KD packing his bags for the Bay area
Kevin Durant agreeing a move to the Warriors dominated the free agency on Monday, with Oklahoma City feeling the effects of losing arguably a top-three player. The move was met with a mixed reaction, with prominent pundit Stephen A. Smith describing it as a ‘weak move’ due to joining the team that happened to defeat Durant’s Thunder in the playoffs last season.
Fox Sports’ Skip Bayless commented:
The hate aimed at Kevin won’t deter the Warriors from licking their lips at the thought of next season’s venture. The ability to roll out a line-up including reigning MVP Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Durant is quite frankly scary.
The two-year, $54 million deal coupled with renouncing the rights to Festus Ezeli and Harrison Barnes has allowed the Warriors to make additional moves in finalising their roster.
Zaza Pachulia has agreed a one-year deal worth $2.9 million and will take Andre Bogut’s spot at centre, who will join his former teammate, Barnes, after a trade to the Dallas Mavericks.
The Thunder need to plan for the future
There is no debate that Russell Westbrook is now the main man in Oklahoma. If the board don’t decide to trade him away, one would expect an MVP calibre season. There is no guarantee that Russ will sign a new deal and the Thunder are well aware of this, with the unrestricted free agency only a year away for the guard.
Oklahoma can’t afford to wait too long as they’re future rides on Westbrook’s decision. This is particularly true when considering the salary cap rises again in 2017 and it’d be surprising if he doesn’t take advantage of this. Although security will be considered, signing a deal at this stage doesn’t make financial sense for the former UCLA talent.
Westbrook will still have Steven Adams at the five supporting him, after becoming an integral piece within the Thunder puzzle over the past year, and this will certainly relieve fans, as his impact was huge in the playoffs. The prospect of pick-and-rolls between Westbrook and Adams becoming a regular occurrence at the Chesapeake Energy Arena will be something to look forward to in the wake of Durant’s impending departure.
Additionally, the trade to bring in Victor Oladipo does look like a smart move. His ability to score in a variety of ways will, to some extent, soften the blow felt by Durant jumping ship. A partnership with Westbrook in the backcourt will keep the Thunder competitive in the West, assuming that he lives up to his potential after being claimed at second overall in the 2013 draft.
Unlike with former MVP Durant, the Thunder have more control in the Westbrook situation. In the likely event that he leaves, Oklahoma have the liberty to plan ahead of time and achieve the best deal possible.
Spurs once again pull off a shrewd deal in Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol did what many expected of him by opting to sign with the San Antonio Spurs, in a two-year deal worth approximately $30 million. At 36-years of age and in the twilight of his career, Gasol wants another crack at winning a third ring. Therefore it isn’t a surprise that he saw San Antonio as the ideal destination to achieve this.
When one thinks of the winning formula, Gregg Popovich is the coach that instantly comes to mind, with five NBA titles to his name. Veterans see the Spurs as a dream team to play for, due to their first-class organisation and a system that keeps them fresh come playoff period.
Pau may have been signed to replace Tim Duncan, the legendary power forward reportedly considering retirement at the age of 40. If so, he’s a more than capable substitute that will fit perfectly within the Spurs philosophy for the reason that he’s an exceptional passer for his size, and is known for having an astute basketball mind.
Jennings moving to the Knicks continues recent trend in intelligent deals
After years of turmoil in New York, notably under Isiah Thomas in the mid-00’s, Phil Jackson has completely altered the culture at the organisation. Focusing on ridding themselves of bad influences and creating an environment for Carmelo Anthony and his supporting cast to flourish in has been key. Results haven’t come yet, however this is a longer process than Knicks fans should understand.
The decision to take Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth pick turned out as a genius move by Jackson, with the Latvian touted as a future franchise player to build around. Only a few weeks ago the roster featured the likes of Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant and Derrick Williams. Fast forward to July and the chaotic period of free agency, the Zen Master has brought in genuine quality with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and (to a lesser extent) Courtney Lee, who are all stepping through the door to assume their positions as starters.
Brandon Jennings has now also entered the fray, signing a one-year deal worth $5 million. He will fill in as the back-up to Rose at the point guard position. This is incredible value for a player who was previously seen as an undisputed starter in the league and there is essentially no risk involved either, due to the length of the contract. Much like Rose’s, the Knicks will be free to cut both players after only one season if the injuries return.
The recent moves cannot be regarded as perfect, but one thing that’s clear is that Jackson’s determination in helping the organisation break free from its tarnished image by taking chances, yet also being aware of the ramifications that come from taking mindless risks.
Other Deals that were agreed on Day 4
Ramon Sessions has come to an agreement with the Charlotte Hornets over a two-year year deal estimated at $12.5 million.
Lance Thomas will stay with the Knicks for another four-years, earning $6.1 million a season with annual raises written into the deal.
Roy Hibbert has found a new team, with the Hornets taking a chance on the former pacer. A one-year deal has been arranged where he’ll reportedly earn $5 million.
The Golden State Warriors have chosen to pick up Shaun Livingston’s option for the new season, worth $5.8 million.
Tarik Black will be returning to the Staples Centre with the Lakers on a two-year contract valued at $12.85 million.