NBA “Weapons Race”: Chasing the Super Team out West

As the Golden State Warriors lifted the Larry O’Brien the Bay Area, and band wagon fans around the world, exploded with excitement. For many fans watching, regardless of team affiliation, and almost depressing feeling of inevitability was finally realized. Around this time last year the hushed rumors of a Kevin Durant-fueled steroid boost to a Warriors team coming off a 73-9 season, seemed almost to far-fetched to be real life. One year, one ring, and one Finals MVP later, Kevin Durant accomplished his goal of turning the NBA upside and changing the balance of power for what seems to be years to come. Teams this summer are well aware of the strength of the two Juggernauts who just completed their third straight head-to-head final’s match up. The goal of the other 28 teams in the Association, is to reduce the gap between themselves and ensure that there is not a Warriors-Cavs Part 4 in June 2018.

NBA Free Agency officially begins this weekend, and to this point there are several Superstar talents rumored to be on the move, who could very well shift the balance of power in the NBA for a second straight summer. While there are numerous teams, with various trade rumors, swirling around league news sources this time of year, for the purpose of this blog we’ll be dealing with rumors surrounding a three contenders and one superstar in Indiana.

Houston Rockets

CP3 J Harden
via NBA.com

Chris Paul leaves LA, to run Houston with James Harden.

In a Western Conference that has been dominating by the “Splash Brothers” in Oracle, Houston seems to be combating that dynamic duo, with a pretty elite back court pairing of their own. James Harden led the Houston Rockets to a 50 win season and a Western Conference Finals birth during the 2016-17 season, and very well might have added an MVP to that hall without the Triple Double heroics of one Russell Westbrook. Adding Chris Paul, almost universally considered one of the top Point Guards and play makers in the league today, and maybe ever, would seem to help those Rockets shrink the gap between themselves and the defending champions. There are legitimate fit concerns, giving the ball dominance of each member of this new play making back court, but the Rockets seem to be ignoring those doubters and counting on the duos chemistry to guide the franchise for at least the next season. Daryl Morey, GM of the Houston Rockets had this to say on the aggressiveness of Houston, and the state of the modern NBA. “… It’s a weapons race in the NBA, and you’re either in the weapons race or on the sidelines. We felt with Harden in his prime, Chris Paul in his prime, this gives us a real shot to chase the juggernaut teams that are out there and puts us right there with them” (ESPN).

Cleveland Cavaliers 

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via Bleacher Report

Power shift brewing in the East?

While the sting of coming up second to the Golden State Warriors for the second time in three years will certainly linger, by all accounts the Cavs should come into this off-season feeling optimistic. They’ve consistently showed they’re a cut about the rest of the Eastern Conference, and in the last three years are the only team to actually beat the dreaded Warriors in a playoff series. But that victory was before Durant took his talents to the Bay, and while they flipped the switch against the East this post season, there were times when they looked like they didn’t belong on the same floor as the Warriors. The Cavs were in need of a roster shakeup this off season if they hoped to seriously contend with these same Warriors and make their trilogy of finals a four-part special. Things have not gone the way the Cavs, or their fans, would have hoped since that loss in the finals. Dan Gilbert, team owner, fired GM David Griffin days before the draft whilst the team was in the midst of trade talks with the Chicago Bulls about Jimmy Butler. The next GM will have a steep road ahead of them, with little cap flexibility, and rumored displeasure from Akron’s favorite son and franchise corner-stone Lebron James. Combined with pressure from Lebron to maximize his prime and win now, the Cavs future does not look as bright as it did a mere week or two ago. Despite the lack of a GM, the Cavs have been in constant trade talks with the Indiana Pacers about their all-star forward Paul George. Without adding a significant piece this free agency period, the Cavs could be in for a disappointing end to the 2017-18 season, and another possible Lebron departure.

Boston Celtics

hayward
via The Salt Lake Tribune

Boston makes a move, to set up another move? 

There aren’t many seasons in which a number one-seeded team, with 50+ wins, would need to cut the distance between themselves and the previous year’s number two seed. However, the Cavaliers made short work of the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, and Bean Town has the resources to perhaps surpass Lebron and his dominance over the East during this near-decade long run to the finals he’s been on. Enter the Utah Jazz’s Gordon Hayward, pictured above. To the casual NBA follower, Hayward and his abilities may be unknown or unappreciated. To this Celtics team, Hayward could be a building block to an Eastern Conference beast for years to come. Hayward is a quality wing player, able to slot at the 2 or 3 depending  on need, with shooting touch and two playing capability. On top of all of this Hayward actually played, and thrived, under current Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens during his college career at Butler. Hayward seems to be taking the idea of playing in Boston very seriously, as Lachlan Marr reported on the Celtics SBNation blog, that the sides would be meeting Sunday after the start of free agency. This is of course assuming Hayward’s first visit to the Miami Heat on Saturday does not lead to a deal. Adding an all-star caliber player improves a team that was already good enough to be the top seed in the East one year ago. Boston’s plan may also hinge upon being able to trade for Paul George, after their attempts to pry Jimmy Butler from Chicago were not enough, sound familiar Cleveland fans? George’s predicament is quite unique, and could be a power shift depending on where he lands or if he is even traded at all.

Paul George 

final george
via SportingNews.com

 

The trade that could change it all

With Jimmy Butler being traded from the Bulls to the Minnesota Timberwolves, teams looking to participate in the “weapons race” and compete with the Warriors were left with one superstar talent to inquire about. All of the three teams on this list and blog post have expressed serious interest in the all star, despite the rental status George has set for himself. It was reported by several NBA league sources that George had grown tired of the Pacers muddling in middle of the pack status, and would most likely leave when he is set to become a free agent at the end of the upcoming season. George was also rumored to have a preference to play for his hometown Los Angeles Lakers. While this reports swirled around for several months, George himself informed the Pacers of his intentions rather recently, and speculation of the Pacers dealing George sky rocketed. Given that he is set to become a free agent after this year, teams are taking a gamble that George will be nothing more than a glorified rental for their franchise. Despite thee very real concerns, George’s talent has kept the phone ringing for the Pacers. George is long, athletic wing with an ability to play off the ball, and a defensive presence important in a modern NBA where Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant all wear the same blue and gold. Where George ends up playing this season, and even next season, will continue to be a major talking point in NBA circles.

The Wrap Up

The Golden State Warriors are, talent wise, still the cream of the crop in today’s NBA. This fact is a key reason so many teams are looking to be very aggressive this free agency period, and why each of these teams mentioned here will be measuring themselves comparatively to the Bay Area team. The saga of Paul George, the future of Lebron James, and the balance of power in the NBA will be determined by the events that ensue in the coming weeks of NBA free agency. Free Agency officially begins July 1, with the time period for teams to sign free agents beginning July 6.

 

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Spotlight on Young Entrepreneurs: Visionaire

Self made entrepreneurs are taking this nation by storm. The Suites sat down with the creative director for Visionaire,  Tomavelli, shout out to Chris and Zac for the collaboration.

To shine a spot light on an up and coming brand growing in our own back yards of Eastern North Carolina. Tomaveli is the mastermind behind VISIONAIRE MIND, a homegrown apparel company with an Urban-Skater kind of vibe attached to it. To this point the brand has cult following, with an interesting “pop-up” style marketing and selling method. This spotlight here on The Suites is not only to benefit Tomaveli and show love to his hard work and dedication, but also to continue the mission of The Suites blog, which is to provide our audience with quality articles about what they find interesting. Tomaveli provided us with some insightful and in-depth answers about his brand and how he reached this point in his own life and in the life of his brand VISONAIRE.

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Tomavelli

WARNING THE LANGUAGE IN THE FOLLOWING INTERVIEW IS NOT PG

1. How and when did Visionaire get started?

There’s chapters in my life where I go through ups and downs.

I want VISIONAIRES to be more than just a brand. I wanted it to be a story. But a story told through animals, an animals mind.

Chapter 1 was The Tiger: The Begin of the End

I came in with the mindset of a tiger. I was fearless. I didn’t care what people had to say. I just went in for the kill. I was so selfish I lost so many good people in my life because of it. At one point, I lost hope and faith. I lost motivation. I lost my girlfriend, she was the biggest motivation ever, and she guided me through this part in life

It took me 8 months to come up with just the name VISIONAIRE. I kept changing the name over and over until I finally settle down on the name when I was lying in bed talking to myself. I’ve always had that mindset where I wanted to create and inspire people or being ahead of what the kids (our generation) called now “The Wave”.

Originally I started this brand when I was a senior in high school but I was never serious about it, it was just something I had in the back of my mind for a long time. I just wanted to make t shirts and sell it.

A lot of people don’t know this but VISIONAIRE took off BECAUSE of my depression and anxiety. I was living in Vietnam at the time and that shit was just eating me alive. I’ve made decisions I wish I can take back, I wasn’t in school, I was barely working, my dad had a stroke and I wasn’t even there to be with him, I couldn’t handle the all the hectic that was going on so I decided to  move back to the states.

That’s when I was like “I need to stop bullshitting, high school is over. This is reality now.” Like every other kid in my town I always dreamed of the bigger picture. Everybody would talk about how they want money, fame, foreign cars, and all this other rich fancy shit but they’re not making no moves. They expect everything to be handed to them for free. No matter what I did at the time I was constantly just trying to find money. I busted my ass for every penny and dime I could get. Nothing satisfied me more than knowing I worked hard for that money. So why not make money doing something I love? Fashion. But then it’s still not even about the money.

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Tomavelli

Now that I’m in chapter 2 of my works

The Bird: Time Flies When You Do.

I learned from my mistakes, I learned how to crawl before I walked again and now I feel like I can’t be stopped. I came to realized that there was so much more. I had so much support and supporters. I could not see myself disappointing none of them. I had a clear vision ahead of me. Success was calling my name and I cannot wait to fly high until I reach my peak.

 

2. What first interested you about the field of fashion and design?

See there’s a difference between an interested and a love, you can lose interest so fast and so quick. But love builds up over time, Interest is just the path to love.

I fell in love with this fashion stuff when I was young kid. My brother and sister would always dress me up and take hella pictures of me pretending like I was a model. They would sign me up for fashion shows and photography studios and made me wear these gay ass clothes. When I was 4 years old. I almost won my first ever fashion show. The grand prize was $10,000.00….. But I lost because I was picking my nose on stage… so I just won a little trophy instead.

3. Describe your design process? How hands-on are you in the process?

My whole design process is literally on a laptop. I am on my laptop 24/7. My laptop is like my creative buddy but also my resource buddy. I’m always on the search of what I can find and turn into a “visionaire”.

I’m only hands-on on certain products if I wanted to tweak it up a little bit. I taught myself how to use a sewing machine and from that point on it was hands on from there. Everything else I literally was self-taught. I taught myself how to cut and sew, how to distressed, how to hem, etc. If it wasn’t for YouTube I’d be lost.

4. Who else is involved with this group? And in what capacity?

At first it was just me. I did everything myself, from branding to marketing. I didn’t wanna work with anyone. I had so many people come up to me and asked me if they can work with me but I turned them all down. I didn’t wanna clash my creativity with someone else’s creativity. No disrespect to anybody but I feel like if you have your own ideas, move forward from there. Go out and build yourself, show your talents to the world. There’s so many hidden talents and people so scared to show it but you CAN’T be scared, You have to have confidence in what you do.

There is this one dude. He lives in Raleigh. Shout out J.Ho!!!!! Never met him face to face but I thought he was unique and thought he could bring some heat to the table. So he’s the 1st member of team visionaries I guess you can say that.

 

5. Are you open to collaborations? Have you done any so far? Who are some companies, local or well-known with whom you’d like to collaborate?

I’m not just going to collab with anyone. I don’t want to work with someone if I feel like it’s just a waste of my time or if they just wanna work with me because it’ll give them clout.

We have to have a certain partnership but most important…. friendship.

But I am currently working with a couple of local talented people here in Elizabeth City. There’s this dude name Jaylen Brown or JB for short. He’s the CEO of Opposite Society. It’s a dope ass movement he got going on too. Everywhere I go I see people reppin’ his t shirts. He kinda reminds me of a young Tyler the Creator. He does more than just make t shirts though that’s the thing. It’s more of a culture thing. If you wanna know more go check them out!! Twitter @osxsquad I’m also collabing with this music group called Graffiti Mobb. Go check out their soundcloud too! https://soundcloud.com/graffiti-mobb

In the future I’m hoping to collab with more groups and artists

6. There are many other local clothing brands, what would you say separates your brand from the rest?

Passion

I love all these local brands ya know? It spices things up. There’s more competition being put to the test. But you gotta love what you do. I see too many local brands out here just making t shirts for money. I respect the hustle but it’s not fair to the people who are actually putting alot of time and effort and detail into each one of their craft.

On top of that, I don’t give out no information on when Visionaire merch is gonna drop. You just gotta be on top of it. If not that’s your lost.  I don’t post pictures of my products either until the day of releasing. I keep my quantities really low too. So not everybody is gonna walk around with the same product on.

7. Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?

Honestly I don’t care where my brand takes me in the next 5 years.

I’m not thinking of the future right now. I’m thinking of what has to be done right then and now.

Cause if I’m thinking about the future, I’m just wasting all this time that’ll help me get me to that point in life. I want what’s best for me, my team. And my brand, and that’s long term goals. NOT no shortcuts.

My goal is to get better and better every year.

Now if I’ll have an opportunity for me lined up at the door within that time period. That’s just a blessing.

8. Where can people go to buy your product?

People can go buy my product at www.visionaires.bigcartel.com

Instagram @shopvisionaires

Twitter @VISIONAIREMINDS

We here at the Suite Blog appreciate the time Tomaveli gave us in order to spread his movement to a wider audience. If your brand, or a brand you know of, is interested in a possible Suite Spotlight in the future, feel free to contact Chris Liverman, Zac Singletary, or any member of the Suites Blog family and we’ll be happy to discuss a future partnership. We accept gifts and swag of all varieties.

Zachary Singletary Contact Info:

Email- zactsingletary@gmail.com

IG- bigzacts