Hooray. The Golden State Warriors are the 2016-17 NBA Champions. They nearly went a perfect 16-0 in the playoffs if it weren’t for a fabulous performance by Lebron James and Kyrie Irving in Game 4 of the Finals.
The NBA is changing right before our eyes. The Cavaliers and the Warriors played in their third straight finals which marked the first time in league history that two teams have met three years in a row.
If you are a fan of any team besides those two, you hope that trend comes to an end soon.
It looked promising this year when the San Antonio Spurs had a 23-point lead over the Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. That was until Kawhi Leonard’s ankle injury which forced him to miss the series and swung the momentum drastically. And in the East, the Boston Celtics looked poised to break the trend after they finished as the #1 seed and had home court advantage over the Cavaliers, but to no avail as the Cleveland beat Boston easily in five games.
The only thing that could stop the Cavaliers and the Warriors from meeting in the Finals for three more consecutive years is another super team.
So with the NBA offseason soon to kick off, lets dive into the teams that are most likely to add a superstar or two that would put them in contention with the reigning champion Warriors
Wait, aren’t they already a super team? Technically, yes they are, but after losing to the Warriors in five games I am sure Lebron James and the Cavs front office is looking to improve. Their cap space isn’t necesarily in the best of situations though, so they will have to acquire someone most likely through trade.
Kevin Love has been in trade talks almost since his arrival in Cleveland, but now rumors have swirled that Kyrie Irving is more likely to be dealt. And why not? Irving has been more productive and the Cavs could get more in return.
Although this year’s Finals he was dominant, Iriving played a lot of one-on-one basketball down the stretch and took some questionable shots that may have cost the Cavs. So I could see why James and company would be looking to play with someone else.
Maybe Irving straight up for Chris Paul in a sign and trade? Or Irving straight up for Paul George? Or Irving straight up for John Wall? Either of those trades would make the Cavaliers better but don’t be suprised if they end up doing nothing this offseason but add cheap veterans as role players.
San Antonio Spurs
Like the Cavaliers, salary cap space isn’t in their favor; but the Spurs have already announced that they are looking to sign Chris Paul this offseason.
In order to do that, they would have to move two players of either LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker or Danny Green. And due to age and dip in production by the big men last season, I would hang on to Green and Parker for the long haul. Moving Gasol might be tough because he is due $16.2 million if he accepts his player option, so they may get little in return.
A lineup of Paul, Green, Kawhi Leonard and whoever the Spurs get in return from trading Gasol and Aldridge would definitely put the Warriors on alert. Not to mention (since we have seen it in the past) veterans like Vince Carter and Zach Randolph would flock to San Antonio to play for cheap in hopes to win a ring.
Really? The Nuggets? Yes, this one might be a stretch, but the Nuggets are in a really good position to make noise this offseason either via trade or free agency. Rumor has it that Gallinari will decline his player option and if he does, that would give the Nuggets over $30 million in cap space.
The toughest part for the Nuggest is trying to convince a superstar to come play in Denver. But with a talented young core of Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris and Nikola Jokic, Denver has to be appealing to some players across the league.
Even if they cannot attract a Chris Paul or a Kyle Lowry caliber player, going after guys like P.J. Tucker, Serge Ibaka, Nerlens Noel, Greg Monroe, or Dion Waters makes sense and wouldn’t be a bad signing for the Nuggets. Pair any one of those players I listed with their core three and then make a trade with a team who is looking to clear some cap space *cough San Antonio cough*, and the Nuggest could be right in the thick of things.
They have assets like Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, Jamaal Murray and their draft picks that could potentially lure a guy like LaMarcus Aldridge via trade.
Although a lineup of Mudiay, Harris, Jokic, Aldridge, Ibaka, Tucker (or any of those players listed above) maybe won’t scare the Warriors, it would put them among the best eight teams in the league and could be a hot spot in attracting cheap veterans to join the cause.
I know after reading the Nuggets, you are double-taking on this team too. Again, this might be another long shot, but I’ll make this one quick. The Sixers could potentially have up to $50 million in cap space this offseason, which makes them almost elgible to offer two max contracts.
Philly native Kyle Lowry has expressed interests and he is really the key, if the Sixers want to make some power moves. Bring in a guy like Lowry to play with a hopefully healthy Simmons and Embiid, and now other NBA players are looking at Philly as a hot spot.
They have assets and picks to offer up, along with a strong interest in Paul George, and if Indiana were to pull the trigger, the Sixers could be a really good team with still some cap space to add another quality upper mid-tier free agent.
Out of all these teams, the Celtics have the best shot at becoming a strong enough Super team to dethrone the Warriors. Cap space, assets, tons of draft picks and a strong core of players that earned the #1 seed in the East is tempting to any super star free agent this summer.
Which super star will Danny Ainge sign though? Gordon Hayward makes the most sense. The forward played for head coach Brad Stevens at Butler University, so it seems like an ideal match made in heaven.
There has been rumors about going after Blake Griffin, trading for superstars Jimmy Butler or Paul George, and at this point no one really knows what is going on in Danny Ainge’s mind. Ainge did not pull the trigger on George or Butler at the trade deadline, so I do not see a scenario where he goes after one of them in the offseason, unless the Pacers and Bulls have lowered their price.
But it should not matter which super star the Celtics sign; the focus should be landing one super star, period. Adding Hayward, Butler, George, or Griffin to a team with Al Horford, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Jaylen Brown and the 2017 #1 overall pick would certainly put some fear into the Warriors organization.
Not to mention, the Celtics have defeated the Warriors at Oracle Arena twice the past two seasons.
With the draft coming up next week and free agency soon to follow, we will have to wait and see which NBA team, if any, can put together a strong enough super team to dethrone the Warriors and the Cavaliers.