No professional sport’s free agency period can compete with the intrigue and drama of the NBA’s. Some big names were on the move this offseason and some bigger names have decided to stay in place. Here’s a look at teams that have made the biggest steps forward this offseason, as well as who we think has taken a step back.
Biggest Free Agency Winners
Cleveland Cavaliers – The biggest thing for the Cavs this offseason was to get the Kevin Love deal done. Thompson and Lebron are both locks to resign, but getting Love done early so they can make the numbers work on Lebron and Thompson’s deals was huge. They also resigned Shumpert and of course the biggest thing this offseason is just getting healthy. The Cavs will be in the Eastern Conference finals for the next four years.
San Antonio Spurts – Clearly the Spurs and Cavs are 1a and 1b of this free agency period. The Spurs had to lose some pieces to make the LMA deal work, leaving them some holes at the wing and backup big spots, but now that Aldridge has signed, they should be able to piece together some depth. Just as big as the LMA deal, they signed Kawhi to a five year extension, resigned Duncan, and got an absolute steal of a deal from Danny Green. To me, the Spurs have moved themselves back into their familiar seat of being the Western Conference favorites.
Milwaukee Bucks – Milwaukee was able to sign two borderline-max guys in Greg Monroe and Khris Middleton, giving them a projected starting five of: MCW, Middleton, Giannis, Parker, Monroe and solid depth behind them in Bayless, May, Henson and Pachulia. We all know Kidd loves to play a ton of different rotations with whacky-inconsistent minutes and I would argue that this is the most flexible roster in the Association. Middleton can play the 2 or 3, Parker the 3 or 4, Giannis the 2-4, Monroe the 4 or 5… I think the Bucks have definitely moved into the top half of the Eastern Conference.
Dallas Mavericks – Dallas got younger and better defensively in free agency by essentially swapping Chandler and Ellis for Jordan and Matthews. You have to love Jordan, Dirk, Parsons, Matthews, but they have to sign another point guard. I love Devin Harris and J.J. Barea, but I know Carlisle loves bring Harris off the bench and can’t believe that the Mavs want to enter this season with this roster and J.J. Barea as their starting point guard.
Biggest Losers in Free Agency
LA Lakers – I’m not listing the Knicks here… sure they couldn’t lure a big name, but they didn’t overreact and make a bunch of bad signings, they signed two productive players for great deals in Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo. The Lakers have used the free agency period to guarantee that the ball never moves in their offense, signing Lou Williams to a 3 year, $21 million deal to back up Kobe.
LA Clippers – Apparently NBA players want nothing to do with LA… Goodbye DeAndre Jordan, hello Paul Pierce…
Best Contract of Free Agency
Gary Neal – Obviously it’s Danny Green or Tim Duncan, or some other Spur that took a discount, but I love the Gary Neal signing for the Wizards. He’s going to give the Wiz minutes at a few different positions, but is a one of those coveted 3-D guys that can shoot the lights out and play defense. The difference is that while other teams are paying $8-15 million/year for their 3-D guys, the Wizards got theirs for $2.1 Million. Oh yeah, and their guy has playoff experience, and a proven track-record of hitting big shots in big spots. Had he not been buried in Charlotte and Minnesota the past two season, then he may have been one of those $8 million players.
Worst Contract of Free Agency
Rajon Rondo – This was easy… I think the Kings did well to sign Kosta Koufos and Omri Casspi, but I just don’t get the point behind signing Rondo to a 1 year deal. He doesn’t do anything notably better than Darren Collison, and if you don’t love Collison, then why not use this season to develop Ray McCallum? To make the decision to pair Rondo with Boogie just doesn’t make sense to me, and can’t be something George Karl is excited to have to deal with.