This year’s NBA Offseason saw All-Stars and young talent on the move. Following this year’s frantic offseason, teams now have a good idea of what their roster will look like going into the season.
With free agency coming to an end, let’s take a look at the most notable moves, as well as which teams should be confident entering the 2021-22 season.
This past month has been filled with trades and signings, headlined by the Los Angeles Lakers who have rebuilt their entire roster after being defeated in the first round of the playoffs last season.
Most notable among the additions for the Lakers are former MVP and nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook, whom they acquired via trade in return for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the 22nd pick in this year’s draft.
Also joining the Lakers are future Hall of Famers in ten-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony and the return of eight-time All-Star Dwight Howard and four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo; the latter two who were a part of their 2020 Championship team.
I asked A&T student Antwaune Lewis which offseason acquisition he thinks will make the biggest difference. “Russ going to Lakers. He immediately takes the pressure off of LeBron by bringing elite-level playmaking. This is the best point guard LeBron has ever played with,” Lewis said.
Russell Westbrook is confident in the Lakers being title contenders this season. He believes with a good group of veterans, the Lakers can run through these young teams.
Although the Lakers made a few moves during the offseason, the Miami Heat flipped from fighting for a playoff seed to becoming a title contender in the eastern conference.
The Miami Heat’s season concluded in May this year after being swept in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual NBA champions, Milwaukee Bucks. Heading into the offseason, it wasn’t a secret that they needed a bolster to the roster.
On day one of free agency, the Heat acquired six-time All-Star Kyle Lowry from the Raptors on a three-year, $85 Million deal via sign-and-trade. The Heat also signed defensive specialist PJ Tucker who is fresh off a championship run with the Bucks.
This past year, Jimmy Butler was tasked with being their best scorer, facilitator, and defender. The signing of Lowry and Tucker, as well as the return of two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo, will provide Butler with help on offense. If healthy, the ceiling for this Miami Heat team is another Finals run.
After being derailed by injuries in each of the past two seasons, the Golden State Warriors were in need of pieces to return to their championship form. With the return of five-time All-Star Klay Thompson and the 2020 second overall pick James Wiseman, the Warriors will be vastly improved in comparison to their performance last season.
The Warriors used free agency to improve their roster by signing Nemanja Bjelica, Otto Porter, and Andre Igoudala, as well as drafting Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. While some have counted the Warriors out the past few seasons, they are once again poised for a deep playoff run.
Another team in the East that made drastic changes was the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls have not been competitive over the past few seasons but with the addition of forward Demar DeRozan and guard Lonzo Ball, the Bulls can make a run in the east.
The Bulls signed guard Ball to a four-year, $85 Million deal via sign-and-trade with the Pelicans. Ball gives the Bulls a formidable backcourt pairing with Zach Lavine, as well as a point guard with a bright future and high ceiling.
DeRozan would join Ball after signing a three-year, $85 Million deal via sign-and-trade with the Spurs. DeRozan provides the Bulls with elite scoring at the wing as well as solid playmaking when Ball isn’t on the floor.
These offseason acquisitions to a team that already houses All-Stars Zach Lavine and Nikola Vucevic instantly make the Bulls serious contenders in the East.
It will be interesting to see how much these players made a difference on their new rosters come playoff time in April.