Winners & Losers in NBA Free Agency
By: Matt Blue
This year’s NBA Free Agency period has been very compelling and enthralling. We have witnessed teams sign subpar players to outrageous contracts and we have also seen teams make some very bold moves. This offseason the Miami HEAT have greatly improved their roster by adding two terrific outside shooters, the Lakers made a big-time acquisition by acquiring Steve Nash from the Suns, the Nets decided to take on Joe Johnson’s massive contract which was enough to convince Deron Williams to stay and the Dwight Howard melodrama is still at high gear. Also, Jeremy Lin is about to get a big pay day in Houston. This year’s free agency has been the equivalent of a wild roller coaster ride with plenty of twists and turns.
Let’s take a look at this off-season’s biggest winners and losers so far.
The Winners Category
Jeremy Lin: What if I told you 25 games was worth 25 million? Would you believe me? Or would you think I was crazy? Jeremy Lin is about to get a three year 25 million back loaded deal from the Rockets as an unrestricted free agent. The Rockets have smartly maneuvered their way through the Jeremy Lin sweepstakes by throwing an offer at Jeremy Lin that would make the Knicks think twice about matching. You can call this business mind games tactics 101.
The Rockets have taken the Knicks to business school. The Rockets are very aware of the fact that the Knicks are capped out and over the luxury tax threshold. The Knicks acquired the like of 39 year old Jason Kidd along with Raymond Felton from the Portland Trail Blazers who is coming off a dreadful year. Lin is going to come out a winner regardless of whether the Knicks ultimately decide to match the offer or not.
Miami HEAT: Can you feel the HEAT down in your soul? I know I can. Pat Riley is at his tricks once again. The Godfather was able to convince two excellent three point shooters to leave money on the table all in the name of winning and pursuing championships. The HEAT signed Ray Allen who is a ten time all-star and the NBA’s all-time leader in three point field goals made and they also convinced a two time all-star in Rashard Lewis to take his talents to South Beach.
They added both Lewis and Allen for less than 5 million combined. As a matter of fact, the HEAT signed Allen and Lewis for about the same price as the Knicks paid for Marcus Camby. Lewis and Allen are both looking forward to taking advantage of knocking down open threes when James, Wade and Bosh attract double teams. Lewis and Allen are both going to be in wide open shooting heaven. It’s amazing that the HEAT was able to sign two players that have the ability to make a tremendous impact for a bargain based price. Just think about the lack of cap flexibility the HEAT have had. The most they were able to offer to any single free agent was the 3 million taxpayer exception.
Nets: Going into the 2012 Free Agency period, the stakes were extremely high for the Brooklyn Nets. The team’s ultimate goal was to convince superstar guard Deron Williams to stay with the Nets. GM Billy King was able to bring in a considerable amount of talent by resigning Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez, trading for a six time all-star in Joe Johnson and signing Merza Teletovic and Reggie Evans. The questions remains, will the Nets be able to swing a deal for superstar Center Dwight Howard? Only time will tell. Overall, they did a good job upgrading their roster.
Lakers: The conventional wisdom out there was that they were going to make a strong run at Dwight Howard. Howard was supposed to be the Lakers main focus. However, LA had other plans. The Lakers made an astonishing acquisition by landing point guard Steve Nash from the Suns. The Lakers finally found their true point guard to team up with Kobe Bryant. Both Bryant and Nash have exponentially high basketball IQs. This is why I believe it will all work out in the end. It will probably take some time for the team to start running like a well-oiled machine, butin the end this move will pay off. The Lakers also made a wise decision to keep Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol together. The Lakers have a major front court advantage over a majority of the teams in the league.
Celtics: Despite the loss of Ray Allen, the Celtics have done a nice job tweaking their roster. They resigned Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass to solidify their front court and they also replaced Ray Allen with Jason Terry, who should fit extremely well in Doc Rivers offense. Even the under the radar re-signings of Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox made sense. The Celtics even had a promising draft by selecting two front court players with great potential in Jared Sullenger and Fab Melo. As long as the Celtics are able to remain healthy, they will be in the championship picture next season.
Bulls: Bulls fans have to be pretty flabbergasted with the Front Office’s decision making this offseason. The fact is, they haven’t improved at all. The only notable transaction they have made so far is signing Kirk Hinrich. If anything the Bulls have only gotten worse with the subtractions of sharpshooter Kyle Korver, who was traded away for virtually nothing and they are also in the process of losing a valuable big man in Omer Asik who signed an offer sheet with the Rockets. The Bulls are going to have a difficult time matching the offer sheet, especially because they are so concerned about the luxury tax and the stiff penalties that will be going into effect eventually. Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf is not the type of owner that likes his teams to be over the tax. The Bulls could be getting left behind in the Eastern Conference as teams such as Miami and Boston continue to get better.
Dwight Howard: Are you sick of him yet? Well, he will not be going away anytime soon. This whole saga could easily have been avoided if Howard had never opted in with the Magic. He would have been a Free Agent this summer and he would have been free to sign with any team. He has behaved unprofessionally and unethically throughout this process. At this point, I wouldn’t even want him anymore.
Suns: Phoenix has taken a major step backwards since the 7 seconds or less days. Two years ago, they were battling the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Now, they are in complete rebuilding mode after losing Steve Nash to the Lakers. Suns fans long for the days of Mike D’Antoni’s innovative and explosive offense which featured Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Ama’re Stoudemire. Now it looks like the team’s best player is the newly signed Michael Beasley. Not good.
76ers: Philly what on earth are you doing? Did you really just add Dorell Wright, Nick Young and the biggest draft bust of all time in Kwame Brown? I’m not sure exactly what direction this franchise is headed in. 76ers head coach Doug Collins is going to have to pull a rabbit out of his hat to get this team out of the first round next year.