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NBA Sunday: Free Agency Winners & Losers
Posted By Joel Brigham On December 18, 2011 @ 9:04 am In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Free Agency’s Winners and Losers
Now that the overwhelming majority of the major free agents have signed with new (or, in some cases, old) teams, it’s fair to say that we can start judging which of those teams made good deals for themselves, and which of them didn’t do much for the public perception of that whole lockout thing. Here’s a quick look at some of free agency’s winners and losers:
Los Angeles Clippers (Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, DeAndre Jordan)
We know everything there is to know about the Chris Paul trade. Let’s not talk about that ever again, except to say that the Clippers got one of the top three point guards in the game to pair with the most exciting young power forward in the game. They also got Billups extremely cheap off of amnesty waivers, finally hauled in a small forward in Butler, and matched an offer sheet for their exciting young center, DeAndre Jordan.
In all, they spent a lot of money (over $18 million annually on Butler and Jordan alone, for example) and gave up a lot of assets (Eric Gordon and Minnesota’s unprotected 2012 pick, for example), but the end result is a team everybody is excited about. That makes them the clear-cut winners of 2011’s free agency. It would be nice if they ended up winners on the court, as well.
New Orleans Hornets (Eric Gordon, Minnesota’s 2012 draft pick, Al-Farouq Aminu, DaJuan Summers, Chris Kaman, Carl Landry)
Any time you lose Chris Paul, you can’t really say you won much of anything, but considering they were going to lose him anyway they ended up with a pretty nice haul of players and assets to replace him. Gordon could end up being one of the top two or three shooting guards in the league in a couple of years, and if the 2012 Minny pick is high enough that could translate into another really good young player to pair with Gordon for the now-underway rebuilding process in Louisiana. Al-Farouq Aminu, who also came over in that Clippers trade, was a lottery pick in 2012, and DaJuan Summers, a free agency signing from Detroit, also is better than many people realize. They were able to re-sign Carl Landry too, despite the apparent disarray surrounding the organization, which means all in all, they really didn’t do all that bad.
The Lakers’ (and Rockets’) offer for Paul, which included Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, and Lamar Odom, would’ve made them more competitive for now, but long-term, the team as currently constructed looks a lot more desirable. Say what you want about that vetoed Lakers trade, but the Hornets came out of this stronger because of it.
Indiana Pacers (David West, George Hill, Jeff Foster)
Had West not suffered that knee injury last year, he would’ve come into this free agency period as the top prize of the batch. Instead, he ends up with only a two-year deal valued at a relatively modest $20 million. While that doesn’t seem like a great deal for a guy who was likely looking to cash in on something much larger this season, it’s certainly a great deal for the Pacers, who could end up with a whole lot of reward for not a lot of risk. Even if West’s knees are irreparably damaged (and it doesn’t seem like they are), Indy is only locked in for two years. Re-signing Jeff Foster for so little money and making the draft-day trade for George Hill were great moves, too. If they can sign Michael Redd on the cheap too, which has been rumored as a strong possibility, they’ll come out this smelling even rosier. It’s been a great offseason for the Pacers.
New York Knicks (Tyson Chandler, Mike Bibby)
The Knicks were not supposed to have the money to sign a big-name free agent this autumn, so when they went all-in by using the amnesty clause on Chauncey Billups to sign Tyson Chandler, it surprised a lot of people. They may have overpaid, and Bibby certainly shouldn’t be expected to do anything of any value at this point in his career, but the addition of Chandler gives the Knicks arguably the best frontcourt in the entire league.
Portland Trail Blazers (Jamal Crawford, Kurt Thomas, Ray Felton)
To lose Greg Oden for the season (again) and Brandon Roy forever doesn’t make the Blazers winners by any stretch of the imagination, but getting Jamal Crawford at $10 million for two years almost certainly does. That has to be considered one of the great bargains of the offseason, and adding Kurt Thomas to help fill out that depleted frontcourt is a better move than some may realize. This wasn’t a great year for Portland when it comes to franchise guys facing such frightening injuries, but considering everything they did rebound pretty well in the aftermath of those losses.
Golden State Warriors (Kwame Brown)
First the Warriors really wanted Tyson Chandler, but he spurned them for New York. Then, they thought they were seriously in the running for Chris Paul, but Paul said he would not be signing an extension in Oakland, so no deal there, either. The offer sheet they convinced DeAndre Jordan to sign got matched, and by the time that was all over, most of the major free agency targets had already been snatched up. Instead, they end up with a one-year, $7 million deal for Kwame Brown. That’s a painful few weeks for a team that really went into free agency hoping to dramatically improve itself.
Los Angeles Lakers (Josh McRoberts, Troy Murphy, Jason Kapono)
They had Chris Paul, and they lost him. Hence, they are losers. But there’s more to this frustrating offseason for the Lakers than just that. The aftermath of that failed deal forced them to ship out Lamar Odom to arguably their biggest rivals for about as close to nothing as you can get, and all they’ve managed to bring in to replace him is a couple of former Indiana Pacers who weren’t even all that great in Indy. Kapono is no real prize, either, and the end result is actually a worse-looking team than the one that got booted from the second round of the playoffs last year. They needed to get better for 2012, and so far what they’ve done can’t be considered that.
Toronto Raptors (Jamaal Magloire, Aaron Gray)
Are there two bigger, slower guys in the league than Magloire or Gray? They won’t even have their lottery pick, Jonas Valanciunas, this year, so expect some pretty rough going in Canada this season.
Houston Rockets (Jeremy Lin)
Houston really, really wanted to haul in a center to replace the retired Yao Ming, and while it’s outside of their control that they couldn’t bring in Pau Gasol, the fact that Nene and Marc Gasol spurned them outright shows how little these free agents apparently think of the Rockets now that they’ve lost Yao, replaced Rick Adelman with Kevin McHale, and now lost Chuck Hayes, too. To top it all off, they’re stuck with two players in Kevin Martin and Luis Scola who know they were essentially given away by the team, so to put things nicely, this could be a long year for Houston fans.
Boston Celtics (Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Marquis Daniels, Keyon Dooling, Chris Wilcox)
This was supposed to be Boston’s last chance to win a ring with their aging superstar core, but the roster outside of those four is looking about as sad as any roster in the entire league. The news that Jeff Green will miss the entire season to recover from heart surgery is a devastating blow and truly sad, however the team would’ve been in rough shape even had he stayed healthy. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo all are excellent NBA players, but after that it gets dicey—Jermaine O’Neal, Bass, Daniels, Dooling, Wilcox… this is a team that’s supposed to win another championship? In a year where veteran teams may struggle anyway because of the condensed schedule, this simply doesn’t bode well for the C’s.
Free Agency News and Notes
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