By Nick Morgan, Sports Editor
As we approach the 2017-2018 NBA season, fans of the NBA recall one of the most exciting offseasons in recent memory. Teams have accepted the fact that the only way to the championship is through the Golden State Warriors, so they need to construct teams powerful enough to topple the reigning champs.
This offseason, the Warriors resigned perennial all-stars PG Stephen Curry (5 years, $201M) and SF Kevin Durant (2 years, $53M), as well as bolstering their already strong roster with veterans SG Nick Young and SF Omri Casspi on 1-year deals and maintaining the majority of their roster.
The Western Conference has arguably been the stronger of the two conferences since the 1990s, as the west has won the total head-to-head regular season battles 17 out of the last 18 years, with a plus 42 head-to-head record last season. This next season will be no different. A few of the remaining Eastern Conference stars made their way to the west this offseason, the biggest of these being Oklahoma City adding all-stars SF Carmelo Anthony and SG Paul George from the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks, respectively. Another notable move to the Western Conference was SG Jimmy Butler moving from Chicago to Minnesota, in exchange for SG Zach Lavine and PG Kris Dunn. The Houston Rockets, who were the third seed in the west last year, brought in nine time all-star PG Chris Paul to team up with MVP candidate SG James Harden, which makes the trip to the NBA Finals a real challenge out of the west.
Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference, there was a major shake-up in the top two seeds: the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics. The Cavs sent four time all-star PG Kyrie Irving to Boston for all-star PG Isaiah Thomas, SF Jae Crowder, C Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets 2018 first round pick. The Cavs also signed former MVP Derrick Rose to a one-year, $2.1M contract, which will be useful as Thomas rehabs his hip injury until the all-star break. Boston also improved their squad with the signing of Western Conference star SF Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $128M deal. These deals seem to confirm a two-horse race to the finals between Cleveland and Boston, with the Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors still making a strong case for their inclusion in the conversation.
As the preseason gets underway, look out for teams to continue using their assets to bring in talent from all around the league. After such an entertaining offseason, it becomes evident that nothing is too far-fetched to happen in today’s league.