WATCH: Rattlers football head coach and L.A. Lakers fan Willie Simmons talks about the NBA summer free agency signings.
Rory Sharrock, Tallahassee Democrat
Big-time deals are a habitual business practice in the NBA.
However, nothing compares to the wheeling and dealing during the early weeks of free agency this summer.
History was made this offseason with a host of A-list players parting ways for new squads. These mega transactions stirred up banter for fans across the country.
The chatter began with a blockbuster trade on June 15.
All-NBA forward Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans was sent to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks.
Los Angeles Laker players LeBron James, center, and Anthony Davis, right, take in an NBA summer league basketball game between the New York Knicks and the New Orleans Pelicans, Friday, July 5, 2019, in Las Vegas. (Photo: Steve Marcus, AP)
Fandom dialogue went from loud to a sonic boom on July 1 – the first day of free agency.
The lead story on this date resulted from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving uniting with the Brooklyn Nets.
Last weekend, NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and Paul George (trade) were acquired by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Tallahassee is a college town. However, the city is filled with fans representing various NBA teams.
Be it the barbershop, sports bars, backyard cookouts or through social media, Big Bend residents held no punches in their commentary about the player moves.
FAMU football head coach Willie Simmons knows how to win games on Saturdays. He’s also is well-versed in his knowledge of the Lakers.
The Quincy native makes no apologies about his lifelong devotion to the purple and gold. He’s overjoyed about the new look for the 2019-20 season.
Simmons is eager for the start of Rattler football. The second rung of enthusiasm on his sports ladder is the onset of basketball season and what he believes will be L.A.’s march to a championship.
“As a Lakers fan, it’s a move we’re all excited about. I know it seems like we gave up a lot to make that possible. A generational player like Anthony Davis, you sell the farm,” Simmons said.
“They did a phenomenal job in free agency to complement LeBron and AD. To add Boogie Cousins to the fold makes the Lakers a formidable team again. I’m going to say they’re the favorite to bring home the title next year.”
Kevionta Hinson of Fade Barbershop in Tallahassee doesn’t have a set team. However, Leonard is his favorite player. So, by default, he’s pulling for the Clippers.
The veteran barber is on board with Leonard inking a two-year deal with an option in the third season. Hinson feels Leonard and George can secure a championship within this time frame.
“I’m loving the big move from Kawhi. He’s the man and best player in the world,” Hinson said. “It’s his time. Kawhi knows what he’s doing. He’s going to get a ‘chip.’ He should be able to get one within those years.”
For every joyous fan, there are those suffering in pain.
Tallahassee Community College men’s basketball head coach Zach Settembre cheers for the New York Knicks.
He was disappointed by the lack of star power signed by ownership.
“I hate that as a Knicks fan, we’re irrelevant,” Settembre said. “We traded Kristaps Porziņģis last season and what did we get out of this? We signed a bunch of power forwards.”
Settembre the Knicks fan is heartbroken.
Settembre the NBA fan is thrilled with the league’s popularity as a yearlong source of entertainment.
“I love college basketball. It’s my life. The NBA is the most entertaining thing in sports,” Settembre said. “I think Kawhi Leonard and Paul George going to the Clippers is great for the league. As a fan, it makes the league exciting. You can never turn it off. The NBA does a really good job of keeping their product exciting.”