The 4 Most Impactful Moves Of The NBA Offseason

The NBA offseason is well underway, and only a few big names remain on the table. While several teams have been content to do nothing to improve their teams, others have aggressively pushed to upgrade their rosters. And often, these offseason moves separate the championship contenders from the pretenders. So, what were the most significant moves made so far this offseason?

The 4 Most Impactful Moves Of The Offseason So Far

Dejounte Murray to the New Orleans Pelicans

For months, there were trade rumors surrounding Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. The talented backcourt had underperformed for two years, and the Atlanta Hawks needed to make a move. Thus, Murray’s trade to the Pelicans was not a surprise. The Hawks broke up their backcourt and, in return, got a package centered around Dyson Daniels and future picks. Daniels is a 21-year-old guard with elite defensive capabilities that can complement Young’s ball-dominant style. The trade answers some of the Hawks’ roster questions and clarifies their overall path forward. In many ways, however, this trade has a more significant impact on the Pelicans.

Last year, New Orleans finished as an eighth seed before being bounced in the first round by the Oklahoma City Thunder. They lacked a primary facilitator, and their point guard was the score-first CJ McCollum. The acquisition of Dejounte Murray gives the Pelicans a lead guard who can handle a majority of the playmaking responsibilities that McCollum has struggled with. Murray and Zion Williamson will be an exciting pair with elite scoring and athletic ability that, when healthy, can be a dangerous duo in the league. Although the trade doesn’t turn the Pelicans into one of the premier teams in the Western Conference, it gives them a better plan moving forward so that their young core can contend in the next two to three years.  

Isaiah Hartenstein to the Oklahoma City Thunder

While many may scoff at the $87 million given to Isaiah Hartenstein, those who watched Hartenstein down the stretch with the New York Knicks know his true value. Hartenstein is a good rebounder, provides rim protection, and plays with a contagiously high amount of energy. On offense, Hartenstein is much more than the typical big man who lives around the low post.

Throughout the season, he developed into an excellent passer and perfected his floater from the mid-paint area. He developed a great connection with Jalen Brunson on their pick and roll, where, upon rolling, he would throw up his floater or utilize his passing ability to kick the ball out wide. And this dynamic pick-and-roll action with Brunson will no doubt work with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the Thunder. Gilgeous-Alexander is an incredibly crafty guard and will be able to navigate around Hartenstein’s screens in an abundance of ways.

Furthermore, despite not having a three-point shot, Hartenstein’s vision and willingness to handle the ball allows him to bring the court spacing that the Thunder want out of their center. Yet, the biggest reason Hartenstein will fit so well in Oklahoma City is his proven ability to rebound on both ends of the court. The Thunder’s biggest flaw last year was their size and inability to get rebounds, something the Dallas Mavericks exposed in their playoff series. As talented as Chet Holmgren is, opponents often took advantage of his size on the glass. Hartenstein will satisfy all of these size concerns for the Thunder and should turn them into one of the favorites to win the NBA finals.

Mikal Bridges to the New York Knicks

The Knicks entered this offseason thinking they were one piece away from contending for an NBA championship. They said no to Paul George and Karl-Anthony Towns or waiting to see if a superstar like Giannis Antetokounmpo would ask to be traded in the coming years. For the Knicks, Mikal Bridges was the guy who would put them above the top. So, they traded five first-round picks, one future swap, and salary filler to get their guy from the Brooklyn Nets.

But was it worth it? The answer to this may be whether or not the Knicks win a championship in the next five years. They paid a laughable amount to acquire a player who has never, and probably will never, make an all-star team- but the fit is seamless. The combination of Bridges and OG Anunoby may be the best defensive wing duo in the league and will cause havoc every single night. Furthermore, Bridges has already seen a lot of winning; he was an elite third option for the Phoenix Suns in 2021 and helped them go to the NBA finals. Bridges brings length but can also create his own shot- something the Knicks needed last year outside of Jalen Brunson.

However, the best part of the trade for the Knicks may not be the nitty gritty basketball things: Bridges to New York means the Nova Knicks are finally assembled. The four Villanova alumni- Brunson, Bridges, Josh Hart, and Donte DiVincenzo– play with the same heart and passion that New York City loves so dearly. They play for each other; they play to win. In a league full of unhappy stars, the Knicks have created a team that loves playing with each other. Oh, and for a team that saw so many injuries down the stretch of last season, Bridges has played 461 games in a row. He is an ironman. The Knicks paid a steep price, but trading for Bridges makes them bona fide championship contenders and gives them a real shot to dethrone the Boston Celtics

Paul George to the Philadelphia 76ers

The biggest domino to fall so far this offseason was Paul George. While many thought George would end up in Golden State or maybe Orlando, Philadelphia ultimately made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. The nine-time all-star was fed up with the uncertainty of the Los Angeles Clippers, so he took his talents to the opposite coast.

The 76ers gave George $211 million, paying a steep price for the elite two-way player. The addition now gives them arguably the best big three in the league, and George projects to be a perfect fit next to Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid. Last season, the 76ers flamed out in the playoffs due to Embiid’s injury uncertainty and a lack of a third option. Despite being paid more than $40 million a year to be that alternate option, Tobias Harris was invisible on the court against the Knicks. Each game of the series came down to whether or not Maxey and Embiid could carry their team to victory. George will solve all of these problems. He averaged 22.6 points per game last year, was a 41% shooter from three, and brought length on the defensive end.

The one question with George is his health, as he played in less than 60 games in four out of the past five years. Pairing an injury-prone 34-year-old George up with Embiid, who misses a significant amount of time every year, may not be the smartest idea. The 76ers now rely on two guys that can’t stay healthy… to remain healthy. However, if their three stars make it to the playoffs intact, Philadelphia will join the Knicks as an incredibly dangerous threat to Boston’s crown. Next year, the 76ers will have the best roster of Embiid’s career; the question is whether or not he can perform when it matters.

 

While the gap between the Celtics and the rest of the league was immense last year, the offseason has seemingly closed that divide. The Knicks and 76ers were determined in their pursuit of improvement and will have their eyes set on defeating the champs. Out West, several younger teams used the offseason to cement themselves as real threats for the present and future. Next season should hold the most parity the league has ever seen, and it will be amazing to watch.

Main Image: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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