All the big moves in the NBA off-season have been made… except that one big guy in Orlando whose name I refuse to mention because I’m fed up with hearing rumors about where or where he might not end up. So it’s time to dish out some winners and losers of the past few weeks. Here are a few teams that were losers during the NBA off-season.
Basically everything general manager Daryl Morey did this off-season revolved around the longshot of landing Dwight Howard via trade from Orlando, even though Houston is not one of Howard’s desired destinations and there is no guarantee he would sign a long-term extension with the team. They even amnestied their best player, Luis Scola, rather than trying to trade him for some assets, simply so they could clear about $30 million in cap space over the next three years. On top of that, the Rockets gave a three year, $25 million to Omer Asik who has career averages of 2.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Morey also bought into Linsanity (litertally) by signing Jeremy Lin to a three year deal that will net him $14.8 million in 2014-15.
I didn’t really love their draft either. I’m not sold on Jeremy Lamb and picking Royce White and Terrence Jones now gives them about five combo forwards on their roster. Houston has set themselves up to have a ton of cap space for next summer and potentially three first round draft picks including the one they landed from Toronto in exchange for Kyle Lowry. Glass-half empty though; Morey doesn’t exactly have a great track record recently with acquiring young assets. So now Houston enters next season with a likely starting five of Asik, Patrick Patterson, Chandler Parsons, Kevin Martin, and Lin, and is a massive loser in the off-season.
Larry Bird’s regime in Indiana was predicated around building the franchise through smart decisions, not overpaying free agents, and drafting wisely. Bird left, Kevin Pritchard took over as general manager, and that blueprint flew right out the window. I understand the Pacers were backed into a corner and pretty much had to match the max offer sheet that the Blazers threw at Roy Hibbert. $58 million is a lot to give Hibbert for the next four seasons but big men are constantly overpaid in the association (see: Omer Asik.)
What didn’t make any sense to me was trading a starting caliber point guard in Darren Collison to Dallas in a sign-and-trade deal for another center, Ian Mahinmi just days after wasting their first round pick on Miles Plumlee. That deal will net Mahinmi, who has averaged 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game during his four year career, $16 million over the next four years. The Pacers did also add some smaller pieces to improve their depth in the backcourt but I can’t look past the moves they made to “bolster” their frontcourt.
Perhaps nobody reaped the benefits of having a career year during their free agent season than Ersan Ilyasova. He had a terrific 2011-12 season and parlayed that into a 5-year, $45 million deal this summer. That’s a lot to pay Ilyasova especially when just days before they drafted another power forward, John Henson. Ilyasova does give them an effective stretch four but now Milwaukee has a logjam at power forward which includes their lottery pick who likely won’t crack the rotation.
The Bucks also didn’t do anything to improve the small forward position even though Carlos Delfino is a free agent. Therefore, they enter next season with some sort of rotation between Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (another defensive minded, offensively challenged, long forward), Mike Dunleavy, and second year player Tobias Harris who didn’t show much during his rookie season. With Monta Ellis holding a player option on the final year of his deal next summer and Brandon Jennings becoming a restricted free agent, the Bucks needed to add better pieces around their explosive guard duo and I can’t say they succeeded in improving as a basketball team. (They did get a great second round value in Doron Lamb though and actually added a true center in Samuel Dalembert.)
The T-Wolves entered the off-season with one major need; find a scorer to put on the wing. Minnesota struck out on landing some of the bigger names they were targeting including Nicolas Batum as the Blazers matched the offer sheet he signed with Minnesota. Instead, David Kahn dealt the team’s first round pick for a decent bench player in Chase Budinger and rolled the dice on signing no-knees Brandon Roy to a two-year deal just seven months after injury forced him to temporarily retire. The team also let Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph walk in free agency while amnestying Darko Milicic which hurts their frontcourt depth. That’s not exactly the next step the franchise needed to take to build off an improved 2011-12 campaign.
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 and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.