July 07, 2015

Zach Lowe's NBA Free-Agency Winners and Losers: Now that Marc Gasol and Robert Pera have come down from their tapas-and-wine bender across Barcelona, the last big-name free agent outside the LeBron Show is off the board. The first free-agency period of the NBA’s new money era mostly unfolded over a whirlwind 90 hours, starting with Al-Farouq Aminu’s move to Portland and ending when LaMarcus Aldridge broke away and headed to San Antonio. Even when most players re-sign with their old teams, free agency jolts the league’s balance of power and explodes new trends in the player-sharing economy.

posted by Ufez Jones to basketball at 10:21 AM - 27 comments

TL:DR -- The Spurs? They always win. It's too early to declare them undisputed favorites, especially since the reloading Cavs have a much easier path to the Finals. The Thunder could earn their way back into this stratosphere fast. The defending champs are young, and the Spurs are leaning on at least five key players over 30. But the Spurs have a chance to be devastating.

posted by Ufez Jones at 10:22 AM on July 07

Thanks, I wasn't already deflated enough about the Celtics. Poor Chris Fosberg at ESPNBoston is stuck trying to enthuse about Marcus Smart getting to the free throw line a bunch in the Summer League opener. That the Celtics lost by 19.

posted by yerfatma at 02:02 PM on July 07

The section on Boston really stuck out to me due to this line: "Fans are getting restless, but rebuilds take time. Boston will strike at some point, and the Celtics are among a pile of teams hoping Love will eventually force his way out of Cleveland."

Are things so dire/weird in Danny Ainge's head that their best hope is for the FA they just lost out on to eventually leave the team he signed with and then choose Boston? Is that Ainge's only plan? Were there no contingencies?

posted by Ufez Jones at 02:37 PM on July 07

Yeah, the Celtics had a rough one - Johnson for Bass is an upgrade, and keeping Crowder was a necessity, but striking out across the board at center, not being able to cash in at the draft, and not being able to get Wallace's salary off the books means another long year ahead.

posted by dfleming at 02:37 PM on July 07

Is that Ainge's only plan? Were there no contingencies?

My read is they didn't show enough early interest in Greg Monroe (who was interested in them) or Robin Lopez (which, meh) because of a misguided belief that Love was going to leave Cleveland for them and then paid for it when those guys went quick.

I mean - even if Love forces himself out - with the salary cap boost there are going to be a whole host of better teams out there who might be able to afford to take on his salary. Why is that a future plan worth holding onto?

posted by dfleming at 02:44 PM on July 07

And now Marc Stein is saying that the C's have swapped Gerald Wallace for David Lee. So see, fatty, things are already looking up.

posted by Ufez Jones at 02:57 PM on July 07

The Warriors save something ridiculous like $25m if that's true by getting under the tax.

I don't totally get this with the Celtics - the point of Johnson playing full-time seemed to be he, and Zeller, might defend the rim efficiently and the Celtics might become more of a Stevens college scheme team.

Now if you slot Lee in for extended minutes, you're giving up whatever you get offensively from him defensively, you take one of your better defensive bigs off the court for extended durations, and you now have to find someone to take Sullinger or Olynyk because you've got too many depth big men.

posted by dfleming at 03:23 PM on July 07

I also kind of want to add how excited I am about the prospect of Rajon Rondo joining George Karl and Boogie Cousins in Sacramento. HBO needs to do a basketball version of Hard Knocks with the Kings.

posted by Ufez Jones at 04:23 PM on July 07

All they need is to add JR and Josh Smith to build the all headcase team.

posted by dfleming at 04:24 PM on July 07

The Knicks situation is interesting, and doubly so when your rooting interest holds a 2016 pick swap with them. Lowe seems to think they have a chance to be decent but I don't see how they are going to compete even in the weak East. They won't be able to stop anybody and I have a hard time believing that a group of strangers is going to progress up the learning curve of the triangle fast enough to get anywhere near a top ten offense. Now add in Melo coming off an injury (or possibly pouting) and Fisher having yet to prove that he's a competent coach and I think that situation could go really poorly.

posted by tron7 at 05:13 PM on July 07

Are things so dire/weird in Danny Ainge's head . . .

Probably, but I think the article overstates Love as their only plan. I think they would have been just as happy to draft in the top 10 and/ or add Boogie. The Lee trade isn't amazing, but it's definitely an improvement: they get someone who can actually play for essentially $5 million (the difference between Lee's last year and Wallace's).

posted by yerfatma at 08:19 AM on July 08

Sometimes I think that roster talent regardless, Phil Jackson not getting Steve Kerr will end up being analogous to Rick Pitino not getting Tim Duncan. An early sign that this ain't happening.

Except that Pitino was sure he was pre-ordained to win the draft lottery, and blamed both God and science when he didn't.

This is the time of year when Jackson must be thinking long and hard about the allure of Montana. I wonder if he's charting the water level and surface conditions of his favorite trout streams.

posted by beaverboard at 10:40 AM on July 08

This is somehow amazingly silly and (as a Mavs fan) amazingly nerve-racking:

posted by Ufez Jones at 02:23 PM on July 08

This is more entertaining than the Eastern Conference playoffs.

posted by tron7 at 02:44 PM on July 08

Blake on the move.

Chris is on vacation.

posted by tron7 at 02:58 PM on July 08

The longer this lingers the more the novelty has worn off and I'm afraid he's going back to LA and this whole season, much less the post-Dirk future, is becoming less bright.

posted by Ufez Jones at 08:02 PM on July 08

Any bad blood between Ballmer and Cuban that comes out of the DeAndre thing is going to be a dream come true for the demented yakkers at ESPN and elsewhere. Every time I think (hope) that they are going to run out of reasons to justify their existence, shit happens and life proves me wrong.

posted by beaverboard at 10:00 PM on July 08

This is now easily top 5 worst moments of Dirk's career.

1) the 2006 Finals
2) 2007 historic first round loss to Golden St.
3) Nash leaving for Phoenix
4) This???
5) toss-up between Rajon, Lamar Odom, & Cristal Taylor

This hurts. Dirk deserves better. This morning there were rumors that the Mavs thought they were setting themselves up to court Kevin Durant next summer with the combo of Parsons, DeAndre and Wes Matthews + Dirk. Now it's all gone to a burning bag of shit on Mark Cuban's front porch.

Fuck.

posted by Ufez Jones at 11:21 PM on July 08

...the C's have swapped Gerald Wallace for David Lee.

Basically this is an exchange of an end-of-bench splinter magnet with an expiring contract for a nightly double-double whose idea of defense seems to be playing traffic cop as people go by him, and who has an expiring contract. Boston is taking on $5 Million more in salary with Lee, which is one of the reasons Golden State was so anxious to move him. Thing is, if Lee can play at all and does not get injured, he becomes a very valuable bargaining piece as the trading deadline nears. Look for Ainge to move him to a playoff contender that needs his scoring in exchange for either draft picks or a younger prospect type. There could well be a third team involved too.

Also note that Amir Johnson's contract does not have a guaranteed second year. True, he's an upgrade over Bass (who I will miss watching for his hustle and grit), but if the opportunity arises to replace him with something better come trade deadline, it will happen. Perhaps a 3-team deal with Lee and Johnson both involved will happen. Come February I will have to look at this to see if I qualify for the "Swami" award.

posted by Howard_T at 11:47 PM on July 08

In general, I think DeAndre Jordan made himself look like a selfish twat in this whole process.

Renegging on a verbal contract is n't great, but not even taking a meeting with Cuban to man up and tell him your word means shit before you sign elsewhere is worse. Lots of reports out there saying it's been days since Dallas actually got a response from Jordan. I think Nowitzki in particular deserved better than that, as that commitment presumably meant the Mavs stopped looking for a front-line center while a bunch were still out there.

Plus the whole stardom thing - going back to the Clippers, no matter what marketing tricks they have up their sleeve, he's still their third best player. If he wanted to be a star, he'd put more work into not shooting 43% from the free throw line and costing his team points by giving freebies away.

posted by dfleming at 09:20 AM on July 09

The Clippers were already the most hated team in the league, I can't imagine this is going help matters. What do the Mavericks do now? What a disaster. Could teams use this to their advantage? If you have a free agent that you know is solid in staying could you send him out to commit to a conference rival only to have "second thoughts" and utterly ruin a franchise's free agency designs.

posted by tron7 at 09:44 AM on July 09

The Clippers were already the most hated team in the league, I can't imagine this is going help matters.

The Celtics are pleased with this. They own a Dallas first round draft pick from the Rondo trade. It was protected this year, thus it rolls over to 2016, although it is protected if it is in the top 7. The same is true through 2018, with the pick unprotected in 2019. Without DeAndre Jordan, Dallas could be very ordinary this year. A pick in the range of 8 through 15 would be very nice, thank you.

posted by Howard_T at 09:17 PM on July 09

If they don't just blow it up and tank, Howard. Which Cuban is on record of saying they'd do if they hadn't landed DeAndre from the get go.

I don't know how not playing until December Wes Matthews (and now Zaza Pachulia!) affects that plan, but I can't imagine in a super competitive West they'll be even remotely decent.

I hope they just feed Dirk over and over and over and let him pad his career stats. He deserves better, but it's the least they can do.

I'm still despondent over this whole shitshow.

posted by Ufez Jones at 09:29 PM on July 09

This hurts.

This is as bad as having the first draft pick in franchise history, Kiki Vandeweghe, refuse to play for the team and hold out until he got traded. If I saw that guy in person I'd still boo him today.

I can't believe Jordan lacked the guts to meet the Mavericks and tell them he was breaking the deal. He'll forever look like a coward for hiding from them until the contract was signed with LA.

I don't think the Mavericks have ever tanked under Cuban. This is a depressing milestone.

Why were the Ballmer era Clippers hated before this? I want to hate them for as many reasons I can.

posted by rcade at 09:31 PM on July 09

Why were the Ballmer era Clippers hated before this?

Pretty much every other team seems to hate CP3 and Blake and their preening, plus you had Matt Barnes as the point man for playing dirty/ talking trash and then backing away when it came to a fight.

posted by yerfatma at 08:57 AM on July 10

I read around 20 stories on this last night in the Dallas press and ESPN. It sucks, but the loyalty being shown by Chandler Parsons and Wesley Matthews makes me love them as Mavericks. Mark Cuban offered Matthews a chance to opt out of his deal after the DeAndre Jordan betrayal, and Matthews reaffirmed his commitment to play for the team.

For my fellow Mavs fans, I offer one sign that this might not seem as much a disaster in a couple years as it does today: Three years ago it was a crushing blow when Deron Williams turned them down. His stock has fallen so far since then Brooklyn is eager to ship him out, and he may end up in (of all places) Dallas.

posted by rcade at 09:29 AM on July 10

posted by Mr Bismarck at 10:47 AM on July 10

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