The “nuclear winter of basketball” has been averted. The owners and the players’ association ratified a new collective bargaining agreement in early December with the 2011-12 NBA season officially tipping-off on Christmas day.
With less than a month slated for the free agency period, this offseason saw trades and player signings occur at a frenetic pace. Although below is an incomprehensive list, I have singled out some of the teams based on their offseason moves and grouped them into two categories: the winners and the losers.
The Winning Teams:
New Orleans Hornets.
Despite trading away Chris Paul — perhaps one of the best point guards in the league — the Hornets received reasonable return on their investment. In trading Paul, they acquired one of the best young guards in the league (Eric Gordon), an expiring contract (Chris Kaman), a promising young player (Al-Farouq Aminu) and a potential top ten pick in a deep 2012 draft (via Minnesota).
Already a scrappy team that overachieved in the playoffs last year against the Miami Heat, the Pacers added scoring power forward David West through 2012-2013 with a 2 year, US $20 million contract.
New York Knicks:
The Knicks acquired coveted free agent, Tyson Chandler, via sign and trade with the Dallas Mavricks for US $56 million over 4 years. While I think Tyson will be a solid addition for the Knicks — who lack any semblance of defence — it’s almost as though everyone forgot that Chandler was a mostly mediocre centre before fitting in perfectly with the team in Dallas that tried to emphasize defence first. Regardless, it will be interesting to see if Chandler can help improve the defence that allowed the third most points per game last season. The Knicks also signed Baron Davis to run their point.
The Losing Teams:
Los Angeles Lakers:
The league vetoed the Lakers for their efforts to acquire Chris Paul. Forward Lamar Odom felt so slighted by the organization that the Lakers were forced to trade him to the team that swept them in the playoffs the previous year, the Dallas Mavericks, for no more than a first round pick. Coming from the Mavs, that pick will mostly likely be in the 25-30 range.
After their star center, Dwight Howard, stated publically that he wanted a trade, the Magic front office have so far been unsuccessful in finding a deal that would benefit them. Although keeping a player as dominant as Howard on your team doesn’t necessarily make you a loser in my books, waiting too long to trade a player who has expressed his desire to be moved can sabotage your team. Just ask the Denver Nuggets.
Golden State Warriors:
When The Golden State Warriors’ attempts to acquire Deandre Jordan or Tyson Chandler failed, they reacted aggressively by signing previous number one overall pick Kwame Brown to a one year, US $7 million contract. To some analysts, Brown has reinvented himself from “draft bust” to “reliable defensive role player” over the years, which was reflected in his previous contract of US $8 million over two years. But for the Warriors to sign him to almost the SAME contract over one year is baffling. Brown played an average of 26 minutes per game last year while averaging a “paint controlling” 0.6 blocks per contest. Sure Golden State needed to reach the 85 per cent salary cap minimum that was negotiated in the new CBA, but wouldn’t that money have been better spent on a free agent swingman like Josh Howard or Andrei Kirilenko?
iillustration by devon kerslake