OPINION: NBA off-season excitement

Erik Drost/MGN
Kyrie Irving raising his fist in the air at a basketball game.

As the final buzzer sounded on the NBA Finals, marking the end of another exhilarating season, a different kind of excitement swept through the basketball world. Excitement for the NBA off-season, a time when teams and fans alike eagerly awaited the frenzy of NBA free agency.

On June 30, NBA free agency kicked off. Right out of the gate, big-named free agents like Kyrie Irving and Draymond Green returned to their respective teams, with both Green and Irving scoring contracts over $100 million.

Irving returned to the Dallas Mavericks after being traded there earlier this year, continuing the backcourt duo of Irving and Luka Dončić. The Mavericks should be looking for a starting center and some defensive wings who can help them on the defensive end of the floor. They signed guards like Dante Exum and Seth Curry but still need to fill out their roster.

Green is returning to the Golden State Warriors, an organization where he won four championships, continuing his relationship with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

The morning of July 1, NBA all star Damian Lillard requested a trade from the Portland Trailblazers where he has spent his entire career.

The closest Lillard has gotten to winning a championship was the Western Conference Finals where he lost to the Kevin Durant Warriors. This is an opportunity for Lillard to win an NBA championship. The top teams that are looking at Lillard on the trade market are the Miami Heat, 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers. As of right now, Miami is the leading candidate to get Lillard after making the NBA finals themselves this year.

A team last year that didn’t make the finals were the Los Angeles Lakers. They lost in the Western conference to NBA champions the Denver Nuggets. When free agency hit, they stacked their team so they could get to the finals. Featured by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, pieces they added were beneficial in building a team around them. Notable pickups were Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Jaxson Hayes, with them also re-signing Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell, building their roster to compete with an aging LeBron.

The Houston Rockets made some splashes by signing unrestricted free agent Fred VanVleet and acquiring Dillon Brooks to pair with their young core. Not a championship team but notable signings. The Indiana Pacers added Bruce Brown, who was on the Denver Nuggets last year.

The NBA off-season is a whirlwind of activity, with trades, signings and contract negotiations taking the center stage. During this part of the off season, teams redefine their identities, making bold moves that have the potential to reshape the entire league. The landscape of the NBA shifted as new alliances formed, rivalries intensified and underdogs rose to prominence.

For fans, the off-season and free agency are a roller coaster ride of emotions. These are moments of elation and disappointment, surprises and shocks. But through it all, the excitement remains constant. The NBA off-season and the frenzy of free agency is the fuel that keeps the passion for basketball burning bright, reminding fans that the game they love extended far beyond the boundaries of the basketball court.