Photo Courtesy: Washington Times
With all the talk of LeBron James signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, Paul George re-upping with Oklahoma City Thunder , and the unspeakable signing of DeMarcus Cousins to the Golden State Warriors, most fans may not have their eyes set on some of the smaller moves simultaneously taking place around the league. Here are a few under the radar moves that you may not have had time to think about.
5. Washington Wizards
Even with such a perennial all-star backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Wizards haven’t exactly lived up to expectations the past few seasons. But this offseason was approached a little differently. Washington has been a lot more active than in recent years and can comfortably say its team is better than last season. Marcin Gortat was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for Austin Rivers, which delivers much needed depth at the guard position. With Tomas Satoransky and now Rivers, Washington can expect legit offensive production outside of Wall and Beal. The most notable move lies in the reports that Dwight Howard agreed to sign a 2 year/$11M dollar deal with the Wizards, filling the much-needed hole at center. Even entering his 15th season, the 8-time All-Star still produces on a level much higher than Gortat and paired with John Wall he should be able to revitalize his play.
4. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets offseason began by drafting what was supposed to be a top five pick in the draft in Michael Porter Jr. with the 14th pick. Porter Jr. fell because of injury concerns and Denver has reported that they will take it slow with Porter even if it means sitting out his entire rookie season. The Nuggets followed that up by declining their team option on center Nikola Jokic, and instead offering him a five-year max contract extension that Jokic reportedly agreed to sign. After drafting what could easily be a steal, and locking down their franchise player, Denver is on pace to make the playoffs after falling one game short in the 2017-2018 season.
3. Utah Jazz
The Jazz have made very few moves thus far but have one of the most complete rosters in the league to start next season. Donovan Mitchell proved himself to be the next star the franchise needs and combined with a healthy Rudy Gobert, this is a one-two punch to be reckoned with. Utah has done an exceptional job building around these two players with complimentary pieces such as Joe Ingles, Ricky Rubio, and the recently re-signed Derrick Favors and Dante Exum. Even in the challenging Western Conference, Utah should have no trouble making the playoffs, and are very capable of making a deep run.
2. Indiana Pacers
Fresh off taking The King to seven games in the first round of the playoffs, The Pacers are ready to run it back. Now that LeBron has gone west, Indiana is emerging as an underrated contender in the East. New All-Star Victor Oladipo has shown he can lead his team to a deep playoff run. Though the Pacers lost Lance Stephenson, they were able to sign Tyreke Evans and Doug McDermott. McDermott shot 38% from deep with the New York Knicks/Dallas Mavericks this past season and can add some long-range shooting behind Bojan Bogdanavic. Acquiring Evans is one of the more underrated moves of this entire offseason. Averaging almost 20 points a game in what was a fantastic scoring season with the Grizzlies, Evans will be a great starting caliber guard next to Oladipo.
1. Dallas Mavericks
Dallas went from tanking this past season to fighting for a playoff spot this coming season. Owner Mark Cuban went all in, trading up two spots in the NBA Draft to get Luka Doncic with the 3rd pick. Doncic was a sensation in the EuroLeague and is arguably the best overall player in the draft class. He is ready to contribute instantly in the starting lineup and will mesh well with 2nd year player Dennis Smith Jr. However, The Mavs offseason doesn’t end there. DeAndre Jordan opted out of his final year with the Los Angeles Clippers to finally sign with the Mavericks after a crazy free agency courtship three years ago. As crazy as it sounds, the Dallas Mavericks may be a team to keep your eye on this season.