By: Scott Brock-Wilson
With most major transactions behind us, Scott delves into what was quite the NBA offseason, highlighting the teams that made out the best and worst.
San Antonio Spurs:
Added: LaMarcus Aldridge, David West, C.J. McCollum, Jimmer Fredette
Resigned: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard
Lost: Aron Baynes, Marco Tiago Belinelli, Splitter, Cory Joseph
Obviously, the Spurs are one of the biggest winners this offseason. To start, they drafted Nikola Milutinov, a 7-foot center that rose quickly up the draft boards, and everyone knows the successes that the Spurs have had with foreign players. They followed that up by locking up Kawhi Leonard for 5yr/$90 million, not to mention that Tim Duncan is coming back at yet another bargain. An important factor of all championship caliber teams is being able to keep your core together. The Spurs did exactly so by also resigning Manu Ginobili (2yr/$6 million) and Danny Green (at 4yr/$40 million, much cheaper than market value). To top it all off, they reeled in the big fish of free agency: LaMarcus Aldridge. However, they did have to give up Tiago Splitter and the cap flexibility that would have allowed the Spurs to resign Cory Joseph, Aron Baynes and Marco Belinelli to acquire Aldridge. They replaced the bench players with a savvy veteran in David West (with possibly the best contract in the NBA ), C.J. McCollum and Jimmer Fredette. The Spurs reloaded, improved, and retained their depth all in one offseason. There is no doubt they succeeded over the past few months.
Added: Justise Winslow, Gerald Green, Amare Stoudemire
Resigned: Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade
Lost: Michael Beasley, Shabazz Napier, Zoran Dragic, Henry Walker
The Heat, Pat Riley and the basketball world were all in shock when Justise Winslow fell to Miami at the ten in the draft. Everyone thinks, ‘oh Riley has done it again’, and he certainly has. Not only did he possibly get the steal of the draft, but he also was able to lock up Goran Dragic, the point guard of their future to a 5yr/$85 million contract. Then, Riley was able to maintain future cap flexibility by signing Dwyane Wade to a one-year deal ($20 million). This allows the Heat to leave their options open going into next summer where they will have added cap space due to the impending salary cap jump. The heat also added Gerald Green, a very capable backup three who has shown to be serviceable in both starting and bench roles. Arguably the biggest news for the heat, however, is confirmation that Chris Bosh will be completely healthy and able to play this season. Miami has high hopes and will certainly contend in the east.
Los Angeles Clippers:
Added: Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith, Cole Aldrich, Wesley Johnson
Resigned: Deandre Jordan, Austin Rivers, Branden Dawson
Lost: Spencer Hawes, Matt Barnes, Hedo Turkoglu , Glen Davis
The Clippers certainly had one of the more entertaining offseasons of all time, headlined by the DeAndre Jordan saga. All you need to know, without getting into all the drama, is that Deandre resigned. Still, Doc Rivers would not settle for bringing back the same team that collapsed in the Western Conference Finals. Instead, he went out and got a former player of his that he won a championship with, Paul Pierce, at a cheap deal worth $10.5 million over three years. The Clippers also resigned Austin Rivers and traded for Lance Stephenson, yet another scorer for them, but more importantly, some help on the wing defensively. They signed Josh Smith, who chose less money to go to a winning organization; Clipper fans certainly hope he is right about the “winning” part. The Clippers will be title contenders once again with their new and improved group of players.
Portland Trail Blazers:
Added: Al-Farouq Aminu, Mason Plumlee, Noah Vonleh, Gerald Henderson
Resigned: Damian Lillard
Lost: Robin Lopez, LaMarcus Aldridge, Wes Matthews, Nic Batum, Aaron Afflalo
It is impossible to expect a good offseason grade when a team loses four of their starting five (Lopez, Aldridge, Batum, Matthews) and their sixth man (Afflalo). The compensation for losing all those players: Al-Farouq Aminu, Gerald Henderson, and Noah Vonleh. Aminu was a good signing at 4yr/$30 million, but he’s clearly a step down from any of their previous players. Henderson is a solid backup two guard, but will never be a starter on a good team, and Vonleh has yet to prove anything at the NBA level, so it is too early to tell. Portland questionably traded away their first round pick Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to Brooklyn for Pat Connaughton and Mason Plumlee, who does not fill a large need with Meyers Leonard already in Rip City. The Blazers were the five seed last year in the playoffs, yet do not have a prayer of making it this year. Expect them to be bottom feeders, with Lillard putting up big numbers.
Added: Zaza Pachulia, Deron Williams, Wes Matthews
Resigned: J.J. Barea
Lost: Al-Farouq Aminu, Tyson Chandler, Rajon Rondo, Monte Ellis, Amare Stoudemire
The Mavericks had a strong start to the offseason selecting Justin Anderson, who has a high ceiling, and nabbing Wes Matthews at the start of free agency. When they thought they had Jordan, that was a winning offseason. However, as we all know, Jordan is not a Maverick. They lost Rondo, Ellis, Aminu, and Stoudemire: all players that contributed for Dallas last year. However the most important loss may be the loss of Tyson Chandler. Chandler had always been their defensive stopper, Dallas cannot just replace him with Zaza Pachulia or any other no name out in free agency. They have lost the heart and identity of the team, which was certainly not replaced by Deron Williams. After this offseason, the Mavericks will probably not make the postseason, and they do not have a first round pick in the draft next year (unless it falls in top seven), so expect movement from them next free agency as well.
Added: Rajon Rondo, Kosta Koufos, Marco Belinelli, Willie Cauley-Stein, Caron Butler
Resigned: Omri Casspi
Lost: Carl Landry, C.J. McCollum, Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson, Derrick Williams
The Kings decided they wanted to spend money this offseason and that they did. Rondo received one-year, $9.5 million deal, despite the existence of Darren Collison, a very serviceable point guard on a good contract (just over 10 million over the next two years). The Kings continued their spending spree by grossly overpaying paid Kosta Koufos at 4yr/$32 million to be a backup center. Now, they have Koufos, Cousins, and Cauley-Stein, who many think was a reach at the six overall pick in the draft considering he has little-to-no offensive ability. The Kings have three centers now, two of which do not have the offensive ability to play the four position. But that was not all, Sacramento went out and signed Marco Belinelli to a 3yr/19 million-dollar deal. Belinelli was a product of the Spurs system. Sure, he is a sharp shooter, but that is all he was when he was on the Bulls, before he met Popovich. And I have not even mentioned the horrid trade that dumped 16 million dollar in salary, but sent Stauskas, Thompson and Landry to the 76ers for a future second rounder and several foreign players that have yet to come over to the NBA. It seems as though the Kings are gearing up 2012 Miami Marlins-style. If you are a Kings fan, expect a similar result.