to a 1-year, $14 million deal with Argentinian shooting guard, Manu Ginóbili. With teammate Tim Duncan retiring after 19 years spent with the Spurs, many wondered if Ginóbili would retire as well, but given the new contract, it looks like Ginóbili has at least one more season left in him.
Three of the richest contracts of this past offseason were signed by Andre Drummond, DeMar DeRozan and Mike Conley.
Drummond, a 7-foot center, re-signed with the Detroit Pistons for $130 million over the next 5 seasons. Drummond, 23, is the only elite talent on a young Pistons roster.
DeRozan re-signed with the Toronto Raptors for a 5-year deal worth $139 million. Unlike Drummond, DeRozan is on a talented roster which looks to advance farther in the playoffs after getting eliminated by the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Conley, a point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies, signed a max contract worth $153 million over 5 years. While a solid player for the Grizzlies, this deal came as a surprise to many because not only has Conley never been named to an All-NBA team but he has yet to be voted to an All Star game.
Fans who have been waiting to watch professional basketball since the NBA Finals ended on June 19 won’t have to wait much longer, as the first preseason game starts Saturday, October 1. The Cavaliers and the Nicks open the regular season on Tuesday, October 25 at 8 PM.