- Here’s a list of the four biggest offseason signings in the NBA.
- Kevin Durant leads the list.
- Other players on the list are LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal, and Chauncey Billups.
The power of an NBA player to choose a team to play when his current contract expires is apparent in today’s era to boost their chances in the NBA championship odds. This decision by a superstar has worked wonders for the team that he selected but also comes with repercussions to the departed team, most likely a mediocre season coming.
We’ve seen this movement countless times throughout the history of the NBA, with DeMar DeRozan as the most recent example. DeRozan decided to sign with the Chicago Bulls in the 2021 offseason and fully rejuvenate the franchise to be a contender in the NBA odds. He signed a hefty $82 million contract for three years but has paid dividends to the team as they made the 2022 NBA playoffs for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
But there were far more significant offseason signings that we have witnessed, and here’s the list.
Kevin Durant – Golden State Warriors – 2016
The Golden State Warriors may have fallen short of a title in their historic run in the 2015-16 season after Cleveland’s famous 3-1 series comeback that is included in 5 NBA Finals upsets in history. But they ultimately won the next three seasons by acquiring Kevin Durant via free agency. The 2014 NBA MVP decided to join the 2015 NBA Champions to finally get his first title after failing to win in his nine-year run with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Durant and the Warriors became the literal super team by claiming the best record in the league for three straight seasons and reaching the NBA Finals simultaneously. However, they could only win two championships as injuries plagued them in 2019 and ultimately bowed to the Toronto Raptors.
LeBron James – Miami Heat – 2010
LeBron James’ decision to take his talents to South Beach may have set the tone for player empowerment in 2010. Although the Cleveland Cavaliers ended up having many players in return for James’ departure to Miami, this is easily one of the biggest offseason signings in the history of the NBA.
The ‘’King’’ joined his good pals Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh for four years and dominated the regular season, thus reaching the NBA Finals for straight years. In that four-season run, they could win back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013, before James decided to return to Cleveland.
Shaquille O’Neal – Los Angeles Lakers – 1996
With the Orlando Magic failing to match Shaquille O’Neal’s demands for an extension in the summer of 1996, the Los Angeles Lakers swoop in to lure the dominant big man to a seven-year, $120 million contract. This move by the iconic franchise created one of the most dynamic duos in NBA history.
O’Neal was paired with Kobe Bryant, and they were able to win a three-peat from 2000 to 2002 before a fallout came in 2005, which forced the Lakers to choose between Bryant and O’Neal on who is to keep in the team. Regardless, this 1996 signing had a massive impact on the title-altering chances of the team.
Chauncey Billups – Detroit Pistons – 2002
Drafted by Boston as their third overall pick in 1997, Chauncey Billups became a trade commodity for his five seasons after he was shipped three times. But when he hit free agency in summer 2002, he agreed to sign with the Detroit Pistons for a five-year, $35 million. This is the same Pistons team who finally found their winning formula and needed a final key piece in its quest for a title.
It turns out that Billups was the missing piece they were looking for. This partnership between the Pistons and Mr. Big Shot was the perfect marriage as the franchise was able to win their third NBA title in 2004 (an NBA Finals MVP for Billups) and managed to reach the Eastern Conference Finals for six straight seasons.
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