It was a shortened 2011 NBA off-season and certainly lacked the excitement and drama of the summer of 2010. Still, some teams made major moves that will help their franchises for the immediate season and the future. Here my NBA off-season winners which include both teams involved in the Chris Paul trade and an emerging sleeper team in the Eastern Conference.
Los Angeles Clippers
Sure the Clips gave up a good amount to land Chris Paul, but in doing so they have become a relevant NBA franchise for the first time in a long time and actually created a significant buzz, taking away some of the pub from their crosstown rival Lakers. The additions of veterans Chauncey Billups and Reggie Evans at bargain prices are great deals. Re-signing DeAndre Jordan was a must and ten-million dollars a year for a young, developing, impact center seems like a good deal. The team did overpay for Caron Butler’s services, but all in all the Clippers made a major step as a franchise this off-season and became a playoff-caliber club in the Western Conference.
New Orleans Hornets
I think the Hornets absolutely made the right decision by trading CP3 prior to the start of the season rather than finding themselves in a Denver Nuggets/Carmelo Anthony type of situation during the season. They got great value back in one of the top scoring guards in the NBA in Eric Gordon, a promising small forward in Al-Farouq Aminu, a solid big man in Chris Kaman who is in the final year of his contract, and a likely top five pick. New Orleans also didn’t waste any of their cap space by overpaying an average player to a long-term, expensive deal. They now have assets for the future as well as a ton of cap space entering next summer that should make the post-CP3 re-building effort much smoother.
It started with the draft day addition of George Hill and continued the past couple of weeks by signing David West to an affordable two-year, $20 million contract and freeing themselves of James Posey’s contract by using the amnesty clause on him. The Pacers entered the off-season with a ton of cap space and made smart moves by not wasting any of their money and still keeping themselves in good financial standing for next off-season when the free agent class will be much better. Suddenly, Indiana has become a sexy sleeper team in the Eastern Conference that definitely is on the up-and-up.
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.