A series of moves that left Toronto and Golden State as the two biggest losers promise an extraordinary 2019-20 campaign in the best basketball in the world
In this April 9, 2019, Portland Trail Blazers guard Seth Curry shoots as Los Angeles Lakers forward Johnathan Williams defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles/ AP Photo/ Mark J. Terrill
LatinAmerica Post | Onofre Zambrano
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The Los Angeles Lakers started the pause in between seasons well by keeping Anthony Davis and everything suggested that during the free agency they would add another star. However, as soon as the free agency began, everything changed and the Brooklyn Nets and their city rival, Los Angeles Clippers, ended up being the real winners. The LeBron team, along with the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors, joined the losers' side.
This free agency may well be defined as something extraordinary. Beyond the thunderous moves of Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan (these last two not yet officialized), Kawhi Leonard and Paul George; there have been other very interesting and competitive teams such as Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic with the Utah Jazz. There is also Al Horford, who went to the Philadelphia Sixers after being with the weakened Boston Celtics, and Jimmy Butler, who left Philadelphia to strengthen the Miami Heat. Damarcus Cousins, former Warriors player, is supposed to be very close to the Los Angeles Lakers.
All these events ensure two things. First, the end of the Golden State Warriors' hegemony because, besides being surpassed by Toronto Raptors in the last final, they will no longer count on Durant or Andre Iguodala, nor Klay Thompson for much of the regular schedule because of his anterior cruciate ligament injury in his left knee. Nor will they have two role players like Kevin Looney and Quinn Cook. In short, Stephen Curry and the newcomer D'Angelo Russell will be alone against everybody.
The second point is the number of attractive pairs that have formed in different teams as it has not been seen for ages, which will surely generate more interest and a different distribution of the international television broadcasts of the best basketball in the world, now with a slight tendency in favor of the two quintets from the Staples Center. These pairs are LeBron and Davis in the Lakers, Durant and Irving in Brooklyn, Leonard and George in the Clippers, Curry and Russell in Warriors, Horford and Embiid in Philadelphia. For now, these are the only confirmed one, but there could be more.
Surprisingly, the two best teams of the previous season, the ones that reached the final game, seem the main losers in the market, which may make it more difficult to return to the top in 2020. We already explained the Warriors' situation, that have been weakened after investing all their savings for Durant's renovation, which finally did not happen.
In the case of the current champions, Raptors, it is noteworthy the low persuasion capacity to seduce Kawhi Leonard, their maximum star, to stay in the club after winning the title in just one year. It will be necessary to see how the team is remade after this hard blow, but to date the only arrival is Stanley Johnson (former New Orleans Pelicans' player) to make up for the absence of their star figure and that of a role player like Danny Green. He, by the way, also went to Los Angeles, but in this case to the Lakers.
Due to the how far they got last season, they are undoubtedly the two biggest losers of this free agency to date. Others talk about the Lakers, because neither Kevin Durant nor Kawhi Leonard came to form a 'Big Three' with LeBron and Davis. Also, because their worst neighboring adversary, the Clippers, which has been much more competitive in recent years, was the one that finally got Leonard.
However, if we analyze more in depth, the Lakers now have a better team than the last season and that is an advantage. Frank Vogel is a manager with much more experience than Luke Walton. LeBron now has Anthony Davis, Danny Green, Quinn Cook and possibly Damarcus Cousins. In addition, they kept Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell Pope and Kyle Kuzma. Today, they are back in the fight to become the number one candidate for the title and without a doubt their aspirations to return to the postseason are legitimate.
Several candidates, few sure bets
This time, Golden State Warriors are not the great candidate, it's obvious. They may not even continue reigning in the tough Western Conference, although they are a respectable team that should reach the playoffs. The number of moves mentioned here, as well as the ones that are still left, present us with a very competitive and even scenario for the 2019-20 season. At least on paper, because once they throw the ball in the air we can not guarantee that several of these projects will work as the theory indicates.
The Eastern Conference showed an interesting growth in the last season. Toronto was crowned, Milwaukee Bucks was the best record of the entire circuit in the regular calendar, Philadelphia Sixers gave important signs that it is one of the promising franchises and Boston Celtics are again competitive as they were in the last three years. Toronto and Boston now have many doubts, but Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Brooklyn seem to be the three great candidates to fight for the title
In turn, the 'wild' West once again promises deadly matches. Clippers, Lakers, Rockets (whose presence has been remarkable so far in hiring), Warriors, Jazz, Nuggets, Trail Blazers and Spurs have enough material to compete with. Only Oklahoma City Thunder, which lost to George, seems to have lost its status as a great team, as Russel Westbrook, who is already 31 years old, showed that he alone can no longer guide this team to victory. We'll see, but personally I want the NBA 19-20 season to start quickly on October 22.