Warriors cap title run, NBA flips the page to 2022-23 season
A parade awaits in San Francisco to celebrate the champion Golden State Warriors. The NBA draft is a few days away, with presumed top-three picks Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero set to take their first steps toward realizing their enormous potential. Free agency starts in less than two weeks.
The 2021-22 NBA season is over.
The 2022-23 NBA season seems like it’s already here.
The Warriors are back on the NBA mountaintop. Their win over the Boston Celtics in this season’s finals capped the league’s 75th anniversary celebration and ushered in an offseason that will, as always, start with tons of attention on player movement — or, in some cases, players not moving.
Two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic is eligible to receive a $260 million supermax extension from the Denver Nuggets; it’s basically a sure thing that it’ll be offered and accepted. Phoenix’s Devin Booker and Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns are in line for $210 million extensions, neither of which will be surprises either.
Then there’s the class of younger players in line to secure their first post-rookie-contract paydays: Memphis’ Ja Morant, Miami’s Tyler Herro, New York’s R.J. Barrett and Cleveland’s Darius Garland are just some of the names in that group. So, too, is New Orleans’ Zion Williamson, which will be an interesting case since he has been healthy enough to play in only 85 games over his first three pro seasons and is constantly questioned about his conditioning.
Zach LaVine, who is expected to remain with the Chicago Bulls, headlines the class of unrestricted free agents. Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal all have player options for next season, all of them worth between $34 million and $43 million.
And then there’s LeBron James, about to enter his 20th season — likely the one where he’ll catch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and become the NBA’s all-time scoring leader — and soon to be eligible for a two-year extension with the Los Angeles Lakers that’ll be worth nearly $100 million for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons.
“When we get to that point, we’ll see,” James said when the Lakers’ season ended.
That point isn’t here yet. But it’s coming.
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Warriors are the favorites to win the 2023 title — just ahead of the Celtics.
Brooklyn is the third choice in odds posted immediately after Game 6 of this year’s finals ended, followed by Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Clippers — who get Kawhi Leonard back next season. Phoenix, Miami, Philadelphia, Memphis and Dallas round out the top 10 in the odds posted by FanDuel.
Of course, take any prediction right now with a grain of salt.
When last season ended Brooklyn was the runaway favorite to win the 2022 NBA title. The Nets didn’t win a playoff game, getting swept by the Celtics in Round 1.
The second choice by sportsbooks after last season was the Los Angeles Lakers. They didn’t even make the playoffs and struggled by almost all possible measures.
For the record, the Warriors had top-five odds of winning this year’s title by most oddsmakers when last season ended at around 12-1. The Celtics were in the middle of the pack, at around 40-1.
All 30 teams will be in Las Vegas from July 7-17 for the NBA Summer League, which — before the pandemic slowed momentum — was routinely drawing big crowds, and the belief is it’ll get back to that again this summer.
There are two other smaller events, hosted by the Warriors and the Utah Jazz, before the Vegas league.
Farewell, take foul.
It’s expected that at league meetings in Las Vegas next month that owners will approve a new way of adjudicating the oft-maligned “transition take foul” and bring stiffer penalties to such plays starting next season.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told The Associated Press earlier this month that he’s confident the change will be made. It’s a topic that the NBA and its competition committee have been studying for several seasons.
The way such fouls have been officiated in the G League since 2018 is this: When a defender commits a take foul, which is one where no play on the ball is made but doesn’t rise to the level of a clear path foul, the fouled team retains possession and gets one free throw before play resumes. The clear path foul results in two shots and the ball.
The only team without a head coach right now is the Utah Jazz, who have asked permission to interview several assistants from around the league.
Charlotte, officially, has not yet confirmed the hiring of Golden State assistant Kenny Atkinson as its new coach — but that deal will be announced now at any time. He’s one of two Warriors assistants that are leaving the champions, with Mike Brown departing to take over as coach of the Sacramento Kings.
JOHN WALL’S FUTURE
The Houston guard didn’t play this season while the Rockets tried to find a trade partner. It’s entirely possible that the same sentence could be used at this time next year.
Wall was selected for the NBA All-Star Game in five consecutive seasons from 2014 through 2018. Since the last of those selections 4 1/2 seasons ago, he has played in exactly 82 games — the equivalent of one NBA season — while making $150 million in salary.
Wall holds a $47.4 million option for next season, which he almost certainly will accept since no team will give him remotely close to that after his injury situations — most notably heel surgery that was followed by Achilles surgery — in recent years.
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