Today marks the launch of our weekly recap of the NBA offseason, where we will highlight all the most popular topics, free agency, and trade rumors. Each week’s roundup will be available Friday morning. Let’s get to it.
Doc Puts Kid Up For Adoption
Poor Austin Rivers. In a sign of Doc Rivers’ control over the Clippers’ front office slipping further, his son Austin Rivers was swapped for Marcin Gortat. In doing so, the Clippers open up minutes for their two guard draft picks, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson, and add a backup plan/replacement for DeAndre Jordan. The deal makes sense for the Wizards, who gain another guard and ball-handler to replace the abysmal Ty Lawson. The Wizards also now have leeway to part with one of John Wall, Bradley Beal, or Otto Porter Jr. It’s something to keep an eye on moving forward. And maybe Austin will be better out from under his papa’s wing.
Pacers Kick Lance “Born Ready” Stephenson to the Curb
The Pacers made an unpopular move this week, declining fan-favorite Lance Stephenson’s team option. Pacer fans are so attached to Lance and his on-court antics that they forget he’s a below average bench guy who delivers mind-boggling mistakes for every theatrical highlight. In 2017, he played 18 games for 3 different teams including the Pacers. In 2017-2018 he averaged 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists while shooting a pathetic 28.9 percent from three. Pacer fans are really going to miss him that much? Get real. The crowd may miss his energy, but this is the right choice for the organization, who now has more flexibility to sign a player(s) this offseason with more offensive capabilities.
Paul George Breaking Hearts Again?
News broke early Thursday morning that Paul George would opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. The OKC fan base and entire organization just got a little nervous. The Thunder are able to offer $40 million more in a package than any other team (the difference being a 4 versus 5 year deal), but will that be enough to persuade Paul and his new cornrows to stay? I bet he has already made up his mind. George and LeBron have probably facetimed each other while drinking $800 bottles of wine and plotted next moves.
Paul George got cornrows 👀 pic.twitter.com/KCDfgdAFeX
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 28, 2018
Nuggets Decline Option on Nikola Jokic
The Nuggets are looking to sign former second round pick Nikola Jokic to a max deal after declining his $1.5 million team option. The contract will likely come in around 5 years and $147 million. This hefty payout would solidify their core of Jokic, Millsap, Harris, and Murray, plus newly drafted Michael Porter Jr. However, locking in Jokic at the max and Wilson Chandler picking up his player option means retaining unrestricted free agent Will Barton is less likely (Hello, Pacers!).
Thaddeus Young Exercises Option with Pacers
Soon after Woj reported that the Pacers are likely to pursue the restricted free agent Aaron Gordon, Thaddeus Young exercised his player option. I’m sure the timing of the two events was completely unrelated. The Pacers should still have ~$19 million in cap space available to spend on guys like Marcus Smart, Will Barton, Tyreke Evans, or Joe Harris.
Obligatory LeBron James Update
Earlier this week, TMZ released footage of Victor Oladipo’s (reluctant) plea to LeBron: “If you want to win, come to Indy”. Don’t hold your breath Pacer fans, not a chance. LeBron will go wherever he wants to go. Nobody knows for sure where that is, not even LeBron’s puppet Brian Windhorst. Oh, and apparently the Space Jam 2 trailer will be released along with his decision. Who cares. On Friday morning LeBron declined his player option, as expected. As the world nervously awaits his decision, LeBron is unfazed, out here jumping off cliffs.
LeBron is going to make a big leap.
But first, he jumped off a cliff! pic.twitter.com/Y6SnlQtkdp
— SB Nation (@SBNation) June 29, 2018
Regular Season Awards Announced
- Most Valuable Player (Not named LeBron James) – James Harden
- Rookie of the Year – Ben Simmons
- Sixth Man Award – Lou Williams
- Defensive Player of the Year – Rudy Gobert
- Most Improved Player – Victor Oladipo
- Coach of the Year – Dwane Casey (Lol)
Free Agency Approaching
Player Option decisions are due to teams by Friday, June 29, and Free Agency begins July 1. Lots of moves could be made by this time next week and rumors are already smattering across social media:
- LeBron asked Kevin Durant to follow him to Los Angeles? Maybe so. Maybe not.
- The race to snag Kawhi is on. The 76ers, Celtics, Clippers, Lakers and Cavs are linked to Leonard.
- The Bulls, Pacers, Pelicans, and Cavs are reportedly interested in Cavs’ restricted free agent Rodney Hood.
- The Indiana Pacers have been linked to two other names as well, Will Barton and Tyreke Evans.
- NBC reported the Sacramento Kings are interested in unrestricted free agent Mario Hezonja and restricted free agent Jabari Parker, because they like big men with knee issues.