The 2012 NBA Offseason's 7 Biggest Winners
While we still don't know what's going to happen in regards to Dwight Howard, the dust has (for the most part) settled on a hectic NBA offseason. Players have changed addresses by the dozens, and a number of franchises are poised to make significant noise next year.
Even though we don't know who will eventually win the NBA championship, it's almost human nature to point out the teams that have had the most successful summers. However, it probably makes more sense to highlight the players who have had a great offseason. After all, they are the ones who will be paid the big money.
So, as the NBA calendar finds itself in a bit of a lull, let's take a look at seven players who were the biggest winners this summer.
7) Jeff Green, Boston Celtics
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A heart condition prevented the Boston Celtics from re-signing Jeff Green last season, but the team recently announced that the 6'9" forward agreed to a four-year, $36 million deal to return to the team.
Health is no longer an issue with Green; he has reportedly been cleared to resume basketball activities. From the Celtics' standpoint, however, it seems a bit exorbitant to give Green $9 million per year when there are luxury tax implications in play.
With the addition of Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, as well as the re-signing of Brandon Bass, Green is almost a luxury. Then again, if Green can be as effective as he once was with the Oklahoma City Thunder, both he and Boston will be big winners next season.
6) Jason Terry, Boston Celtics
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With the Dallas Mavericks virtually coming apart at the seams around him, free-agent guard Jason Terry was able to land on his feet with a Boston Celtics team that could challenge for the Larry O'Brien Trophy next season.
The 6'2" Terry will basically play the same role that he did during his glory years with the Mavericks, and his exceptional three-point-shooting ability (1,788 three-pointers made in his career—fourth all-time) is exactly what Boston needs in light of Ray Allen's departure to the Miami Heat.
"I'm going to a winning team, a team in Boston that has rich tradition and heritage, and they've got a championship pedigree," said Terry in a July interview with Bleacher Report. "They've got a great coach, three Hall of Famers and I just believe that for me, it's a perfect fit."
5) Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets
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When news that Brooklyn's ill-fated attempt to land Dwight Howard had failed (at least for now), it didn't seem likely that Brook Lopez would get a max deal from the Nets. After all, foot problems had limited him to five games last season, and the seven-foot center isn't exactly an All-Star-caliber player.
To be fair, Lopez did average 20.4 points per game during the 2010-11 season, but his rebounding ability leaves much to be desired.
So of course, to the surprise of just about everyone—and completely unsurprising to those who are familiar with the track record of Nets general manager Billy King—Brooklyn signed Lopez to a four-year, $61 million deal this summer.
Whether Lopez (who can't be dealt until January 15) is ultimately a chip in a Howard deal remains to be seen, but what isn't in question is the fact that the Nets center is in the midst of a mighty fine offseason.
4) Steve Novak, New York Knicks
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Steve Novak is an excellent three-point shooter, and he was able to parlay that one skill into a four-year, $15 million deal with the New York Knicks.
After bouncing around the league for the first five years of his career, Novak finally found a home—and regular playing time—in New York last season. He led the NBA in three-point percentage (47.2 percent), and his mere presence beyond the arc was at least some of the reason Jeremy Lin was so adept at attacking the basket.
Paying $4 million per year is a hefty price to pay for a specialist—nearly 84 percent of Novak's field-goal attempts last season were three-pointers—but for a Knicks team that desperately needs a shooter, they simply couldn't afford to let the 6'10" forward walk.
3) George Hill, Indiana Pacers
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Even though the summer isn't over yet, George Hill is the winner of the "Right Place, Right Time" award for the 2012 NBA offseason.
Hill—who turned down a contract extension back in January—had a very solid year for an Indiana Pacers team that put up a spirited fight against the Miami Heat in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
His performance, coupled with the fact that Indiana had a bunch of cap room available this summer, led to a five-year, $40 million deal.
The lucrative contract seems far more reasonable now that the Pacers traded Darren Collison to the Mavericks last month, opening the door for Hill to start in 2012-13. Hill's patience—and good fortune—made him one of the biggest winners this summer.
2) Andrei Kirilenko, Minnesota Timberwolves
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A two-year, $20 million deal for Andrei Kirilenko—a player who wasn't even in the NBA last season—seemed a bit excessive two weeks ago. Of course, that was before his 35-point explosion against Great Britain in Russia's Olympic opener back on July 29.
The 6'9" small forward—lovingly referred to as AK-47—was long regarded as one of the NBA's more versatile players before he signed with CSKA Moscow during the lockout.
Kirilenko's fill-the-boxscore ability is just what the Timberwolves need, and it doesn't appear as though he has lost a step during his time in Europe.
"Look at me," said Kirilenko following the game versus Great Britain, according to ESPN. "I'm running like a young deer."
1) Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers
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Perhaps no one had a better offseason than point guard Steve Nash. After missing the playoffs three out of the last four seasons with the Phoenix Suns, Nash is now the newest member of a Los Angeles Lakers team that could make a legitimate run to the NBA Finals.
With all due respect to Jared Dudley, Nash's new backcourt mate—Kobe Bryant—is more than a slight upgrade. Not only will the 38-year-old Nash be able to finish out his career with a bevy of talent around him, but he'll also be paid $27 million over the next three seasons.
All in all, not a bad outcome for someone who was rumored to be headed to Toronto a little over a month ago.