A look at the Toronto Raptors through 36 games.
This summer has been nothing less than interesting in the NBA. Starting with the Golden State Warriors winning their first title in 40 years, to the draft lottery back in June - which granted great franchises like the New York Knicks and LA Lakers top five picks - but the main focus recently has been that of free agency.
There has been huge lucrative deals being thrown around all over the league, as well as, surprise signings.
Like LaMarcus Aldridge deciding to take his talents to Texas to help beef up an already very competitive San Antonio team. However, the spurs aren’t the only team winning after grabbing a great signing. Here are a few of the main winners and losers of the NBA midway through the summer free agency frenzy.
Jimmy Butler - The 26-year old 2-guard's hard work has finally paid off. Butler enjoyed a breakout season averaging a team high 20 ppg and 5 rpg. Jimmy locked in with the Bulls signing five-year $95 million deal after denying a seemingly lucrative offer of a four year deal worth around $40 million. I guess in this case, patience is indeed a virtue.
The Clippers - Gaining the talents of a future Hall of Famer in Paul Pierce, the long and athletic wing in Wesley Johnson, and the sometime beneficial play of Lance Stephenson for basically nothing was definitely a bright spot for the Clippers this summer. However, all eyes were on DeAndre Jordan who has no doubt increased his game to something that’s highly sought after in the league. After a crazy scare in LA land, Jordan was thought to have agreed to a deal that would’ve sent him to Dallas before abruptly changing his mind and staying wit Doc Rivers and the Clips for a little longer.
DeMarre Carroll - Hard nose defense is not something that goes unnoticed, and apparently something that will get you paid in the league. Referred to as the Lebron stopper in this past years playoffs, Carroll made a name for himself as someone that you can depend on with and without the ball. Unfortunately, for the Hawks Carroll decided to join the like of young star DeMar DeRozan and up and comer Terrence Ross, across the border in Toronto; signing a 4-year $60 million.
San Antonio Spurs - This has been one of the best summers the Spurs have seen in a very long time. Keeping a team that has great chemistry in tact and latching on to the young talent for a while, giving Kawhi Leonard a new deal, along with spot on shooter Danny Green. Plus their big three, that is arguably the best trio to ever touch a basketball in the NBA, is still around, the Spurs has only gotten better.
Adding the likes of the very solid big-man in David West, who took a nice pay cut to join the squad, and maybe one of the bigger surprises of the summer the former face of the Portland Trailblazers, LaMarcus Aldridge. The Spurs might find themselves playing in June next year with a squad like this and Coach Pop at the helm.
New York Knicks - The downward spiral the Knicks have created for themselves, looks as if it won’t get any better anytime soon. Despite locking in Carmelo Anthony long term, the New York team has nothing else that it can boast about. Allowing Tim Hardaway Jr. to go the Atlanta Hawks was, in my opinion, a huge mistake that will be regretted in the future. Also, the lack of free agent interest is nothing but another bad sign that this franchise isn’t very close to a resurgence.
Mark Cuban - Losing DeAndre Jordan within days after having a verbal agreement with the big guy, was heartbreaking. Not to mention the public aftermath, of tweets and comments that took place was not a very good look for the Dallas Mavericks owner.
Losing the likes of Tyson Chandler made getting Jordan that much more important, and for Cuban to walk away with nothing has to hurt. But I’m sure he’ll get over it once he realizes his team should still be playoff bound and that he’s ridiculously wealthy.
Portland Trailblazers - This west coast team is usually fairly competitive throughout the season; that’s until key players typically see injuries that hold the franchise back from advancing at key times in the year. And now the franchise have been dealt major blows before the season has even started.
Despite locking in superstar point guard Damian Lillard, they have lost a ton of talent in a very short amount of time.
The lost of talented big man LaMarcus Aldridge, is only one void the Blazers will have to fill. Along with the departure of LA, the Blazers had to wave good-bye to Nicholas Batum, Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, and Arron Afflalo, who all inked deals with other respective ball clubs. It’s gotta be tough if you’re a Blazers fan.
Atlanta Hawks - A franchise that saw great success last season prior to running into the wall, which was Lebron James and the Cavs, seems like they never really can get over the hump.
Despite getting four guys into the All-Star game and having the best record in the east, they haven’t been able to gain any notable names in free agency to help the club get over the hump.
Losing DeMarre Carroll, who proved to be a great asset to the team, will indeed affect the teams ability to contain big athletic wing player, like Lebron James when the time comes. And not having a solid replacement will no doubt hurt the Hawks come playoff time assuming they get back next year.