Before continuing the list, just a little update due to signings and trades made after Part 1 of this piece went to press last week.
There is, of course, the bombshell made by the Los Angeles Clippers of not only landing Kawhi Leonard but also acquiring Paul George. This absolutely elevates the Clippers to the legitimate contenders list and drop the Raptors to the legit darkhorses list. They, in fact, are my early favorites to win the NBA title.
As an offshoot of the PG13 trade, there is the trade of Russell Westbrook out of Oklahoma City to Houston for Chris Paul. How this triple double monster reunion with scoring machine James Harden improves the Rockets is still up in the air.
As for CP3, he may not be staying long with the Thunder as he is reportedly being shopped around ASAP.
Anyway, here’s the second part of my “who got their wish” list
Kawhi Leonard, continuation
As it turned out, Leonard was maybe even better in free agency than he was during the 2019 NBA Playoffs.
Leonard seemed to have established what he liked for his career in the next few years, plan it, put the plan into free agency and executed it through the team he intends to play for. Just the way it should be done.
I also liked how he flew to Toronto on a private jet as the last step of the process. The act of flying to Canada just say he isn’t coming back, which he probably did, is a nice gesture to the people there. Raptors President Masai Ujiri was quoted by reports as the only one who was truthful during his dealings with the team.
What an ending! Kawhi won a title for a city that’s starving to get one, then leaves to go home, a place he wants to play, with the organization he will play for getting a deal done for his preferred partner.
And his old team and their fan base are okay with it. There was no massive Kawhi jersey burning in Toronto cause they probably weren’t caught off-guard that he is indeed leaving.
LA Clippers, continuation
Jerry West and the team’s front office were definitely the stars for this supposedly “second-rate” Los Angeles team.
The team as mentioned in part one of this series played by Leonard’s rules but used their moments of silence to become busy acquiring George and consequently went on to secure a long-term contract with Leonard.
This is what the Clippers must have in mind when it signed West as one of the top executives of the team: to have a great roster construction that was proven in his previous stints with the Lakers and the Warriors.
The hiring of West might be the best decision Steve Ballmer made so far during his entire ownership of the team.
Talking about silent operators, this team was quietly building a championship contending team while the others were loudly acquiring superstars.
Getting two-way player, point guard Mike Conley; sharp shooting forward Bojan Bogdanovic, who averaged 18 points a game on 49.7 percent overall shooting and 42.5 percent from three for Indiana last year; and rebounding demon, center Ed Davis, are major upgrades in their roster.
They would later add point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, the 2015 7th overall pick talent that’s still just 23 years old, and forward Jeff Green on a minimum deals to sweeten acquisitions.
If we add the remaining main Jazz men in Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, and Dante Exum, it results to a crew that can give the Clippers group a run for their money on the defensive end while having enough firepower to compete on the offensive end.
These acquisitions may not be big name guys like Leonard, Kevin Durant and company, but they should fit in nicely with the Jazz to make them one of the legitimate championship contenders next season.
The Mavericks mortgage some of their future by giving up Dennis Smith Jr. and two future first-round draft picks to get Kristaps Porzingis, whose contract was up this year. Mark Cuban should now be sleeping well as his team locked up Porzingis through a five-year contract.
They may not be winning the championship this coming season but their foundation in Porzingis and Luka Doncic are now set and ready to build around.
By Armando M. Bolislis