Every free-agency period has winners and losers, but the offseason is so much more than transactions. This year, there’s a number of memorable moves and developments that deserve recognition. Here are our own NBA Offseason Awards:
Most Anticlimactic Reunion: DeAndre Jordan and the Mavericks
Did anyone really want this reconciliation? Well, Jordan and the Mavericks clearly did, even after the Kidnapping Fiasco in the summer of 2015. Once the Clippers traded for Marcin Gortat, the Mavericks zeroed in on Jordan and eventually signed him to a one-year, $22.9 million deal.
Jordan just turned 30, and though he lacks shooting range, he makes up for it in athleticism. Jordan should provide a veteran presence and alley-oop potential as part of the Mavs’ offense, which will likely feature two young ball handlers in Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. That combination should make Dallas a solid League Pass team, even if a playoff berth may be too lofty a goal for this season.
Most Basketball-Twitter Team Award: The Lakers
LeBron James? Check. Lonzo Ball? Check. Irrational heat-check guys? Check. Polarizing point guard? Check. Big-man personality? Check. Breakthrough player? Check. Social media stars? Check. Young head coach? Check. Celebrity team president? Check.
Are you not entertained?
This year’s Lakers feel more like a real-life experiment hatched by someone at Stanford than a sensible roster that can coexist for 82 games. It’s a fascinating combination of personalities and experience that should implode, but likely won’t because of LeBron’s steadying presence. Watching him captain this ship will be quite the ride. I can’t wait to see it.
Most Overconfident (Tie): Brook Lopez and Jaylen Brown
It’s August and players are already making predictions! Basketball never stops. This week’s prognosticators are Brook Lopez and Jaylen Brown, who made lofty claims about their team’s fortunes next season.
“We’re very confident that we can win the East,” Lopez, who signed a one-year, $3.4 million deal with Milwaukee, told HoopsHype.
Brown, speaking on the Pull Up With CJ McCollum podcast, was a little more blunt: “We’re getting to the Finals. No question about it.”
LeBron leaving the East opens the door wider than it has been in years. So wide that teams like the Bucks, who finished seventh in the conference last season, have no problem saying they can win the East. The crazy thing is it wouldn’t be that surprising if they did. Welcome to the new East.
Breakthrough Performance: Sam Presti, for Paul George: My Journey
The most iconic moment of the offseason wasn’t LeBron James signing with the Lakers, or Kawhi Leonard being traded to the Raptors. It was Presti quoting, without a hint of irony, A Tribe Called Quest in reference to his trade for George last offseason.
“I’m a big A Tribe Called Quest fan. There is a line that basically says, ‘Scared money don’t make none.’ I think that’s the case [here]. We wouldn’t have traded for Paul George if we didn’t believe in our community, our organizational values, our ownership,” Presti said during George’s three-part ESPN special documenting his free agency. “If you expect Paul George or any player to have any confidence in you as an organization, you have to demonstrate it yourself. Scared money don’t make none.”
How “Scared money don’t make none” isn’t OKC’s 2018-19 slogan yet is beyond me.
Best Homecoming That Could Go Wrong: Jabari Parker in Chicago
The Bulls are one of the more interesting bad teams in the league. Adding Jabari makes sense—he grew up in Chicago and there have been enough hints that the player who was once the no. 2 overall pick is still in there even after two ACL tears. He needed a change of scenery. Chicago, with its wealth of young players, felt right.
But $20 million is a lot to pay for a guy who has struggled to remain healthy and is willing to say that teams aren’t paying players to play defense. Bringing in Parker creates expectations for both him and the Bulls, ones that are likely unrealistic given Parker’s limitations following two knee surgeries. He may no longer have All-Star upside, and Chicago shouldn’t hope that he does.
The Annual “I Can Shoot 3s Now” Award: Andre Drummond
It’s impressive what a little confidence can do for the soul. Drummond’s big improvement heading into last season was his free throw shooting, which he raised from 38.6 percent to 60.5 percent. Not bad, but still not great. And yet, here he is, posting multiple videos of himself shooting from the 3-point line:
Drummond has made only five of the 30 3-pointers he’s taken during his six NBA seasons, but he told The Score that he’s making 200 corner 3s a day these days, and that those are “the shots I’m going to be taking.” More power to him, but I’d venture to say there’s still work to be done at the free throw line before branching out.
Best Hang: Russell Westbrook and His Music.
Someone get him some AirPods.