To say the 2017 NBA off-season was wild would be a massive understatement.
Superstars like Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler and Gordon Hayward all found new homes. It’s unlikely you missed any of those blockbuster deals. But how about that next tier of moves that may have flown under your radar?
Here’s a refresher on some impact players who changed teams this summer and the effect they could have on their new clubs in 2017-18.
Paul Millsap: Denver Nuggets
This one is right on the fringe of the upper crust of trades and signings that occurred during the off-season. Paul Millsap has been an all-star in each of the past four seasons as a member of the Atlanta Hawks but still doesn’t garner the attention he deserves as one of the NBA’s marquee dual threats.
Millsap joined the Nuggets on a three-year deal worth $90 million and should help improve a defence that ranked second last in efficiency a season ago. An up-and-coming Denver team now boasts an impressive frontcourt with Millsap slotting in beside rising star Nikola Jokic.
With solid young building blocks like Jokic, Gary Harris and Canada’s Jamal Murray already in place, Millsap looks like the missing piece that will help Denver get over the hump and make the playoffs after finishing just one game shy last year.
Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague: Minnesota Timberwolves
The Butler trade with the Chicago Bulls dominated the headlines, but Minnesota made a few sneaky-good additions over the summer. After trading Ricky Rubio to the Utah Jazz, the Timberwolves shored up the point guard position by signing Jeff Teague to a three-year contract. Teague isn’t good enough to lead a playoff team, but he fits in well in a complementary role in a starting lineup that already includes Butler, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Minnesota also bolstered its second unit, bringing in Jamal Crawford after he was waived by Atlanta. Crawford always finds himself in the conversation for the league’s Sixth Man Award, serving as an instant spark plug off the bench. The 37-year-old had his worst scoring season since 2002-03 last year, but is still a threat to erupt at a moment’s notice.
Rudy Gay: San Antonio Spurs
Rudy Gay has 11 years of NBA experience, but has only made one trip to the post-season. He appears to be tired of not getting invited to the dance, and decided to sign a two-year contract with the Spurs in the off-season.
The biggest question mark is Gay’s health after an Achilles injury limited him to just 30 games in 2016-17. The Spurs seem to be an ideal landing spot for the former first-round pick as he won’t be relied upon to be one of the team’s primary scoring options with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge in the picture. Instead, Gay will come off the bench and help lead San Antonio’s second unit.
J.J. Redick: Philadelphia 76ers
All the talk in Philly is centred around the young core and “trusting the process,” and rightfully so. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz and Co. give 76ers fans something to be excited about after years of futility. Lost in the youth movement was the solid addition of veteran sharpshooter J.J. Redick, who comes to Philadelphia after spending the past four years with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Redick and his career 41.5 per cent mark from three-point range will be a welcome addition to a 76ers team that has a legitimate shot at the playoffs for the first time in what feels like forever. Redick has appeared in 88 post-season games and would be a useful leader for the younger players to look to.
Danilo Gallinari: Los Angeles Clippers
With Redick gone, the Clippers had a need for a wing player who could knock down threes with consistency. Enter Danilo Gallinari, who was sent to Los Angeles in a three-team trade involving the Nuggets and Hawks.
Gallinari is a more versatile scoring option than Redick, and gives the Clippers a type of player they’ve lacked in recent years. Not only can Gallinari shoot with the best of them from long distance, he’s able to attack the basket and get to the free-throw line with consistency.
All signs point to Los Angeles taking a step backward with the departure of Chris Paul, but the Clippers are still able to roll out a solid three-headed monster of Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Gallinari.
Brook Lopez: Los Angeles Lakers
Sticking in Los Angeles, Brook Lopez joined the Lakers in the trade that sent D’Angelo Russell out of town. Lopez has been a steady contributor for his entire NBA career and is coming off a season in which he averaged 20.5 points per game on a bad Brooklyn Nets team.
Lopez will give rookie point guard Lonzo Ball a reliable big man to feed as he acclimates to the professional game, and the centre has developed a decent three-point stroke, knocking down 35 per cent of his attempts in 2016-17.
Lopez is likely not part of the Lakers’ long-term future. The 29-year-old is entering the final year of his contract, and his $22.6 million coming off the books will be useful should the Lakers pursue marquee free agents like George or LeBron James next summer.
Dwight Howard: Charlotte Hornets
If this were five years ago, there’s no way anyone would have missed a trade involving Dwight Howard. The Hawks shipped Howard to Charlotte for a package including Miles Plumlee and Marco Belinelli, and it didn’t exactly make big waves.
Howard is not the dominant force he was with the Orlando Magic, but the 31-year-old is still an effective centre, despite his lack of shooting range in today’s perimeter-oriented NBA. He has seen his scoring numbers drop in each of the past three seasons, but the Hornets will be hoping coach Steve Clifford, who was an assistant during Howard’s time with the Magic, can get the most out of the three-time all-star.
Charlotte benefits from bringing in an interior presence to pair with star point guard Kemba Walker, but will now have to move promising young centre Cody Zeller back to the second unit.