2017 NBA offseason moves: Southwest Division
San Antonio Spurs' Rudy Gay poses for photos during media day at the team's practice facility, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Ahead of the start of the 2017-18 NBA regular season, we’re taking a look back at the major moves each team made, be it re-signing their own guys, free agent acquisitions, or trades.
We wrap up our series by examining the Southwest Division:
San Antonio Spurs
2016-17 season: 61-21, #2 in the West, lost to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals
Biggest move - signing Rudy Gay
Entering this offseason, after getting David Lee and Pau Gasol to opt out of their contracts, the Spurs suddenly seemed poised to make a big move. Snag Chris Paul? Some other big-time free agent? Instead, the team landed…Rudy Gay, and fans were, at the very least, puzzled by the move.
Gay can get you buckets, but he’s never been the most efficient player, and how he fits into the Spurs system, and their defense-first ethos, is definitely questionable. However, the fact that this team is still coached by the great Gregg Popovich is what’s preventing fans from breaking out the pitchforks. If someone can work miracles with Gay, it’s got to be Pop right? Literally no one will be surprised if the team rides him all the way back to the Finals.
Underrated move - re-signing Manu Ginobili
Last season was the Spurs’ first without Tim Duncan, and it really wasn’t the same. Luckily for fans of the silver and black, Manu Ginobili, despite all appearances at the end of their series against the Warriors, opted to put off his retirement, and return to the team. Emotionally, it’s a huge boost, but it makes sense on-the-court as well. While he can’t go the distance in terms of playing time, Ginobili is still extremely effective in spurts. And with Tony Parker set to miss a good chunk of the season, having a veteran voice on the court like Manu’s can only help.
Other additions: Joffrey Lauvergne, Darrun Hilliard, Brandon Paul
2016-17 season: 55-27, #3 in the West, lost to the Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals
Biggest move - trading for Chris Paul
Coach Mike D’Antoni has always been known as an offensive genius, so it’ll be interesting to say the least, how he plans on integrating Chris Paul into the Houston offense, just a season after successfully shifting James Harden to the 1 position.
It goes without saying that if you have the opportunity to get Chris Paul, you do it, but can the deliberate CP3 mesh with the free-wheeling, up-tempo style of the Rockets? Can his gruff personality co-exist with the laid-back Beard? Will they take turns? Can they play together? It’s going to be fascinating to see how this unfolds.
Underrated move - signing PJ Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute
The Rockets know that to get to the Finals, inevitably, they’ll need to face the Golden State Warriors. And while there probably isn’t a simple answer for how to deal with Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, the Rockets did as best of a job as they could have. Chris Paul’s defense is well-known, but they supplemented him and holdover Trevor Ariza with PJ Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute. Both are tough-as-nails perimeter defenders, and both will nail open looks. While far from being magic bullets to the defending champs, the Rockets definitely bolstered their case, even if it turns out to be just by a little bit.
Other additions: Demetrius Jackson, Zhou Qi, Tarik Black
2016-17 season: 43-39, #7 in the West, lost to the Spurs in the first round of the Playoffs
Biggest move - re-signed JaMychal Green
It took a while, but the Grizzlies were eventually able to come to terms with restricted free agent forward JaMychal Green. While his numbers last season won’t exactly blow you away (8.9 points, 7.1 rebounds), the Grizzlies are hoping he takes another leap forward, which is what he’s been doing since he landed on the team. More importantly, with Zach Randolph now in Sacramento, he’s THE GUY at the power forward position. While he does have some of Z-Bo’s bull-strong nature, he’s more agile, and can knock down triples in a pinch (37.9 percent). If the Grizzlies are still going to contend, his presence as the third option behind Mike Conley and Marc Gasol will be a big part of that effort.
Underrated move - signed Ben McLemore
The seventh overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft never really evolved beyond “good player.” McLemore posted a career-best average of 12.1 points in his second season, but dipped back down under 10 in his next two years. He shoots just 35.2 percent from deep for his career, and norms a mere 1.7 free throw attempts per game.
Now that said, his stint in Sacramento was a tumultuous one, with all sorts of Boogie Cousins drama going on in the background. It’s possible that a new start is all he’ll need, and David Fizdale should be capable of coaching him up. If he develops, he’ll give the Grizzlies a nice little burst of scoring at the shooting guard spot, which used to be solely for defense, when Tony Allen was still on the team.
Other additions: Tyreke Evans, Mario Chalmers
New Orleans Pelicans
2016-17 season: 34-48, #10 in the West
Biggest move - re-signed Jrue Holiday
With a wild and unpredictable point guard free agent market, the Pelicans knew they would have to break the bank to retain Jrue Holiday. They went and did so because it was the safest move. Had they let him walk, and not landed a capable replacement, then all the trade drums you hear right now involving DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis would have been a million times louder.
With that said though, Holiday is actually a very capable player, and should be able to do some good things with Cousins and Davis, especially now with a full training camp under all their belts. But the Pelicans are aware that they’ll need to be something special over the next few months. Hopefully, Holiday will be an integral part of that something.
Underrated move - signed Ian Clark
Remember how I said the Pelicans needed something special? Well the front office seemed to think that “something special” was to not get any shooters to spread the floor for Davis and Cousins, which you can see in the signings of Rajon Rondo and Tony Allen. Part of the reason is that their hands were tied financially, but they at least were able to land Ian Clark from the Warriors. While it’s true that defensively, he’s going to be quite the liability, and there’s not a lot he can do beyond shoot. All that said, beggars can’t be choosers, and he at least will be fun if he gets his shot going.
Other additions: Rajon Rondo, Tony Allen, Darius Miller
2016-17 season: 33-49, #11 in the West
Biggest move - re-signed Dirk Nowitzki
Nowitzki and the Mavericks just don’t know how to quit each other, and in the age of transactions, such commitment to each other is so rare, it perhaps ought to be celebrated. Health woes (to both Dirk and other players) contributed to a slow start last season, but if things go Dallas’ way this time around, we might just get an epic last ride from Dirk, if this is in fact, his final season in the Association.
Other additions: Josh McRoberts, Jeff Withey
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