7 NBA Teams That Made Huge Mistakes Letting Key Pieces Get Away

Daniel O'Brien@@DanielO_BRFeatured ColumnistJuly 27, 2012

7 NBA Teams That Made Huge Mistakes Letting Key Pieces Get Away

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    We've seen a boatload of transactions during the 2012 NBA offseason, and amid the shuffle of players being signed and traded, several teams made poor decisions by letting key pieces go.

    Franchises often make regrettable decisions on the basis of salary-cap concerns or trading for a coveted player.

    A handful of teams got weaker at certain positions because they weren't shrewd or thoughtful enough to hang on to them.

    For some teams, it was the inability to retain a superb backup point guard. For others, it was the lack of foresight to keep a productive, playoff-caliber forward.

    Let's take a look at seven teams that made huge mistakes letting key pieces get away this offseason.

Philadelphia 76ers: Lou Williams

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    2011-12 was a breakout year for Lou Williams, who scored nearly 15 points per game and became one of the key pieces of the Philadelphia 76ers' attack.

    The Sixers let Williams go, and the creative combo guard chose the Atlanta Hawks as his destination.

    Philadelphia has several guards and wing players on its roster, but the 2012-13 backcourt won't be as good without Williams. Bringing in Dorell Wright and Nick Young is nice, but it won't make up for what Williams can do.

    The numbers don't lie.

    Taking a step backward on the guard depth chart is not what the 76ers wanted to do, especially with a below-average cast of post players to rely on.

Chicago Bulls: C.J. Watson

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    The Chicago Bulls didn't want to guarantee C.J. Watson's contract for the 2012-13 season, so they let him walk, and he signed with the Brooklyn Nets.

    This decision shows how undervalued Watson was by the Bulls organization.

    Watson started in 25 games and played in 49 total games in the lockout-condensed season, mostly in relief of injury-plagued star Derrick Rose.

    Despite playing without Rose for a large chunk of the season, the Bulls maintained the best record in the East. Watson filled in admirably, scoring 10 points and dishing four assists while shooting 39 percent from long range. Not bad for a backup, right?

    The Bulls' sailing won't be as smooth without him. Kirk Hinrich and Marquis Teague won't bring as much to the table as Watson did.

Orlando Magic: Ryan Anderson

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    The Dwight Howard saga has caused the Orlando Magic to make some questionable moves this offseason. Most notably, they let Ryan Anderson leave for New Orleans in a sign-and-trade deal.

    Howard's departure is inevitable, but that doesn't mean the team needs to be completely overhauled.

    It seems as if, in its attempt to clear salary cap space, Orlando forgot how good Anderson is. The combination of 16.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 39 percent shooting from distance is rarely found in someone who's 6'10".

    If I were general manager Rob Hennigan, I would have opted to keep the 24-year-old Anderson and part ways with the 30-year-old Jameer Nelson.

New Orleans Hornets: Chris Kaman

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    As exciting as the upcoming season is for New Orleans fans, the Hornets are an incomplete team.

    They need a legitimate, playoff-caliber starting center, because Anthony Davis is going to be more of a forward in the NBA.

    Unfortunately, the Hornets had one, but they let him go. Chris Kaman signed with the Dallas Mavericks and left New Orleans with Jason Smith as the only real center on the team. New Orleans should have done more to keep Kaman in town.

    Kaman is a guy who can register 12-15 points and eight boards per game, whereas Smith's ceiling is around 10-11 points and six rebounds. One is a legitimate starting center—the other is not.

Indiana Pacers: Darren Collison

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    It might have been a fair trade between the Indiana Pacers and the Dallas Mavericks, but Indiana was unwise to part ways with Darren Collison.

    The Pacers bolstered their frontcourt by trading for Ian Mahinmi, but they gave away a fantastic reserve guard in Collison. They added D.J. Augustin to back up George Hill, but here are three reasons why Collison would have been better than Augustin:

    1. Collison's per-minute numbers are much better than Augustin's.

    2. Collison put up even better numbers in the playoffs.

    3. He really started to gel with the Pacers last spring, and now they have to establish chemistry with Augustin.

Houston Rockets: Luis Scola

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    As part of their franchise overhaul and/or desperate attempt to make room for Dwight Howard, the Houston Rockets used the amnesty clause to get rid of Luis Scola and his contract.

    The Rockets will end up with a mediocre roster that's not only without Howard, but also without a polished, fundamental forward like Scola, as the Argentinian was picked up by Phoenix.

    Scola is one of the best non-athletic players in the NBA. His exemplary footwork and post moves are complemented by a smooth outside shot. The power forward still has several productive years left in him, and he would have made Houston a much better team.

    Now, the Rockets are a young squad without an identity at power forward.

Los Angeles Lakers: Ramon Sessions

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    It's understandable that the Los Angeles Lakers would let Ramon Sessions go to a team where he'll get more playing time, but the Bobcats of all places is a head-scratcher.

    Being a backup in Los Angeles beats anything in Charlotte, even if the Bobcats will improve next year. Mitch Kupchak and the rest of the Lakers' brass should have tried to keep Sessions as a backup point guard.

    Sessions would have been a reserve who would see a healthy chunk of playing time, considering Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant are old and Steve Blake is relatively inept at the point.

    Without the athletic Sessions, the Lakers' cast of guards is thin behind Bryant and Nash.