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I turned my phone off for a week and the NBA exploded, pt. 1

Whoa, a lot can happen in a week. Let’s dive right in and see what I missed.

NBA: Finals-Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

So, I just got back from Hawaii yesterday morning. I am jet lagged as all hell (a six hour time difference between Hawaii and New York City is no longer as manageable as it was when I was 19; in other news, I am so washed). In other other news, the NBA is an amazing thing in our lives. I had my phone completely off or on airplane mode for about six days (best decision of my adult life), and am just now catching up on all of the free agency madness. Man, A LOT HAPPENED!!!

Oooof. So, bear with me here, I’m basically going back through and learning about all this stuff for the first time as I write this article. Let this serve as a reminder of what y’all already know, and what I’m finally just figuring out, a week late. This’ll be Pt. 1 of 2.

July 1st

Stephen Curry became the first dude to ever sign the awesome-sounding “supermax.”

Curry, who was woefully underpaid after signing a four year, $44M contract during the height of his ankle injury scares, finally gets paid like the G his is. Congrats Curry, now you have $201 million more dollars coming your way, although I’m sure Dubs fans would give you the moon if they could.

A little bit more about the “supermax,” because it’s super interesting and this is the first time it’s ever been given to a player:

Via SB Nation’s Tim Cato:

Curry became the first player to sign the new “supermax” contract created by the new collective bargaining agreement. What is the “supermax?” Let us explain:

The cream of the crop — guys who have either won an MVP award in any of the past three seasons; have been named to an All-NBA team or have won Defensive Player of the Year in two of the last three seasons — are eligible for a “designated player” contract of five (or six) years at 35 percent of the cap. This only applies if they stayed with their original team.

After being woefully underpaid for most of his career, Curry is finally (deservedly) cashing in.

The Warriors also immediately shored up their bench unit, and brought back Shaun Livingston.

Good. Good. Livingston is one of my favorite players on the team, and it would have been a travesty to see him play in another uniform next season.

The Thunder somehow won the Paul George sweepstakes, sweeping in from nowhere to sign the All-NBA caliber star.

Will a George/Russell Westbrook pairing tilt the balance in the West? [Side Note: The West has been so much better than the East for a while now, and it’s embarrassing. After this summer, that disparity has only deepened, as I’m quickly discovering going through all these free agency moves. More on this soon, but for all the people saying the Warriors “bought” their way to a championship, you do realize this current Western Conference might be the most competitive conference ever, considering the current collection of talent, right?]

Around the league:

In less consequential moves, the Clippers maxed out Blake Griffin, the Jazz finally pried Ricky Rubio out of Minnesota (sad to see him go, but I think he needs new scenery. Man, I wish his career had been better to date, and I wish he’d developed some semblance of a shot), Jrue Holiday somehow got 5yrs/$125M from the Pelicans (WHAT), and the Spurs wisely locked Patty Mills up for another four years. Damn Spurs, so good at this NBA thing.

Meanwhile, I was...

July 2nd

The Warriors blinked, and gave Andre Iguodala what he wanted.

Thank the heavens. Much like Livingston, it would have been a shame if Iguodala walked away to another team. His contributions to the Warriors run so much deeper than his defense and NBA Finals MVP award. The dude quite literally recruited Durant to the Warriors, and he’s waaaaay ahead of the game when it comes to off-court investing (I’ll have much more on this in the next week or so). I’m not surprised he played free agency perfectly, and ultimately I’m not surprised he’s coming back to the Bay. He’s got too much going on here — investment-wise, and championship-winning-wise — to turn his back. But, kudos to him for playing the game perfectly (as always), getting himself an extra $24M guaranteed by holding out for a few days and taking meetings with other teams, who would have gladly overpaid for his services.

Andre, keeping true to form, broke the news himself:

Meanwhile, I was...

July 3rd

Kevin Durant gave up serious money to stay with the Warriors.

In yet another sign that the current Warriors players realize they are playing for more than just money, Kevin Durant took a massive pay cut to stay in the Bay. He took a $7M/yr pay cut to keep the band together. We all knew this was coming, but the actuality of the event proved more resonant than I’d thought. This team has their eyes on multiple championships. Durant (and Iguodala) realize that they can make up that $7M/yr or whatever in VC investments and in securing their legacy for all of eternity. What’s a measly lump of money left on the table for this year, when he could thrust himself into the GOAT conversation if he stays here and wins another two or three championships in the next five seasons?

In related news, here’s a list of 12 players who will make more money than Durant next season. Lol at the fact Damian Lillard is making more than him. Again, kudos KD for pulling the Dirk Nowitzki move and taking one for the team.

Paul Millsap signed with the Nuggets for 3yrs/$90M (boring).

This is boring. While the basketball nerd in me is definitely excited for the Millsap/Jokic pairing, ultimately this doesn’t move the Nugget’s needle in any single significant way.

The Raptors bet big on their current core, even though it’ll never pan out for them.

By bringing back Kyle Lowry (3yrs/$100M) and Serge Ibaka (3yrs/$65M), the Raptors are betting that their current core can compete in this BS weak Eastern Conference. I mean, sure, they’ll compete, but will they ever get past LeBron James, even if the Cavaliers continue to do nothing to add pieces around him? My guess? Nope. Not at all. But, I guess that’s what you have to do to at least stay relevant and sell tickets and hot dogs and beer. Run it back and hope for some lucky breaks in the playoffs.

Okay, okay, the Cavaliers didn’t do nothing, they did re-sign Kyle Korver.

So, uh, congrats on that guys.

Meanwhile, I was...

July 4th

Happy one year anniversary of KD Day!

In other news:

Gordon Hayward crippled the soul of every single Utah Jazz fan.

It was fun to watch.

Are the Celtics a contender now? I don’t think so. Neither does FiveThirtyEight. Well, at least those fans in Boston will finally [redacted so I don’t get fired].

In other bad news for the Jazz, George Hill signed with the Kings for 3yrs/$57M.

The hits just kept on coming for a team that seemed like it was finally on the upswing after years of mediocrity. Now, though? Who knows? Gobert is a fantastic player, and will be in the DPOY conversation every year. Ricky Rubio is fun. But, who is going to actually put the ball in the hoop for that team?

Not related to on-court endeavors, but Adrian Wojnarowski signed with ESPN.

We all knew it was coming, but it still feels weird. Anyways, this was funny:

Meanwhile, I was...

Again, I saw none of these NBA things happen in real time. I’m still decompressing from a long as heck flight and a six hour time change. Hawaii is a magical place, sure, but there’s definitely a small part of me that missed the frenzy of NBA free agency. I needed the break, but more than anything, catching up on all this has just reinforced the fact that the NBA is one of the best parts of my life (and yours, I suspect).

I’ll finish catching up tomorrow, otherwise this thing’ll stretch to about two thousand words, and I know you don’t want that.

(To be continued...)

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