A frenzy filled free agency period saw the record breaking, 73-win, Golden State Warriors add Kevin Durant to the roster, while the Los Angeles Lakers made puzzling decisions with their cap space and DeMarcus Cousins is confused by the Sacramento Kings direction.
Let's take a quick look at the Pacific Division teams as we try to determine how the four California (plus Phoenix) will finish the season.
5th: Sacramento Kings
Sacramento was the middling team last season, but the front office made head scratching moves during free agency, leading to DeMarcus Cousins losing faith in the franchises future. Paying Garrett Temple all that money, losing Rondo while gaining no replacement, drafting project big after project big when you still have Willie Cauley-Stein to develop. I can see Cousins' frustration and wouldn't doubt it if he decides to leave as soon as possible.
4th: Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers came into the summer, with high hopes. Second overall pick, didn't lose it to the Philadelphia 76ers, and tons and tons of cap space. Brandon Ingram fell into their laps, who'll be the cream of the draft. What do they do though? Minutes into free agency, they grossly overpay Timofey Mozgov, followed by a huge contract to Luol Deng. Keeping Jordan Clarkson was a nice move, and cheaper than expected however. Improvements to Clarkson, D'Angelo Russell, last year's draft pick, and Julius Randle could have the Laker fans intrigued throughout the campaign, but with the 76ers owning the Lakers first round selection, unless its top 3, could lead to another doom and gloom tanking season in the land of the Purp & Gold.
3rd: Phoenix Suns
Injuries decimated the Suns last year, which gave way to see Devin Booker shine as Phoenix looks to getting the playoffs back into the Valley of the Sun. With a healthy Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, it'll be interesting to see how Earl Watson incorporates the three. Not to mention the addition of Tyler Ulis in the draft, and Leandro Barbosa's return. Dragan Bender and Marquise Chriss are project bigs to keep an eye out for. Phoenix will battle for a slot in the West's final eight but will come up short.
2nd: Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin aren't getting any younger, and Doc Rivers didn't make the best of moves to propel the Clippers into the top of the conference. First off, Rivers had a solid draft selecting Brice Johnson, Diamond Stone and David Michienau. A nice meeting with Durant ensued, though Rivers struck out. Following up Rivers' ended up paying Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers an exorbent amount of money, though he made good bargain bin deals with Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, Brandon Bass, Marresse Speights and Raymond Felton. Wesley Johnson at the Mid-Level was also a solid add. The Clippers will still battle for the second seed in the West with San Antonio.
1st: Golden State Warriors
Yes, they choked a 3-1 lead in the finals, just one series after coming back, with some help, from being 3-1 in the prior series. Yes, they lost a good amount of depth in Andrew Bogut, Marresse Speights, Harrison Barnes, but they ended up adding Durant, drafting Patrick McCraw and bringing in ring chasing, past their prime vets in David West and Zaza Pachulia. Golden State should run away with the West, during the regular season.