10 Biggest Surprises of the NBA Offseason So Far

Bryant WestCorrespondent IJuly 14, 2012

10 Biggest Surprises of the NBA Offseason So Far

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    In the NBA, some of the biggest stories end up popping up when no basketball is being played at all.

    This offseason is no different. Even after one of the more exciting seasons in recent history, the 2012 offseason is stepping up the drama. Between the 2012 NBA draft and the two weeks of free agency, there have been a ton of storylines and surprising moves.

    Let's take a look at the 10 biggest surprises of the NBA offseason...so far. (Check back with us in a week or so. These might be all mundane by then).

Eric Gordon Really Wants Out of New Orleans

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    Despite the fact that his New Orleans Hornets had just drafted No. 1 overall selection Anthony Davis, a sure-fire stud big man, guard Eric Gordon really wanted out of New Orleans.

    Gordon signed a four-year, $58 million max contract offer with the Phoenix Suns that the Hornets are expected to match. Since Gordon is a restricted free agent, the Hornets have the right to match any contract he signs.

    The fact that the Hornets would likely retain his services didn't keep Gordon from complaining about it. "As for now, I don't know what's going on," he told Jimmy Smith at The Times-Picayune. "(If the Hornets match) as of right now, I'd be disappointed."

    Who can blame Gordon, of course? Any time you can leave a team who just drafted a star big man for a squad in Phoenix whose biggest name is Michael Beasley...you gotta jump at that, right?

    And to think, Gordon could have avoided all this. He could have accepted the Hornets' one-year tender offer and been an unrestricted free agent next year, free to sign wherever he wants. But why would he do that, when he can get more money now and just complain about it?

    Gordon played just nine games last season after being hampered by injures. He averaged 20.6 points and 3.4 assists per game while shooting 45 percent from the field.

Deron Williams Returns to Brooklyn

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    For months it looked like Deron Williams would leave Brooklyn in the dust and go sign with his hometown Dallas Mavericks. Current Mavericks players Dirk Nowitzki and Delonte West and even Dallas Cowboys star Dez Bryant all tried to recruit Williams to Dallas.

    Williams surprisingly chose to return to the Nets last week.

    "I am really excited to be able to officially say that Brooklyn is home," he said in the team's official press release. "It is an incredible time to play in Brooklyn and to be a part of this organization, the first sports team to call Brooklyn home in over 50 years."

    With a hopefully healthy Brook Lopez, a re-signed Gerald Wallace and the newly acquired Joe Johnson, it'll be interesting to see how big a splash the Nets can make in the East.

Cleveland Selects Dion Waiters with No. 4 Pick

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    When the Washington Wizards selected guard Bradley Beal with the No. 3 overall selection in the 2012 draft, most expected the Cavaliers would take forward Harrison Barnes at No. 4. After all, their adoration of Barnes had been well chronicled.

    Instead, the Cavaliers selected Syracuse guard Dion Waiters, who they hadn't worked out, hadn't met with and hadn't even talked to.

    Waiters, of course, hadn't worked out with any team but had apparently been given a very early draft promise. Still, few expected the Cavaliers to take him at No. 4.

    He never started a game in college and was projected for months to be a late lottery selection. Somehow, playing hard to get got Waiters an incredibly high draft selection.

    The Cavaliers apparently love Waiters, with head coach Byron Scott comparing him to Dwyane Wade. Slow down there, coach. Pretty big comparison for a player who never started in college.

Perry Jones Tumbles to Oklahoma City at No. 28 Selection

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    Once considered a contender for a top-five selection, Baylor forward Perry Jones took the biggest fall in the 2012 draft and ended up going to the Oklahoma City Thunder with the No. 28 selection.

    Jones likely would have gone in the top five in the 2011 draft but chose to return to Baylor for his sophomore season.

    He averaged 13.5 points and 7.6 rebounds last season, but while his athletic gifts were always obvious, he often had his work ethic and determination questioned.

    Still, Jones possesses top-10 potential, and the Thunder certainly didn't need any more talent to stay at the top of the West. Oklahoma City just got another major steal.

Brooklyn Pulls Out of Dwight Howard Chase, Gives Brook Lopez Max Contract

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    After trying to secure a Dwight Howard deal for more than a year, the Nets finally pulled out of talks to acquire the troubled Orlando center. Instead, they gave big man Brook Lopez a max contract.

    While both Portland and Charlotte had apparently been ready to offer Lopez a max contract, it's still surprising to see Lopez get that much dough. Lopez played just five games last year, averaging 19.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.

    How many Nets fans figured that Brooklyn would strike out on Dwight Howard and then immediately give the guy they've been trying to trade for Howard a max contract?

The Rockets Amnesty Luis Scola in Dwight Howard Chase

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    The Rockets have been working hard all summer, trying to acquire the pieces for a Dwight Howard deal.

    First, they tried to move up in the draft to snag enough selections for a trade with Orlando, but that didn't work out, and they ended up drafting guard Jeremy Lamb and forwards Royce White and Terrence Jones.

    Now the Rockets are revving up their attempts to get Howard. Houston used the amnesty clause on big man Luis Scola, auctioning off his services to the highest bidder in an effort to clear cap space for a deal with Howard.

    Orlando would likely want to get rid of a number of bad contracts in any Howard deal, and it's got a bunch...Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson, just to name a few.

    Still, if Houston can't work out a deal for Howard, it just amnestied a very good power forward for nothing.

Brandon Roy Returns to the NBA, Signs with Minnesota

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    Just eight months after retiring from the NBA due to knee injuries, former Portland star Brandon Roy signed a two-year contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    Roy praised the procedures he'd had on his knees, saying he felt great: "I was so excited about how I was feeling, it was like the first day of school for me."

    The biggest need the Timberwolves had was for a scoring shooting guard, and if Roy can return to anywhere close to top form, that might just make Minnesota a dark-horse contender.

Atlanta Trades Joe Johnson to Brooklyn, Clears Cap Space for 2013

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    New general manager Danny Ferry didn't wait long to make his impact known in Atlanta.

    The Hawks traded away guard Joe Johnson and the over $90 million left on his contract to Brooklyn for cap space and a handful of expiring contracts. They also traded forward Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz for Devin Harris, who also has an expiring contract.

    They managed to keep both forward Josh Smith (Ferry said there were no more ongoing trade discussions involving Smith) and center Al Horford, but we'll have to wait and see if Atlanta can still contend for a playoff spot with Johnson gone.

    Still, the Hawks now will have a top of cap space in the summer of 2013, when players such as Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Serge Ibaka and James Harden will all be free agents.

New CBA Doesn't Stop Teams from Overpaying for Players

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    Boston re-signed swingman Jeff Green to a four-year, $36 million deal after he'd missed all of last season due to heart surgery.

    Then Houston signed center Omer Asik to a three-year, $25 million deal that would pay Asik $15 million in the final year of the deal. 

    The Indiana Pacers signed guard George Hill to a five-year, $40 million deal and will match the max $58 million, four-year contract the Portland Trail Blazers offered their restricted center, Roy Hibbert

    Now, Denver Nuggets big man JaVale McGee is mulling...just mulling, mind you...a five-year, $50 million contract with the Nuggets. Maybe after seeing what Asik and Lopez got, he thinks he can snag a bit more.

    Of course, my title here is sarcastic. While it's not surprising at all that teams are overpaying for players, it's just surprising every time it happens.

    "The Nuggets just offered McGee what?!"

Steve Nash Traded to the Los Angeles Lakers

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    After battling with the Los Angeles Lakers in the Pacific Division for years, Steve Nash got his wish and got the Phoenix Suns to sign-and-trade him to the Lakers.

    Calling it "something I never foresaw," Nash got both of his major free-agent goals at once: He joined a contender while staying close to his children in Phoenix.

    Seeing Nash in a Lakers jersey was something few people ever expected, but placing Nash alongside Kobe Bryant instantly produces one of the "must-watch" storylines for next season.