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Does a boring 2018 NBA Draft mean that free agency won’t be as exciting as we hope?

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Is this the new normal? Or just the calm before the storm?

2018 NBA Draft Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

There are two ways to look at the lack of real action at the 2018 NBA Draft.

The first is to see it as a warning, an indication that for all the hype we’ve collectively bestowed upon this NBA offseason, it could all fizzle out. After all, consider why we anticipate a wacky offseason. Because LeBron James is a free agent? There are decent odds he simply re-signs with the Cavaliers, making the chase by multiple teams all for naught. Are we excited the Lakers have tons of cap space? That would be similar to basically every other offseason since the end of their reign in the Western Conference.

Are we excited because Kawhi Leonard has requested a trade? The Spurs aren’t exactly an erratic team prone to giving into player demands when they have contracts in place. Are we excited because teams are gunning to take down the Warriors? Well, good luck.

Are we excited just because the 2017 NBA offseason was completely bonkers, with the Jimmy Butler trade, the Kyrie Irving saga, the Paul George deal, and Chris Paul’s machinations? We all agreed that the NBA offseason was every bit as good as (and maybe better than) the actual NBA season. And now we expect that spectacle for 2018, especially with big name free agents and an all-pro with a trade request out there.

But what if all the crazy stuff has already happened? What if the NBA ecosystem is tapped out on action? What if a new equilibrium has been reached?

That’s one read of the situation: that the Rockets’ failure to knock off the Warriors represents not a flaw in Golden State’s thermal exhaust port, but a lost best chance at ending the dynasty. It’s going to be hard for Houston to improve on last season, especially with Clint Capela’s free agency looming. If Paul George decides to stay in Oklahoma City and the Spurs keep Kawhi, LeBron doesn’t have a better option than the Cavaliers or Sixers. Does Wine Club LeBron really want to join the kids’ table and drink Shirley Temples for a couple years just to keep winning Eastern Conference titles? Maybe not. And so the Warriors’ dominance begets stasis.

2018 NBA Finals - Game Four Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The other read on the full NBA Draft — the one I choose to believe in my soul — is this is the calm before the storm.

There are some key pieces that really control how the offseason shakes out. No one seems to have a great read on what the Spurs are going to do about Leonard. On Thursday night, after San Antonio picked Lonnie Walker IV, Spurs front office boss R.C. Buford told reporters the franchise hopes to keep Kawhi around for a long time, but is assessing the situation. Reports indicate the Spurs will listen to offers but are not actively trying to trade him, willing to be patient.

But he’s a huge key to unlocking the full potential of the offseason. If he’s off the table, teams looking to upgrade need to look elsewhere. But Leonard’s such an incredible talent that it’s really hard to give up hope of nabbing him until hope is truly lost!

Once we have more clarity on Leonard’s near-term future, and once July 1 hits, things could very well open up completely. We have an idea of who LeBron will consider, and who the Lakers will target, and which teams are expected to be at the vanguard in free agency. Those processes actually progressing could set off a chain reaction of action.

Last year, all that action began at the draft with the Butler trade. Chris Paul was moved a few days later — before free agency. The Paul George trade came as free agency began. The other pieces in a rather muted free agency fell into place — including Gordon Hayward to the Jazz — and then we got the Kyrie Irving party started, and that lasted deep into August. It was a prolonged explosion of action triggered early and resolved late.

It does not appear any potential 2018 madness will start just yet. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t ever start. Patience is required this time around.

Or, patience won’t be rewarded and the summer of lunacy will fizzle out. You can choose to fear that or believe in the promise of madness. Hope is in your hands.