The arrival of Kevin Durant in Phoenix from Brooklyn in the final stretch of the NBA transfer window, which closed on Thursday, makes the Suns favorites for the championship, with Dallas nurturing the same ambition with the integration of Kyrie Irving in its ranks.
. Full sun on the Suns
No one knows how Phoenix’s season will end, but it will have been one of the most eventful in its history, between the change of owner – Robert Sarver, accused of sexism, misogyny and racism, having had to sell the franchise – the resignation of CEO Jason Rowley, also targeted by allegations of misconduct, and mixed results.
The 2021 finalist had a big slump in January, also coinciding with Devin Booker’s groin injury, to the point of dropping to 12th place in the West, far from the play-offs.
But a turnaround has taken place in the past two weeks (the Suns are 6th) and on Monday, for his first day as new owner, billionaire Mat Ishbia did well with the recruitment of Durant, keeping his promise not to sitting here counting the dollars”.
The 34-year-old winger, two-time NBA champion (2017, 2018) with Golden State, is currently nursing a sprained knee. Before his injury, he was averaging 29.7 points. Suffice to say that the offensive potential of the Suns appears enormous with him, Devin Booker (26.8 pts per game), DeAndre Ayton (18.4 pts) and Chris Paul (13.6 pts, 8.7 assists).
It remains to find the right balance in a collective, also reinforced by the interior TJ Warren, but which has lost precious second knives, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and Jae Crowder, since sent to Milwaukee by the Nets.
. The Mavs at a gallop
Sunday, Dallas had struck the first by recruiting Kyrie Irving, to associate it with the prodigy Luka Doncic.
The 30-year-old point guard, as talented on the court as he is subject to many controversies off it – he was suspended eight games by the Nets after posting a reference to an anti-Semitic film on Instagram and Twitter then refusing to apologize, before resolving to it forced and forced -, comes to bring its know-how in attack (27 pts on average).
NBA champion in 2016 with Cleveland, alongside LeBron James, he will relieve Doncic, the league’s top scorer (33.4 pts) at the cost of a lot of playing time and on which too much is based.
On paper, their association can do enormous damage. But if Dallas also recovered a blue collar in the person of Markieff Morris, he lost two solid lieutenants, Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith, who left for Brooklyn.
. Clearance at the Lakers
“It may be me …” Thus reacted, annoyed, LeBron James when he learned that Kyrie Irving would not join him at the Lakers. The all-time leading scorer would have liked an exchange between his former teammate and Russell Westbrook, with whom the current never passed.
Undesirable, the latter nevertheless packed his bags on Wednesday, heading for Utah, where one evening in 2019 a Jazz fan made racist remarks to him which had knocked him out of his hinges. However, he may not play with the Jazz, with several media suggesting that he could be released and land at the Clippers or the Bulls.
In the meantime, the Lakers, who had first recruited the Japanese pivot Rui Hachimura, have achieved their ends, recovering D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt, from Minnesota. They also separated from Patrick Beverley who left for Orlando against another pivot, Mo Bamba, and Thomas Bryant sent to Denver against Davon Reed.
More shooters and a more provided interior sector, will that be enough to take off LA (13th) towards the play-offs?
. Very active Clippers
Fifth in the West, taking advantage of the return to a very good level of Kawhi Leonard after his rupture of a cruciate ligament, the Clippers made some interesting alterations. They notably recovered, from Charlotte, the interior Mason Plumlee in exchange for the rear Reggie Jackson, and Eric Gordon, who came from Houston against John Wall.