The off-season is a time in which basketball hope springs eternal. Even the league's lowliest of doormats can improve instantly with one fortuitous signing or selection. Each June, general managers, fans, pundits and players alike press the reset button, while conjuring visions of grandeur for the season ahead.
Basketball's latest example of the stark power of the off-season is Cleveland's ascension to titular glory. Before luring LeBron and Love to "The Land," the Cavs suffered four-consecutive woeful seasons. Sporting a dismal mark of 97-215 sans James, Cleveland became insta-title contenders in '14-15' upon "The King's" return.
Pursuant to this summer's exploding salary cap, twenty-nine teams long to bask in the Cavs' glory. With the likes of Kevin Durant, Andre Drummond, DeMar DeRozan, Dwayne Wade and Al Horford available, there's no shortage of franchises looking for their special piece.
Today's links edition will highlight off-season 2016's early rumblings, while ranking the top ten early-available free agents.
The former All-Star leaves 23.2 million on the table to test his options. This summer, will Howard land with his fourth team in six years?
Though mum's the word on Kevin Durant's free-agency plans, the former MVP's only concern seems to be leading Team USA to Olympic glory. Does this mean K.D.'s "decision" is made?
Try as he might, Ainge can't coax another GM to put together a deal for his #3 pick.
Though a loyal Maverick for 18 years, following four consecutive first-round playoff exits, Nowitzki will test the free-agent waters come July 1. Could we possibly see Dirk in another uniform next season?
Spoiler alert: League sources confirm Philadelphia will select LSU's Ben Simmons #1 overall Thursday night.
This almost assuredly means Philadelphia has a trade lined up to alleviate considerable front-court log jam.
Walton, a two-time champion with Los Angeles, will look to guide the purple and gold back to glory. Bill's baby boy led the 73-9 Warriors to a 39-4 start in Steve Kerr's stead.
Let's hope the former #3 pick's a better shot with the long-rifle than he was on the NBA hardwood. If not, we may all be doomed!
As July 1st inches ever so close, let's all revel in the frenzy of free-agency!
Here's a look at this summer's top-ten free agents. (Players with contract options who've yet to opt out aren't included)
- Kevin Durant- Unrestricted (Oklahoma City Thunder)
- Andre Drummond- Restricted (Detroit Pistons)
- DeMar DeRozan- Opt out (Toronto Raptors)
- Dwayne Wade- Unrestricted (Miami Heat)
- Hassan Whiteside- Unrestricted (Miami Heat)
- Bradley Beal- Restricted (Washington Wizards)
- Mike Conley- Unrestricted (Memphis Grizzlies)
- Dwight Howard- Opt out (Houston Rockets)
- Al Horford- Unrestricted (Atlanta Hawks)
- Dirk Nowitzki- Opt out (Dallas Mavericks)