NBA Free Agency 2012: Orlando Magic and the Biggest Losers so Far
What a summer it has been in the NBA.
First, we had an excellent year of NBA playoffs that culminated with the Miami Heat winning the NBA Championship. What has followed has been just as, if not more, entertaining.
The NBA free-agent period has certainly had its ups and downs and twists and turns along the way.
Superstar players have changed teams, others have stayed in place and some have nauseated all of us with their constant flip-flopping.
While there is still some time for these teams to make something out of their free-agent period, they have stood out so far as the NBA teams who have struck out in free agency thus far.
5. Utah Jazz
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In the post-Deron Williams and Jerry Sloan era, Utah still managed to pick itself up off the mat last season and make it into the playoffs.
Although they didn't win a game against the Spurs, it had to be considered a successful season for a young team who many thought would be in rebuilding mode last year.
However, this offseason, they have made some questionable moves.
First, the Jazz traded for Mo Williams and will use their trade exception from the Mehmet Okur deal to take on Williams $8.5 million contract next season.
That is a baffling number to pay Williams in my opinion. Sure, the Jazz needed a point guard to take over the reins for Devin Harris, who they sent to Atlanta, but Williams is a shoot-first type of player that doesn't seem to fit with the Jazz young talent like Enes Kanter and Gordon Hayward.
In the Atlanta deal, they also picked up former No. 2 overall pick Marvin Williams from the Hawks, according to ESPN's Mark Stein and Brian Windhorst. Williams will be making $8.3 and $7.5 million over the next two seasons, another bloated contract for Utah to pick up.
Williams never lived up to the hype in Atlanta, and it seems unlikely a change of scenery will do him any good at this point in his career.
The Jazz also failed (at least up to this point) to get back their former star, Andrei Kirilenko, who was reportedly considering an offer from the Jazz to return to the NBA, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Originally, it was thought that Kirilenko would be staying in Russia, but now it seems as though if he does make an NBA comeback, it may not be with the Jazz, but with a different NBA team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nets GM Billy King told Fox Sports Radio that the Nets are in talks with Kirilenko about joining Brooklyn next season.
4. Toronto Raptors
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For Toronto, this offseason was plagued by one big gamble that did not go its way in any way, shape or form.
Toronto threw out a huge contract offer to Steve Nash in hopes that the Canadian superstar would want to play the final few years of his career in his home country.
In an attempt to stop the New York Knicks from signing Nash, Toronto offered its restricted free agent, Landry Fields, a three-year, $20 million deal that it assumed the Knicks would match.
However, the Knicks didn't match, and Nash went to LA, making it a lose-lose for Toronto, who failed to get Nash and are now stuck with Fields, a player who it did not really even want to sign in the first place.
Toronto managed to pick up Kyle Lowry from Houston, but all in all, it did little to improve its team, and in a division with Boston, New York, Brooklyn and Philadelphia, Toronto is looking like bottom-feeders once again next year.
3. Chicago Bulls
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Chicago makes this list because of its failure to improve in a stacked Eastern Conference, while all the contenders around them went out and made moves to get better.
The Bulls won't only have to deal with the defending champion Miami Heat (who, by the way, picked up Ray Allen), but also a re-tooled Boston team, an up-and-coming Pacers squad, a talented Knicks team, the new and improved Brooklyn Nets and an underrated Philadelphia team to get past if they are getting out of the East next year.
Without Derrick Rose in the lineup, the Bulls fell to Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs last year, and they have done little this offseason to show improvement.
It also seems unlikely that the Bulls will match the offer sheet on big man Omer Asik, so they are now left with a depleted bench after failing to adequately replace most of what they lost.
The Bulls only real key free-agent signing to date is Kirk Hinrich, who is a nice backup to Rose, but won't be the difference for the Bulls if they want to make the NBA finals.
2. Houston Rockets
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Right in the middle of all of the Dwight Howard trade talk this offseason have been the Houston Rockets.
The Rockets seem to be so committed to bringing Howard to Houston that they care little about anything else, and they may end up paying the price.
Houston may be able to pull off the trade with Orlando, but does anyone outside of Daryl Morey, the Houston GM, really think Howard will sign long-term there?
Jeremy Lin coming to town is a nice addition, and if nothing else, it gets the fans excited to see the Rockets play. Omer Asik is a solid defense-first center, but other than that, and a trio of first-round draft picks (Terrence Jones, Jeremy Lamb and Royce White), the cupboard is nearly empty for next season.
Houston lost Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola, Marcus Camby and Courtney Lee all from a team that went 34-32 next season.
You have to wonder if the Rockets can't pull off a Howard trade, or can't keep him if they do, if this offseason's blunders will end up costing Morey his job.
1. Orlando Magic
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In reality, there was almost no way that the Magic could be winners this offseason given the circumstances they were put under in the Dwight Howard situation.
That being said, Orlando under new GM Rob Hennigan have been unable to find a suitor for Howard that matches the Magic's needs, and because of that, it has to be considered the biggest losers of the offseason.
After all, Orlando fired its head coach, Stan Van Gundy, and GM Otis Smith at least partially to appease Howard, and now it seems as though it was all for not.
Howard could have been traded during the season last year, and the rebuilding process could already be under way in Orlando, but instead, Howard changed his mind, like he always does, and signed the one-year tender to stay with the Magic, only to demand a trade once again.
The fact of the matter is, with only one year left on Howard's deal, plus his extremely exclusively list of teams in which he would accept a trade to sign long-term, the Magic have extremely limited options in trading Howard.
No matter what they end up getting for him, it won't be anywhere close to what he provided for the team over the last eight years.
Along with that, Orlando also lost one of its best supporting players, Ryan Anderson, who it shopped to New Orleans to avoid having to match his $34-36 million offer sheet that the Hornets were prepared to present to him.
All in all, once Howard leaves town, the Magic will be a shell of the team who made the finals just three years ago.