The NBA is back. And while the 2017 regular season is only two weeks away, teams are still trying to shuffle and solidify their rosters to be able to compete for a title.
After a summer of moves, signings and draft picks, there are almost always chemistry issues, deficiencies and unexpected injuries to address that make it look like teams are playing musical chairs with their identities.
Surprisingly, even when a team wins a blockbuster trade, there are complications that come with having too much of a good thing.
Cleveland Cavaliers Lineup
Even though the Cleveland Cavaliers came up short against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, they were still built to contend for a title as constructed. Until Kyrie Irving demanded a trade, that is.
After jettisoning Irving to the Boston Celtics, Cleveland received Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, Boston's 2018 first-round pick and the Miami Heat's 2020 second-round pick. With Thomas' hip injury creating a margin of doubt about when he'll return to action, the Cavs have been tinkering with potential starting lineups that feature newly signed Derrick Rose as the starting point guard.
According to The Athletic's Jason Lloyd, Crowder will start at power forward, pushing the incumbent starter, Tristan Thompson, to the second unit. As a result, Kevin Love will move over to the center spot, causing matchup problems with his 36.4 percent career shooting from beyond the arc.
Crowder's ability to shoot the three (he shot 39.8 percent from deep last season) and his ability to switch on pick-and-rolls will vastly improve the Cavs defense and stretch the floor on the offensive end.
TNT's David Aldridge confirmed Thompson's potential move to the bench and added that the former University of Texas standout is "okay with it."
David Aldridge @daldridgetnt
Told Thompson is “okay with it” & that move corresponds w/ @drose starting at point while @Isaiah_Thomas rehabs. @CJC9BOSS also starting.2017-10-2 14:49:30
With an annual salary of $16.4 million, Thompson will make for a very expensive role player off the bench.
New York Knicks/Houston Rockets
It may not seem like it now, but for the New York Knicks, trading Carmelo Anthony was millions of times worse than pulling teeth. Before Anthony and his hoodie headed to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-round pick (via the Chicago Bulls), there were rumored deals that fell through.
First, there was the deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers that never happened because, allegedly, no one wanted Kevin Love. Then, there was the Houston Rockets, with whom "a deal was done," but that, too, fell through because, allegedly, no one wanted Ryan Anderson.
"They were never close to a deal with Houston," an NBA source told the New York Post. "That's a fact."
Anthony revealed in an interview on SiriusXM that he thought he had been traded twice, but things fell apart and he thought he'd have to get used to the idea of reporting to media day and training camp with the Knicks.
"I think it was within the last week, week and a half, before training camp," Anthony told SiriusXM. "A deal was done with Houston early, then for some reason, whatever happened behind the scenes, it didn't go through. It fell through, then we had to really start paying attention and thinking about other options. But then believe it or not I felt like I was going to be back in training camp, and I would show up to media day in New York."
Perhaps fatigued by deals that were stalled, Anthony, who was asked by the Knicks if he'd give the OK for a deal with OKC and was wary of returning to a team that clearly wanted to move on from the Melo Era, gladly lifted his no-trade clause to join Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
"Me and my team sat down on Friday night and was like, 'Man, we best prepare for going back to media day on Monday and training camp that week,'" Anthony said. "And then we got the call that said, 'Would you open it up to OKC?' And I was like, 'Yeah, at this point, yeah.'"