Which teams have made a splash early on in the NBA’s offseason?

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Andrew Neuwirth, Staff Writer

With the 2020-2021 NBA season quickly approaching, some teams are aspiring champions, while others are slowly rebuilding , hoping for greatness in the future.  Free agency started recently, so there have been many trades and signings, and we can certainly expect more soon.

The reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers are trying to make it back, and have already acquired players to add to their stacked team.  They first traded their center, Javale McGee, for a couple of depth players, and signed veteran Marc Gasol to fill the spot on a two-year, $5.3 million deal.  The Lakers signed another big man, Montrezl Harell, who won the Sixth Man of the Year last year.  Los Angeles then went all out in a statement move, trading Danny Green and a first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Dennis Schroder, who was the Sixth Man of the Year runner up.  Schroder will now likely become a starter, and the Lakers appear to have no soft spots on their team.

This wasn’t the only move the Thunder made, but they seem to be going in the opposite direction of the Lakers.  After making it to the playoffs when most experts counted them out, the Thunder traded their biggest star, Chris Paul.  He was sent with Abdel Nader to the Phoenix Suns for a 2022 first-round pick, Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre, and a few other bench players.  Only a few days later, Oubre was sent to the Golden State Warriors for a protected first-round pick.  The Thunder have now amassed 17 first-round picks through 2026, the most of any team.  

“The amount of talent they are going to be able to get the next five years shocks me,” said freshman Steve Braunshweiger.  

Along with this, OKC sent their starting small forward, Danillo Gallinari, for a 2025 second-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks.  Gallinari promptly signed a three-year, $61.5 million contract with the Hawks upon arrival.   The Thunder again were involved in offseason movement, giving Steven Adams, two future second-round picks, and pick swaps in a four-team trade to the New Orleans Pelicans.  In return, they received George Hill, a future first-round pick, two future second-round picks, and some bench players.  After acquiring Adams, the Pelicans signed a young star in Brandon Ingram to a 5-year, $158 million contract.   

After drafting LaMelo Ball with the third pick, the Charlotte Hornets completed a sign and trade with the Boston Celtics, giving them Gordon Hayward.  GM Danny Ainge dealt a conditional future second-round pick and also happened to get two second-round picks back.  Many people considered this a steal for the Hornets, but this might be a good move for the Celtics, as Gordon Hayward has a max contract and this will free up cap space for them to potentially sign a big-name player.

The losers of the Finals, the Miami Heat, are hoping to return, and to win.  They re-signed their point guard, Goran Dragic, to a two-year, $37.4 million contract.  Miami is also attempting to make a potentially league-shifting deal in acquiring former back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokoumnpo.  Nothing has progressed yet, as the Bucks hope to sign their star to a long-term extension.

The Nets then signed their star shooter, Joe Harris, to a four-year, $75 million deal.  Along with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the Nets are real contenders. 

“They are already stacked, and if they were to get James Harden, I don’t see how they could not make it to the Finals,” said freshman Jack Chainani.

Among these rumors of James Harden going to the Brooklyn Nets and Russell Westbrook wanting out as well, the Houston Rockets made a statement move to try to get them to stay by signing Demarcus Cousins to a one year contract.  However, it wouldn’t be enough to satisfy Westbrook, as trade rumors persisted. The Rockets’ front office seemed set on not giving him up, until he was recently swapped for the Washington Wizards’ 2023 first round pick and former all-star John Wall.  The swap is certainly intriguing, as Wall has not set foot on an NBA court since Dec. of 2018 due to multiple injuries.  

“I think this is a questionable trade for the Rockets, as John Wall is nearing the end of his prime and is coming off multiple major injuries.  Westbrook, on the other hand, has been fairly consistent over the past few seasons,” said sophomore Owen Schindler.

After a disappointing loss in the playoffs, the Toronto Raptors re-signed Fred VanVleet to a four-year, $85 million deal.  They are clearly still contenders, even after the loss of Kawhi Leonard a couple of years ago.  The Raptors, who will be starting their 2020 season in Tampa Bay due to travel protocols, are a team that could make a few more roster changes before the start of the new season.  

This upcoming season will definitely be interesting as there are multiple teams that could all win the championship.  Whether or not the Lakers repeat, or the Nets steal it away from them, is still up for debate.  

“I just don’t see a scenario where the Lakers don’t win another championship,” said freshman Alex Wing.