WARR contributor Josh Hicks offers his thoughts on the Chicago Bulls and the NBA
The NBA off-season has been a roller coaster of emotion given the major moves that recently occurred and a lot of the bold face talent making moves as a result.
Chris Paul created a sign-and trade situation so he can be shipped to the Houston Rockets to play alongside “The Beard” James Harden and his hungry Houston Rockets. Gordon Hayward left the Utah Jazz to rejoin his college coach Brad Stevens in Boston and assist Isaiah Thomas in the road to potentially dethroning King James and Cleveland in next year’s projected Eastern Conference Finals match-up, and a lot of big name players like Paul Millsap decided to leave the East to go to the increasingly competitive West.
However, there are three teams that in my eyes won the entire offseason and can be in a position make a huge push for next year’s playoff race: The Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder and Sacramento Kings.
The Timberwolves made one of the biggest trades in acquiring top 15-player Jimmy Butler and this year’s first round pick from Chicago for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and their 2017 first round pick. Reuniting Thibs with Butler not only strengthened the culture of the locker room, but also provided another solid leadership piece for the young duo of Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
But the Wolves did not just stop there, they created another Bulls reunion with Taj Gibson, signed solid free agent point guard Jeff Teague and this past weekend news broke that former Clipper and former Hawk (for about two seconds), Jamal Crawford is looking to sign a two-year deal with Minneota. Butler’s two-way presence can lead this young team in the right direction of winning basketball, and with the assistance of the new talented veterans, it adds a level of talent depth that the T-Wolves have been lacking over the years.
The Thunder racked up its season ratings by adding an extra PG-13 player next to the Rated R MVP in Russell Westbrook for basically nothing. Thunder acquired Paul George and sent Victor Oladipo and Domontas Sabonis to Indy. Bringing in another two-way player to partner with Westbrook adds the help that he was lacking from the perimeter last season.
OKC also brought in talented role-players such as Patrick Patterson, Raymond Felton and re-signed perimeter defender Andre Roberson. OKC may or may not understand that PG-13 is only going to be used as a rental with his much anticipated exit and desire to sign with the Lakers next summer, however, depending on this season’s success, it can help lure George to commit long-term, therefore strengthening the chances for franchise star to commit long-term as well.
The Kings have succeeded not just in the draft, but also in free agency. In the Kings efforts to rebuild with a younger core including Buddy Hield, they drafted a young John Wall caliber player in Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox and one of the most underrated players in this year’s draft in Duke’s Harry Giles. To encompass that young talented core, they brought in some quality veterans in George Hill, Zach ‘Z-Bo” Randolph and Vince “Vinsanity” Carter. Those veteran players will not only become quality mentors for each of those players, but they will also strengthen the dismantled locker room culture established by the players and coaches beforehand.
The T-Wolves, Thunder and Kings have made some impressive noise during the off-season so far. The Thunder are already on the radar to be a locked in team come playoff team. However, the Kings and T-Wolves are on the rise to get back to their old successful ways, and it might happen quicker than you think, maybe even next season.
Joshua M. Hicks is a sports writer and broadcaster and a recent graduate of Roosevelt University, follow him on Twitter @jhicks042