With a shift of personnel rivaling the biggest of all-time, it’s a very different NBA from the one that finished the 2018-19 season. So what’s ahead?
The offseason in the NBA sent shock waves through the hierarchy of the league, with so many players changing jerseys that program sales may hit an all-time high in 2019-20.
These haven’t been run-of-the-mill rotation guys switching clubs, either. For the first time since the award was first handed out in 1969, the NBA Finals MVP from last season will be with a new club, as Kawhi Leonard jumped from the Toronto Raptors to sign with the LA Clippers.
The only other Finals MVP not to return to his old club was Michael Jordan, who retired from the Bulls a second time after leading the club to a third straight title in 1998.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Former NBA MVP’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will be modeling different uniforms in 2019-20, with Durant leaving the Golden State Warriors to sign with the Brooklyn Nets and Westbrook being traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets.
A third former MVP was also on the move, with 2010-11 winner Derrick Rose signing with the Detroit Pistons after a season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The big shift has been away from the superteam and toward the dynamic duo. Durant and Kyrie Irving will eventually pair up in Brooklyn. Westbrook and James Harden are together again for the first time since the 2011-12 season, now in Houston.
Leonard convinced Paul George to request a trade from the Thunder to join forced with the Clippers. The Los Angeles Lakers have combined Anthony Davis with holdover superstar LeBron James.
Beyond that, clubs such as the Utah Jazz and Philadelphia 76ers made moves that — on paper — make them much stronger.
The Warriors are one of the losers in all the transition as are the defending champion Raptors.
It is an offseason that might bring the NBA as much of a sense of parity as it has had since the crazy days following the merger with the ABA in 1976, another time when a lot of players were changing teams and new dynamics were emerging that led to a league that from 1976-79 produced:
- A 44-win NBA champion.
- Three straight seasons without a team posting 60 wins and only one team losing 60 games in a season (the 1976-77 New York Nets went 22-60).
- Three first-time title winners in the Portland Trail Blazers, Washington Bullets and Seattle SuperSonics.
- At a time when only six teams per conference reached the playoffs, 19 of the NBA’s then-22 teams reached the postseason at least once.
The NBA is as wide-open as it has been in years and after five straight seasons of Warrior domination of the Western Conference, it opens the door to one of the most highly anticipated regular seasons in decades.
With that, there are the 10 big questions entering the 2019-20 season.