NBA offseason headlined by superstar moves and new contenders

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Kyle McKee

In one offseason, the NBA has completely changed. 

The Golden State Warriors are no longer the favorites to take home the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy at the end of the season.

 Kevin Durant tore his right Achilles’ heel in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA finals against the Toronto Raptors, and decided to leave the Warriors to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, who also signed All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. 

The Nets could not afford to keep their first-time all-star D’Angelo Russell, so the Warriors and Nets worked out a sign-and-trade which sent Durant to Brooklyn and Russell to Golden State. 

After beating Golden State in the finals, Kawhi Leonard became the first player to leave his team after winning finals MVP, leaving the Raptors to play in his hometown of Los Angeles for the Clippers. 

The Clippers were not done there. 

They traded for Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder. George requested a trade from the Thunder out of nowhere, especially since last offseason, George signed a four-year deal to stay with the Thunder. 

This immediately makes the Clippers serious title contenders. 

The Thunder, however, got a massive haul of assets from the Clippers, which included promising young stud Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a good, solid veteran in
Danilo Gallinari, and five first-round picks. 

Russell Westbrook realized the Thunder are heading into a rebuilding process, so he, too, requested a trade from Oklahoma City,
and ended up in Houston, joining his former Thunder teammate James Harden, making the Houston Rockets serious title
contenders. 

As part of that trade, Chris Paul was sent to Oklahoma City.

The Anthony Davis era finally came to an end for the New Orleans Pelicans, when the center and power forward was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. 

However, the future looks very bright for New Orleans, who might have experienced the fastest rebuild in NBA history. 

The team lost a generational superstar in Davis, but lucked out in getting the first-overall pick in the 2019 draft, in which the Pelicans selected Zion Williamson from Duke University. 

Williamson comes into the league as the most hyped rookie since LeBron James. 

Also, the Pelicans received the Lakers’ fourth-overall pick in the 2019 draft, which, after a trade with the Atlanta Hawks, became the eighth and 17th picks of the draft. 

The Pelicans were then able to draft Jaxson Hayes from the University of Texas at Austin, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker from Virginia Tech. 

Both players played extremely well in the Summer League and look to have some promise. 

The Pelicans also received Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, both very young players with All-Star potential, and Josh Hart, who can grow into a very solid role player for a contending team. 

Not to mention that New Orleans still has a star in Jrue Holiday and managed to sign solid veterans in JJ Redick and Derrick Favors to help the young players.

The Boston Celtics’ up-and-down season ended with Irving leaving to play for the Nets and
Al Horford signing with the Philadelphia 76ers. 

However, the Celtics did manage to sign All-Star point guard Kemba Walker to replace Irving, as well as signing big man Enes Kanter. 

On the other side, the Sixers’ signing of Horford meant that they were not keeping Jimmy Butler, so the Sixers and the Miami Heat worked out a sign-and-trade with the Clippers and the Portland Trail Blazers. 

The trade sent Jimmy Butler and Meyers Leonard to the Heat, Josh Richardson to the Sixers, Hassan Whiteside to the Blazers, and Maurice Harkless and a future first-round pick to the Clippers. 

The Indiana Pacers and Utah Jazz had some sneaky great moves this offseason to put these two small market franchises in serious contention. 

The Jazz traded for former All-Star point guard Mike Conley from the Memphis Grizzlies and signed two good players, in Bogdan Bogdanovic from the Pacers and Ed Davis from the Nets. 

The Pacers signed Malcolm Brogdon, a quality guard who plays both ends exceptionally well, as well as T.J. Warren and Jeremy Lamb who are professional bucket getters.

The New York Knicks missed out on Durant, Leonard, Irving, Walker, and every other free agent superstar. 

They quickly became the laughing stock of the NBA, but countered that futility with some interesting moves. 

They signed Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellignton, Marcus Morris, and Reggie Bullock to short-term deals. 

In simple terms, the Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis in February to the Dallas Mavericks, where he re-signed this off-season, for all the cap space they used to sign those seven quality starters and role players. 

However, the Knicks are looking ahead to the 2021 off-season, in which reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will become a free agent. 

Despite having seven power forwards, the Knicks actually have a decent plan, especially after taking RJ Barrett with the third-overall pick, who many NBA insiders are high on.

All this player movement has created something in the NBA that has not happened in a long time. There is no overwhelming favorite to win the NBA championship in June. 

The NBA is wide open this upcoming season, and more games by  are going to become must-see TV.