I wanted to hold this piece to see where Dwight Howard would end up. After about a week of Orlando being in standby mode, I was going to just go ahead and send this out with Howard still in Florida. Good thing I have some patience. In the heat of the Olympics, as the weekend approached, twitter blew up with the 4-team bonanza that would give the Lakers 4 Olympians in their starting lineup. The capped off a riveting offseason with All-Stars being traded, mediocre teams making power moves, mediocre teams making self-destructive moves, and the world champs getting better by grabbing one of the best shooters of all-time from their archrivals. And most basketball fans were glued to the internet to follow it. I never remembered an offseason like this where people paid so much attention to free agency. It usually went NBA Finals, NBA Draft, then see you in October, unless you were hardcore and you watched Summer League. So how did this new era come to be. I’ll start this 3-point play with the answer
1) The Decision Strikes Again – LeBron James keeps winning doesn’t he? It’s because of his announcement 2 years ago that we keep our eyes on the NBA all-year long. As super teams are created (and destroyed), fans look to see how their teams keep up with the Joneses (or should I say Heatles). As we say the Lakers do this week, it makes for amazing speculation, adoration, and pontification (ironically, a Stephen A. Smith word) as rumors for trades and signings spread. So no matter what you think about LeBron, he keeps on making this league more and more fantastic.
2) Gotta Make It Happen – I’ve been getting into arguments with Renzuno about strategies the 99% of teams in the NBA that are doomed to perpetual mediocrity as the same 6-8 teams are in contention and 2-4 can actually win the whole thing. You have to have a top 10 player to even be in the running. So teams like Denver, Brooklyn, Houston and Philadelphia that are stuck in mediocrity had to make a move because 8th seed in the playoffs every year just sucks. 3 of those 4 teams got richer this offseason, 1 died trying. Denver’s new GM is a genius to get a hyper-athletic defenseman in Andre Iguodala to go with that fun crew out in the mountains. Iguodala is really a homeless man’s LeBron, being able to affect play on the entire length of the court. That’s why he usually is on the top of the list in triple-doubles and is an all-world defender. Philadelphia got the 2nd best center in the league and the best center in the East. Too bad he is a knucklehead, and his personality won’t work in the city of Brotherly Love, but Philly just got really interesting. Even Brooklyn went from having Kim Kardashian’s ex-husband open the new arena on Flatbush, to having a potential 4 or 5 seed team for the next couple of years. Now Houston, well you can’t fault them for trying. Except for the fact they swapped Kyle Lowery for Jeremy Lin and cut Luis Scola only to sign Omer Asik, I admire their offseason. Ok, admire is a strong word, but in this NBA you got to take some risks to get yourself in the pool for the title. It’s the American.
3) The 1% – Well, the Lakers went from old and slow, to 4 Olympians. That’s right, 4.
Even Oklahoma City and Miami only has 3. Speaking of Miami, they get Ray Allen, because teams with 2 of the greatest slashers and scorers in the league don’t need one of the all-time great shooters. James Harden and Russell Westbrook got to refine their game with the US Basketball team, which Oklahoma City hopes will affect them the way it affected Carmelo and Chris Paul in 2008. Boston was able to let Ray Allen go, but pick up Jason Terry and steal Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger in the draft. The Knicks stay relevant with a decent pickups in Marcus Camby, Ray Felton and Ronnie Brewer. Chicago gets Kirk Hinrich back. Meanwhile my Wizards are throwing out Emeka Okafor, a guy I haven’t heard from since 2009 in Trevor and have less cap flexibility than when they had the corpses of Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis. Is there some conspiracy to keep the big market teams on top? Or do they know what they are doing more than the other guys? Whatever is going on in the NBA, David Stern loves it, because his sport has turned into a 365-day show.