Kawhi Leonard’s Journey
One of the strangest situations of a player forcing his way off a team happened in the case of Kawhi Leonard last year in San Antonio.
We will probably never know if he was really unable to play at the end of last season or if he was just holding out to show his desire to be traded. Add in the drama of a superstar-for-superstar trade to Toronto for DeMar Derozan and this situation gets even more interesting.
With one year left on his deal, Leonard could possibly leave Toronto after this season, leaving us subject to a whole year of anonymous and likely unsubstantiated reports claiming to know Kawhi’s intentions in free agency. Prepare yourself for Paul George in Oklahoma City part two with Kawhi in Toronto — maybe Magic Johnson will find a new way to get caught tampering this time around.
The Jimmy Butler Saga
Looking at the Jimmy Butler situation in Minnesota feels like driving past a car accident: You worry for the people involved, but you still slow down to make sure you get a good look at the carnage.
This whole fiasco has been great theater for anyone not involved with the Timberwolves, but we do have to keep in mind that Jimmy Butler will actually be playing basketball on an NBA court instead of making headlines off of it. The T’Wolves still do not have a trade partner for Butler, and every day that he is in Minnesota, his trade value goes down, putting more and more pressure on management to get a deal done.
The baggage that Butler has accumulated over the past few weeks is going to follow him wherever he goes, and it will be interesting to see if another team takes the bait and trades for him and his massive ego.
LeBron James to the Lakers
After suffering through a full year of media theorizing and reports from unnamed sources, LeBron James finally put us all out of our misery after he signed a four-year $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers on the first day of free agency last summer.
The Lakers also raised some eyebrows when they followed the signing of James by adding a few questionable characters, such as Lance Stephenson, Javale McGee, Michael Beasley and Rajon Rondo, all on one-year deals. They are going to have to work through some kinks as a team while they let Coach Luke Walton figure out how to turn this wacky personnel group into a functioning contender with LeBron at the helm.
We have yet to see a LeBron James team not devolve into him playing iso-ball with four shooters standing around waiting for the ball to come to them, but this roster is built differently from any team LeBron has played for in the past, filled with both vets and young players.
The athletes on the Lakers this year could allow James to play with a faster pace and play more off-ball, which he has expressed a desire to do in the past. Whatever the fate of the 2018-19 Lakers turns out to be, the evolution and drama of this team will be fascinating.
Demarcus Cousins to Golden State
Maybe the most unexpected move of the offseason was the already loaded Golden State Warriors adding another All-NBA player in DeMarcus Cousins on a one-year $5.3 million contract. The small-scale deal shocked the basketball world as Cousins decided to turn down possible max offers from other teams in favor of a one-year rental with the reigning NBA champs.
The situation regarding Cousin’s free agency is unique considering he suffered a torn achilles tendon midway through last season, and his current status for when he will return is up in the air.
Even if his recovery takes longer than expected, the presence of an all-star center adds a brand new weapon to arguably the most dominant team in NBA history and also makes up for the personality void left by the departure of Nick Young and Javale McGee.
A version of this story appeared on page 9 of the Oct. 18 print edition of the Daily Nexus.