SALT LAKE CITY — Here we go again, the Golden State Warriors adding another all-star through free agency to its already star-studded lineup.
The Warriors, the reigning two-time NBA champions, theoretically got even better this week by signing center DeMarcus Cousins, an All-Star the last four consecutive seasons. Cousins joins a dominant team that already features perennially All-Stars Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
The prohibitive favorite even before signing Cousins, the Warriors now are practically guaranteed to win a third consecutive title. Pretty much the only mystery is which day to hold the parade.
Teams like the Utah Jazz, who are trying to build a championship mostly through the traditional route of drafting and then developing talent, do not have a realistic chance of advancing all the way through the playoffs. The fact is, the ceiling for nearly all teams in the league is second place.
In July, nearly 50 weeks before it actually plays out, it is safe to crown the Warriors as the 2019 champions. And, since Golden State’s nucleus is at or under age 30, it is well within reason to predict the exact same outcome in 2020.
Everybody knows the storyline and outcome well before the ending. This can’t be good for the NBA, can it?
The most obvious answer is no. Chasing rings, as they say, cheapens the glory of winning a championship.
“I’d rather have no rings than join a super team,” former NBA star Charles Barkley said on the Unnecessary Roughness podcast.
Adding Cousins, who is recovering from an Achilles injury and may not be available until halfway through the season, probably does not change the balance of power in the Western Conference. But the thought of another all-star joining the best team in the league continues to damage the perception of competitive balance.
The Warriors' dominance isn't concerning for Adam Silver. pic.twitter.com/PFKqfgVb9t— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 11, 2018
The worry is super teams will terrorize the league in the coming years, denying most teams a chance at winning the title. Since it worked for LeBron James — who won two titles after joining the Miami Heat — and now Durant, NBA stars could join forces in the coming years.
Barkley’s argument has merit, saying that a championship would mean more to players who try to win with their original teams.
"It doesn’t matter what option you are, sports are about competition," he said. "Like, I admire Patrick Ewing for trying to bring a championship to New York. I admire Reggie Miller for trying to bring a championship to Indiana. I admire Michael Jordan for not leaving when they were getting beat by the Pistons every year. He didn’t pack up and say, 'Let me go play with Magic or Bird.' There’s something to be said about that. When Dirk Nowitzki finally won the championship he could be like, ‘Yes, I did this.'"
In actuality, though, dominant teams are NBA reality. Throughout the last several decades, especially starting with the Boston Celtics dynasty, only a few teams each era had legitimate chances of winning the championship.
From 1980-90, the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons combined to win every championship. Only the Philadelphia 76ers broke through in 1983.
The Chicago Bulls dominated the 1990s with six championships, with the Houston Rockets snaring the title twice when Jordan did not play the full season each time. The San Antonio Spurs and the Lakers again also won multiple titles until the Warriors took over.
In a game in which only 10 players are on the court at any time, the talents of a few superstars will make the difference between winning and losing.
The formation of super teams certainly won’t doom the NBA, but it would be nice if the opportunity to acquire talent had a more level playing field.