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NBA PM: Top Five Free Agency Moves
Posted By Bill Ingram On July 8, 2013 @ 5:00 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
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The Top Five NBA Free Agency Moves
The NBA free agency period, as usual, is almost over before it has officially begun. Teams can’t sign players until July 10th, but most of the significant free agents have already agreed to terms with the teams they will sign with as soon as the moratorium lifts. With that in mind, here’s a look at the best free agency moves to date. Keep in mind, this is free agency signings and trades only. HOOPSWORLD’s Steve Kyler already scored the draft, and you can find the 2013 NBA Draft Score Card here!
1 – Houston Rockets
We may as well start at the top, and the best free agent in this year’s class was All-Star center Dwight Howard. Fans of the Houston Rockets are already pondering championship parade routes, and that is extremely premature, but there’s no question that Howard is the best center in the NBA, and Houston can’t wait to embrace the next great big man to wear Rockets red. Bringing back Francisco Garcia was a solid move, adding additional three-point shooting and a known commodity to the mix. Omri Casspi is not quite as proficient from down town, but he came at a bargain price for a team in need of inexpensive vets.
2 – Los Angeles Clippers
The next big name in free agency was All-Star point guard Chris Paul, regarded by many as the best floor general in the NBA. Paul never wavered from his commitment to the Clippers, and reached an agreement with them very early in the process without considering any other offers. Reuniting Paul with former backup Darren Collison, a Southern California native and UCLA alum, was a brilliant move, and acquiring J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley gives the Clippers additional depth and outside shooting. Matt Barnes, then, was the icing on the cake. The cherry on top might be Antawn Jamison, who is said to be close to agreeing to a one-year deal with the team.
3 – Golden State Warriors
The Warriors earn the third spot for not only adding a top free agent, but also for unloading some terrible contracts. Andre Iguodala is a game-changer, especially on the defensive end, and while the Denver Nuggets were hoping to keep him he ultimately opted for warmer climes and a better cast of teammates. The Warriors were able to persuade the Utah Jazz to take on Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins in order to clear cap space, which was equally impressive given that neither is likely to play much at all. The Warriors did give up two first round picks, including a first in next year’s extremely deep draft, but it was worth it for a team that’s looking to win and win now.
4 – Indiana Pacers
David West re-signing with the Pacers was a foregone conclusion, but that doesn’t make it any less of a move for Indiana. West is the heart and soul of the team, and had they lost him it would have set the team back significantly. West was arguably the third-best free agent in the class, and it says something that he, like Chris Paul, didn’t even bother to shop. Chris Copeland and C.J. Watson promise to add some offensive punch to what was an anemic bench for the Eastern Conference finalists. With Danny Granger set to return, a quality second unit is likely all that’s standing between the Pacers and a long-awaited spot in the NBA Finals.
5 – Brooklyn Nets
As tempting as it is to put the New Orleans Pelicans in the fifth slot, the Brooklyn Nets have a slight edge because they not only agreed to a deal to acquire Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, they also got out from under an extremely undesirable Gerald Wallace contract in the process. None of these new additions are nearly as good as they were during their glory days, but the Nets’ hope is that they all have enough left in the tank to do something special as part as an impressive collective. Does Garnett have a couple of huge playoff performances left in him? Can Terry revive that sixth-man spark that helped him push the Dallas Mavericks to a championship two years ago? Can Pierce’s flair for the dramatic help win some close games? If so, the Nets are certainly better than they were last season. Of course, to justify a $100 million payroll (estimated to be $180 million with luxury tax figured in) they have to win a championship, and that’s probably still out of reach.
Free Agency: On The Clock
Free agency is really still in its infancy, yet as mentioned above, the cream of the crop have nearly all committed to their teams. Five teams in particular still have a great deal to do to accomplish their offseason goals, and we’ll take a look at those five teams now.
The Dallas Mavericks
When Mavericks management dismantled the championship team it was because they were afraid that committing money and resources to players like Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry would cost them flexibility in free agency. That may have been true, but in hindsight it might have been better to hold onto those assets instead of hoping to get better ones down the road. Despite their winning tradition and their willingness to spend, the Mavs once again appear to be the last resort destination for free agents. They are rumored to be interested in free agent center Andrew Bynum, but even the injured and risk-laden Bynum seems more interested in landing somewhere else. The Mavs have promised Dirk Nowitzki that they will put him in a position to win, but more and more it’s looking like the only way they can keep that promise is to trade him to a playoff team.
The Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves have a nice roster, and have done a good job of addressing their perimeter needs via the draft and free agency. The biggest issue of the summer for them, however, is yet to be addressed. Restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic is critically important to the team, particularly after the way they have taken backwards steps on the defensive end. It’s assumed that Pekovic will be back, but what happens if a team like Dallas gets desperate and makes him a sky-high offer? Does Minnesota put their ability to keep Kevin Love long-term at risk to keep Pekovic? Then again, if they let Pekovic go and miss the playoffs, will they lose Love and eventually Ricky Rubio anyway? If they keep Pekovic at a reasonable number, the Timberwolves are a playoff team. If they lose Pekovic, it could be just the first of several big names to blow town.
The Cleveland Cavaliers
Coming into the summer it appeared that the Cavaliers were going to have another summer in which they look to add some good young pieces to the mix and keep building for the future. Since then it has become apparent that the Cavs are really looking to accelerate that process, if possible. They reached out to Portland to see if they could pry All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge away, and failing that they are now hot on the heels of Andrew Bynum. If the Cavs can get Bynum to accept what is rumored to be a one-year deal worth $10 million, and if he turns out to be healthy, the Cavs could be a playoff team this season.
The Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have certainly been active in free agency, and they are also one of the more talked-about teams in terms of trade rumors. They’ve done some interesting things, adding Zaza Pachulia, O.J. Mayo and Carlos Delfino, but overall they appear to have moved in a lateral direction. Their biggest decision revolves around the point guard position, where they are waiting to see how Brandon Jennings’ restricted free agency plays out, but also pondering the possibility of working a sign-and-trade that would replace him with Atlanta’s Jeff Teague. If they do that it’s very likely that they will slide backwards, though that also depends on what else they do in free agency.
The Atlanta Hawks
Rounding out our list we have the Atlanta Hawks, who made the commitment to move on from the Josh Smith era when they let him leave in free agency. Interestingly, they replaced Smith with another forward in Paul Millsap despite Al Horford’s ongoing plea to move out of the center position. The Hawks still have several moves to make, and have been linked to Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bynum, whom they will meet with this week. Until they add another significant piece, the Hawks are impossible to judge.
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