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The Legend of Billy the Kid

The Legend of Billy the Kid

21/08/2018, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 27546398
This coming season, Billy Preston will be trying to prove that he has the size, skill and heart to be an effective player at the NBA level with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Courageous Fight

The Courageous Fight

21/08/2018, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 27546399
Get the latest news on the Wine & Gold by checking out what the local and national media are writing about.

					Rebuilding Hawks add depth by signing Hamilton, Poythress

Rebuilding Hawks add depth by signing Hamilton, Poythress

21/08/2018, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 27545365
Rebuilding Hawks add depth by signing guard-forward Daniel Hamilton, forward Alex Poythress
Winners and losers from the Western Conference’s offseason (And the L.A. Lakers …)

Winners and losers from the Western Conference’s offseason (And the L.A. Lakers …)

21/08/2018, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 27544195

We are a little more than halfway through the NBA offseason. That makes right now — the in-between place, when those whose lives revolve around basketball take a deep breath before diving back in for another 10 months or so of constant insanity — the perfect opportunity to assess all that has happened since the Golden State Warriors closed out the Cleveland Cavaliers to claim a second straight championship.

We’ll break down teams into four categories — clear winners, lean winners, lean losers and clear losers — to account for the entire spectrum of how the offseason played out.

Clear Winners

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers got LeBron James. Duh.

Clear Losers

Los Angeles Lakers

Wait. What? How could the Lakers be losers when they signed James?

Because of everything they did after signing him, making the least optimal moves possible to maximize James’s talents. The three other outside free agent signings for more than a minimum — Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley — all need the ball in their hands and provide no spacing when James has it. While the young players could improve, playing with James isn’t easy — and it isn’t clear they’ll be able to handle it. The collection of centers — JaVale McGee, Ivica Zubac and rookie Moritz Wagner — might be the NBA’s worst.

Yes, the Lakers have LeBron. But the rest of the roster is a giant question mark. The fact this team could potentially miss the playoffs even with James on its roster is not only an indication of the depth of the West, but the failure of the Lakers to improve the rest of their roster this summer.

Clear Winners

Dallas Mavericks

It took an extra three years, but Dallas finally got DeAndre Jordan — and only on a one-year deal, which was the best outcome for the Mavericks. And getting Luka Doncic in a draft night trade with the Atlanta Hawks gives Dallas the chance, along with Dennis Smith Jr., to build the bridge to the post-Dirk Nowitzki Era. That’s a pretty darn good summer.

Oklahoma City Thunder

When Oklahoma City was sent home in the first round two months ago, Paul George seemed sure to leave as a free agent. But there he was, as the clock struck 11 p.m. Central on June 30, standing on a stage with Russell Westbrook declaring he wasn’t going anywhere. That alone made this summer a victory. Keeping Jerami Grant and turning Carmelo Anthony into something — even if Dennis Schroder has his issues and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot is more theory than reality at the moment — was a nice piece of work by Thunder General Manager Sam Presti.

Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies desperately needed to hit with their first-round pick. In taking Jaren Jackson Jr., it appears they did just that. And the team’s second-round pick, Jevon Carter, is a perfect fit for Memphis’s culture, too. Swapping Ben McLemore and Deyonta Davis for Garrett Temple was an upgrade, and Kyle Anderson should be a nice fit, too.

Did Memphis become a title contender? No. But this was a summer full of solid moves for the Grizzlies, and assuming Mike Conley and Marc Gasol can stay healthy, should make Memphis a much tougher foe this season.

Lean Winners

Golden State Warriors

For all of the noise signing DeMarcus Cousins created, here’s what it didn’t do: solve Golden State’s biggest problem of last season. What was that problem? Wing depth. But fixing that wasn’t as important as re-signing Kevin Durant or even keeping Kevon Looney, and the potential upside of signing Cousins still makes this a positive summer — as does the competition failing to close the gap.

But Golden State, whether it re-signs Pat McCaw (as expected) or not, is going to have to find a way to fill that gap at some point this season. If the Warriors are healthy, they are the best team and will win another title. But as Andre Iguodala’s injury in the Western Conference finals proved, the Warriors don’t have a big margin for error against the league’s elite teams. And they didn’t improve that margin this summer.

Utah Jazz

Utah was one of several teams in the West that made minimal moves this summer. So why are the Jazz the only one of those teams to be in the winner category? Because Utah has a solid foundation, a stable organization and a young superstar to build around. The Jazz didn’t make a big move this summer, but they had the ability to be patient and kept their flexibility for the future.

Phoenix Suns

DeAndre Ayton should be able to step in and immediately produce after going first overall in the draft. The same goes for Mikal Bridges, whom Phoenix jumped up to 10th to take in the draft. Trevor Ariza will provide some much-needed veteran leadership. And most importantly, Igor Kokoskov should provide the kind of system and structure this franchise has desperately needed for years.

There are things to question about most of these moves — Doncic is a better prospect, trading up for Bridges has some risk, and Ariza is a bit of an odd fit on such a young team. But in total, these are positive steps for a franchise that hasn’t made many recently.

San Antonio Spurs

It’s never a good summer when you lose one of the best players in the NBA, as the Spurs did in trading Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors. But it wasn’t as awful a summer as many have made it out to be.

Yes, DeMar DeRozan isn’t as good as a healthy version of Leonard. But: A) none of us know if Leonard will be healthy this year. B) Leonard only played nine games last season. C) DeRozan is very good in his own right.

The combination of DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl will help San Antonio this year. Along with a healthier version of Rudy Gay, Manu Ginobili likely being back, plus continued improvement from Dejounte Murray, should allow the Spurs to stay in the mix in the West — and will mitigate the damage that comes from losing a player like Leonard.

New Orleans Pelicans

Losing DeMarcus Cousins is less of a loss than many think. Yes, he is very talented. But playing without him did allow New Orleans to play a different way last year — a way that allowed the team to have a lot of success. Adding Julius Randle also should make the Pelicans better this year, given he can play that up-tempo style they shifted to after Cousins got hurt, and he will be available all season, as opposed to the half Cousins likely would’ve been available to play.

The issue is at point guard, where Rondo — despite his faults — was a solid fit. In his place is Elfrid Payton, who still has upside, but has yet to show it can be turned into production. Jrue Holiday can obviously play there, but he was at his best playing next to Rondo last year. Those are big shoes to fill for Payton.

Los Angeles Clippers

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looks like a real find at No. 12, and replacing DeAndre Jordan with Marcin Gortat allowed the Clippers to keep their cap space for next summer. The same goes for Avery Bradley’s two-year deal with a partially guaranteed second year and Luc Mbah a Moute returning on a one-year deal. With a roster featuring eight players on expiring contracts, the Clippers can pivot in just about any direction this season, depending on how things go.

Lean Losers

Houston Rockets

The Rockets were so close to beating the Warriors last season. They said the plan was to run things back.

Then they didn’t retain Ariza and Mbah a Moute, both leaving on one-year deals. They didn’t use their mid-level exception to sign anyone, other than giving second-round pick De’Anthony Melton a multiyear deal. They did sign James Ennis to a minimum deal, who should be a good fit, but also signed Michael Carter-Williams and Carmelo Anthony to one-year deals, who both seem like bad fits.

So why, with all of that info, is this only a lean loser? Because these are the Rockets, and they have earned the benefit of the doubt. It was only a few years ago that Chandler Parsons was leaving in free agency and people were wondering what the Rockets were thinking. That summer, Houston signed Trevor Ariza. And things worked out just fine.

Perhaps that will happen again this time around. But right now, it looks like Houston took a big step back. We’ll see if the Rockets can prove their doubters wrong once again.

One other thing to consider: Ariza is on a large expiring contract on a team that is going to be, even with its improvements, among the worst in the West and should be nowhere near a playoff spot. That could lead to Ariza being a buyout candidate. And who could use him more than just about any other team?

That would be Houston. That is one possibility to keep in mind for how the Rockets will solve their current deficit on the wings.

Denver Nuggets

Michael Porter Jr. was an inspired choice in the draft, even though he’s almost certain to spend this entire season rehabbing. Re-signing Will Barton was good, too, as was getting Nikola Jokic signed to a long-term deal.

But the Nuggets gave away a useful player in Wilson Chandler, as well as a first-round pick to dump Darrell Arthur and Kenneth Faried to get below the luxury tax threshold. That made the team undoubtedly worse. Denver has enough young talent to keep improving, but the cost-cutting moves hurt.

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves largely stood pat this summer in free agency after making the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, and they had a good draft getting Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop.

So why are the Timberwolves in this category? Because of the turmoil that surrounds the team. There are rumblings of discontent surrounding all three of the team’s pillars — Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns (who still, for some reason, hasn’t been signed to a long-term contract extension this summer) and Andrew Wiggins. The same could be said about Tom Thibodeau’s management style.

Could Minnesota win more than 50 games and push for home court in the playoffs? Yes. Could Minnesota win 45 games and miss the playoffs, see Butler leave in free agency and fall back in the West hierarchy? Yes. Few teams have a wider variance heading into next season than Minnesota does.

Portland Trail Blazers

Yes, Portland finished third in the West last season. But the Blazers were swept out of the playoffs and proceeded to do little to change the team’s fortunes. Ed Davis was let go, likely to allow for more minutes for last year’s first-round pick, Zach Collins. Seth Curry replaced Shabazz Napier. But the Blazers failed to address the same issue they’ve had for years now: a lack of depth on the wing.

Clear Losers

Sacramento Kings

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Kings, quite simply, can’t get out of their own way. In a draft class that looks like it has several potential stars in it, Marvin Bagley does not look like one of them. The Kings tried to sign Zach LaVine to a massive contract, but then were bailed out by the Chicago Bulls matching the restricted free agent’s offer sheet.

Sacramento has a lopsided roster with no clear style of play to adhere to. More importantly, the Kings don’t have their draft pick in next year’s draft — in a season when they are almost certain to be the worst team in the Western Conference and one of the worst in the NBA.

					Colin Cowherd on why analytics prove LeBron is better than MJ

Colin Cowherd on why analytics prove LeBron is better than MJ

21/08/2018, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 27544092
Colin Cowherd discusses the NBA on todays show. Colin on why analytics prove LeBron is better than MJ.
Clarkson to Represent Philippines in 2018 Asian Games

Clarkson to Represent Philippines in 2018 Asian Games

21/08/2018, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 27543947
Jordan Clarkson and the Filipino men's national team will take on China this Wednesday night in Jakarta, Indonesia as the two teams battle it out in the group stage of the 2018 Asian Games.

					Shannon Sharpe explains why he loved LeBron trash-talking Steph Curry

Shannon Sharpe explains why he loved LeBron trash-talking Steph Curry

21/08/2018, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 27543469
Shannon Sharpe discusses the NBA on today’s show. Shannon explains why he loved LeBron trash-talking Steph Curry during Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Daily News - August 20, 2018

Daily News - August 20, 2018

21/08/2018, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 27543331
Get the latest news on the Wine & Gold by checking out what the local and national media are writing about.
CavsHQ - August 19, 2018

CavsHQ - August 19, 2018

20/08/2018, USA, Basketball, NBA (Basketball), Article # 27543061
Listen to Sunday's episode of CavsHQ as hosts John Michael and Joe Gabriele discuss the off-season moves in the NBA, and talk about the Las Vegas over and under win totals for teams in the league.