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Are we witnessing the death of dynasties in the NBA?



Except for a Russell Westbrook trade here or a surprise move, the bulk of this summer's big NBA activity has probably been concluded. But all that really means is that we are now turning our attention to New business. As for example, the free agency of Kawhi Leonard.

No, not that one. the following a.

Of course, it's been five days since Leonard agreed to a new deal, saying goodbye to Toronto just weeks after winning the first NBA title in the Raptors' history before heading west. to build a new title contender with the Clippers. But Wednesday's revelation of what this new deal looks like –three years, $ 103 million, with a player option for the third year; do not the contract of $ 142 million over four years originally reportedQuickly attracted the attention of the basketball world on the summer of 2021, when Leonard and his new teammate Paul George will be eligible to enter a category of free agencies already noticed that could include the most valuable player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Blake Griffin, Bradley Beal and Victor Oladipo, among others .

The work of a team is never finished and it has never been as true as it is today. There is no real end to the transaction cycle in what has become a league of 12 months a year, no strict separation between recruitment and re-enactment. The draft becomes pre-agency, becomes free, and it never ends. The 82-game regular season and the 16-game playoff series now seem, at times, simply as a way to save time between trading deadlines and the thinly veiled sabotage sessions of the end of June, between this reshuffle and the following.

The minute you write or sign the superstar, you're about to potentially lose the superstar. And as the demands of the exchange come more and more early in the contracts of the players, it is more and more difficult to know where you are or how long you will remain firm. . It took Kyrie Irving four months to move from his signature project to Boston and no longer owe anyone, and five more for it to be transferred to Brooklyn. Life really comes very quickly to the Directors General.

Lucky franchisees who discover transforming talents in the project can not afford to waste their early years; That's how Dell Demps ended up in New Orleans, why the Mavericks went big to place Kristaps Porzingis next to Luka Doncic (and why they had to sweat during a decisive summer for this project) and why David Griffin was quick to try to build a serious infrastructure around Zion Williamson. The intelligent organizations that count every movement can move from one post-season core to another, even without real stars that make the difference: Gordon Hayward's Jazz release relying on Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, the Pacers returning from George to the emergence of Victor Oladipo, etc., but few of them end in June. (There's a reason the Raptors went after Kawhi, after all.)

Build a leading title contender with a life span longer than two or three seasons, though? It seems impossible now. A player agent recently told Howard Beck to Bleacher's reportAll that a wise general manager can really do right now is to have a Plan B.

Leonard has secured his own B plan by using his huge leverage as a new two-time champion and MVP finals to sign a two plus one contract. Like James and Kevin Durant before him, Leonard favored flexibility over long-term security while put pressure on the lawnmowers keep pedaling the metal in pursuit of championships for the duration of his stay in Southern California. While Leonard has left a lot money on the table By taking this deal on the more lucrative long-term contracts that he could have gotten in Toronto or San Antonio, he also set himself up to re-enter the market after attaining 10 years of NBA service. , thus making it eligible for maximum possible contract the richest that a player can ink… at the place of his choice, for his chosen team and on his own terms. If things go as planned at Staples Center, he can stay and take over the entire boat. If this is not the case, he has left him the option of gathering his resources in just 24 months to search for greener pastures.

Kawhi controlled every aspect of his decision and the Clippers were there, starting the clock on a two-year clock. This is the price to compete at the highest level: if there is a chance to win the championship now, you must take it, even if it means sacrificing later; if you want to win everything, this is the only time you can worry. And it seems like the clock is running faster than ever these days.

When you engage the players who matter most, namely the first players in the NBA team, the MVPs and MVPs of the final, the real rainmakers, you never have as much time as you think it. The four-year contracts are actually three-year contracts, and the three-year, two-year contracts and the war chest must be used before it is too late. You have to enter the day, because nothing is sadder than wasting the passing years of a superstar's top. And if you participate early, often, do you expose yourself to a brutal risk of degradation in the years following the signing of their contracts? Well, so be it.

But what will happen if the NBA locks up in a cycle of teams that sell to reach the top and then descend down the mountain – if the end of the era the superteam creates a pool of more powerful players, with a small number of Big Threes giving way to a whole lot of dynamic duets? Perhaps after years of changes to the collective agreement to disperse these collections – shorter contracts for players, more punitive luxury tax structure for teams that store players at high prices, extension "supermax" (finally , you can not win 'em all, etc.), the league is getting close to something like parity, the white whale of NBA commissioner Adam Silver, with more teams theoretically having the chance of everything win, or at least get closer. Maybe after decades of domination by clusters of stars, from the Jordan Bulls to Steph 's Warriors, it means we will not see any dynasties for a while.

Despite recent clues suggesting that super-teams and dynasties are attracting more attention and attention than ordinary contenders, the finals have attracted more teams capable of winning the grand prize, which could theoretically keep more more fans invested throughout the competition. regular season and the first rounds of the after-season. Perhaps ultimately, a broader base of potential title lists would be a good thing for the NBA. But again, fans love someone against whom to base as much as they like someone for whom to root. In the absence of galactic like bands such as the Big Three Heat or the KD-era Warriors, casual fans could end up without a single center to train their attention on. More equitable playing conditions, with no clear and overwhelming favorites, could have a fascinating impact on fans' overall interaction.

However, the issue of fan investment is not limited to evaluation and social engagement. it's about the emotional attachments that we feel, their depth and breadth, and what we value. As the league evolves faster and faster, with the composition of the team now an annual rite of passage, will it be more difficult for us to create, build and maintain real links with players and teams that we monitor?

Maybe it depends on what you connected in the first place. Growing up in the 1990s, I turned to the Knicks. (Please hold your condolences.) But while I ended up loving Patrick Ewing and John Starks and Charles Oakley, I start I love the Knicks because I lived in Brooklyn and Staten Island and because they were the team of my father, my older siblings and most of my peers. This type of relationship with a team – family, provincial, parish – was the most popular sports fandom brand for many people of my age and older.

Then come the Internet and national cable games three or four nights a week, and broadcasters like League Pass and r / nbastreams, and sports blogs promoting ideals like a liberated fandom and a sports media increasingly sown by readers (and wrote) them, and the cycle of news and hype 24/7, and the advent of social media swallowing everything, and YouTube, and House of Highlights, and so on. Nowadays, the idea of ​​engaging in a single rooted interest, due mainly to the geography accident, seems short-sighted and frankly a bit ridiculous. Why limit yourself to local teams (especially if these teams have some … challenges) when there are so many different players, personalities and styles to choose from?

Sion has three times more Instagram followers than the team that wrote it. he was an international brand way Before he had shaken Adam Silver's hand, he would have gone where he would have landed and, if he left New Orleans (in paradise), he would be there too. Times have changed and so have we, but our collective passion does not seem to have weakened. (If you doubt it, consider an NBA team on Twitter, wait 10 seconds.I promise you: passion will find you!) Connecting differently and to different things does not mean that these connections are not not deep and strong, right?

Even so, the differences seem to be important, and perhaps we could start to realize that. We have all come to understand that the days when Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant had spent their entire career in one organization were probably over. Among the active players, only Udonis Haslem, Stephen Curry and Westbrook (for the moment) have spent more than 10 years with their one and only franchise. But what will happen when these tenures get shorter and shorter – if other bona fide stars follow in Kawhi's footsteps, or if more players start exercising early as players? still at the rookie stage? Fans have become better and better over the years and they understand how the New World works in the NBA. the superstar is only there until he has not done it, and everyone knows what is at stake in signing the contract. But does that make it more difficult to invest in your team, knowing that it may seem totally different before you even pony for this replica jersey? (We have now reached a point where American Express provides insurance for clothes to wear prematurely feels informative.)

Does the changing landscape of the league make it more difficult stay invested, year after year? Seeing your favorite team win a championship is the most euphoric experience of fans, but what would happen if Kawhi and the Raptors had set a new precedent? And if we were all doomed to watch this ultimate celebration through a tired eye, barely able to shake the hangover from the parade before returning to the board? Or is it simply a new twist on a secular problem: in the end, we are getting into the laundry, and all that has changed is the rate at which players swap their jerseys?

This is where we find ourselves, when the activity of the free agencies in 2019 is running out of steam: with more questions than answers about the state of the situation, on the ground and on the back, and on the coming dynamic of power – – will shape the league. In an apparently growing uncertainty, the only sure bet is that when things change, they will change quickly. The competitors will go up and down, the stars will say hello and say goodbye, and the business of this summer will overflow a thousand lights even before you know it.

Leonard and George did not even put their Clippers jersey on the field together, and we are already wondering how long they will wear them. The Clippers have not even had time to win their victory round after having realized one of the most daring games in the recent history of the NBA and they are already on the verge of succeeding to convince their newly imported superstars to stay and win their bet. to send a half-decade of venture capital to have a chance at the brass ring. They are two years old to do it. It's as usual in the NBA; that, more than anything else, is our new normal, even though it often feels something else.


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