Roundtable: Riskiest 2019 Offseason?
It's that time of year again - the crickets are chirping, sportswriters are yawning, and the curtains have (basically) closed on the 2019 NBA Offseason.
With that being said, we'd be remiss if we didn't get some staff opinions on an absolute whirlwind of a summer; we're certain that our talented writers have some colourful opinions on what went down this past month.
With that being said, it's time... for another OTG Roundtable! The question: Which team had the riskiest offseason?
A note: Our guy Victor S. was super opinionated, so he double-dipped with some extra thoughts. He felt it was only right, considering the magnitude of the occasion.
Cam Tabatabaie (@CTabatabaie): Oklahoma City had the riskiest offseason.
The need to trade away Paul George and subsequently Russell Westbrook came presumably out of left field. These were pragmatic moves from a front office whose hand was forced and forced quickly. Sam Presti netted a king's ransom of future assets, along with some intriguing players.
Regardless, there's inherent risk here because a decade of intrigue and hope may not be enough for such a team in such a small market. Will ownership be content if attendance sags and national interest for the team wanes? Staten Island alone has nearly as many people as the whole of Oklahoma City.
Is the Thunder fanbase sustainable enough to float whatever is to come?
Victor Sabatel (@Vic_Sab): Here's my case for the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets had their first winning record in four seasons and made the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. With the “Boston Fleecing” in the rearview, Nets GM Sean Marks and HC Kenny Atkinson are finally in the driver’s seat.
Insert Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, recognized as two of the league’s most gifted and mercurial talents. It takes a year to recover from a ruptured Achilles, and Durant will be 32 (nearing post-prime) when he returns. Historically, players of his stature haven’t made a living playing on the perimeter, begging some questions: how will Durant’s game age? Will he recover?
In the interim, Irving will be leading a group that resembles the young Celtics he left behind. Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie are the team’s best returning players, two big guards who thrive with the ball in their hands. Sound familiar? Can they make it work?
There are off the court questions as well: What kind of impact will Durant and Irving have in the locker room? How will Durant and Irving handle the NY media scrutiny?
Nikola Cuvalo (@NiikCuvs): The Houston Rockets had the riskiest offseason. And frankly, I'm not sure it's close.
The decision to trade Chris Paul, two first-rounds picks, and two future pick-swaps for Russell Westbrook was a gamble of earth-shattering proportions. Houston is essentially wagering that a sheer talent upgrade at point guard, regardless of potentially perilous fit, can maximize the remaining daylight in James Harden's championship window.
Now, this trade could turn out very right; imagine a scenario where both ball-dominant MVP-winning guards post near triple-doubles on a per-game basis, never giving opposing teams so much as a minute without an elite offensive creator on the floor.
However, there is also an unbelievable amount of risk associated with such a move. While Westbrook (30) is 4 years younger than the oft-injured Paul (34) at the beginning of the new season, his poor shooting and lack of off-ball efficacy might render him an even worse backcourt partner for James Harden.
The Rockets might've just added an even more onerous contract - and mortgaged their foreseeable draft future - for an experiment that could have potentially disastrous chemistry.
Victor Sabatel (@Vic_Sab): My case for the Los Angeles Lakers.
After a long tumultuous season filled with trade rumors, injuries and very public resignations; the Lakers traded the farm and finally got their man in Anthony Davis. The single caveat: Davis has yet to sign a long-term extension with the franchise.
It’s was too early to start with the prognosticating but I have to believe that if Anthony Davis were all in on the Lakers we’d be talking about an extension. We watched Kyrie’s relationship with the Celtics disintegrate throughout last season; Paul George asked to be traded a year after signing a long term extension. Anthony Davis holds all of the leverage heading into next offseason.
If he walks, where does that leave the Lakers? What message would that send across the league about Lakers management? Will LeBron want to finish his career in L.A. without an upper-echelon running mate?
Dennis Dow (@dennisdownba): It's got to be the Los Angeles Clippers.
Jorge Ruiz Illustration
The Clippers had the riskiest offseason because they have gone all-in on two superstars with injury histories that only have two years remaining on their contracts.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both, at points in their careers, lost basically entire seasons due to injury; George will also likely begin this season injured. Adding them to their core of Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell is also risky. The Warriors were pushed to 6 games because they had no way to defend the Williams-Harrell pick and roll.
However, with George and Leonard joining the team, my guess is that Lou Williams will not be your crunch-time guy. Will he be okay with that?
Jeremy Freed (@JeremyFreed3): Which team had the riskiest off-season? I have to go with the Brooklyn Nets.
Now, don't get me wrong, I think they had a great off-season: in Durant and Irving, you’re looking at two of the top fifteen players in the league, and when you have the chance to add them, you do it.
THAT SAID: Irving just tore a Celtics team that was supposed to be on the verge of legitimate contention apart, and has worn out his welcome in both Cleveland and Boston. What he brings to the mix in Brooklyn from a chemistry standpoint is very much in question -- and it’s a very relevant issue. Brooklyn overcame some crippling front-office miscues to rebuild without picks or space or hope, and now they’re throwing a very volatile element into the mix.
Durant would appear to be the perfect addition, if he hadn’t just suffered the single worst injury a basketball player can endure. Though there are reasons for optimism, it’s possible that he never returns to being the player he once was, and the Nets sank maximum dollars into damaged goods.
And to pay DeAndre Jordan all that money for being their friend? Especially when you have an up-and-coming Jarrett Allen? The likelihood is this all goes very right. But there’s a significant chance it all explodes.
Therein lies the risk.