Think Splash Brothers, King James and all of those other reasons to know the truth about the NBA these days: Everything happening away from northern California and the shores of Lake Erie is secondary, because the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers will four-peat in the NBA Finals.
This other stuff is fun to watch, though.
Kevin Durant did what?
Not only that, but I still can't believe the Minnesota Timberwolves are trying to make themselves relevant again.
Then you had everybody who cherishes the Boston Celtics spending Tuesday celebrating the Fourth of July and what they hope is the second coming of Larry Bird in Gordon Hayward.
Elsewhere, the Houston Rockets acquired Chris Paul to combine with James Harden, and in addition to an NBA Most Valuable Player award, Russell Westbrook got help with the Oklahoma City Thunder. You know, big time. The Lakers just want the return of Showtime, and they're on the verge of doing so with Magic Johnson running the franchise, the acquisition of the Lonzo Ball (plus his father's mouth) and the possibility of huge free agents by the end of next summer. As for this year's market, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers and Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors aren't going anywhere after threatening to bolt. In contrast, free agent Paul Millsap is taking his solid game from the Atlanta Hawks to the Denver Nuggets. There were also lesser-yet-significant moves involving Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague, Patty Mills and J.J. Redick. Still, when all of these transactions become official Thursday, teams are expected to have spent more than $1.5 billion on free-agents signings.
We're in the midst of the greatest NBA offseason ever. That said, the Warriors and the Cavaliers are the manifestation of the old phrase that goes the more things change, the more they stay the same. To translate, all of these trades, free agent signings and selections in the NBA draft involving potentially franchise-changing stars are nice and everything, but a year from now, the Warriors will shock nobody by grabbing their second straight world championship over the Cavaliers and their third in four seasons.
OK, the Cavaliers might overcome the ridiculous, which is that they are without a general manager since owner Dan Gilbert whacked David Griffin, the guy who built the foundation for their Eastern powerhouse. They could maneuver with the New York Knicks to unite LeBron James with old pal Carmelo Anthony. That would give the Cavs a Big Four of LeBron, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Anthony to match that of the Warriors' Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Durant. In fact, since nobody on Golden State has the defensive skills to handle Anthony, that might push the Cavaliers to their second title over the Warriors in three years.
But regardless, the bottom line won't change. And that's this: You can expect the Cavaliers versus the Warriors for the fourth consecutive NBA Finals. Absolutely nothing has happened to change that equation, but nice try, everybody.
Take the Thunder, for instance. With the trade for Paul George from the Indiana Pacers, Westbrook doesn't have to worry anymore about his teammates forgetting how to score or even how to play when he takes a break. It's just that Oklahoma City remains about two more superstars shy of the Warriors in the Western Conference. Not good. Worse for the Thunder, George likely will fulfill his long-time stated goal of playing for the Lakers when he becomes a free agent after this season. With George, Ball and possibly LeBron (the Lakers hope James will use his contractual right next summer to leave his native northern Ohio for a second time and bolt for Los Angeles, where he already lives when he isn't in Cleveland), the Lakers could … well, they won't. The Warriors will remain peerless in the West, just as they are now.
I know, I know. CP3 to the Rockets? That sounds good, but only until you realize he was an old 32 at times last season, courtesy of a bunch of aches and pains with the Clippers. Plus, unless NBA teams can start using two balls, it's doubtful Paul and Harden will resemble, say, Curry and Thompson. The Spurs remain loaded with Mills staying in San Antonio to re-join Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and possibly Manu Ginobili, if he doesn't retire. And, yes, Minnesota is rising with that trade for Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls and the signing of Teague to join Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. And, yes, Millsap makes the Nuggets better, and, yes, the backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.C. McCollum keeps the Trail Blazers intriguing.
The Warriors will win the West. Easily. In case you missed it, Durant took $9 million less from Golden State officials to keep their dynasty intact. After they re-signed David West, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iquodala, they gave Curry a record $201 million to ignore the free-agent market.
As for the East, you may laugh now. The gap between the Cavaliers and everybody else is insurmountable, even more so than that involving the Warriors and their West foes. No question, the Celtics keep turning their slew of draft picks into nice players to complement Isaiah Thomas and now Hayward. The Raptors remain vibrant with DeMar DeRozen and Lowry, and the same goes for the Washington Wizards with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Nobody else in the East matters. So we're back to the Cavaliers, with the best player on the planet (at least for the moment) and enough pieces to spend the 2018 playoffs dominating everybody in their way.
Until that four-peat.