Here’s to the best of NBA Free Agency where everyone seemed to make a fortune this summer. I think I could have made $30 million over four years if I could hit a jump shot.
1. Biggest Splash: Kevin Durant to Golden State. I see the merit. The perennial All-Star and Olympian this summer wants the best chance to win a championship now. He’s just following the LeBron to Miami pattern. Question is will there be enough basketballs in Oakland to keep him, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green happy?
2. Hometown Hero: Dwayne Wade to Chicago. Huge get for the Bulls. The former face of the franchise in Miami comes home to finish his career. Along with fellow free agent signee Rajon Rondo and All-Star/Olympian Jimmy Butler, the Windy City folks have a very nice Big 3. They will need inside help to make noise in the East though.
3. Most Underrated: Pau Gasol to San Antonio. The Spurs keep doing big things in the pool with little ripples in the water. Last year they picked up All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge; this year they pick up Gasol to replace retiring legend Tim Duncan (see below). Along with Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs now have the best frontcourt in the West.
4. Co-Most Improved: Indiana Pacers. I love what Larry Bird has done in Indy. The Pacers picked up an All-Star in point guard Jeff Teague and underrated big Thaddeus Young. Add that to All-Star/Olympian Paul George, breakout rookie big Myles Turner, and steady shooter Monta Ellis and the Pacers have a very solid starting five. With some help off the bench, Indiana is top 5 in the East.
5. Co-Most Improved: New York Knicks. The NBA is just more fun if the Knicks are relevant. They took a couple of big steps toward that by signing former MVP guard derrick Rose and former All-Star big Joakim Noah. Add this to Olympian Carmelo Anthony and sophomore big Kris Porzingis and there’s reason for excitement in Gotham.
Bonus: Tim Duncan. Farewell to the Big Fundamental. In my opinion the best power forward in NBA history and one of the 10 best players ever. Things to consider:
2X NBA MVP
3X NBA Finals MVP
5 NBA Championships (in 3 different decades)
Olympic Gold Medalist
Never missed the playoffs in his career.
Nice. Very Nice.
Shane Shackleford is a retired teacher and coach residing in Speedwell, Tenn., with his wife Elizabeth and his dogs Molly and Bear. Shane follows all things sports and loves the Kentucky Wildcats, Indianapolis Colts, and the Cincinnati Reds.