Two of the NBA’s most storied franchises are on the rise, and they both have bright futures that could potentially rekindle one of the best rivalries in sports. The Celtics and the Lakers have both made strides in the past two years, whether through the draft or free agency, that have put them in position to succeed in the future. Although the wagon that is the Warriors still stands in the way, these two teams are at least ready to wait out this dynasty and make a push for the throne once the mighty dubs fall.
Boston has built a core of young players that had to mature quickly this year due to Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving both getting injured. Jayson Tatum had a fantastic rookie year, and I believe he will be one of the elite scorers in the league for the next 5 to 10 years. Jaylen Brown took a big step this past season, and his improved shooting has helped him become a consistent 3 and D wing. Terry Rozier came out of nowhere this year and he proved he can become a starting point guard to fill Kyrie’s shoes if he darts next summer. Al Horford is good, even though people seem to forget he is an all star center, he can stretch the floor and he’s a capable enough defender. Even if Kyrie decides to leave, Boston will be a perennial contender in the eastern conference for the next 5 years.
Los Angeles is on a bit of a different path, but Laker fans should still be very hopeful. Signing Lebron was a great move this offseason, and although they missed out on Paul George there is no reason to panic. They have some very good young players, and they have a good chance in my opinion to land Kawhi next summer. Brandon Ingram looks like he can turn into a very solid scorer, and his lanky frame could cause problems on the defensive end of the floor, if he chooses to improve that part of his game. Kyle Kuzma, is a good rebounder and his scoring was a surprising feat this year. Josh Hart can be a solid shooting guard for the purple and gold, but he needs to take and make more three pointers. And who can forget about Lonzo, given he was injured for 30 games and his dad is a character, he still looks to be a very solid point guard. I think Lebron will help this young team find an identity this year, and if they can play the waiting game and sign Kawhi they will be able to contend in the west.
The third team that could be on the rise is, believe or not, the New York Knicks. Now that Phil Jackson is gone and they got rid of Melo, New York can finally look to move up in the east. I think Kevin Knox was a great pick and he should be able to step into a big role as a rookie. Kristaps Porzingis was looking like one of the best centers in the league before his injury this past season. If he can come back and stay healthy the Knicks are a very attractive free agent destination. These two players are not what can make them into a contender, but there are two players who have expressed interest in New York that will be free agents next summer.
Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler.
Both of these two all stars will be free agents in 2019, and both have expressed interest in teaming up in New York. For Kyrie it seems like a smart move in my opinion. He doesn’t seem to love Boston, and he didn’t sign an extension, but no one blames him for that because he would have missed out on $80 million or so. Jimmy Butler definitely doesn’t seem to like what is going on in Minnesota, and as much as it hurts me to write bad about my T Wolves, I see where he is coming from. Thibs is a terrible coach, Kat and Wiggins never seem to work hard enough for Butler’s taste, and they underachieved last year(partly due to Jimmy missing the last third of the season).
I would not be surprised to see both Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler landing in New York next offseason. I know it is still a year away, but the NBA should keep the New York Knicks in their rear view mirror because they have the potential to sign both of these players, and if they do, they could be very dangerous.