This NBA offseason has been surprisingly full of big-time trades and free agency signings, but the reason for the flurry of activity is quite clear.
After winning two titles in three years, the Golden State Warriors are the top dogs in the NBA right now, and every other team hoping to contend for a title is trying to get on the Dubs' level.
That's why it surprised many people when the Cleveland Cavaliers dealt star point guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, a 2018 first-round pick and a 2020 second-round pick.
Even Golden State sharpshooter Steph Curry was a bit taken aback by the move, telling The Charlotte Observer that, while nothing surprises him, this summer's blockbuster trade certainly caught his eye:
“Nothing in this league surprises me,” Curry said. “But there are some things that might be a head-turner. You’re never thinking that coming off three straight Finals appearances (all against Golden State) that they (the Cleveland Cavaliers) would shake up their lineup like that."
Indeed, Irving was a huge part of why the Cavaliers were able to come back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Warriors in seven games in the 2016 NBA Finals - the only blemish on the Warriors' title run the past three seasons.
Still, Curry explained he thinks big trades like this are good for the NBA, as they draw attention to the league during a time when basketball is on most people's back burners:
“But you go through history,” Curry continued, “you see blockbuster trades. You see trade demands from high-caliber all-stars and superstars in the league. So it won’t be the first time and won’t be the last time. ... When something like that happens, it’s like fireworks. It’s obviously a reflection of how popular the NBA is right now. ... It is kind of good for the league that teams are trying to shake things up to try and get better and win championships, because that’s what it’s all about.”
Since the Warriors were able to keep their core of stars - Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green - together this offseason, they will once again be the favorites to win the championship this year.
Whether the new-look Cavaliers or Kyrie Irving-led Celtics (or some other Eastern Conference team) makes it to the Finals to face them remains to be seen, but this NBA season will be really fun to watch after all these offseason moves.