During the NBA season, determining the winner and loser is quite easy. (Who scored more? Winner. Who scored less? Loser.) The offseason is a little more interesting. It’s a bit more difficult to determine who’s on the right side of a trade or signing. This week included some blockbuster trades as well as some free agent signings. Here are my opinions of the NBA offseason winners and losers of the week.
Winner: Demar DeRozan
As the devil worshipping prophet Lil Uzi Vert once said, “I know it hurts sometimes but you’ll get over it.” Well Oh Wonder said it first, but you get the point.
Sure it probably feels like a knife in the back from a franchise that you put on your shoulders. Sure you’ve been separated from your work best friend. Sure you’re back in the same conference as LeBron. But on the bright side, you’re on the freakin Spurs! Coach Popovich will more likely than not bring the best out of DeRozan and make this new duo of Aldridge and DeRozan better than the sum of its parts.
Loser: Kawhi Leonard
I wonder if Kawhi even reacted when he was told he’s gotta spend the next year in Toronto. Did he let out a “FUCK YOU POP” while holding his fists to the sky in frustration? Did he plot on how he’s gonna get out of playing in a Raptors jersey? My guess is he sat there blank-faced like the robot he is while his uncle unplugged him from his charger.
On a more serious note, Leonard asked for LA and Pop shipped him to Canada. Sure Kawhi could be the best player in the east, but who in their right mind wants to play in Toronto? You’re paying double taxes and freezing just to get bounced in the second round with Drake sitting court-side pretending to care about your team.
Winner: The Lakers, Raptors, and Spurs
While the effects of the Leonard to Toronto, DeRozan to San Antonio trade won’t really be clear until a year from now, it’s conceivable that these three teams are winners in result of the deal.
Even though the Lakers aren’t involved in this trade directly, indirectly this is a blessing in disguise. They didn’t give up assets for Kawhi and they get see just how healthy he is without his recovery impacting them. After a year of being double taxed to play basketball in the Canadian Tundra, Kawhi will want to be in Los Angeles so bad, he might just pay the Lakers to be on the roster. Now the Lakers have a year of LeBron deciding which young players he wants to keep, and he probably just licked his lips after smelling DeRozan’s blood in the western conference waters.
As for the Raptors, they’re playing with house money. They would’ve had to break up the DeRozan and Lowry backcourt eventually, so why not gamble on a former finals MVP? Paul George was expected to bolt to LA after a year in OKC but look what happened. And if Leonard eventually does do the race to LA, wallah…you have cap room and can start over again. Well played Toronto, well played.
And for the Spurs, this was obviously a great deal. Kawhi was holding the Spurs hostage by marking LA as his trade destination, killing the Spurs’ trade options. To receive an all-star back ain’t bad…even if it is Walmart brand Kobe.
Loser: Kyle Lowry
Kyle Lowry just lost his work best friend who was replaced with an emotionless robot that doesn’t want to be on his team. And if they get bounced by the Celtics or 76ers, or even upset by the Wizards or Bucks, guess who’s probably getting blamed.
Winner: The Boston Celtics and Marcus Smart
Jayson Tatum, Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jalen Brown…and now Marcus Smart.
All of these players healthy, under contract and coached by Brad Stevens. God bless the rest of the eastern conference.
Loser: Me as a Lakers fan and Marcus Smart secret admirer
The Lakers gave 25 million to Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope combined, but didn’t think to go after Marcus Smart!?!? If we’re going to give up money to playmakers that can’t shoot and “gritty defensive players,” how was Smart not even considered?
I’m not mad, just disappointed.
*Lakers sign Michael Beasley*
Okay, now I’m a little mad.
Winner: Carmelo Anthony
Melo might just be onto something here. I wish I was so bad at my job that they paid me to stay home. Yes, Melo was traded and bought out, but now he gets to go wherever he wants with an additional 27.9 million sitting in his bank account.
Who knows, maybe we’ll get a motivated Melo. Maybe an efficient 15 points per game on limited dribbles and shots. Maybe he’ll even pull a Chris Bosh and lock in on defense as the third option on the Rockets. Alright, I took it too far, but life must be great for La La Anothony’s husband right now.
Loser: The Atlanta Hawks
Yes, the Hawks got Dennis Schroeder’s contract (3yrs/46.5 million) off the books and freed up cap space, but they still got stuck with paying 27.9 million for Melo to stay home. Imagine a scenario where Schroeder has a great year in OKC and Melo develops into a lethal third option for the Rockets or wherever he goes. Now Atlanta is stuck being bitter while Trae Young locks in your lottery spot with air balls from 30.
Winner: The Oklahoma City Thunder
Receiving a backup point guard in Dennis Schroder isn’t too bad of a return for a guy that did nothing to elevate your team last year. It will be interesting to see how Schroder works out for them, but there’s no way he’ll be worse than 2018 Melo.
Loser: The Philadelphia 76ers
Remember when it was a possibility that the 76ers could get Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and/or LeBron James? Well that ship has sailed and now they gotta deal with Kawhi guarding Ben Simmons four times this season.