This has been quite the offseason, hasn’t it?
We saw Zion Williamson go #1 overall to the New Orleans Pelicans, an injured Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving spurn the New York Knicks for the upstart Brooklyn Nets, reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and Paul George team up with the Los Angeles Clippers, Russell Westbrook depart the Oklahoma City Thunder to reunite with James Harden in Houston, and Team USA finish a disappointing seventh-place at the FIBA World Cup of Basketball.
And then came Jimmy.
Has the dust settled yet? Probably not.
We are now one month into the season, regular season or otherwise. Even with all of the movement and turmoil, we would be remiss if we didn’t take into consideration the possibility that we might still see some eyebrow-raising deals get done this season that, quite frankly, should happen for the sake of the players involved.
With that in mind, here are five transactions worth expecting at some point this season.
When Kevin Love first arrived in Cleveland, it was essentially to serve as the Cavaliers’ counterpart to the Miami HEAT’s Chris Bosh for a returning LeBron James. This was something that definitely wasn’t smooth sailing at first, and that is something Love himself would admit to.
However, the acquisition ultimately paid off at the best possible time: Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, when he was successfully tasked with preventing the unanimously-selected 2016 NBA MVP Steph Curry from sinking a game-tying three, resulting in the city of Cleveland celebrating its first sports championship in more than five decades.
But that was then, and this is now. Three years later, that championship Cavs team is no more, LeBron James has since sought greener pastures in Los Angeles with the Lakers, and Kevin Love now finds himself surrounded by a rebuilding roster of prospects and D-League acquisitions.
Now 31 years old, Love’s days of championship contention, if he remains in Cleveland, are more than likely done for good. For an All-Star caliber player like Love to spend his twilight years on a perennial lottery team would be a waste, and it’s obvious that he still has much more to give.
Why Boston? For starters, Love has been linked with the Celtics dating back to his days with the Minnesota Timberwolves. A deal involving the perennial All-Star’s move to Beantown would allow him to compete at a high level on one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams for the foreseeable future, while serving as a formidable running mate for the likes of Kemba Walker and the improving wing Jayson Tatum.
Though they lost Kyrie Irving and Al Horford this past summer, there are worse things in the world than replacing them with a more teammate-friendly Walker, Love, and continued growth from Tatum.
Lastly, the Gordon Hayward signing has been a failure for Boston, and that’s no one’s fault but circumstance. Hayward, after signing with the Celtics in the summer of 2017, fractured his tibia on Opening Night against the Cavs, and hasn’t been the same player since.
Combine that with the development of Tatum and Jaylen Brown in his absence, along with the continued play of Marcus Smart, and it’s clear that there’s no real place for him anymore in the rotation.
A deal centered around Kevin Love and Gordon Hayward makes sense for both sides, as the Cavs would receive a veteran swingman to aid with the development of their own wings.
Denver: Making A Beal
For those of you that have subscribed to episodes of the Five On The Floor podcast in the last few months, you’re likely well-aware of all the hoopla surrounding Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal and recent reports concerning an extension with his home team. No, he’s not coming to Miami. Womp womp.
Let’s not sugarcoat it—with backcourt mate John Wall not scheduled to return to competitive basketball for another year and Beal currently entering the prime of his career, the Wizards don’t look to be an ideal situation for an All-Star guard of Beal’s caliber to compete at the highest level.
Why Denver? Without question, the Denver Nuggets look to be a team on the rise right now, revolving around the likes of All-Star center Nikola Jokić and a collection of talented wings. In order to acquire Beal, it will likely take one or more of those wings (plus filler and picks) to satisfy the Wizards’ need to facilitate their continued rebuild.
This is a situation that, we believe, can be as fluid as the sides are willing to let it, so long as Beal makes his desire clear and the front office is willing to work with him. Combining Beal with Jokić and Denver’s remaining depth could immediately transform them into a serious contender in the Western Conference.
Di-On The Move: A Motor City Malcontent
Dion Waiters’ days are numbered in Miami.
Beyond a two-month period in 2017 when Waiters had HEAT fans thinking of another clutch shooting guard as the team went on that now-infamous 30-11 run in the second half of the season, Waiters’ HEAT career has been a disappointment, marred by poor shot selection, a debilitating ankle injury, “Dion Weighters” memes, and sulking at the end of the bench over his perceived role in the offense.
Combine this with the apparent emergence of rookies Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn, as well as the arrival of Jimmy Butler, continued steady play of Goran Dragić, and Justise Winslow’s establishment as the team’s point guard of the future, and it’s clear that Waiters’ time is up with this team.
Why Detroit? From what we’ve seen, Miami’s tried to move Waiters for quite some time now, with no takers. This is no surprise, especially considering the glut of talented or developing guards on many rosters throughout the league. Detroit, however, may become the first, especially after losing starting point guard Reggie Jackson to a back injury this past week. Now is not a good time to lose guard play.
Detroit, a team that has been built to not only qualify, but compete in the postseason, cannot afford to let this injury set them back in an Eastern Conference that could realistically send you to the lottery as early as December (ask the 2016-17 Miami HEAT and the tanking debate that happened then).
OK-CP3: The Point God Stands Pat
Yes. That’s not a typo. We don’t expect Chris Paul to wear another uniform besides his current one this season.
This was the man whose supermax contract (one he helped engineer) made the Russell Westbrook-to-Houston trade possible, traded to Oklahoma City where he played half of a season as a member of the then-New Orleans Hornets in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. His return there is almost poetic.
Why Oklahoma City? Before we condemn CP3 to a life sentence in Basketball Siberia, let’s take a good look at the roster that the Point God-not-named-Justise has been tasked with leading this season. No, seriously, let’s look at it.
At the time of this article, the Thunder are 2-4 after six games. Do we expect some sort of barn-burning run by the Thunder this season? That would depend on CP3’s health and his ability to elevate the level of play of the others around him. Players like Adams, Ferguson, Gallo, SGA, and even the young Bazley could really become something cohesive enough to emulate what the Clippers were able to accomplish last season.
Are we the only ones that are interested in seeing what CP3 could do for Shai, Ferguson, Gallo, and Adams over the course of the season?
It’s still early, but this situation in OKC is worth monitoring.
A Crossover Melodrama: Who Signs First?
Granted, Crawford, unlike Anthony, has, alongside Lou Williams, revolutionized the Sixth Man role in the NBA, doing much of his damage from the bench. Crawford has started one (yes, one) game in the last three seasons and a total of 34 out of 438 games in the last five, having last played for the Phoenix Suns.
Could it be that his age is scaring teams off? We suspect that it has more to do with perceived talent than age at this point. If Crawford can’t play, he can’t play.
But he came off the bench last season and averaged 7.9 points and 3.6 assists per game while shooting 39.7% from the field and 84.5% from the free throw line.
Oh, and this happened:
Yes, your eyes didn’t deceive you. A 39-year old Crawford really dropped 51 points on the Dallas Mavericks last season. On a recent episode of NBA Hang Time with Sekou Smith, Crawford stated that he’s still ready and willing to contribute to a team that is willing to utilize his services.
While we’re not as optimistic about Anthony’s chances, we believe that Crawford will likely sign onto a team during the latter stretch of the regular season, a likely contending team seeking veteran bench help after the Trade Deadline and All-Star Break. We believe that will surely take place, as it’s hard to pass up Jamal Crawford’s abilities for too long. Even if it could be his final season.
Look out for teams like Milwaukee, Los Angeles (Lakers), Detroit, Houston, Toronto, Dallas, Portland, and perhaps even Denver if our aforementioned Beal deal goes down.
Ultimately, we never truly know what will happen in terms of major transactions this season, but we believe that these five instances are worth looking out for; in the event that they do happen, don’t forget where you heard it first.
Stay tuned for future episodes of Five On The Floor.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Boca Raton, Ricky J. Marc is an alumnus of the Obama White House and Cornell Paris Institute, a former Legislative Aide with both the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate, and a graduate of St. Thomas University with a Juris Doctor and Master of Science in Sports Administration.
He currently resides in Paris, France. Follow him on Twitter @RickyJMarc.