Lakers, Mavs did things right, but we can’t say the same for the champs

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) gets past Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić (15) during Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference finals May 22, 2023, at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The NBA never really sleeps, but it does tend to power down after the last of the sickos leaves Las Vegas. There are unrestricted free agents still unsigned, restricted types still waiting on that offer and a couple of superstars still having staring contests, but by and large, the major business of the association’s 2023 offseason has concluded. So let’s get our arms around it.

What follows is a stab at a first draft of history — a thumbnail sketch of who seems to have helped themselves through several weeks of roster-remaking, and who … well, about whom we’ve got some questions. There will likely be more winners than losers by the end of it, because it’s hot outside, so why find more reasons to be mad?

We begin with a holding note:

PENDING: The Damian Lillard and James Harden sagas

The eventual resolutions of the dramas still unfolding in Portland and Philadelphia could play a major role in shaping next season’s title chase. Such is life when you’re dealing with last season’s No. 3 scorer (Lillard) and leading assist man (Harden), a Heat team that just made the NBA Finals, a 76ers side boasting the reigning MVP that just changed championship coaches, and a Clippers franchise poised to run a top-three payroll for the third straight year.

I’ve written about the Harden and Dame situations recently; not much has changed since I did. If and when something gets done, we’ll judge that new business accordingly.

(One clear winner, though? Jerami Grant. That man just got $160 million, and those direct deposits will hit no matter what comes next. Drinks are on you, boss.)

WINNER: Los Angeles Lakers

You can quibble over the wisdom of a three-year, $51 million bet that Rui Hachimura’s playoff performance — 48.7% from 3-point range, up from 34.7% for his career — was less a fluke than a new normal. Ditto for ponying up $18 million a year to bring back…


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Author : Yahoo Sports

Publish date : 2023-07-19 21:55:04

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