There has been a shift in the nature of NBA reporting over the last few years. Rather than focusing on the skill of the players and the occasional rivalry game, reports are now centered on hurt feelings and off-court ventures of some of the richest tall people on the planet. It’s not that NBA players are doing things that they’ve never done before off the court; they’ve always been active in film, music, business, and myriad other areas of enterprise, it’s simply that the on-court action holds so few surprises nowadays that something else needs to fill the void.
One could argue that LeBron’s ‘Decision’ marked the beginning of this period of non-competitive basketball and superteams, and the arrival of millennials in the League with the catalyzing force of social media have brought this about. The NBA is essentially becoming more of a reality show than a competition. Would anyone believe that a group like the Ball family rising to this level of prominence in the 1980s? Not a chance.
In order to make the NBA great again, something needs to happen to re-up the competition. The social media train is beyond impossible to stop, but through a few roster moves, the NBA could be fun to watch and even (gasp) unpredictable. Here are 5 trades that could make the NBA competitive again:
Sure, the Cavs could get a lot more from him and probably would, but Kuzma and Lopez would be the base of the trade. This trade does a lot of things: It breaks up a top-heavy Eastern Conference team while providing them with a true post player in Lopez and a potential star in Kuzma. LeBron has a home in LA and has discussed his post-NBA Hollywood plans, so this trade would put him right where he wants to be, and may be the only way to get him to wave his no-trade clause. Cleveland is still left with a superstar in Isaiah Thomas and can still be competitive in the East, while the young Lakers core is given a big-time leader and mentor in James.
In order for the NBA to be competitive at all, Standard Oil aka the Golden State Warriors need to be broken up. This fulfills that anti-trust need while providing Golden State with a solid young point guard and a great prospect in Markkanen. This also makes currently rebuilding Chicago a much more appealing destination for potential free agents, and Chicago would be back to being competitive sooner than later.
This is perhaps still pretty unfair, but it’s a deal that breaks up a very backcourt-heavy team and a frontcourt-heavy team. Both team would end up with a guard who can score and distribute paired with a big that can work the paint. Paul would likely be a more appealing teammate than Cousins, and perhaps more of a pull to keep Anthony Davis in New Orleans. This maintains one solid competitor in the West while creating another.
This puts George back home in LA and breaks up the awkward trio in OKC. Pairing Beverly with Jordan creates a great defensive package and compensates for Jordan’s lacking trade value. With a defensive-minded guard, this allows Russell Westbrook to continue posting triple-doubles and gives him another big to dish to, and keeps new role player Carmelo Anthony in the wing. This also puts the Clippers back in contention with a very difficult conference which they haven’t been competing in after the Paul trade.
5. Celtics release Gordon Hayward, signs with Knicks
So, not a trade, but a move that basically shows once and for all that the Celtics don’t really need Hayward to succeed. After his injury in he first game of the season, many doubted the Celtics’ ability to win. They’ve beyond exceeded expectations and have a solid group to work with. Obviously, Hayward can’t be released until he is medically cleared to play and would have to clear waivers to be signed by another team. This type of situation allows Hayward to sign with the Knicks, where he can fill in the wing for a surprisingly talented young team. This creates a legitimate Boston-New York rivalry and a much better storyline than Kyrie Irving‘s drama leaving Cleveland.