Breaking down the NBA offseason
By TAYLOR ROSEN
College Contributor Network
The NBA free agency period is now upon us. With the 2015 NBA Draft taking place last week and the free agency market opening up Wednesday morning, there are nothing but busy organizations around the league this team of year. There's no telling what will happen when the floodgates officially open.
Last Thursday night, NBA fans tuned into the draft and saw the NBA's two marquee franchises in the Celtics and Lakers take numerous gigantic steps forward in the rebuilding process. That's exactly what a team in the rebuilding process needs to do this time of year, infuse the team with young talent.
It all started with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who will now have three first overall picks on their roster with the addition of the 2015 first overall pick, Karl-Anthony Towns. The Towns pick was the right pick because of what the Wolves need.
The Wolves lacked a well-rounded big man and that's exactly what they'll get out of Towns. His game is more complete than Okafor, who struggles on the defensive side of the ball. The Wolves will now try to compete for a playoff spot in the potent Western Conference, with a core of Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Ricky Rubio and Tyus Jones. All of this first round talent should make the Wolves a team to watch in upcoming years.
The Lakers surprised many people when they nabbed Ohio State point guard D'Angelo Russell with the second overall pick in the draft. The Lakers chose Russell instead of Duke forward Jahlil Okafor. I was not surprised by this pick, at all. In fact, I envisioned the Lakers going with Russell over Okafor because of his style of play.
Players with the vision and scoring ability of Russell don't come along often, and the way he plays the game meshes perfectly into the flashy showtime style of play the fans in Laker Land miss dearly. The Lakers also picked an explosive small forward in Larry Nance Jr. with the 27th overall pick, and Anthony Brown, a sharpshooting forward from Stanford with the 34th overall pick of the draft.
Following the Lakers pick of Russell, the 76ers were more than happy to swoop in and pick up Jahlil Okafor. For a franchise that has shown nobody can tank at a higher level, they have now drafted three big men in the first round of the last three NBA drafts.
That's a risky strategy, especially for a team that needs help in the backcourt after trading former rookie of the year, Michael Carter-Williams last season. Maybe the 76ers misheard legendary Raiders owner Al Davis when he stated one of the most influential and famous sports phrases of all time, "just win baby."
However, there might not be a bigger story on draft night than what the Knicks managed to do on this night. Or maybe in the eyes of Knicks fans, it's the familiar feeling of with what they couldn't do, yet again.
The New York Knicks were left in a bad spot. The three guys they truly wanted went in first three picks of the draft. Leaving Latvia power forward Kristaps Porzingis for the Knicks at number four overall.
Porzingis is a promisingly talented seven footer who has the ability to put it on the floor and shoot from the outside. In a few years, Porzingis could very well be the Knicks second option behind Carmelo Anthony, but Knicks fans don't have the time or patience to wait a few years. All they care about is now, and on this night, team president Phil Jackson dropped the ball.
Even though Porzingis is yet to lace up for the Knicks, I still have to go out on a limb and label the Knicks as the biggest loser of the NBA draft. The Knicks needs as much help as they can get now, and investing in a project and hoping it pans out doesn't seem like the answer. Only time will tell if Jackson has the Knicks on the right path.
The biggest steal of the draft was Justise Winslow, who managed to fall from his projected spot of fifth overall to the Miami Heat at 10th overall. Winslow is a slashing small forward, who will enter the league already as an elite defender. I expected the Magic to pick Winslow and pair him with Victor Oladipo, but apparently they had other things in mind. The Magic went with Mario Hezonja, a small forward from Croatia, who probably won't see any playing time for Orlando this season.
The Sacremento Kings followed with Willie Cauley-Stein at sixth overall. Only the Kings know what that means for Demarcus Cousins' future in Sacremento. The Nuggets drafted Emmanuel Mudiay, the point guard who decided to surpass college basketball and play in China last year. Mudiay has all the makings to be a productive point guard in the league, but it may take him some time to adjust to the speed of NBA ball. Look for Ty Lawson to be dealt by the Nuggets in result of the Mudiay pick.
The Boston Celtics made a splash by selecting Louisville point guard, Terry Rozier. Rozier has the ability to score at will and should fit perfectly into Brad Stevens' system in Boston. The Celtics also picked Georgia State sharpshooter, RJ Hunter. Look for the Celtics to use Hunter similarly to how they used Ray Allen. The Celtics added two versatile offensive threats to a team that many NBA executives believe to be a team on the rise.
The Cleveland Cavaliers chose Duke point guard Tyus Jones with the 24th overall pick. Jones' stay in Cleveland didn't last very long, the Cavaliers quickly packaged Jones and sent him to Minnesota for the 31st and 36th overall picks. The Cavaliers then added Turkey shooting guard, Cedi Osman with the 31st pick, and Syracuse power forward, Rakeem Christmas with the 36th pick.
ESPN NBA insider, Chad Ford spoke very highly of Osman, "Cedi Osman, hands down, has the best motor in the draft. Guy doesn't take a second off." Cedi still has two years left on his contract over in Turkey, but he should make an impact when he does come over and play for the Cavaliers in a couple of years.
Rakeem Christmas is a big man who is ready to come in and make an immediate impact. Some may question the Cavaliers need to add another versatile big man, but Christmas will serve as a security blanket in case Kevin Love or Tristan Thompson depart from Cleveland.
In what was surprising to me, the first Harrison twin selected was Andrew Harrison by the Phoenix Suns with the 44th overall pick. His brother, Aaron, went undrafted and will have to earn his way into the league.
The biggest winners of this draft have to be the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. The two most distinguished franchises in the NBA took major leaps forward in the rebuilding process on Thursday night. The Lakers and Celtics both upgraded their roster by adding young promising talent. Proving yet again, the NBA draft is the best way of going about rebuilding an NBA franchise.
Moving to free agency, the buyers market appears to be expanding daily. With the Lakers, Blazers, Celtics, Rockets, Raptors, Mavericks, Spurs, Suns and the Knicks. There has been plenty of speculation surrounding these teams since the season came to an end. Many believe they are the top buyers in the market, and they're aggressively looking to sign top some of the top free agents from this class.
Maybe the biggest mystery is where former Blazers forward Lamarcus Aldridge will end up. Aldridge has made it clear that he isn't returning to Portland. Aldridge informed his former team he wouldn't be returning a week before the market opened. He has set up visits with more than eight teams over the next week. Let the Aldridge sweepstakes begin.
Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan is also looking to hit the market and explore his options. Jordan is being brought in for team visits with the Mavericks, Lakers, Knicks and Clippers in the next week. Jordan said he gives a slight edge to the Clippers because he's made a name for himself playing with the franchise. However, I can still see Jordan departing Los Angeles for Dallas simply because it would be very difficult to account for Jordan on a Mavericks team that's already loaded with talent.
The New York Knicks are looking at Pistons free agent forward, Greg Monroe. Monroe would bring size and athleticism to a Knicks front court that should be considered hands down the weakest front court in the NBA. Adding young talent would certainly help in that regard. The Knicks are also after Memphis center Marc Gasol, but the odds of Gasol leaving Memphis for New York are slim to none.
LeBron James and Kevin Love were spotted having a poolside meeting in Los Angeles on Sunday. We'll find out soon what James and Love have up their sleeves, but around the time that meeting took place, it was reported both James and Love are interested in returning to Cleveland. It seems the decision to opt out of their contracts is just a tactic being used by both in effort to obtain the additional compensation both are after.
Chicago's Jimmy Butler is considering a move to Los Angeles to join the Lakers, but the Bulls fully intend to match any offer Butler may receive. Regardless, Butler is looking for a one year deal because of the cap increase set to hit within the next two seasons.
With the max contract nearly doubling in the next two years, it's very unlikely to see many big name free agents sign long term deals this summer. It doesn't make much sense to lock yourself into a long term deal when you can take a one year deal and guarantee yourself a major pay raise in the next couple of years.
Taylor Rosen is a junior at Kent State University. He spent time with The Stater covering Kent State football and basketball. Taylor is from Cleveland, and has Cleveland sports under a microscope. Follow him on Twitter: @TRosen12