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DBB on 3: Free Agency Period, the wild West

Wow, this offseason has been crazy so far. Here’s Part 1 of where we discuss what’s been going on, looking first at the Western Conference.

Common wisdom from many after watching the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors blow through the competition to get to the NBA Finals was that the other 28 teams would or should bide their time for a few years until the Warriors slowed down or dissolved and LeBron the Paranoid Android finally broke down.

Well, that didn’t happen. Teams made moves, lots of pretty daring ones at that. We discuss three of the top of those daring moves in this edition.

1. What are your thoughts on the Chris Paul/James Harden pairing? Would adding Carmelo Anthony make or break the deal in Houston? If everything falls right could they compete with Golden State?

Kenneth Wallace: Adding a player of Chris Paul's caliber can't hurt, though I think Patrick Beverly was a good player for the Rockets. I don't think PG was their biggest need, and I'm not confident that adding Carmelo Anthony is a great idea. There is a limit to how many guys a team need who want the ball in their hands. If I were the Rockets, I'd want a guy like Kevin Love more than Anthony. But I doubt they can trade Ryan Anderson to Cleveland for him. I think they will be more competitive with Golden State, but still not up to their level.

Kevin Sawyer: There will probably be some diminishing returns in terms of individual output, a la Steph Curry and Kevin Durant last year. But the only way Paul doesn't make the team substantially better is if he is injured. Paul isn't some overhyped volume scorer. He was the best PG in the league last year and he does just about everything. Assuming Anderson gets moved, not sure what Anthony does. Best case scenario is that he improves his efficiency as a third option, and offers the same trade off of lousy rebounding. I think they are close enough to Golden State that this is unnecessary risk.

Justin Lambregtse: I have my doubts about he effectiveness of the James Harden-Chris Paul pairing. Both players are at their best with the ball in their hands and there is only one ball. They will find a way to make it work because they are both great players, but I don't see them being any better so I don't see them competing with Golden State. I think adding Carmelo would just escalate the problem, especially if they trade Trevor Ariza to make it happen.

Ben Gulker: My initial reaction was, "Theres still only one ball, right?" Then again, I had similar feelings about James, Wade, and Bosh. I'd rather err on the side of great players figuring it out than trying to make less than great players into something greater than the sun of the parts.

I have been a Melo skeptical his entire career and remain so regardless of where he ends up. Either way, Golden State remains way ahead.

Ryan Pravato: I'm intrigued by the pairing and I'll surely try to catch more Rockets games than before. Carmelo Anthony could move the needle a bit, yet I'd rather see him on Cleveland. If Ariza is moved to help get Melo, perhaps newly signed Luc Mbah a Moute can lessen the sting on the defensive side of the ball. I suppose the Rockets could be competitive with the Warriors, but they might need to pick up Durant and Green to do so...

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: There might be some decline in the individual production with Harden and CP3 sharing the floor but I still love the move and think the pairing can and will work. They're probably the favorite for the 2 seed, so sure, I guess an upset of the Warriors isn't impossible. I don't think a Carmelo addition is a bad idea given their limited future assets and his success as a tertiary creator in the Olympics, but I wouldn't see him as some kind of ultimate weapon against Golden State.

Gabriel Frye-Behar: They're going to be good. Both can shoot well enough to create space for each other, and for how great an offensive player CP3 is, when healthy he's also one of the few truly great defensive PG's in the league. I don't think Carmleo helps them in the slightest. It does feel like Houston is still one piece short of competing with Golden State, but Carmelo's ball dominant game isn't that piece.

Steve Hinson: My biggest takeaway is what a great job Houston does with player development. They've already traded away one starter from last year and three rotation players. And they're looking to dump salary on another starter. But with two guys passing with an assist percentage around 50 percent, Clint Capela could break out as a star next season. Isaiah Taylor looks fully capable of replacing Lou Williams from his brilliant D-League performance. And Chinanu Onuaku looks ready to replace Montrezl Harrell (get ready for ALL of the underhand free throws talk!). I don't think Carmelo Anthony would do anything at all to improve the squad, would be more likely to just gut the team from effective complimentary players. They could compete with Golden State, but it's going to take better shooting from those complimentary guys. They led the league in three point attempts but were only 15th in percentage. Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, and Trevor Ariza aren't going to be able to be in the mid-30 percents from deep.

2. What are the chances that Russell Westbrook and Paul George work? Do you see OKC winning enough to convince George to resign next off season?

Kenneth Wallace: I think Russell Westbrook and Paul George can be an effective pairing, with the potential to get OKC to 50+ wins. Who knows what George is thinking, but if I were him I'd seriously consider remaining with the Thunder - assuming that he and Westbrook prove compatible.

Kevin Sawyer: I am more interested in how Roberson and George work together. It will be interesting to see if George sees time at the 2, and I don't think he brings a lot of value at the 4. How those two work together will have more impact on whether the Thunder move up a notch with this move.

Justin Lambregtse: I think this pairing will work. Paul George will be a poor man's Kevin Durant in OKC, so they will be good, but not good enough to compete for a championship. I agree with Paul George when he said that his interest in LA is overblown. If OKC is competitive in the West, I see him re-signing unless Westbrook's personality drives him away.

Ben Gulker: Well, Kevin Durant > Paul George, and the rest of the current cast is less than it was a few years ago, too. Certainly, they will be better than Indiana a year ago, but is winning what George cares about? I don't know.

Ryan Pravato: I can see it going well or not so well, nothing would surprise me - and that will help determine the potential of a long-term pairing. What I'm happy about is the fact it frees up an All-Star spot for Tobias Harris, provided he has a strong first half.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: I don't see why George and Westbrook won't work. OKC doesn't really have any other creators, I doubt they want Westbrook with the same astronomical usage he had last year, and George is a good off-ball player anyway. I definitely wouldn't have thought of OKC as a place George would consider pre-trade, but I'll assume if they can get close to the West finals they'll have as good of a chance as anyone to re-sign him.

Gabriel Frye-Behar: George and Westbrook should work well enough. Westbrook can get his usage down a little as George is a really good overall player and an efficient high volume scorer, but I'm not sure he's good enough to improve OKC's win total by as much as people might expect with the competition they'll be facing in the West.

Steve Hinson: I love it. George isn't at his best when he's having to create the offense like he did in Indiana. Last year was already a career year for George and he'll be even better with the Thunder. I could absolutely see him staying in Oklahoma City. The closest he's ever been to playing with a player like Westbrook was prime Lance Stephenson - which was when he signed his extension with the Pacers. And Westbrook is a biiiiit of an upgrade over Stephenson.

3. Tom Thibodeau made major moves to speed things up in Minnesota by adding veterans Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford to a previously young team. Will this move pay dividends or would you have preferred to take more time with the youth movement?

Kenneth Wallace: I think Tom Thibodeau made some shrewd moves this summer. It's arguable that he should have looked for more of a stretch four option than Taj Gibson, but he's a tough veteran competitor. Jimmy Butler is a huge upgrade, and Jeff Teague is a very capable point guard. I think they are a playoff team now and will probably be the most improved team this season. If Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins keep improving, this may be a team that can give the Warriors a run for their money in 2-3 years.

Kevin Sawyer: Aside from Butler, which was a no-brainer, not seeing much great here. Gibson was an overpay, and I'm not sure they got much of an upgrade at point guard while paying more for an older player in Teague. But Thibs the coach works will with Gibson and didn't have confidence in Rubio. I like Crawford's playoff experience for the price, I guess. At this stage the Timberwolves should go all-in and move Wiggins, who is (for now) an overhyped volume scorer.

Justin Lambregtse: It will definitely pay dividends. I see the Wolves as a top four seed in the West and the veterans that they added will be very beneficial to the development of their young players. I could definitely see how it won't matter once because of the dominance of Golden State, but they will still have a solid young core that can develop from playoff experience while Golden State is dominating the West.

Ben Gulker: I really like Jimmy Butler, and Gibson and Teague are solid. If you can get a guy like Butler, you do it and go from there. Plus, all these guys have playoff experience, which can help the younger players.

I don't think they're anything special as a whole just yet though. Certainly an improvement for Wolves fans, and from the perspective of team building, there are several nice pieces for the future.

Ryan Pravato: Good, veteran pickups... those talented young'uns in Minnesota need playoff experience and they'll get it now. Eventually youth movements need a bit of a push or some support.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: The Butler trade was obviously awesome and Teague was a fine signing. After those two moves their biggest needs by far were perimeter defense and spot-up shooting, so seeing them go after Gibson and Crawford was a little disappointing. It's going to be two traditional bigs on the floor at absolutely all times, which isn't the direction I'd want for the team at all. But I do still expect them to jump into the thick of the 5-8 playoff race out West with room to grow from that in future years.

Gabriel Frye-Behar: Getting Jimmy Butler is a huge win. He's sneakily developed into a superstar level player. Teague is a solid addition, and brings more scoring punch than Rubio. Towns and Butler are going to be a deadly offense/defense combo. If Wiggins improves a bit this team could suddenly become very good.

Steve Hinson: I think they severely lowered their upside as a team this offseason. I like each one of those players they added and they clearly swindled the Bulls, but what's the point? To go get an eight seed for the next few years? Before they were clearly a franchise with a plan, one that was working effectively and showed the potential to be a contender. Theirs was an extremely impressive young core. Now they're a hodgepodge of some solid youth (and one very good young player) and some decent veterans (and one very good veteran). They went from The Process on steroids to a version of the 2013 Nets. Though they didn't gut their future quite as bad as the Nets did, they're still probably not winning any more than the 44 games that squad did.


What do you all think?

1. What are your thoughts on the Chris Paul/James Harden pairing? Would adding Carmelo Anthony make or break the deal in Houston? If everything falls right could they compete with Golden State?

2. What are the chances that Russell Westbrook and Paul George work? Do you see OKC winning enough to convince George to resign next offseason?

3. Tom Thibodeau made major moves to speed things up in Minnesota by adding veterans Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford to a previously young team. Will this move pay dividends or would you have prefered to take more time with the youth movement?

Let us know your thoughts below!