Wait; did you think the NBA chatter was over just because the Golden State Warriors won their second title in three years on Monday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers?
Don’t be so silly.
The next few months are going to be dizzying for NBA fans as some big names — both free agents and trade targets — will be on the move while teams try to figure out how to get by the two NBA Finals combatants that have remained unchanged for the past three seasons.
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So let’s jump the gun here and make some way-too-early predictions on some of the biggest stories we could see this summer:
Paul George will stay with the Pacers … for now
Free agency is looming for Indiana Pacers star guard Paul George.
The summer of 2018 will see him become a restricted free agent before he goes unrestricted in 2019. It’s highly unlikely that George will re-sign with the Pacers, which makes him an intriguing trade target for plenty of teams looking to add a premier scorer.
However, the general consensus around the league is that California native wants to make a return to his home state and play for the Los Angeles Lakers. For other teams looking to trade for George, there’s no point in giving up vital assets just to get the four-time All-Star for a year or two.
Knicks will trade Carmelo Anthony to the Celtics
The Boston Celtics can have anything the want at this point. With the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, they could take Washington’s Markelle Fultz or deal the pick for someone like Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler or even George.
If the Celtics keep the pick and are looking for an added scoring punch, Carmelo Anthony is there for the taking in New York.
Getting Anthony from the Knicks would give Boston an elite small forward to team up with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. For Celtics fans saying they don’t want his brand of “hero ball” in Beantown, getting a player that can average 20-plus points per game could do wonders in actually keeping up with the Cavaliers in the postseason.
The Knicks shouldn’t be too picky on what they get in return, though I would push hard for Jae Crowder to bring a two-way game to the small forward position. Throw in a couple of draft picks, or Avery Bradley in a perfect world, and the Knicks could take a big step toward playoff contention.
Golden State will keep their golden assets
Stephen Curry is an unrestricted free agent this summer while Kevin Durant has a player option within his two-year, $54.2 million deal signed last summer. But don’t cancel the celebrations in Oakland.
Curry is bound to get one of the biggest contracts ever given he’s the greatest three-point shooter in NBA history and a two-time MVP. That might sap Golden State’s funds to sign Durant to the maximum contract extension he is eligible for after playing in his 10th NBA season.
However, sources around the NBA have told ESPN.com that Durant is willing to take a pay cut in order to keep the Warriors powerhouse together. That means we will see Golden State domination for a long, long time.
Chris Paul will go to San Antonio
Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul isn’t getting any younger and his team isn’t getting any better.
For the third time in five years, Lob City was knocked out of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs with a largely unchanged roster.
The 31-year-old has an early termination option in his contract with the Clippers and could very well take it in order to join more of a legitimate contender.
Enter the San Antonio Spurs, who apparently will receive a long, hard look from Paul this offseason, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.
The Spurs would have to clear considerable financial space to make room for him, but a veteran floor general of his caliber joining the likes of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge makes the Warriors’ stranglehold on the West look a little less tight.