NBA Offseason Roundup LeBron’s L.A. Landing, and Kawhi’s trip to the frosty north.

By: Thomas Capo
Posted: July 20, 2018

Los Angeles was the favored destination for both of the superstars, but only one got his wish. We knew all along that LeBron was the captain of his ship when it came to this offseason and what will likely be the final stop in his career. It looks like he’s heard enough of the chatter about him having an easy path in the Eastern Conference, so he’s headed west, straight into the teeth of the competition. The Lakers are a team on the rise, but with LeBron, are they suddenly a legit contender? Maybe, but probably not. With Paul George standing pat in OKC and Kawhi headed north, there’s probably no way that this squad gets past Houston, much less Golden State. Who knows what LeBron has up his sleeve, but he signed a three-year deal, and I’m guessing that the Lakers are thinking longer term as they try to get back to the top. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that the NBA is better when the Lakers are contenders, if they can find another legit piece or two, I think they’ll be in the mix. Speaking of the Western Conference, Houston seems to have swallowed the poison pill, considering bringing in Carmelo Anthony after he’s released by the Hawks (following a three team swap that sent him away from the Thunder). I’m not sure what NBA GMs are seeing in Anthony at this point. Honestly, the guy makes every roster worse. He’s a low efficiency scorer who’s well past his prime. The Rockets might need a new piece to try to keep pace with Golden State, but Anthony almost certainly isn’t it. Also, the champs somehow just added one of the league’s best centers in Boogie Cousins, soooooooo…

The Kawhi Leonard trade, after all the bluster, was a bit surprising from the outside. Leonard heads to Toronto, while Raptors star DeMar DeRozan heads to San Antonio. It seems that neither star is happy with the impending change of scenery. DeRozan has indicated numerous times that he wanted to play in Toronto for his whole career, and claims he was lied to by Toronto management in the days leading up to the trade. Leonard, on the other hand, knew that Toronto was on the table because DeRozan was on Coach Popovich’s wish list, and vehemently opposed the move north for a number of reasons, tax rate among them. He even told the Raptors that he wasn’t interested in heading north. This makes it a virtual guarantee that the Raptors have traded away DeRozan for only a single season with Kawhi. After that, he’ll become a free agent and walk away. Worse yet for the Raptors, Leonard could choose to sit out the season to keep himself healthy for the free agency run. After his behavior last season trying to force his way out of San Antonio, it wouldn’t exactly come as a shock. While some teams are scrambling for pieces, Boston GM Danny Ainge is playing it smart…really Smart. Locking up Marcus Smart in a four-year, $52-million deal. Smart has been a key piece to the building of this young Celtics team, the Draymond Green in green if you will. His contributions are measured in the frustrations of opposing players, not always on the stat sheet. It’s a move that doesn’t have a lot of splash, but it could well help the Celtics hit the top of the mountain in the East, now that LeBron is in the 90210.

Image source: USA Today

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