By: Colin Chiles who you can ignore on Twitter here: @ColinC27
New is fun. But you know what’s more fun than new? The prospect of something new. The mystery of what that new thing could bring or what that new thing even is. Mystery is inherently more intriguing than reality, or at least it has a huge advantage.
The grass is always greener on the other side, but when you don’t even know what’s on the other side you’re left to posit your own fantastical scenario. Sure the grass on this side is fine, but on the other side, who knows? There might even be a group of hyper intelligent salamanders, all named Mitch, that meet weekly to do crossword puzzles, drink Snapple and reflect on the struggles of being a salamander in today’s world.
To give an actual example, I’m reminded most specifically of Lost. I’m repeating myself but the mystery of an unanswered question is almost always more interesting than the actual answer. Did we ever find out why the fuck there were polar bears on the island? Not really. But once we knew there were polar bears it was a mind blowing moment of infinite possibility.
That has been the NBA off-season thus far.
It’s been a wild two weeks of rumors, but also actual big changes, which give the rumors more validity, or at least make them seem plausible. If Chris Paul can be traded to the Rockets, then maybe Paul George COULD end up with the Wizards? Or the Cavs. Or the Celtics. Or the Lakers. Or the Heat. Or hell even the Rockets.
The actual changes are fun too, as we now get to ponder what exactly it will look like for the Rockets, who now have two elite level players that both need/want the ball in their hands.
But let’s go back and briefly recap everything with large significance that’s happened over the last two weeks.
The Celtics and 76ers swapped picks 1 and 3.
The Bulls traded Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves.
The Cavs didn’t resign their GM, who along with LeBron, built a championship team.
Phil Jackson allegedly fell asleep during the workout for a top draft prospect
Phil Jackson listened to offers to their unicorn of a star to teach him a lesson
The Knicks fired Phil Jackson
The Clippers traded Chris Paul to the Rockets.
Paul George was linked to 28 NBA teams, 4 MLB teams and 3 grocery store chains.
And as per usual in the NBA, a ton of petty Instagram likes, comments, follows and unfollows from NBA players (if you’re into that kind of thing)
Oh and the NBA draft and oh yeah, free agency doesn’t even start until this weekend when Gordon Hayward, Paul George, Paul Milsap, Blake Griffin and Kyle Lowry could all change teams.
The NBA is awesome.
There has been much consternation over the idea that the NBA off-season has been more exciting than the NBA playoffs were. I can see the logic in thinking that there is a problem with that but I’m not totally on board.
People tend to have extremely short memories. Yes, this year’s playoffs went exactly like we expected them to and that is boring. But why is everyone so convinced that’s just the way things are now? Does anyone remember last year? When, aside from a number of other exciting playoff matchups, the defending champion Warriors blew a 3-1 lead? Were you not entertained???
And yes obviously this Warriors team as currently composed is markedly better than last year’s. (Adding the second best player in the world will do that for you. More GM’s should try that strategy.) But that’s exactly what has propelled this off-season.
I see this off-season as a “solution” or at least a reaction, to the “problem” (though again, I’m not convinced there is a problem at all). Every team is freaked out about the Warriors and they are all faced with a decision. Gear up for battle or hide and wait this whole thing out.
So that means trades. And more super teams. And rumors. And intrigue. And new. Yes that might be a depressing prospect for the NBA’s middle class but are you telling me you AREN’T interested in seeing Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford go up against LeBron in the Eastern Conference Finals next year? Sign me up for that right now. Just take my money and let me watch.
Above all else, the NBA is a league of storylines. I’ve said this before but in no other team sport do individual players drive as much interest or inspire as much fandom. When Tom Brady wins a super bowl, his storyline looms large but the Patriots as a team loom larger. When LeBron wins a title it’s so much more about LeBron and his individual legacy than it is about the Cavs or the Heat.
It’s essentially a soap opera for sports fans. And damn my stories have been good this week. Can’t wait to see what happens next week.