The 2014-15 NBA season tips off Tuesday night, when the Orlando Magic play the New Orleans Pelicans, the Houston Rockets take on the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks travel to San Antonio to face the Spurs.
Expectations are the highest they’ve been in years, thanks to a giant reshuffling of superstars during the offseason.
As everybody who follows the league knows, LeBron James took his talents back to Cleveland. Kevin Love joined James after escaping the middling Minnesota Timberwolves. Pau Gasol left Los Angeles for Chicago, and Chandler Parsons slipped through the Rockets’ fingertips during the Chris Bosh sweepstakes.
James’ move was undoubtedly the catalyst for this upheaval, a fact that is summarized well in this SB Nation video:
The summer’s upheaval also had huge implications for the NBA’s future salary negotiations.
James signed a two-year $42.1 million contract with the Cavaliers, not only to have security in case things implode in Cleveland but also to ensure that he can re-sign on a far more lucrative contract in 2016.
By then the NBA’s salary cap will be much higher thanks to its lucrative TV deal, and could potentially reach $90 million per team. This would allow James and the rest of the league to cash in for massive paydays.
The salary cap bonanza, as Sports on Earth’s Michael Pina writes, is just beginning and LeBron will just be one of its many benefactors.
Still, pro basketball’s offseason saw some significant contract signings. Here are some notable deals that went down:
- Carmelo Anthony: Five years/$124.06 million
- Bosh: Five years/$118.71 million
- Love: Four years/$60.83 million
- Parsons: Three years/$46.08 million
- Gasol: Three years/$22.35 million
These are just a few examples of NBA players cashing in during the offseason.
I suggest checking out the intrigue surrounding NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
And looking down the road, I, for one, cannot wait to see the 2014 draft class — arguably the best first-year players to enter the league in more than a decade — graduate from their rookie contracts. NBA free agency drama is the most entertaining sports drama.