Although the NBA generates a huge amount of buzz when it is underway, an frequently forgotten aspect of the annual calendar is the offseason.
For sports betting fans in particular, the offseason is a time of great interest. Not only is it a great time to take advantage of some potentially lucrative odds when there is still so much uncertainty, there is also a lot of important information to pay attention to. This certainly seems true of sports betting platforms like BetAmerica Sportsbook, where there is always a huge amount of buzz among fans during the offseason.
With that said, what are some of the most memorable storylines and narratives that we have seen emerge during the NBA offseason?
LeBron James moves to the Lakers
After a year of constant media theorizing and sketchy reports from unnamed sources, one of the biggest offseason stories ever was LeBron’s move to the LA Lakers.
This move — which in hindsight was fairly predictable — came in the dying hours of the summer offseason. It resulted in LeBron James securing a staggering four-year $154m contract with the Los Angeles Lakers — making it one of the biggest player contracts ever signed.
This is a particularly memorable offseason event because the preceding summer was filled with a constant flurry of rumors about what LeBron’s next move would be. In fact, the media attention had been so constant and so intense that when the news finally broke, we were just relieved we could move on to another topic!
Jimmy Butler’s mythical practice squad
You would be hard pressed to find a player in the current NBA line-up that gets quite the same level of buzz and attention as Jimmy Butler does.
Despite his skill on the court, however, when talks with Minnesota had reached a stalemate and Jimmy Butler didn’t fancy hanging around for another season in his current gig, things got a little bit weird.
As legend has it, Butler waltzed into the first practice of the training camping that offseason and unleashed a tirade of expletives at the general manager and many of the younger squad players.
However, the weirdness didn’t end there. Butler proceeded to put together a team with a bunch of bench players and proceed in characteristic style to beat the first team.
After the practice, Butler had a sit-down television interview and recounted his side of the story, which was apparently done to provide him with some leverage going into the contract negotiations. Whether or not this tactic worked remains to be seen, but Butler was eventually traded to Philadelphia.
What ever happened to Kawhi Leonard?
Another strange story that emerged in the offseason, was the Kawhi Leonard saga.
Although Leonard was a model player for the Spurs — where he had put together an impressive resume that legitimately put him in MVP position — his departure from the Spurs suggests all was not well.
Despite putting together an incredible performance in the 2017 season, a little over a year later, Leonard was playing for the Toronto Raptors.
As evidence of how badly things had soured, following a 125-107 victory by the Spurs over the Raptors, Leonard faced loud chants of “Traitor!” from the fans in the crowd as his old team secured a comfortable victory over his new team.
The apparent source of tension with the Spurs — with whom he had secured an NBA final win in 2014 — was connected to an injury he had sustained in the preceding year. In the 2017-18 season, Leonard missed a total of 27 games due to a quadriceps injury. He put in a few solid performances during the remainder of the season, but ultimately racked up more absences than appearances.
The advice from the Spurs doctors was clear and Leonard was ruled out for an indefinite period to continue the rehab process. However, it is at this point that the conflict appeared to emerge. Although cleared by the Spurs medical team to continue playing, he got a second opinion from his own team of doctors.
At a meeting shortly after, the Spurs made it clear that he was expected to play. This meeting turned “tense and emotional” with a clear difference of opinion between Leonard and the Spurs emerging regarding his fitness to play.
Leonard did not play in the remainder of the season and, during the summer off-season, reports began surfacing that Leonard was requesting a trade, with the tension regarding his rehabilitation cited as the source of conflict.
Merely a month later, news broke of a trade. Leonard, and his teammate Danny Green, were being traded to the Toronto Raptors.
While the reception to this news among Spurs fans was frosty at best, this move evidently paid off for Leonard when he assisted the Raptors in securing an NBA final win in the 2018-19 season. The rest, as they say, is history.