Up next in our Basketball Insiders series of the best transactions in each division is the Pacific Division. With the exception of the Golden State Warriors, every other team in the division is in a state of transition.
The Los Angeles Clippers are preparing for life without Chris Paul, while the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings are all going through rebuilding phases. We’ve officially hit the dog days of summer and most of the activity has slowed to a crawl. Teams will still look to improve their rosters if they can as training camp draws near, but most rosters are, for the most part, set for next season. With this in mind, let’s take a look at six of the best deals that were made in the Pacific Division so far this offseason.
Warriors re-sign their entire core
Coming off their second championship in three years, the Warriors had a couple of important decisions to make as the season came to a close. While it was a foregone conclusion that Kevin Durant and Steph Curry would remain with the team, the futures of key role players such as Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston were much less certain.
In the end, Durant took less money than what he could’ve signed for, and the Warriors were able to bring back both of their top reserves. Not only that, but they also re-signed Zaza Pachulia, who was last year’s starting center, and David West, who provided valuable veteran minutes off the bench. They even managed to bring back JaVale McGee as well.
Ian Clark notwithstanding, the Warriors didn’t lose anyone of value and kept their team intact. They won the title this year, and they’ve also won the offseason.
Warriors add Nick Young and Omri Casspi
As if they weren’t dominant enough, the Warriors managed to make their roster even stronger this offsason. In the past, veteran players still producing at a high level have sacrificed money and/or years on other teams for a chance at a championship. It’s unknown what other offers were out there for either Young and Casspi, but both had decent seasons last year and had other teams interested in their services. They both chose to play on one-year deals and in Casspi’s case, the veteran’s minimum.
Both players are deadly shooters. Young shot 40.4 percent from three-point range last year with the Lakers. Although Casspi didn’t have a strong shooting year, he is a career 36.7 percent shooter from beyond the arc and all the open looks he’ll get in the Warriors’ offense should be helpful. Both will be asked to provide additional scoring off the bench and Casspi is able to rotate between both forward positions.
The offseason isn’t over yet, and there’s still rumblings of Carmelo Anthony heading to the Houston Rockets, but it’s pretty safe to say the Warriors have put themselves in an excellent position to contend for another title.
Clippers re-sign Blake Griffin
After losing Paul, the Clippers couldn’t afford to lose Griffin as well. Despite some of his past injuries, Griffin, when healthy, can play at the level of a top ten player in the league and is a franchise cornerstone. He’s improved his outside shooting to the point where he can score from pretty much anywhere on the court, and he’s one of the best passing big men in the league. Losing him as well would’ve been a major blow for a franchise that has struggled since its inception with finding and maintaining legitimacy.
With Griffin back in the mix alongside DeAndre Jordan and newly acquired Danilo Gallinari, the Clippers maintain one of the best frontcourts in the Western Conference. Griffin is in the midst of the prime of his career and it will be interesting to see how he performs without Paul.
The West had a big infusion of talent this summer with the arrival of several All-Stars from the East, making the conference that much stronger. From top to bottom though, the Clippers still have a talented roster and should be in the mix for a playoff berth with Griffin leading the charge.
Lakers sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
A win-win scenario for both parties involved. Despite being one of the top, and most intriguing wing players on the market, the free agent money dried up, leaving Caldwell Pope searching for a new team after the Detroit Pistons traded for Avery Bradley. The Lakers were searching for someone who could potentially fit with their young core, while not compromising their cap space for next summer.
For Caldwell-Pope, he gets another year to prove his worth and look for a bigger payday next summer when the NBA’s salary cap is projected to jump up again. He’s only 24-years-old and he’s become one of the better perimeter defenders in the league. He’s also an improving shooter who shot a career-high 35 percent from the three-point line this past season.
For the Lakers, they get an extended look at a young guy who’s still developing and who could possibly end up as a member of their young core as they navigate the rebuilding process. With his outside shooting and defensive prowess, he could be a good fit alongside Lonzo Ball in the backcourt. Being that it’s a one-year deal, the Lakers also maintain cap room for next summer when players like Lebron James and Paul George will hit the free agent market.
Kings add trio of veterans
The Kings have struggled for the better part of the last decade, but this summer should have the Sacramento faithful feeling good about the team again. They first added De’Aaron Fox, Harry Giles, Justin Jackson and Frank Mason III through the draft to go along with their other young talent in Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere. They had a great offseason by way of the draft alone.
It’s greatto have a bunch of young talent, but they’re going to need a couple veterans to bring them along and show them the ropes. And the Kings did just that, bringing in a group of some of the best veteran guys available.
George Hill was one of the top free agent point guards, and he’ll provide valuable locker room leadership, as well as being a mentor to Fox. Zach Randolph has long been one of the most crafty and skilled post players in the league. Labissiere and Cauley-Stein should pick up a lot from him. Vince Carter will do the same. At age 40, Carter is the oldest active player in the NBA and was still a valuable rotation player in Memphis. He probably won’t be counted on for a ton of production on the court, but instead will be looked to as the elder statesman in the locker room. Assuming the Kings stand pat, they should have a nice mix of veterans and young talent to build around next season.
Clippers sign Milos Teodosic
Long considered one of the best players in the world not playing in the NBA, Teodosic finally made the move this summer across the sea. An incredibly skilled and talented playmaker, he should fit right in with high flying athletes like Griffin and Jordan. It won’t be easy to fill Paul’s shoes, but Teodosic should help ease the transition.
There have been cases in the past where star players in Europe have come to the NBA and struggled to make any sort of impact. Vassilis Spanoulis and Sarunas Jasikevicius come to mind. Teodosic has played well against the United States in international competition and led Serbia to the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. But the NBA game is a different animal. There will be an adjustment period. He’ll most likely get his chance to start, but he is limited defensively. It will likely be a battle in training camp between him and his former EuroLeague teammate Patrick Beverly as to who will replace Paul in the starting lineup.
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