There were two devastating earthquakes to hit Los Angeles over the July 4th holiday; the first was on America’s birthday that clocked in at a 6.4 on the Richter scale, the biggest since 1994, and then a second bigger 6.9 hit Southern California less than 48 hours later.
You may have seen all the celebrity Los Angelino elitists annoyingly posting pictures of their backyard pools sloshing around on Twitter, but something else huge occurred at the same time of these earthquakes.
A different seismic event hit Los Angeles at the same time and it’s probably not what you think.
Ask any NBA fan and they’ll tell you flat-out this has been one of the craziest free agencies since it began all those years ago.
Some of the most talented players in the NBA became unrestricted free agents on June 30th, that included Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Demarcus Cousins, D’Angelo Russell, Al Horford, Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard. That’s inarguably a third of the top twenty players.
But unrestricted free agents aren’t the only variables. It begins with the NBA draft and that will sometimes dictate where free agents decide to sign. The only player in the 2019 draft that actually shifted the NBA was Duke Forward Zion Williamson being selected by the New Orleans Pelicans with the first overall pick.
The Los Angeles Lakers took advantage of this by selling the farm for All-Star forward Anthony Davis creating a powerful duo with LeBron James.
They also added Cousins for the veteran minimum too.
Kevin Durant left perennial 2018-19 NBA champion favorites Golden State Warriors and headed for Brooklyn to team up with Kyrie Irving at the Nets.
But along with Thompson resigning with the Warriors, they also snagged first time All-Star D’Angelo Russell from the Nets in a sign-and-trade.
Kemba Walker took over for Kyrie Irving in Boston. Butler headed for South Beach. Horford replaced Butler in Philadelphia. And then there was Kawhi Leonard who wisely, and somewhat hilariously, took his sweet time with all eyes on him.
Leonard is so good that he could singlehandedly change the entire complexion of the NBA for years to come with his one decision. By nearly all accounts, the recent Finals MVP and NBA champion only had three destinations in mind; the Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.
And that seismic non-earthquake event was Leonard choosing the Los Angeles Clippers, but reports said he wouldn’t sign unless they did one thing – trade for Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George.
Spearheaded by Clippers President Jerry West, he sent five first round picks and two players to acquire the All-Star George. It was an eye-popping mega blockbuster trade of biblical proportions.
And it is fantastic for the NBA because there hasn’t been this much parity in the NBA in decades and maybe not this much ever.
There are too many dynamic duos now (that’s a good thing).
They consist of: Steph Curry and Klay Thompson in Golden State, LeBron James and Anthony Davis at the Lakers, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George at the Clippers, Damian Leonard and CJ McCollum in Portland, Zion Williamson and Jrue Holliday in New Orleans, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert in Utah, Jamaal Murray and Nikola Jokic in Denver, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton in Milwaukee and finally Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in Philadelphia.
That’s ten dynamic duos (one could argue there’s more) in the NBA now and that means next season is wide open. Any of those ten teams have legitimate shots at winning it all.