The NBA season is still weeks away, but the major moves of the offseason are finished (shoutout Melo for prolonging the offseason).
During the season, there are countless awards handed out. From Player of the Week to Rookie of the Month, there's awards for pretty much everything you can think of. So...I wanted to hand out some offseason awards. Honestly, I'm surprised the NBA hasn't thought of this yet. Maybe next year.
Happiest offseason: Kevin Love and Magic Johnson
These two guys are happy because of the same man, but for different reasons. The Cavaliers traded for Love after LeBron James returned to Cleveland. Over the past four years, Love and LeBron have had their differences, from various subtweets to reports from ESPN's Brian Windhorst in May where he said Love felt "beleaguered and beaten down" because of James or the pressure of playing with him. Now, LeBron is in Los Angeles and Love got a hefty, five-year, $110-million extension in July. Oh, and now they seem like best friends. Been a great summer for the man who lost LeBron.
On the other end, it's also been a great summer for the man who won LeBron. Magic Johnson vowed to "step down" if the Lakers didn't sign any marquee free agents by 2019. I'd say LeBron qualifies as "marquee." Magic added the best player in the world to a solid young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart. The Lakers have no shot at challenging Golden State this season, despite the fact that Magic claims the Warriors "don't keep him up at night." Maybe they should keep him up, but he's a man named Magic. Things always seem to work out in Laker Land, and Magic ain't worried.
Saddest offseason: DeMar DeRozan
This one was too easy. DeMar loved Toronto -- he was Toronto. The stories of him feeling betrayed by the organization are heartbreaking. DeRozan felt like LeBron's Cavs were the only thing stopping his Raptors from getting over the hump and making the NBA Finals, which, well, isn't true. The Celtics and Sixers still exist. Still, the saddest part of this whole thing is this quote from DeRozan:
"I mean, when you use the word 'family,' 'brother' or whatever, things other people use lightly … for me, once you use that term, I stick by that term. I stand by that term. ...My mindset was that I was always going to be in Toronto my whole career, but I was never naive. Just let me know. That’s where my frustration came from. And I think it showed. From the fans to even myself — it just caught me completely off-guard."
Lots of talk in the NBA is how players aren't loyal. Well, teams clearly aren't either -- and that's OK. There's no loyalty in sports because everything is about bettering yourself or your team. It sucks for emotional fans, but that's the way it should be. DeMar -- if you're reading this -- be sad for now, but get back on your feet and do your thing in San Antonio.
Sneaky good offseason: Oklahoma City Thunder
On paper, it might not look like the Thunder accomplished much this summer. Melo is gone, that's good. He didn't fit with this roster and he's washed up (more on that soon). And, somehow, OKC got Dennis Schröder (a solid rotation guard) for him. Schröder will play well as another ball handler alongside Russell Westbrook. OKC also picked up Nerlens Noel -- who was an outcast in Dallas and Philly but is still only 24 years old and has solid potential as a backup big. The biggest news of the offseason came when the Thunder resigned Paul George before he even took a meeting anywhere else. Locking up George and Westbrook for the foreseeable future ensures that OKC won't be outside the playoff picture for years to come. Sam Presti did a solid job recovering from losing Kevin Durant two summers ago.
Biggest loser of the offseason: Houston Rockets
The Rockets' best chance to win a title was last season. Now, it's over. The window is closed. They were one win away from making The Finals, Chris Paul got hurt and the rest is history. In the offseason, Houston resigned Paul, but lost key 3-and-D wings in Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute and replaced them with no-3 and no-D Carmelo Anthony. Not sure what the upside is there. I guess they hope Melo can regain his Knicks form back now that he's back with coach Mike D'Antoni, but I don't see it. Houston is still going to be really good -- a team with Paul and James Harden is bound to be. But their days of being a threat to the Warriors are gone...
Offseason champion: Golden State Warriors
...A huge reason why the Rockets days of being a threat are gone is because of the offseason the Warriors had. The best team ever, winners of three titles in four years, added one of the best centers in the NBA in DeMarcus Cousins. On a mid-level veteran deal. The rich get richer. Wild. Golden State will have to wait for Cousins to return from an Achilles injury that cost him the second part of last season, but there's no rush. Cousins can take his time. When he's back, the Warriors can throw out a lineup filled with five All-Stars who all play different positions. This could be the greatest team in league history if Cousins regains his pre-injury form.
Offseason MVP: LeBron James
The offseason champion was the same as the season champion, so why not pick the same offseason MVP as the guy that probably should win MVP every year. LeBron got out of Cleveland this summer, and he went to Los Angeles. I spent my summer out in LA for an internship, and let me tell you...LeBron is the luckiest man alive. The greatest player in the world is now playing for one of the league's most storied franchises, which is good for him and the NBA. Not to mention he opened up a school for unprivileged children in his hometown of Akron with an unreal list of benefits. LeBron clearly isn't bothered by anything anymore -- and he shouldn't be. What's he got to worry about? He's out of Cleveland and into the City of Angels. Kings stay Kings, and LeBron is clearly still the NBA's King.