ROSS CASTALDO ’DOAH CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Our last view of the NBA was the image of Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy. Much has changed since then with a very busy off- season. Many familiar faces have moved to new places. Let’s get you caught up with all the changes for the new season, which will tip off
at the end of October. The NBA draft started with coveted prospect Andrew Wiggins chosen by the Cleveland Cavaliers but ended up traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Duke superstar forward Jabari Parker was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks, and Kansas Center Joel Embiid was picked next by the Philadelphia 76ers. Other notable picks included the Utah Jazz taking Australian sensation, Dante Exum, while the Boston Celtics took defensive whiz Marcus Smart with the 6th pick. The Los Angeles Lakers followed them with Julius Randle at pick number seven.
After the draft left the future stars joining their new teams, the next step was free agency for the game’s current stars. This past off-season has a free agency class that was loaded with talent and star power. Headlining the group was four-time league MVP and two-time NBA champion LeBron James. Other available free agents included Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Pau Gasol, Lance Stephenson and Chan- dler Parsons. Carmelo was the first domino to fall, and after meeting with other teams, he decided to remain a New York Knick. Gasol fled the Lakers to team up with Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. Pierce left the Brooklyn Nets after just one disappointing season to join the up and coming Washington Wizards. Stephenson signed with the new look Charlotte Hornets, and Chandler Parsons did a Texas two-step, moving from Houston to Dallas, to play for owner Mark Cuban and his Mavericks.
Still, the biggest NBA off- season news came from the NBA’s star LeBron James. LeBron had led the Miami Heat to four straight appearances in the finals. Most speculation believed that he would return to the Heat. LeBron surprised most observers by choosing
to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, where his career began. Citing unfinished business, LeBron wants to bring a championship to a city that has gone way too long without one. The Cavaliers front office was able to swing a trade with Minnesota that sent Andrew Wiggins to the Timberwolves for superstar power forward Kevin Love. The Cavaliers roster now features Love, LeBron and all-star point guard Kyrie Irving. The Cavaliers are the pre-season favorites to win the NBA championship in 2014-15.
So far this preseason, some players have gone down by injury. All-stars Paul George, Rajon Rondo and Bradley Beal will begin the sea- son on the sidelines. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City’s star and league MVP, broke a foot bone, which
will cause him to miss at least the first two months of the season. The Thunder will miss the league’s leading scorer; his absence will have a major impact on the western conference playoff race.
With all the exciting and interesting action off the court, this should be a great season when the NBA season tips off this fall.