Dwyane Wade, Kyrie Irving and the Lucky Seven of the NBA offseason
These players had the best fortune in a flurry of activity
Dwyane Wade this week went from a young, rebuilding team in Chicago to Cleveland, where he was reunited with LeBron James and has an opportunity to win another NBA championship.
Like Wade, several players landed in better-than-expected situations when the 2016-17 season ended, including Carmelo Anthony, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap and Rajon Rondo.
So, who had the best fortune this offseason? The Undefeated looks at the NBA’s lucky seven.
1. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics, point guard
Offseason move: The Cleveland Cavaliers traded Irving to the Boston Celtics for guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic, a 2018 first-round pick and a 2020 second-round pick.
Comment: After being viewed as “the kid” by NBA superstar LeBron James, Irving sought a divorce in Cleveland in hopes of being the man elsewhere. Irving was ecstatic to not only get his wish but also land with the Cavaliers’ Eastern Conference rival, the Celtics. Whether or not James departs Cleveland as a free agent next summer, Irving is the leader of a Celtics team that can be a title contender for several years with fellow newcomer NBA All-Star Gordon Hayward, veteran big man Al Horford as well as young talent in Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum. It was curious that Irving was traded to the Celtics after they lost to Cleveland in the 2017 Eastern Conference finals, but Thomas and the 2018 first-round pick were too attractive to pass on.
2. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder, sMALL FORWARD
Offseason move: The Oklahoma City Thunder acquired George from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for forward Domantas Sabots and guard Victor Oladipo.
Comment: George does not have to be a lame duck in a rebuilding situation in Indiana. While in the final year of his contract, the veteran small forward has the opportunity to evaluate the Thunder with reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook and fellow All-Star Carmelo Anthony by his side. While the Golden State Warriors are the favorites to win the Western Conference for the fourth straight time, George has the best opportunity of his career to make it to the NBA Finals for the first time. President of basketball operations Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers are surely hoping to bring George home a year from now as a free agent.
3. DwyAne Wade, Cleveland Cavaliers, shooting guard
Offseason move: Wade signed a one-year, $2.3 million deal with the Cavaliers after a buyout with the Chicago Bulls.
Comment: The 35-year-old Wade avoided getting stuck in a rebuilding situation in Chicago in the twilight of his NBA career. The three-time NBA champion has an opportunity to compete for a title again with Cleveland after rejoining forces with his former Miami Heat teammate and close friend LeBron James. Cleveland, however, has a long list of veteran guards competing for minutes in Wade, an injured Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Kyle Korver and Jose Calderon.
4. Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves, shooting guard
Offseason move: The Minnesota Timberwolves acquired Butler and the 16th pick in the 2017 NBA draft (Creighton center Justin Patton) from the Chicago Bulls for guards Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine and the No. 7 overall pick (Arizona forward Lauri Markkanen).
Comment: Butler was reunited with former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. He joins a team with a bright future, with two projected stars in forward-center Karl-Anthony Towns and guard Andrew Wiggins. The Wolves will be the fun team to watch in the West and have the potential to end a 13-year playoff hiatus. Keep an eye on how long it takes for the three stars to get on the same page.
5. Carmelo Anthony, Oklahoma City Thunder, combo-forward
Offseason move: The New York Knicks traded the frustrated forward to the Thunder for forward-center Enes Kanter, forward Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-round pick.
Comment: Anthony goes from being on a rebuilding team with a lot of pressure in New York to a new NBA power with Westbrook and George in a smaller market. The 10-time All-Star will start at power forward, which could be a blessing in disguise because of his deep skill set, his ability to score creatively outside and in the post, and a less demanding defensive challenge. The challenge for Anthony will be going from being the main scorer to possibly the third option for the first time in his life.
6. Nick Young, Golden State Warriors, swingman
Offseason move: Young signed a one-year, $5.2 million deal with the Warriors.
Comment: Young has not played in the playoffs since 2012 as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers. If all goes well with the Warriors, he will eclipse his career total of 15 playoff games. After losing and off-the-court issues with the Los Angeles Lakers, Young has a fresh start and a possible title on the horizon with Golden State. The challenge will be getting used to a limited role on a deep team.
7. Chris Paul, Houston Rockets, point guard
Offseason move: The Los Angeles Clippers traded Paul to the Houston Rockets for guards Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, forwards Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell, three other players, a 2018 first-round pick and cash.
Comment: After it appeared the Clippers weren’t going to open the bank for the nine-time All-Star, he landed a trade to another Western Conference power, joining All-Star point guard James Harden in the backcourt. Paul pushed management hard to get Anthony, who ended up going to the Thunder. Much of the Rockets’ success this season will depend on how well Paul and Harden coexist.