July has come and gone and August is quickly doing the same. You know what that means? The NBA Offseason is on its last leg and winding down as teams begin to look towards the start of camp. Rosters are pretty much set, the dog days of hefty contracts have passed and most of the prized free agents have chosen their future location. Heck, Ben Gordon and Caron Butler were even signed to relatively large contracts after slipping tape from the 2008-2009 season to the Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons front offices. Okay, maybe you could persuade me that Butler (and his very entertaining post-three-pointer phone call routine) deserved the money, and Gordon is still a sho–… On second thought, let’s leave those deals for another time. We saw one superstar return home, and two other stars take a clue from the Wu-Tang Clan and pick money over two arguably better teams. We watched as the Rockets swung for the fences and came up with Trevor Ariza. We saw < strong>Chandler Parsons hit the clubs with Mark Cuban. Point is, this has been quite an entertaining summer, and now that most of the moves have already occurred let’s look back at the 10 biggest winners of the NBA offseason.
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Honorable Mentions: Isaiah Austin and his NBA Draft Moment, Kobe Bryant and Jeremy Lin Memes, Kanye West compares himself to LeBron James, Drake & Blake Griffin ESPY Skits, James Harden gets “defensive” about Chandler Parsons jokes and much, much more.
1. Cleveland’s Rise
Maybe a little blatant homerism from me on this one, but can you really blame me? At the beginning of the offseason Spencer Hawes, whom the Cavaliers had just traded two second round picks for at the deadline, bolted for the Clippers midlevel exception (4 years/ 23 million) without so much as a goodbye, and Luol Deng had long packed his bags. No one knew what to expect from the Cavs with the number one pick. Another Coach was fired. Just another standard offseason in Cleveland. But then things started to go in a surprisingly correct manner: David Blatt, The Popovich of Euroleague and “one of the best basketball minds” according to Fran Fraschilla was hired as the new Head Coach. Andrew Wiggins, he of superstar potential, was selected with the number one pick. So far so good. At this point I remember thinking, “you know….maybe LeBron is coming back”, but just like most Ohioans I kept that feeling deep, deep inside me. Then it happened. Put aside the hoopla surrounding his return for a mere moment, and think basketball: the Cavaliers went from rebuilding to contending, from “possible Eastern Conference 8th seed” to the Vegas odds on favorite to win it all. Kevin Love, who just weeks beforehand had essentially made it clear that he would never resign with an Irving led Cleveland squad longed to be traded to Northeast Ohio. Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) is now on the Cavaliers radar. THINGS ARE HAPPENING IN CLEVELAND. Cleveland was able to obtain the NBA’s best player out of nowhere. From an emotional standpoint, Cleveland is on the rise. People are happy in Ohio now; it may be 60 degrees in the middle of summer, but hey, WE HAVE LEBRON.
2. The Spurs Keep It Spurs-y
While the rest of the league went through a dramatic shift in power, the champions kept their core free agents and added Boris Diaw clone Kyle Anderson in the draft (a perfect fit for player and team). With Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker (his decision) and Manu Ginobili resting (Spurs denied his participation after he injured his right fibula sometime during their championship run) instead of playing in the FIBA World Cup and Tim Duncan back for another go around there’s no reason to think the Spurs, returning every major contributor and role player, shouldn’t be the prohibitive favorite to return to the Finals yet again. Finals MVP and breakout star Leonard is still only 23 years old and improving. Oh, and Gregg Popovich threw some shade at the Miami Heat too. Outside of luring Pau Gasol to San Antonio, this is the best possible scenario for Tim Duncan and friends. It’s been a relatively quiet and efficient summer for San Antonio, just how they like it.