5 Teams Most Likely to Come Up Empty in NBA Free Agency 2012

Joel C. CordesNBA Associate EditorJuly 7, 2012

5 Teams Most Likely to Come Up Empty in NBA Free Agency 2012

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    NBA Free Agency 2012 has been a party so far. Yet, these five teams are in danger of missing the dance.

    Recent trades for Joe Johnson, Steve Nash, Lamar Odom and Kyle Lowry have upped the player movement tempo to a fevered pitch.

    Point guards have especially been the rage so far, with buyers scrambling for Nash, Lowry, Goran Dragic, Deron Williams and Jeremy Lin. Things have gotten so desperate for some teams, that tarnished brands like Ramon Sessons, Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd are suddenly intriguing commodities once more.

    With signings of Jason Terry, Ray Allen and Nick Young signaling the run on wings, there's plenty of sprinting left to do. The music continues to play on the Dwight Howard saga, Nic Batum, Eric Gordon and others.

    Here are a few teams clearly in danger of losing their chair.

Boston Celtics

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    This offseason was supposed to mark the end of the Big 3 era and the beginning of the next chapter for the Boston Celtics. Instead, it feels like they're still in identity limbo.

    The team never actively pursued any of the big-name free agents, despite having the ability to land at least one max-contract player.

    Instead, Kevin Garnett was re-signed, not as a supporting piece, but as a three-year, major cog. Ray Allen just defected to the Miami Heat (reported by Brian Windhorst of ESPN), and the team's draft picks may take some time to become big contributors.

    Regardless of how you feel about Jason Terry's arrival, he is NOT enough to suddenly make the Celtics better than the Miami Heat, especially now that they have Ray Allen too.

    Keeping Brandon Bass and Jeff Green was nice, but that can't be all there is. There's still some money and time left to add more parts, but this Beantown offseason has been fairly underwhelming so far.

    That's just not what any of us were expecting when going into this.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    The Philadelphia 76ers had plenty of optimism heading into their offseason. With natural maturing, a strong draft and at least one splash signing and/or trade, they would climb another rung of the Eastern Conference ladder.

    Youngsters like Evan Turner, Jodie Meeks and Thaddeus Young will indeed get a year older, and the Sixers' draft selections were defensible, but the team has failed to really capitalize in free agency so far.

    Jrue Holiday is making ridiculous contract demands. Andre Iguodala still hasn't been traded yet and re-signing Spencer Hawes was but a comfortably safe move.

    While signing Nick Young is a start, this is really a lateral replacement for losing Lou Williams. The team also appears poised to amnesty their starting power forward, Elton Brand.

    Yet, what's left to use that money for?

    The Sixers didn't have the cash when the big names were still available, and now they've cleared room with just the leftovers to choose from.

    According to 1500 ESPN, a rumored three-way trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trail Blazers could add more youth with Derrick Williams replacing Andre Iguodala. However, until that happens, Philly fans are left to wonder what the plan is.

    The Sixers still have plenty of potential, but this offseason hasn't added much actuality.

Dallas Mavericks

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    By refusing to re-sign important supporting pieces of their championship run, the Dallas Mavericks wanted to open huge amounts of cap space for this offseason. The Mavs signed placeholders like Vince Carter, Lamar Odom and Delonte West to fill the void.

    Not only did that team never find a groove last season, but they couldn't get out of the first round either. That was all going to be worth it if Deron Williams came home and Dwight Howard signed on.

    Now?

    Deron Williams has re-signed with the Nets, and the Los Angeles Lakers poached away the Steve Nash fallback option. 

    Dwight opted back into his Orlando Magic contract already, and Dallas doesn't appear a logical trade destination. The next best center, Roy Hibbert, is going to the Portland Trail Blazers or back to the Indiana Pacers. 

    Not only has Dallas failed to get better, they've also lost Jason Terry to the Boston Celtics and Jason Kidd to the New York Knicks.

    The Mavericks still have a ton of money, but obviously the situation is getting desperate when Ramon Sessions is the first of many panic moves (reported by Dwain Price of The Star-Telegram). Currently, Dallas only has Dirk, Vince, Shawn Marion, Roddy Beaubois, Brendan Haywood, Brandon Wright and Dominique Jones under contract.

    2012's championship surrender suddenly doesn't seem worth it.

New York Knicks

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    Those ridiculous Steve Nash pipe dreams got bigger with each passing day, nearly crossing over into reality. Then, the Los Angeles Lakers rained on the parade.

    By focusing so much on the slim Steve Nash chance, the Knicks made Jeremy Lin skittish. He suddenly began listening to suitors, and then accepted a fat offer from the Houston Rockets.

    While it appears New York will match the deal and face the cap-hell consequences in two years, they never would have been in this position had they just focused on Lin right away.

    By also pursuing Nash, the Knicks made the Toronto Raptors panic. GM Bryan Colangelo rolled the dice with offering Landry Fields a bloated deal, thereby hoping to trap New York in a Catch 22.

    The Raptors missed out on Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin, and are left holding the bag. However, they still ended up making life more difficult for Knickerbockers.

    While the Knicks should wisely avoid matching Fields' $20 million deal, they've essentially traded him for Jason Kidd.

    J-Kidd is certainly a better backup point and Lin mentor than Baron Davis and Mike Bibby were last season, but the team just lost a starter and one of their few upside players in the process.

    Had New York simply stayed realistic and avoided the Steve Nash scenario, they still could have wound up in this exact same situation—except they'd still have Landry Fields and the offseason would have cost about half the price.

Houston Rockets

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    Daryl Morey has a good poker face—we'll give him that much.

    The Houston Rockets GM doubled down on his 2012 draft picks, feverishly collecting assets to lure in Dwight Howard (NBA.com) The Orlando Magic never blinked, and the Rockets were left with their selections.

    Morey then went all in to lure point guard Jeremy Lin, using the same "poison pill" back-loaded contract ploy they offered to Chicago Bulls backup center Omer Asik.

    In the process, the Rockets have lost BOTH of their starting point guards. Kyle Lowry has been traded to the Toronto Raptors for a bag of beans, and Goran Dragic took the money and ran to the Phoenix Suns.

    For a fringe competitor that was gambling hard on becoming a major player, the Rockets didn't even maintain their mediocrity. Lin will probably be retained by the New York Knicks, and Asik is NOT going to suddenly make Houston a playoff team.

    It suddenly appears as if their next play is to blow everything up, trading big-money veterans like Kevin Martin and Luis Scola, and begin building around all of those draft picks.

    This is not how the offseason game was supposed to go for them.