NBA

A New Balance

Kawhi Leonard is the NBA's new puppet master, and other observations on the league's forever changed landscape.

THE STORY OF THE NBA’S LEAGUE-ALTERING SUMMER OF 2019 ends with Kawhi Leonard, but it also begins with him. Kind of.

Way back in June 2012, in what feels generations ago in NBA time, LeBron James and the Miami Heat — the dominant team of that long-forgotten era — faced off against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals. The narrative was pushed by many (including myself) that this was the beginning of the league’s next signature rivalry. In some ways, this proved true. The two super-duperstars did face off three times in the Finals over the ensuing seven seasons, albeit with each player embarking on a highly-publicized change of scenery in between the first and second meetings.

Amid all the shine (and shade) being deservedly thrown at these two, it was easy to miss how Kawhi was quietly, stoically, methodically building his case for entry to the same pantheon of greatness LeBron and KD inhabited. Leonard’s origin story is the 2013 Finals, when at 21 years old, he was given the primary defensive responsibility on peak-of-his-powers LeBron. Even at his absolute apex, King James did not exactly relish the challenge:

While Miami would hold on to win that series in historic fashion, Kawhi and the Spurs would come back to convincingly take the rematch the following season against an aging, fraying Heat team, with Leonard being named Finals MVP amid one of the most beautiful displays of offensive team basketball the league has ever seen. It was Kawhi’s coming-out party, and a sign of things to come, even if we didn’t all quite realize it at the time.

He was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2015, then began to truly put it together offensively the following season. He repeated as DPOY in ’15-’16 but also upped his scoring to 21.2 ppg, garnering his first All-Star appearance, was named First Team All-NBA, and finished 2nd in MVP voting. [Yes, he did not receive a single first-place vote, as this was the season Steph Curry went bonkers and won the award unanimously, but it was impressive nonetheless.] He was even better in ’16-’17, chipping in a 25.5/ 5.8/ 3.5 line on 48/38/88 shooting splits for a 61-win Spurs team. He finished third in MVP voting that year, which went largely unnoticed because of the historic numbers put up by Russell Westbrook and James Harden, and the value debate over those two which ensued. He raised his game yet again in the playoffs that year, averaging 27.7/ 7.8/ 4.6 on otherworldly 53/ 46/ 93 shooting, willing a more limited San Antonio team into the Conference Finals to face the 67-win Warriors’ juggernaut.

He was absolutely torching the Dubs in Game One, leading the Spurs to a 25-point cushion until Zaza Fucking Pachulia undercut him on a jumper and changed the course of NBA history. Durant and the Warriors would go on to easily handle the Kawhi-less Spurs before laying the hammer on LeBron’s Cavs in the Finals, with KD garnering his first ring and Finals MVP. Kawhi, on the other hand, would have his injury linger into the following season, playing only a confusing nine games in ’17-’18 amid unexplained tension between Leonard, the Spurs’ front office, and their training staff. Teammates who practiced and scrimmaged with Kawhi believed he was ready to play, and yet he remained out for long stretches of the season in what some league insiders came to view as Kawhi holding the organization hostage. It was the first time he had been viewed publicly as anything other than the consummate Spur, the quiet, humble superstar forged in the mold of Tim Duncan.

But he wasn’t that guy. He is, and always has been, a ruthless competitor, willing to do anything to put himself in a better position to win. Comparing his exit from San Antonio to Durant’s exodus to Golden State is an interesting exercise in how the prevailing narrative of a player shapes the way we perceive his actions. Kawhi, the quiet, team-first superstar and NBA champion, essentially held up two big middle fingers to one of the most venerated organizations in sports, withholding his services from them for an entire year while still under contract before demanding a trade, and we all basically forget this ever happened. Durant, on the other hand, simply used his well-earned right as a free agent to choose a destination where he felt he had the best chance to win — he was right, by the way — and became the biggest villain the league has seen since LeBron, well, did the exact same thing. When we zoom out to the thousand-foot view of how the league operates (or at least is supposed to operate), how on Earth is what Kawhi did better, and why does he get such a pass for it?

I’m not here to crap on Kawhi for how things played out two years ago. [See?] Rather, I’m merely pointing out how this power-playing, gangster version of him was always in there, but circumstances and his utterly inscrutable nature allowed it to slide under the radar. He has been under our noses all this time, but we do not know him, and thus, we could not have known what was coming this week.

We often talk about LeBron being a “shadow GM” for whichever franchise he is playing for, but holy shit, did Kawhi just out-LeBron LeBron. First, he forced his way out of San Antonio and depressed his own trade value — whether purposely or not — which allowed him to go to a fully-stocked team which he could lead to a championship. Actually going and winning said championship — you know, kind of an important part of the equation — and ending yet another dynasty along the way rendered him a “made man” in Toronto, creating an environment where he could do absolutely anything he wanted in free agency and not take any shit for it.

What came next was THE masterstroke of the player empowerment decade. [You know, the one LeBron kicked off with his power move to Miami.] Again, we know very little about Kawhi as a person, but we know he has always wanted to return to his Southern California roots and play for an L.A. team. We know from reports that the Clippers had been following him around, playing a not-so-secret game of footsie with him throughout last season. We know the Clippers front office is whip-smart under the ownership of Steve Ballmer and has made a ton of shrewd personnel moves to set up this summer, but we also know the Lakers, for all their incompetence and disarray, have LeBron and Anthony Davis on their roster. So many assumed Kawhi would either stay in Toronto to run back the championship squad, or go to the Lakers and form the biggest Big Three the league had ever seen.

But Kawhi, the unknowable superstar, had other ideas. In retrospect, it appears he knew what he wanted all along, and the whole “Kawhi Watch 2019” was really just him buying time to engineer the trade which would bring Paul George along with him to L.A. [With the happy side effect of tying up the Lakers’ sloppily obtained cap space for several days as all the other big names fell off the board.] We don’t know what his actual level of involvement in the mechanics of the trade were (more on this in a bit), but somehow, with no leaks and no fanfare, Kawhi manufactured a situation where he is now the alpha dog for a deep, versatile team which will go into the year as the favorite to win the title, in the city where he wanted to live, and he completely fucked over the Lakers (and his biggest individual rival) in the process. Humans can’t beat computers at chess anymore. Checkmate and what it do, baybeeee?

From an on-court perspective, the roster Kawhi and the Clips’ front office (jointly?) engineered looks like a nightmare. There’s no other way to put it: the Clippers sold the damn farm to bring in Paul George. They had no choice because it meant the difference between getting both PG and Kawhi or getting neither of them. No matter the cost, you make that move every time. They gave up Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a young, smart, skilled point guard with length who tops out as a multi-time All-Star. They also threw in the final year of Danilo Gallinari’s contract, who was quietly excellent last season even as he suffered yet another injury late in the year. Leave it right there, and OKC got a decent haul, considering the circumstances. But then came the picks. Oh, the picks. L.A. sent out three of their own unprotected firsts, along with two unprotected pick swaps, AND two first-rounders they had obtained from Miami. [One is an unprotected pick they got in the Tobias Harris trade and the other is a lottery-protected one they picked up for absorbing Moe Harkless in a four-way trade this week. Harkless will probably be a useful low-exposure bench player for them, so this one doesn’t qualify as too much of a loss.] So, depending how things play out, OKC could end up with as many as SEVEN first-rounders from the deal, along with a really good, young player on a cheap contract, and a valuable expiring trade chip. It’s rare when you can say that the team trading away the superstar “won” the trade, and it’s true in this case, yet both teams would absolutely pull the trigger again on it in a heartbeat.

Sure, the Clippers paid 200 cents on the dollar for George, a guy who is coming off surgeries on both shoulders, by the way. The difference between their move for PG and the Lakers’ all-in trade for Davis is this: the Clips didn’t give away everything. The Lakers left their roster and cupboard of picks completely bare for the next half-decade. After completing the trade, they really only had three bankable NBA players on their roster. [Granted, two of those guys are LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but still, it’s a bit of a problem.] Having to wait out Kawhi, coming up empty, and then scrambling to sign a bunch of veteran dingleberries (plus Danny Green, who is useful) left them with a strange, potentially ill-fitting roster that may struggle to defend, particularly at the point of attack.

The Clips look to have no such issues. Despite having no first-round picks until well after Southern California falls off the U.S. and into the ocean due to climate change, they are still left with a deep, talented roster outside of the top two guys that should be able to play any style of basketball an opponent throws at them. All great teams need an identity, and this squad should have no problem establishing one as a long, tenacious, lock-down defensive force, especially at the guards and wings. They could use more rim protection, but they may not need a whole lot when they can deploy Kawhi, George, and Pat Beverley to put the clamps on all of the opposing team’s ballhandlers. It’s not hyperbole to say there hasn’t been a perimeter defensive trio this dominant since the days of Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Ron Harper during the Bulls’ second three-peat.

They look just as tough on the other end. George is the perfect complementary star to Kawhi’s iso-heavy brilliance, and they’ll also have the spot-up shooting of Beverley and second-year sniper Landry Shamet (seriously, why in the hell did Philly give him away in the Harris deal??), as well as the pick-and-roll artistry of the Lou Williams/Montrezl Harrell combo coming off the bench. They have Ivica Zubac back on an affordable contract to provide muscle against traditional centers, along with spot minutes from Harkless, JaMychal Green, and Rodney McGruder, and possible improvement (or useful trade chips) in promising youngsters Jerome Robinson and Sindarius Thornwell. It’s a testament to the masterful job the Clippers’ brass has done over the last couple years that they can send out a metric shit-ton of assets for George and still have such a deep, complete team with which to surround their two new stars right off the bat. In addition, outside of Harrell (who they’ll likely re-sign with a fat pay raise next summer using his Bird Rights), all of the key players are signed for multiple seasons and the roster isn’t even that expensive. And should the Disease of More kick in at some point, it’s not like Steve Ballmer isn’t rich (and crazy) enough to swallow a bunch of luxury tax. Kneel before the altar of Jerry West, bitches.

Lawrence Frank, Doc Rivers, and Jerry West | Basketball Insiders

It’s a new league in the wake of Kawhi’s machinations, along with Golden State’s rapid descent from perennial title favorite to Western Conference also-ran. The beauty of what Leonard pulled off is had he gone to the Lakers, we would have simply replaced one unfairly stacked mega-team with another. Instead, we’re left with this gorgeously balanced, wide-open league, the likes of which we haven’t seen in at least a decade. [The Ringer’s resident stat nerd, Zach Kram, does a nice job breaking down the league’s newfound parity, and how it stacks up historically, here.] This brave, new competitive world may not turn out to be a boon for TV ratings — the league has historically done the best when there are one or two dominant teams — but it is going to be a night-in, night-out joy for us hardcore basketball dorks.

This is about more than the Battle for L.A. With the presumed demise of the Warriors’ dynasty, a number of other teams have joined the dogfight at the top of the league. Let’s talk about them!

Brooklyn Nets: It seems crazy I haven’t yet mentioned the team which landed two of the top three free agent targets of the summer, in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. KD probably won’t play next season as he recovers from his tragic Achilles’ tear, and Kyrie is a damn weirdo with the potential to kill the carefully crafted chemistry the Nets’ franchise has fostered over the last few years. Both these things are a bit of a buzzkill, but setting those aside, we’re basically looking at Clippers East, especially considering the symmetry of what both teams did to the traditional “big brothers” in their respective cities.

The Nets can bank on internal improvement from their remaining young-ish core (Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen), and assuming he doesn’t tear the locker room apart from the inside, Kyrie is an upgrade over D’Angelo Russell in a pure basketball sense. The team will be competitive this season, and if Durant returns as at least 85% of the player he was before, they become an Eastern Conference heavyweight in ’20-’21. [As a side note, the 4-year/$40 million deal they gave to DeAndre Jordan was some NONSENSE. I get it’s the cost of landing Durant — he and DJ are long-time friends — but four years? Really?? Did they SEE DJ play the last couple years? He’s basically washed right now, and if it were me, I’d clearly rather have Jarrett Allen on the court over him at any given time. In four years? Jesus Christ. I predict “DeAndre Jordan stretch provision” will be the top Google search in Brooklyn before New Year’s.]

In any case, Brooklyn’s haul (and the Knicks’ failure) would have been THE story of free agency had the Kawhi Coup not taken place, so we shouldn’t give it short shrift. After emerging from the Long Night, the Nets are in the Game of Thrones now; they either win or they die.

Utah Jazz: Every NBA nerd is contractually obligated to say he loves what Utah did this summer. I get it. This take is already so cold it’s approaching zero Kelvin. But I do love what they did! They acquitted themselves phenomenally well in the Mike Conley trade — especially considering what other stars are going for at present — and followed it up by fortifying their lineup with outstanding fits in Bojan Bogdanovic and “Easy” Ed Davis. They get docked slightly for signing Jeff Green, though at least they didn’t pay him much or give up anything for him like everyone else did over the years. I even kinda like taking a flier on Emmanuel Mudiay, who has been a disappointment but has shown some progress and could be a solid buy-low, post-hype sleeper-type guy. [Yes, I had to do some serious mental gymnastics to get there, but let’s just go with it.] They have Royce O’Neale as a solid, tough-minded defensive wing, and Dante Exum is actually a useful third guard when he can string a few healthy games together.

In the aggregate, the Jazz lost nothing about what made them dominant defensively, and the additions of Conley and Bogdanovic (along with moving Donovan Mitchell off the ball a bit more) will make their offense far more dynamic and give Rudy Gobert way more space to roll to the rim. Short of Mitchell making a massive leap, do they have the top line talent to rule the West? Probably not. But it is impossible to knock the way they’ve gone about putting together a deep, talented, cohesive roster without being able to lure top free agents. Terrific job.

Philadelphia 76ers: I don’t have the slightest idea if this team will work, and yet paradoxically, it still feels like one of the two best teams in the East this year. Turning Jimmy Butler into Josh Richardson in one of the more complicated sign-and-trades in recent memory was an under-the-radar win for Philly, as Richardson should give them 90% of Butler’s production at a fraction of the cost and none of the headaches. They are going all-in on a wildly disruptive amount of size and length, and it’s not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. The size they had with last year’s team gave the Raptors the most trouble they encountered during their run to the title, and the Sixers will be even bigger this year. It’s hard to quibble with the addition of Horford, especially with the amount of trouble he’s given Joel Embiid over the last couple years. [If you can’t beat ’em, sign ’em?] Four years and as much as $109 million is a lot for a guy who already has twelve seasons and nearly 30,000 total minutes (regular season plus playoffs) on his odometer, but few big men can impact the game in as many ways as Big Al, and his game should age well. Insurance for Joel Embiid isn’t the worst thing in the world either, given his history of injury and conditioning issues, so the potential redundancy could turn out to be a boon.

Maxing out Tobias Harris is an overpay, but much like Milwaukee with Khris Middleton, Philly had no way of replacing his production, so they just had to swallow hard and hope he’s more impactful without Butler around soaking up wing possessions. Ben Simmons still can’t shoot as far as we know, and if the hothouse of the playoffs again reduces him to a baseline dunker spot guy/versatile defender, the max extension he just signed could end up looking borderline toxic sooner rather than later. The loss of J.J. Redick to New Orleans hurts, but GM Elton Brand did a good job fortifying the bench to create some semblance of depth which they lacked last season. This is a fascinating team in ’19-’20.

Indiana Pacers: It still feels like the Pacers are a step below true contention, but much like Utah, they have done a fantastic job rounding out their roster without the ability to land elite free agents. They paid a heavy price to acquire restricted free agent Malcolm Brogdon (4-years/$85 million plus a protected first and two seconds to Milwaukee in the sign-and-trade), but he’s a perfect back court complement to Victor Oladipo, whenever he returns. Indy also nabbed Jeremy Lamb on a below-market contract to replace some of the production they lost with Thad Young and Bojan Bogdanovic. They seem to think they can play a twin towers lineup with both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis — I am skeptical — but if it doesn’t work out, they should have the ability to flip one of the two for a real forward who can goose their scoring and spacing. [Absconding with T.J. Warren for nothing from Phoenix’s incompetent front office counts as a win, but he may not be the answer in the starting lineup.] A team which might not be done, and could be really interesting if things coalesce.

Beyond the teams who pushed their chips in for immediate contention, there are also a number of franchises who did big things this summer to position themselves for the future and give their fans hope where none may have previously existed. Here’s some shine for the rebuilders and the up-and-comers:

New Orleans Pelicans: It took a big stroke of lottery luck to be in this position (Zion plus all the future assets in the known universe), but at the same time, the new basketball Grand Poobah in New Orleans, David Griffin, has done a masterful job so far in maximizing the return for Anthony Davis under difficult circumstances, extracting additional draft capital from Atlanta, picking smart, complementary players to go with Zion, and making shrewd free agency moves. It’s almost as if he’s helmed a team before which was organized around a hyper-athletic, freight train forward.

He’s taking all the best concepts for building around LeBron — add shooting, rim protection, and secondary playmaking — and allowing it to incubate on what will end up a super-fun, lightning-fast paced team. Adding J.J. Redick and Derrick Favors were low-risk, high-upside moves, and it gives them the “adults in the room” young teams often need to maintain a professional culture. Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball now make up the best defensive back court this side of San Antonio, Brandon Ingram should be a nice fit alongside Zion, rookie Jaxson Hayes is dunking all over unsuspecting fools at Summer League, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker is coming into the perfect ecosystem for his development. They’re going to have a deep bench — I kind of like both Kenrich Williams and Frank Jackson — and if a couple of the young guys develop a little quicker than anticipated (or, you know, at all, in the case of Ball and Ingram), then there’s a feisty, competitive team here in the near term.

It’s tough to imagine it amounts to a playoff outfit this season in the ever-brutal West, but if ownership gets antsy about the timeline, Griff can always bump it up by dealing for a veteran upgrade from his treasure trove of picks and young players. In the end, it will come down to if Zion is the generational supernova we all think he will be, and they may have to settle for the title of “League Pass darlings” in ’19-’20, but the sky is the limit now for this franchise.

Oklahoma City Thunder: It feels strange to lump the Zombie Sonics in this category following a decade of playoff runs, but after being strong-armed into dealing Paul George by our new robot overlord Kawhi, it seems like the closest fit for them. First, there are a lot of angles to this thing, and a lot of directions it could go. But it’s important to start here: as much as GM Sam Presti may have been blindsided by PG’s trade request, at some level deep down, he had to be thanking his lucky stars. As shrewd and opportunistic as Presti has been during his OKC tenure, he was stuck. He built a top-heavy roster which was trapped in luxury tax hell and yet still had no chance to compete for titles. It was a terrible place to be, and the PG situation (and the resulting cornucopia of assets he was able to extort from the Clippers) ended up being his “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

Now, he has options. They could simply roll out the ball with the roster they have, even if they may have to give up another player/pick to get under the luxury tax. A core of Westbrook-SGA-Gallinari-Adams-Schroder is at least competitive, and even if they were to fall out of the playoffs, the new, flattened lottery odds offer some potential consolation. They could also retool around Westbrook if they so choose. Adams and Schroder probably have negative trade value due to their contracts, but some combination of SGA, Gallo, and some of those picks they just received could net a hefty return. The nuclear option — and the one now being bandied about in the media — is to ship out Westbrook and enter into a full-on rebuild. The logistics of trading Russ are difficult. His contract is an albatross, even as he remains one of the best fifteen players in the world.

The most logical fit, ever hungry for star power, is Miami, but any potential deal comes with several pitfalls. First, the Heat are hard-capped this season, meaning they cannot take in a single penny more in salary than they send out in any trade. This doesn’t jibe well with OKC as a trade partner, since as previously discussed, they will be looking to get off money in virtually any deal. It would likely require re-routing assets through a third team, which is certainly doable but creates additional complications. The second issue is Presti may be hesitant to deal Westbrook to Miami in the first place. Two of the picks in the PG deal originally belonged to Miami (an unprotected 2021 first and a lottery-protected 2023 first), so by bolstering the Heat’s roster, OKC could be actively devaluing its own future assets. It’s hard to see a deal getting done, which is a shame because the combination of Jimmy Butler, Russ, and the Heat’s organizational culture seems like a potent mix, at least on paper.

Other teams looking to make a splash could get in on the action, such as Orlando, Charlotte, or Minnesota, but I struggle to see Russ being pleased with getting shipped to any of those locations. It’s hard to believe a team could have difficulty extracting commensurate value for a guy who was the MVP of the league just two years ago, but this is the world now. The supermax giveth, and the supermax taketh away.

It will be fascinating to see which direction they go, but it’s safe to say OKC probably isn’t done dealing. They just sent useful big man Jerami Grant to Denver to shed a bunch of luxury tax payments, and any one of Russ, SGA, Gallo, or Adams could be next out the door. Stay tuned.

Atlanta Hawks: Slowly and methodically, GM Travis Schlenk is building an interesting young team in Atlanta. While it was costly in terms of assets, the Hawks moved up in the draft and nabbed the two big wings they had targeted, Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter and Duke’s Cam Reddish. I am higher on Hunter than Reddish, but putting the two alongside the existing young core of Trae Young, John Collins, and Kevin Huerter provides the outline of a powerhouse team a couple years down the road. It’s likely to be a slow burn, but the East is always looking for new teams to step into the void — see Brooklyn and Orlando last season — and it’s not as though the Southeast Division isn’t eminently winnable. Heads-up for a breakout season from Collins this year, by the way.

Memphis Grizzlies: Losing franchise icon Mike Conley hurts, but damn, they didn’t waste any time constructing a killer young core in Memphis. Jaren Jackson, Jr., Ja Morant, and Brandon Clarke (who inexcusably fell to no. 21 in the draft) all look like studs who perfectly complement each other, and they will have plenty of time to grow together before they become too expensive. Like Atlanta, the results are going to trail the process by a couple years, but this group has the potential to be special.

Chicago Bulls: It feels unnatural to praise the Bulls’ frequently inept front office, but it kinda seems like they’ve figured it out, I guess? Taking on Otto Porter’s gargantuan contract was a worthwhile gamble, and they’ve done a nice job getting value out of the draft over the last few years. Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter, Jr., and rookie Coby White are all promising (along with second-round pick Daniel Gafford, who I’ve liked so far in Summer League, for what it’s worth), and they actually signed good players in free agency in Thad Young and Tomas Satoransky (the “adults in the room” for this team). The young guys will need to both stay healthy and accelerate their development, and Zach LaVine will need to stop being such an inveterate gunner, but there’s a path to the playoffs now for this team, and that qualifies as a massive improvement in the post-Tom Thibodeau era.

We haven’t even discussed a number of teams who will be in the mix, competitively and transactionally, this coming season, such as Milwaukee, Houston, Denver, Portland, Toronto, and Boston, which is a good indicator of just how deep and well-rounded the league has suddenly become. [Also, pour one out for Sacramento, who probably thought they had a reasonable path to the Pacific Division title this year until the Lakers, Clippers, and Warriors all made their moves. #Kangz forever.] The overall talent pool has been deepening for several years now, and all it took was one wild summer of player movement for it to be dispersed in a way which could shape the competitive balance of the league for years to come. For all those folks out there who, for years, complained about how the league was too predictable and the outcome was predestined: this is what you say you wanted. Now shut the fuck up and enjoy it.

It’s not all roses and sunshine for the league, of course. The issue of tampering came to the forefront in free agency this summer, and it’s something the league will have to wrestle with in the next CBA. For the most part, there appears to be a “wink, wink, nod, nod” type of attitude towards negotiating with free agents before the June 30th signing period begins, and I’m not particularly concerned about that aspect of it. Once the Finals are over, does it really matter? Having more information with which to construct a team’s draft strategy isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. The trouble comes with teams (and other players) tampering with guys who are still under contract for multiple years, and the Paul George deal may end up being the tipping point as far as the league is concerned. We all know these dudes talk to each other — going all the way back to the Heatles conspiring during the ’08 Olympics in Beijing — and there is enough plausible deniability that it will never be enforceable, but come on: Kawhi Leonard had to have tampered with Paul George. The result is a relatively happy one (in case, for some reason, you skipped all of the words prior to this sentence), but the league can’t be pleased with the process. When the next CBA comes up for negotiation, you can bet what happens with the tampering rules is going to be a point of contention. The owners could just decide to de-claw the rule completely and say “fuck it, anything goes,” or they could go the other way and try to use it as leverage to soften or eliminate guaranteed contracts. The players’ union would never go for it in a million years, and it would blow to smithereens the relative labor prosperity the league has enjoyed for the majority of the decade, but it’s something to keep in mind.

With that said, all in all this has to be considered a joyous time to be a fan of the league. I’ve often preached taking the long view as the Warriors’ dynasty ran its course, and not to compare their dominance to a river of shit-smelling foulness, but much like Andy Dufresne, now we’ve come out clean on the other side. Hallelujah.

Top Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports

1 comment on “A New Balance

  1. Pingback: Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, and the NBA’s Endless Summer – 24 Sloppy Seconds

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