2022-23 Kia Season Preview

NBA Offseason 2022: Everything you may have missed

What were the top storylines since the Warriors claimed the 2022 title? We've got you covered.

Kevin Durant explained his side of things after a chaotic summer at Media Day.

A lot has happened in the 103 days since the Golden State Warriors hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy on June 16 to celebrate their fourth NBA championship in an eight-year span.

If you haven’t been locked in throughout this busy summer, we’ve got you covered with everything you may have missed in the NBA offseason.

Magic make Paolo Banchero No. 1 pick in 2022 NBA Draft

While there was not a consensus top pick entering the 2022 NBA Draft, there was near universal agreement that the top three players selected would be Duke’s Paolo Banchero, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Auburn’s Jabari Smith. While most of the mock drafts had the order as Smith-Holmgren-Banchero, the Orlando Magic never tipped their hand on which player they would take No. 1.

Banchero found out he was headed to Orlando just a minute before his name was called at No. 1 by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. As expected, Holmgren went second to Oklahoma City, while Smith went third to Houston. Sacramento chose Keegan Murray at No. 4, which left Jaden Ivey available for Detroit to round out the top five selections.

Kevin Durant requests a trade (then takes it back)

Just a few hours before free agency was set to open on June 30, the NBA universe was hit with a bombshell: Kevin Durant requesting a trade out of Brooklyn. The reaction to a superstar player of Durant’s stature requesting a trade was swift and massive. Just as teams were preparing to come to terms with offers for their top free agent targets, here came word that one of the game’s all-time greats could be available – with four years remaining on an extension that begins in 2022-23.

The Nets fielded plenty of calls but never found an offer to their satisfaction for the former MVP. On Aug. 8 – more than a month removed from the initial request – Durant met with Nets governor Joe Tsai to reiterate his trade request and it is reported he also voiced concerns about the team’s leadership in general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash. Two weeks later – after no movement on a realistic trade offer – Durant met again with the Nets leadership (Tsai, Marks and Nash) and they mutually announced that they would move forward together in Brooklyn. After nearly two months of countless headlines, debates, podcasts, speculation and trade machine scenarios, the story ended where it began: With Durant in Brooklyn – at least for now.

Rudy Gobert heads to Minnesota after an offseason trade.

Rudy Gobert gets traded (for a lot)

Perhaps one reason a KD trade never went down is the fact that the market for top-tier talent rose to new heights this summer. A prime example is the deal that sent three-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert from Utah to Minnesota in a deal finalized on July 6.

In exchange for Gobert, the Jazz received one of the biggest trade hauls in league history: five players and five draft picks:

  • Malik Beasley
  • Patrick Beverley
  • Leandro Bolmaro
  • Walker Kessler (No. 22 pick in 2022 Draft)
  • Jarred Vanderbilt
  • 2023 first-round pick
  • 2025 first-round pick
  • 2026 pick swap
  • 2027 first-round pick
  • 2029 first-round pick

Adding Gobert to play alongside Karl-Anthony Towns on the frontline and rising star Anthony Edwards in the backcourt gives the Timberwolves a formidable lineup as Minnesota looks to advance out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Phoenix extends Deandre Ayton after Indiana’s offer sheet

After declining to offer Ayton a max extension off his rookie deal last summer and letting him hit restricted free agency this summer, the Suns matched a max offer from Indiana to retain the services of the 2018 No. 1 overall pick on a new four-year deal.

The Suns wasted no time after Ayton signed the offer sheet with the Pacers, as they immediately matched. By doing so, the Suns took themselves out of the running to land Durant as Ayton would have likely been included in the deal. After signing the new contract with the Suns, Ayton is ineligible to be traded until Jan. 15, and he has the right to veto any trade until next July.

Hawks add Dejounte Murray to backcourt

After advancing to the Eastern Conference finals in 2021, the Atlanta Hawks were unable to build on that success in 2022 as they finished eighth in the East, advanced out of the Play-In Tournament to secure a playoff berth, before being ousted by Miami in five games. The Hawks responded by adding another All-Star guard to pair with Trae Young in the backcourt as they traded for Dejounte Murray from the Spurs for Danillo Gallinari and a trio of first-round draft picks.

Murray is coming off a breakout season that saw him average career-bests across the board in his fifth NBA season: 21.1 points, 9.2 assists, 8.3 rebounds, a league-best 2.0 steals and 13 triple-doubles (second only to MVP Nikola Jokic). Adding Murray gives the Hawks a bigger and more defensive-minded guard to pair with Young in the backcourt, and a player that can stuff the stat sheet.

Knicks add Jalen Brunson, flirt with Donovan Mitchell

Similar to the Hawks, the Knicks were unable to build on their success in 2020-21 (when they ended a seven-year playoff drought) the following season (when they finished 11th and didn’t make the Play-In Tournament), and responded in the offseason by adding a guard coming off a breakout season for a team playing in Texas.

New York signed Jalen Brunson – a player with deep ties with the Knicks — to a four-year deal in free agency, less than two months removed from Brunson helping the Dallas Mavericks advance to the Western Conference finals. Brunson averaged 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists for the Mavericks during the regular season and upped his scoring to 21.6 ppg during the playoffs.

Warriors lose two key players from championship team; will lean on youngsters

Gary Payton II (to Portland) and Otto Porter Jr. (to Toronto) have left the defending champs, which means the Warriors will have to further lean on their young talent – Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and James Wiseman – as the title defense begins next month.

The core trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green remains, as does All-Star Andrew Wiggins. The Warriors’ younger players saw significant time during the regular season in 2021-22 as the big three worked through various injuries and recovery.

John Wall returns to the floor after lengthy bouts with injuries.

Clippers go all in with John Wall; Kawhi cleared for 5-on-5

As the 2022-23 season draws near, the LA Clippers is a team with rising expectations. Kawhi Leonard has been cleared to participate in five-on-five drills during training camp after missing all of the 2021-22 season recovering from ACL surgery; Paul George is expected to be fully healthy after missing 51 games last season due to an elbow injury; and the Clippers added five-time All-Star guard John Wall in free agency.

Similar to Leonard and George, Wall enters the 2022-23 season after missing significant time. Wall has played just 113 games over the past five seasons as he’s battled knee, heel and Achilles injuries. He played 40 games with Houston in 2020-21 and averaged 20.6 points and 6.8 rebounds. However, the Rockets elected to go young in 2021-22 and the veteran Wall did not see any court time.

In addition to his battles with injuries, Wall recently opened up in the Player’s Tribune about his battle with depression, an article well worth your time.

Kenny Atkinson changes mind, so Hornets bring back Clifford

The Charlotte Hornets thought they had their next coach when Warriors assistant and former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson accepted the vacant position during Golden State’s run in the NBA Finals. However, two days after the Warriors clinched the title, it was announced that Atkinson had a change of heart and decided to return to Golden State as Steve Kerr’s top assistant rather than take the Hornets head coaching job.

Less than a week later, the Hornets announced the hiring of Steve Clifford as the team’s coach. This will be Clifford’s second run leading the Hornets, having served as the head coach from 2013 to 2018. He ranks second in coaching wins in franchise history and should take the top spot this season.

P.J. Tucker bolts Miami for Philly; Harden returns on team-friendly deal

There’s a Houston Rockets reunion happening in Philadelphia as free agents P.J. Tucker and Danuel House Jr. join former teammate James Harden and former GM Daryl Morey in the City of Brotherly Love.

A key to adding Tucker and House, as well as DeAnthony Melton and Montrezl Harrell this offseason, was the decision by Harden to decline his player option and re-sign with Philly on a two-year deal below market value to give Morey the financial bandwidth to bolster the roster heading into the 2022-23 season – particularly with added 3-point shooting and defense.

Sacramento’s Keegan Murray lights up Las Vegas, wins MVP

Keegan Murray, whom the Sacramento Kings selected with the No. 4 pick in this year’s draft – made a great first impression with a strong showing at the NBA 2K23 Summer League in Las Vegas.

In four games, Murray averaged 23.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 steals, while shooting 50 percent from the field and 40% from 3-point range. His consistent production in Las Vegas earned him Summer League MVP honors and gave Kings fans hope that this will be the year that their record 16-year playoff drought finally comes to an end.

DeMar DeRozan (left) and LeBron James were among the many NBA players who suited up this summer.

LeBron, other stars shine at Drew League and other pro-ams

Throughout the summer, NBA stars popped up at various pro-ams around the country to both work on their games and put on a show for fans that may otherwise never be able to see them in person.

Fans packed the gym in Los Angeles as LeBron James made his first appearance at the Drew League in 11 years. And those that were lucky enough to be in attendance got the show they were looking for as LeBron dropped 42 points with 16 boards and four steals. The Drew saw stars like Trae Young, DeMar DeRozan, John Collins, DeAnthony Melton and Montrezl Harrell also make appearances this summer.

Meanwhile, stars like James, Jayson Tatum, Dejounte Murray and Aaron Gordon as well as top draft picks Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren made their way to Seattle to play in Jamal Crawford’s The CrawsOver pro-am.

Chet Holmgren injures foot, will miss entire season

Unfortunately, the news out of the pro-am circuit was not all positive this summer as Holmgren – the No. 2 pick in the draft by OKC – suffered a foot injury while playing at The CrawsOver in Seattle, just a few hundred miles away from where he starred last season at Gonzaga.

Holmgren suffered a Lisfranc injury to his right foot that will keep him out for the entire 2022-23 season. The Thunder announced that Holmgren underwent successful surgery to repair the foot on Aug. 30.

The NBA will honor Bill Russell this season after he died at the age of 88.

NBA loses a legend with the passing of Bill Russell

The basketball world lost an absolute icon on July 31 with the passing of Bill Russell – the centerpiece of the Boston Celtics’ dynasty of the 1950s and 60s and the first Black head coach in league history.

In a statement, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called Russell the “greatest champion in all of team sports” and there’s really no argument against it as Russell won a record 11 NBA championships in his 13-year career. In addition to his dominance on the court, Russell was a key figure in the civil rights movement and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011.

Following his passing, the NBA announced that Russell’s No. 6 jersey would be retired throughout the NBA – a first for the league – and that all players will wear a No. 6 patch on their jersey throughout the 2022-23 season. The Celtics recently revealed a new home court that features Russell’s No. 6 in the paint – the place he dominated with points, rebounds and blocked shots and led Boston to unprecedented success.

Pat Bev joins Lakers, Westbrook

Patrick Beverley went from a key component to Minnesota’s playoff run last season, to a piece in the five-player, five-pick trade for the Wolves to acquire Rudy Gobert from Utah, to the newest member of the Los Angeles Lakers as the Lakers and Jazz executed a trade sending Beverley to L.A. for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson.

Beverley gives the Lakers some much-needed 3-point shooting (a career 38% from beyond the arc), a pesky perimeter defender and a player that plays with a contagious level of intensity. It must be noted that Beverley joins a Lakers squad featuring Russell Westbrook as the two share a contentious history.

Expectations are on the rise in Cleveland after the Cavs acquired Donovan Mitchell in a trade with the Jazz.

Cavs acquire Mitchell after so many thought he was NYC bound

After parting ways with Rudy Gobert, the Utah Jazz decided to go for a full reset by unloading their other perennial All-Star, Donovan Mitchell. Rumors swirled as Mitchell was the hottest name remaining on the trade block (after Durant rescinded his trade request) and the New York Knicks were viewed as the heavy favorites to land Mitchell.

Almost out of nowhere, the Cleveland Cavaliers swooped in and made a trade offer that Utah could not turn down: Collin Sexton (who signed a contract extension with the Jazz), Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, three future first-round picks and two future pick swaps. Between the Gobert and Mitchell trades, the Jazz are rivaling the OKC Thunder in terms of future draft assets.

But the biggest winners here are the Cavs, as they add a 26-year-old star guard to their young core of Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen and Isaac Okoro, to elevate them to the top half of the Eastern Conference. Cleveland has not made the playoffs since the last LeBron James era ended in 2018; last season the Cavs fell in the Play-In Tournament despite doubling their win total (44-38) from the previous season (22-50).

Spain wins EuroBasket as NBA stars shine 

While many of the top American stars showcased their game at pro-ams this summer, the top European players participated in the star-studded EuroBasket earlier this month in Germany.

The 24-team tournament featured the last two winners of the Kia NBA MVP – Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (2018-19 and 2019-20 MVP with the Bucks) and Serbia’s Nikola Jokic (2020-21 and 2021-22 MVP with the Nuggets) as well as three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and one of the game’s brightest young stars, Luka Doncic, for the defending champions from Slovenia.

The tournament featured many standout performances – including a 47-point gem from Doncic (the second-most points scored in the event’s history) – but the last team standing did not feature an NBA All-Star. Spain won the basketball championship of Europe behind the play of EuroBasket MVP Willy Hernangomez (of the New Orleans Pelicans) and his brother Juancho (of the Toronto Raptors).

Robert Sarver to sell Suns, WNBA’s Mercury following investigation

On Sept. 13, the NBA released the findings from an independent investigation into the statements and conduct of Robert Sarver – the managing partner of both the Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. The investigation was in response to an ESPN.com article detailing issues related to Sarver’s behavior and the team’s workplace environment.

The investigation found that Sarver “engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards, as reflected in team and League rules and policies.  This conduct included the use of racially insensitive language, unequal treatment of female employees, sex-related statements and conduct, and harsh treatment of employees that on occasion constituted bullying.”

As a result of the investigation, Sarver was suspended for one year, fined the maximum-allowed $10 million and required to complete a training program focused on respect and appropriate conduct in the workplace.

Eight days after the findings of the investigation and the punishment were released, Sarver announced his intentions to sell his managing share of both the Suns and Mercury. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement saying he “fully supports” the decision by Sarver to sell the teams. NBPA President CJ McCollum echoed that support, thanking Sarver for “making a swift decision that was in the best interest of our sports community.”

Celtics suspend Ime Udoka for upcoming season

On Thursday, Sept. 22, the Boston Celtics suspended coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season following a months-long independent investigation that revealed multiple violations of team policies.

Celtics governor Wyc Grousbeck and president of basketball operations Brad Stevens held a press conference the following day to address the suspension. They announced the suspension takes effect immediately and runs through June 30, 2023, while a decision about Udoka’s future with the team beyond the suspension will be made at a later date.

Assistant coach Joe Mazzulla takes over as interim coach for the upcoming season, with training camp opening in less than a week. Udoka led the Celtics to the NBA Finals in his first season, and Boston returns a team that is considered among the favorites in the Eastern Conference.

Luka Doncic and the Mavs gear up for the new season.

Media days begin as 2022-23 season approaches

Media days opened this past weekend for the four teams that will be participating in the NBA Global Games this preseason: the NBA Japan Games feature a pair of exhibition games between the Golden State Warriors and Washington Wizards in Tokyo on Sept. 30 and Oct. 2; while the NBA Abu Dhabi Games feature two preseason games between the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks.

These are the first NBA games to be played outside of North America since January 2020 when the Bucks and Hornets played a regular season game in Paris. It is another positive sign in the return to normalcy after the past two seasons were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The remaining NBA teams held media days on Monday, Sept. 26 with training camps opening the following day.