The NBA has evolved into the greatest soap opera on television. With social media, most notably NBA Twitter and r/nba, becoming the main source of league news and discussion, basketball has become a year-round sport. The player empowerment era has evolved over the last few years and it seems as if stars are always on the move, especially during this year's free agency period. It's only been two days since players and teams have been able to meet and agree to contracts, but we've already seen an exorbitant amount of player movement with more on the horizon. Matty Ice and I have been talking hoops since our junior year of high school as we tried to get through first period Spanish with an absolute tyrant of a teacher, so it only felt right for us to finally collaborate on something.
Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat
Matt: One of the biggest shocks of free agency came when the Miami Heat executed a sign-and-trade to acquire four-time All-Star, and former Chicago Bull hero, Jimmy Butler. When we heard Butler's name being discussed ahead of free agency, it was the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, and Philadelphia 76ers that were the main teams in contention. Miami was a huge outsider, mainly because they needed to get rid of a lot of salary to make the deal possible, but rumblings of J-But to the Heat got stronger when he set up a meeting with them. Then, about an hour before free agency, Adrian Wojnarowski hit everyone with a vintage Woj bomb, saying that Butler told the Heat he wanted to play for them. Miami ultimately got their guy, executing a four team trade that also included the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers. Jimmy now joins a core that includes Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, and Bam Adebayo. Are the Heat a playoff team in the Eastern Conference? They'll definitely be a team to watch out for next season.
Jack: This move surprised me. Up until the rumors started swirling that Jimmy was interested in going to Miami, the pairing never really entered my mind. With all the turmoil surrounding Jimmy and his last three (!) teams, it seemed that a lot of the frustration stemmed from his teammates' lack of will to win. The Sixers were a few bounces away from an Eastern Conference Finals appearance and if they were to make it past the Bucks, I thought they matched up great against the Warriors. That can't be changed, though, and Jimmy is officially on his fourth team in three years. The East is still relatively weak compared to the West (which has what looks to be 12-13 potentially competitive teams) so there's always a chance, but I'm still a bit confused by it. Jimmy G. is a total Pat Riley-Eric Spoelstra player and will likely be an All-Star this season, but I don't see a Finals appearance happening anytime soon.
D'Angelo Russell S&T to Golden State
Matt: It looked like the Minnesota Timberwolves were going to add D'Angelo Russell in order to pair him with fellow All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns. That would've made the Timberwolves one of the dark horses in the West. On the other hand, many expected Golden State to take a few steps back, as they were likely to lose both Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, and also Klay Thompson for all of next season due to a torn ACL. However, that's just not in the Warriors DNA. Instead of just losing Durant to Brooklyn and not getting anything, they were able to execute a sign-and-trade and acquire a package that included Russell, who made his first All-Star team this year, and was runner-up to Pascal Siakam for Most Improved Player. He now joins Steph Curry to make an insanely productive offensive backcourt. In addition, Russell should help take off some of the ball handling pressures from Curry, giving Steph an opportunity to p