Roundtable: Best Move This Offseason
We ask: what was the best move this offseason?
Matt Shear/ @matthewjshear:
Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves get a relatively young, yet experienced All-Star caliber player to help bring along the culture of their promising team. Jimmy Butler will be paired with two of the game’s brightest young stars in Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns. Jimmy Buckets will also reunite with Tom Thibodeau, the coach with whom he enjoyed much playoff success. Butler doesn’t make the T-Wolves an instant contender, especially in the loaded Western Conference, but he gives them a chance to make the playoffs this season. Minnesota didn’t have to give up much to get the small forward from the Chicago Bulls. The Timberwolves swapped first round picks and lost two young guards. Kris Dunn is an unproven point guard, who showed defensive capabilities but little of anything on the offensive side of the ball in his first year as a pro. Zach LaVine took a big leap last year in the 47 games he played before tearing his left ACL. He scored 18.9 points per game as the third scoring option in Minnesota. As he returns from the injury, the Bulls will look for him to shoulder a bigger role in his first season in Chicago.
So, the Bulls get a point guard who struggles to shoot the ball and an athletic guard prone to knee injuries. It’s like déjà vu all over again.
Brett Carroll/ @Neva_4Brett_ME:
I’m tempted to go with the obvious “Paul George to OKC” or the also obvious “Jimmy Butler to Minnesota” but I’ll go with my favorite move of the offseason: the Kings signing Vince Carter, George Hill, and Zach Randolph.
I love the signings of Hill, Carter, and Randolph because they can help the team win now and will be great mentors to the three promising rookies that the Kings drafted this year. All three guys bring toughness and wisdom to a team that had been devoid of such things for over a decade now. Not to mention, the three rookies have the perfect role model to pattern their games after (Fox and Hill, Jackson and Carter, and Giles and Randolph). Add second year guard Buddy Hield in the mix, and the Kings might be in business.
If Fox, Jackson, and Giles all have great first years, the Kings could compete for the eighth seed. In fact, I’m calling it now that the Kings won’t have a top ten pick next year, and will be at the end of the lottery. Z-Bo and VC are two of my all-time favorite players growing up, and I’m sad that they didn’t resign in Memphis. However, I’m truly excited to see what they do in Sac-Town, and I love the mix of youth and vets that’s cooking up in California’s capital. And besides, this might be the first and last time we get to say “the Sacramento Kings are the winners of the offseason!”
For me, the Timberwolves acquiring Jimmy Butler for pennies on the dollar was the best move of the offseason. The team only gave up Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and moved nine spots back in the draft to get a superstar. Minnesota now has a leader who can teach the young guns like Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns how to win. Tom Thibodeau did a terrific job this offseason fortifying his roster by signing Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson. The Butler trade, however, was the catalyst to the rest of the Timberwolves' offseason.
The scourge of fantasy sports players everywhere is the owner that offers relative peanuts for a star player in return. The Oklahoma City Thunder became that owner we all dislike when the team actually pulled that ridiculous proposal off and got Paul George for a relative song; dealing only a solid starter in Victor Oladipo and a young rotation player Domantas Sabonis. Who knows what was really on the table for Indiana GM Kevin Pritchard, but it was becoming obvious the GM was going into this next season with either a disgruntled player who wasn’t happy and risk seeing George leave via free-agency in a year for nothing or trade him this offseason. In being stuck behind the proverbial rock and hard place, Pritchard got what he felt was the best deal possible.
Give all the credit to the OKC front-office for showing its own superstar in Russell Westbrook that they are serious about contending this season, while also providing him with a top-25 player in the former Pacer. While the forward’s impending free agency and reported desire to play in Los Angeles next season may muddy the waters a bit, give all the credit to the Thunder for being aggressive in getting Westbrook more help in a formidable Western Conference. If that deal ends up being for a one-year rental, remains to be seen.
One of the most underrated offseason moves has to be Ricky Rubio to the Utah Jazz. Rubio won’t fill the hole left by Gordon Hayward’s departure, but what he will do is elevate Rudy Gobert’s game, and I believe he’ll turn Gobert into an offensive force. What the Jazz have in Gobert is a DeAndre Jordan-type player. Both are long, athletic centers who are intimidating defensively and are great at catching lobs and finishing put-backs. What turned Jordan into an All-Star this past year, despite his limited offensive game, was having Chris Paul on the floor to set him up with easy baskets. Chris Paul averaged 9.2 assists this past season, and DeAndre Jordan benefitted from a few of them per game. Ricky Rubio averaged 9.1 assists per game and will benefit Gobert by setting him up with easy baskets. The same way Chris Paul elevated Jordan’s game, we can expect Rubio to have a similar effect on Gobert’s game. With Rubio running the offense, we should see Gobert’s points-per-game average move up from the 14.0 he averaged last year. In addition, we should see more ball movement from the team as a whole because a pass-first guard like Rubio is running the point. The increased ball movement will space the floor and give the team more good looks from the perimeter; and that will especially help Joe Ingles who shot 44.1% from three last year, 4th best in the league.