While the dust settles from one of the biggest shake-ups of NBA players in history, Los Angeles is emerging as the big winner.
The twin LA teams of the Lakers and the Clippers came out of trades last week with major line-up changes that put them in the box seat for success in 2019-20.
Ben Simmons also reaped the benefits with a major contract giving him a record deal for an Australian.
The 2019 NBA free agency period opened over a week ago with a dramatic start, giving the league a complete makeover with some surprising signings.
The revamp to the league will shake-up the front runners, with some of the biggest players in the league amongst the latest signings and trades.
It will make for an unpredictable season with the hegemony of Golden State and Toronto under serious threat.
Last week, Oklahoma City Thunder reportedly traded Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Chris Paul.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have agreed to trade Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul, first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, pick swaps in 2021 and 2025, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 12, 2019
This trade reunites Westbrook with James Harden, after they played together in their earlier years (2009-2012) at the Thunder.
Ben Simmons made Australian history signing a five-year contract extension worth $AU242 million with the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 76ers are under pressure to perform after failing to advance beyond the early playoffs for the past two years.
Simmons was an All-Star for the first time last season, averaging 16.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.9 assists.
The Los Angeles Lakers team has strengthened with Anthony Davis and Danny Green joining Lebron James.
DeMarcus Cousins has also signed a one-year contract with the Lakers.
Cousins returned last season from an Achilles tendon tear looking like the old Boogie Cousins.
He then suffered a torn left quadricep in the first round of the playoffs, but returned to action in the finals.
If Cousins remains injury free, he will bring the edge they need.
The pick and roll game and off-ball movement between James, Davis and Cousins in the front-court is going to be a key threat.
Lakers fans, who expected Kawhi Leonard, the star of the Raptor’s championship winning team to sign with them, are still in shock after he joined the Clippers instead.
Leonard signed a three-year US $103 million deal with a player option for the third year.
Clippers also completed a blockbuster trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder obtaining Paul George for guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, forward Danilo Gallinari and five first-round draft picks.
The Indiana Pacers could be a leading contender in the East with signings Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb.
Last season Brogdon was forced to sit out due to some injury problems, but came back putting up 15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game for the Milwaukee Bucks.
The point guard also knocked down 42.6 percent from the three-point line.
Lamb showed massive improvement last season with the Charlotte Hornets, becoming the team’s leading shooting guard.
He averaged 15.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
He can play both ends of the court and provides depth to the already quality Pacers squad.
The Brooklyn Nets have signed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving for three years, with the fourth year option in their contracts.
Durant is likely to miss this full season after he suffered an Achilles tear in the NBA finals.
Meanwhile, the Charlotte Hornets endured a massive hit as Boston Celtics acquired three-time All Star Kemba Walker.
The point guard turned down more money from the Hornets, signing a four-year, $141 million max contract with the Celtics.
Walker averaged a career-high 25.6 points per game last season and will be a solid replacement for Kyrie Irving.
The Detroit Pistons signed Derrick Rose on a two-year $15 million deal.
Rose is the youngest player to ever win the MVP award, however suffered some injuries over the years which made teams hesitant to sign him.
Last season the former MVP averaged 18.0 points while shooting 85.6 percent from the free-throw line.
Rose scored a career-high 50 points against the Utah Jazz and looked to be back in his prime.
If he continues to stay injury-free Rose will be great value to the Pistons.
The Lakers and Clippers will be front runners to take out the title this season.
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