Last week, we took a look at a handful of free agency signings with major implications in the Eastern Conference and how the conference will be wide open next season.
The Western Conference had the majority of the top teams in the league last season, from playoff seeds one through five. The player movement so far has been relatively quiet compared to what teams are doing in the East, as the contenders decided to focus on the draft and build from within.
Below is a breakdown of a few teams and their key acquisitions in the West, which is certain to be even more competitive than last year.
Breakdown: Mark Cuban decided to bring back a familiar face by trading for Chandler, a vital player who helped lead the Mavericks to the 2011 championship with his defensive presence and leadership. He’s the perfect complement next to Dirk Nowitzki, who at 36 is still capable of dropping 20 plus points every night.
As two legit 7-footers, Nowitzki provides the offensive production and Chandler remains a capable rim protector and anchor on the back line of the defense.
Parsons gives the team a tall, lengthy perimeter player who can create and shoot the three, growing into a solid playmaker as the third option in Houston behind Dwight Howard and James Harden. It is clear Cuban is trying to build around Nowitzki one last time to make a run at a title given his new three-year extension.
A reminder: this is the team who took the San Antonio Spurs to seven games in the first round.
Los Angeles Clippers
Breakdown: Farmar has shown to be a valuable point guard capable of starting if needed. As long as he can stay healthy (missed half the season last year) as Chris Paul’s backup, the Clippers won’t miss Darren Collison too much.
The better move was adding Hawes, who will be DeAndre Jordan’s reliable backup, something the team has never really had the past few seasons. With Hawes on the floor, Paul can orchestrate the pick and roll with no offensive liabilities on the floor.
At 7-foot-1, Hawes averaged 13.2 points and 8.3 rebounds last year for Philadelphia and Cleveland, stretching the floor and hitting 41 percent of his 3s. Great pick up for the franchise.
New Orleans Pelicans
Breakdown: The Asik trade may turn out to be the biggest move made in the conference this offseason. No longer hiding in Houston as Dwight Howard’s backup, Asik becomes a day one starter next to Anthony Davis, who after just two seasons looks like he’s ready to play himself into the realm for MVP.
Asik already has the reputation for being one of the better defensive-minded centers in the league, and Davis just led the league in blocked shots. Translation for other teams: good luck trying to score in the paint.
Breakdown: With the loss of Parsons, the Rockets had to replace him. They did so by giving Ariza a four-year, $32 million contract.
Widely known over the course of his career as a ‘3 and D’ player, Ariza did just have one of his best seasons as a pro, averaging 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds. He’s a much better defender than Parsons but not as good a playmaker.
He will benefit largely playing with Howard and Harden though, and his presence gives the Rockets three great defenders in the starting lineup. Patrick Beverley is an attack dog against opposing point guards, Howard controls the paint and Ariza can mix it up against the Kevin Durant-Kawhi Leonards of the world.