Writer: Caleb Akpan
Find You an Offseason That Treats You Like The NBA Offseason
In the span of five hours:
- The President of the United States revoked the Golden State Warriors’ invitation to the White House like it was an invite to his Sweet 16.
- In response to that, the best player in the game called said president a bum and said that the championship White House visit is no longer an honor due to President Trump occupying the position.
- While everybody was talking about that, Sam Presti quietly turned Enes Kanter into Carmelo Anthony.
It’s half past noon on Saturday as I type this. None of those lines above are fake, as much as they may sound like they are, especially the last one. As ESPN’s Jemele Hill (you know her, right?) put it “You know the NBA is lit when [the Melo trade] isn’t even the biggest story of the day”. You know that even more when it’s probably not even the most crazy game-related thing that’s happened this whole offseason.
For starters, Sam Presti’s already turned nothing into something earlier in the summer when he turned Victor Oladipo into Paul George. No one had OKC on the radar for PG and other than a Bill Simmon’s tweet that was mostly dismissed as a giant rumor, no one had them in the running for Melo. Then in about 24 hours, Anthony waives his trade clause for Oklahoma City and Cleveland, Presti gets on the phone, and now he has one of the most stacked teams in the league at his hands. The league MVP and two of the best forwards in the game is absolutely no joke, but it feels like it with how fast things have happened. Just two days ago, Enes Kanter, now a Knick tweeted how much OKC is a “family” and that they always “stick together”, and in a terribly cringy pun he called Oklahoma “Okla-Home”. Now he’ll probably have to get a condo in Manhattan and hopefully he also realizes the simple fact that the NBA is a business before anything else. This offseason has emphasized that more than ever before.
Take Isaiah Thomas for example. The guy gets thrown around the league for years, starting in Sacramento, getting shipped to Phoenix where he plays with what seemed like ten other starting point guards, then gets flipped to Boston where no one really expects much from him or the team. What does Thomas do? He turns into an MVP caliber guard, one of the best players in the league at that, and leads the Celtics to an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. In the midst of this, his sister Chyna tragically passes away, but Thomas still steps on the court and gives his all to the team. How do the Celtics repay him? They trade him and Jae Crowder for Kyrie Irving just months later. Shocking, exciting, but probably most of all, harsh. If you can get past that though, this kind of swap being able to happen is what makes the NBA arguably the most exciting sport to keep up with.
Then there’s Jimmy Butler. Draft night is already one of the most exciting times in the league, and this year’s class was no joke. Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum, Dennis Smith Jr. and many others have people hyping the rookie batch up as one that could be an all-timer. So the biggest headline from the night is Lonzo’s destiny completing as he goes to the Lakers or Dennis Smith falling to the Mavericks right? Wrong. It’s Jimmy Butler, who was chilling in Paris with Dwyane Wade getting traded from the Bulls (a franchise he had Kanter’d before, expressing his total loyalty) to the Timberwolves, reuniting with his old coach Tom Thibodeau and joining two of the best young stars in the league in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. This. Is. Why. We. Watch.
On the flipside of loyal players getting screwed, there’s the player who takes matters into his own hands and gets out. Melo did it, but didn’t seem to get his ultimate wish, ending up a state away from Houston in Oklahoma. Kyrie did it to get Isiah Thomas shipped out of Boston and flipped for him. Paul Millsap didn’t step on anyone’s toes, but he dashed out of Atlanta to Denver. You probably don’t remember this, with everything that’s happened this offseason, but Chris Paul made it cool to force your way off your team (KD did it before all of them, but we all know how people took that) early in the summer when he requested a trade from the Clippers to the Rockets. A Rockets team that twenty four hours ago was probably better than the Thunder, now……you decide. The entire trajectory of season being able to flip with one move, one minute, one decision is something that only basketball can really make true.
Do you remember last year’s NBA playoffs? Be honest and the Finals don’t count. It was forgettable, awful, completely uncompetitive. The same can’t be said for the summer that followed it. Every team that was in the mix last year seems to have gotten better, even the champions themselves reloaded and then some. You can’t say most teams aren’t trying, too many moves have been made and too many things have happened in the wild world that is the NBA, but that’s what makes the league so interesting. We can only hope the offseasons that follow, in basketball and other sports alike, can live up to the theatrics of summer 2017.
P.S. Somebody please send resources to the Eastern Conference ASAP.