The New Look NBA

Urban Meyer
LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers

The start of the 2018-19 NBA season, which begins Tuesday, October 16, may prove to be the most interesting in a long time. That’s because a noisy off-season resulted in the relocation of a number of star players; most notably, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, DeMar DeRozan and Carmelo Anthony. They’re the cream of the crop of a number of players bringing their talents to new cities beginning this week.

The highlight of the summer transactions was James opting for free agency and then signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. James was one of seven free agents signed by LA that also included veteran point guard Rajon Rondo. They join youngster Lonzo Ball, which immediately raises the bar of expectations in LA this season, and beyond.

Perhaps an even bigger shake-up in the NBA was the blockbuster trade that found Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan swapping teams. Leonard made it well known that he wanted out of San Antonio, so the Spurs worked a deal with the Toronto Raptors that got them DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a draft pick in exchange for Leonard and Danny Green.

Who got the best of this deal will remain to be seen as Leonard, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, can opt for free agency after this season. Rumors are already circling that he wants to join James in LA next year, or perhaps sign with the cross-town Clippers. For now, he’s in Toronto, whose biggest obstacle in the East has been Cleveland, who are now obviously without James. The Raptors and Boston Celtics are expected to be the class of the East.

In DeRozan, who was considered a staple in Toronto, the Spurs get a scoring threat who averaged 23 points-per-game last season and has a career average of 19.7. This, no doubt, puts them right back in the mix in the West, where they and everyone else seek to find a way to dethrone the Golden State Warriors, who added center DeMarcus Cousins, making the rich, richer.

Then there’s Carmelo Anthony, who is about to play on his third team in as many seasons. Anthony signed with the Houston Rockets in August, where he’ll join last year’s MVP James Harden and Chris Paul, solidifying a group that the Rockets also hope can overtake the Warriors. However, Anthony and Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni weren’t the best match when both were with the New York Knicks, and Anthony is coming off one of his least productive seasons last year with Oklahoma City.

The NBA season is just getting started. As the season progresses, the story lines from these aforementioned players, and others, should prove to be numerous and intriguing. That’s why they play the games.

Dan Ladd

Dan Ladd

Dan Ladd is a freelance sports writer who works out of Gracenote’s Queensbury, NY office.

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