Basketball

Don't start burning jerseys. There was some good news out of NBA free agency

A lot of people are mad. Some are furious. A select few are grinning ear to ear.

Boy, has NBA free agency become quite the soap opera.

There were plenty of interesting happenings early in the free agency period (though these deals can't be official until Friday). First, Paul George shocked many by staying with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Then LeBron James in fact did choose to don the purple and gold by choosing the Los Angeles Lakers.

But then came the stunner, the one that has many people vowing to no longer watch the game: DeMarcus Cousins taking a reduced salary to to go the almighty Golden State Warriors for one year.

While we as human beings have reacted strongly to these moves, there's one important point that I think we often forget: These guys are human beings, too.

That being said, you can look at many of the free agent signings and learn a lot about each player and what's important to them.

Take George, for example. Seemingly everyone expected him to return home to Los Angeles, where he'd expressed his desire to play as far back as when he was in Indiana. But then Oklahoma City took a chance on him, hoping the organization’s culture and a relationship with Russell Westbrook that only grew would be enough to convince George to stay in the small market and defy the odds.

That he did, proving that the loyalty of a small market and well-run organization can score big points.

In James' case, I really think he was deciding between the Lakers and his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers all along. He wound up choosing Los Angeles, where he has a second home, but why? Perhaps he believed he'd done everything he could in Cleveland, bringing the city an elusive title a couple years ago. Perhaps it's for the spotlight of LA or for future of his children.

No one really knows, but what we can conclude is that more than just basketball played into his decision. If it was about only basketball, it's hard to believe he would've gone there with George having already committed to OKC and Kawhi Leonard still seeking a way out of San Antonio.

Instead, LeBron has wound up with a cast of misfits to play with. Three guys who could make up most of the all-time "Shaqtin' a Fool" team have joined The King in LA: Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee. This could get interesting.

Then finally there's "Boogie" Cousins. Some thought he'd be the other big piece joining James in LA and others thought perhaps he'd return to New Orleans. Then came the bombshell: The rich just got richer. Coming off a serious Achilles' injury, Cousins probably still could have gotten a big-money, long-term deal somewhere. Instead, he chose to take less money for a year and join a team that is stacked unlike any I've ever seen before.

Though Cousins' health is still in question as big men often struggle to return to form from that kind of injury and the fact that the timing of when he'll be available is uncertain, adding a fifth All-Star to the mix forms an even more formidable force.

So what about his thinking? I'll try not to delve too far into the technical-foul-waiting-to-happen player's mind, but I think this move makes a ton of sense for him. It's a bit of a risk to be betting on himself, but consider a scenario where he does come back to full strength sometime this season. His best-case scenario is one in which he helps the Warriors win another championship and then becomes a free agent again and can really cash in with a max deal.

By going to Golden State, he leaves his options open and most likely will wind up with a ring.

Therefore, when you look at each of these players' decisions in free agency, the evidence shows how complex the situation is. While I'm in agreement that it's scary to consider what Golden State is now becoming, I'm overall OK with the way free agency played out.

Of course, being a Thunder fan I'm glad George is back. That being said, I'm also fascinated by the way in which he came to his decision. Same goes for LeBron and Cousins.

I haven't mentioned Chris Paul and his re-up with the Houston Rockets, but that's because I think most people figured that would happen anyway. Now, the fact he's getting $160 million, that's another story.

In total, what transpired in free agency gave the league hope despite the fact the Warriors are even more of a super team now. The wheeling and dealing proved this time that not every big-name free agent would team up and go to a major market. That is comforting.

Thinking of the fact that the Warriors look even more unstoppable now is troubling. Understanding now that the East mostly looks like a developmental league is bothersome.

This shows that the league isn't perfect. It also shows that the players aren't robots. I think what transpired was a step in the right direction at a time when it could have easily gone the other way.

Now is a time to be thankful for humanity, and for us all to band together to root against the evil superpower.

Don't stop watching. Too much is at stake.

David Wetzel: @MYBSports, 843-626-0295

  Comments