Ranking the 2012 NBA Free-Agent Signings with Biggest Impacts
Goodbye NBA free agency, hello aftermath.
Though there are still plenty of free agents to be signed, the biggest names, quickest hands and most potent of arsenals have already found a place to call—or continue to call—home.
Certain deals were putrid, some were perplexing and others were steals, yet they all have one thing in common—consequences.
Good or bad, even the most insignificant of deals has an impact on a team's blueprint for success.
But at the end of the day, there are signings that have a more substantial impact, yield more drastic results and significantly alter the course of an organization's immediate future more than others.
10. Lou Williams, G, Atlanta Hawks
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Contract Value: Four years, $21.1 million
Signing Lou Williams impacts the Hawks just as much as trading Joe Johnson did.
Without Johnson, Atlanta became devoid of a truly above-average spot-up shooter who also had the ability to be an self-indulgent playmaker.
Kyle Korver is an exceptional shooter but hardly able to create his own offense. Josh Smith has no problems creating for himself, but he's a sporadic shooter. And Jeff Teague simply isn't a big shot-maker just yet.
Enter Williams, a player who can replace Johnson's offensive production, has a great handle on the ball and shot over 36 percent from beyond the arc. His acquisition ensured the Hawks would remain relevant; it headlined an offseason filled with justifiable change.
Most importantly, though, it provided Atlanta with an affordable, go-to perimeter scorer.
9. Ryan Anderson, PF, New Orleans Hornets
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Contract Value: Four years, $36 million
Ryan Anderson's arrival in New Orleans answers an array of questions that have plagued both the Hornets and Magic, and it impacted the team more than the predetermined re-signing of Eric Gordon.
It ensured that Orlando was headed nowhere fast and hardly attempting to impress the likes of one Dwight Howard.
More importantly, though, it proved that New Orleans is willing to spend in order to assemble a formidable roster, while also solidifying the notion that Anthony Davis would spend a majority of his minutes at center.
As many mismatches as Davis would create at power forward, the Hornets aren't about to pay Anderson an average annual salary of $9 million to come off the bench, nor is Robin Lopez a suitable starting 5 right now.
Factor in the unusual backcourt pairing of Gordon and Austin Rivers, and Anderson's presence has all but written one of the NBA's most versatile and unbalanced lineups in stone.
8. Deron Williams, G, Brooklyn Nets
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Contract Value: Five years, $98 million
Am I an idiot?
I actually prefer realist.
Deron Williams' return to the Nets has a substantial impact on Brooklyn's future. It solidifies the team's spot as a viable playoff contender and ensures the Nets can follow the plan they laid out over a year ago.
But didn't we know all this already? Truth be told, Williams' departure would have had a bigger impact on the Nets than his return; this team was built on the assumption he would be running the point next season.
That said, we cannot neglect to acknowledge that his decision to make the trip from New Jersey to Brooklyn allows the organization to enter a new home with a heralded superstar who will lead the charge as the battle for New York begins.
Williams is a difference-maker, a leader and the face of a now reinvented franchise who officially provided an air of stability to a Nets team that immersed itself in uncertainty for almost two years.
That, in its own right, is incredibly huge.
7. Omer Asik, C/Jeremy Lin, PG, Houston Rockets
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Contract Values: Three years, $25.1 million
Whether or not you believe the combination of Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin was overpaid is irrelevant; the fact is it reshaped the Rockets' rebuilding efforts.
After cleaning house and holding an essential fire sale in an attempt to pry Dwight Howard away from the Magic, such aspirations have been rendered nearly impossible after this series of signings.
Houston's greatest asset was its ability to offer Orlando an overwhelming amount of cap relief.
Now, though? The Rockets have secured a Howard-less future laden with Lin-related profits and mediocre finishes.
For the Rockets' sake, let's hope that's what they were angling toward all along.
6. Antawn Jamison, PF, Los Angeles Lakers
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Contract Value: One year, $1.4 million
Can you say second-unit savior?
The starting five for the Lakers is as strong as any in the league, but their bench reeked of subpar athleticism and a severely restricted ceiling last year.
Now, though, it's Antawn Jamison to the rescue.
Not only does Jamison stretch the floor with his ability to knock down shots from anywhere on the floor, but given ample playing time, he'll put up 15 or more points per game as the second unit's glue guy.
Why exactly is that huge? Well, considering no player on Los Angeles' bench averaged more than 5.2 points per game last season, it's rather enormous.
Championships aren't won by just superstars; competent role players and docketed depth are just as important.
Jamison signifies a new beginning in Los Angeles for the latter.
5. Raymond Felton, PG, New York Knicks
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Contract Value: Four years, $18 million
Raymond Felton's reunion with the Knicks didn't just bring a sense of uncertainty to Jeremy Lin's future in New York; it killed it.
Bringing in Felton proves Linsanity wasn't immune to the adverse effects of the business side of the NBA, and it also implied the Knicks weren't banking on youthful exuberance, but rather, seasoned veterans to lead their cause.
There is no longer a point guard on the roster liable to steal the spotlight away from Carmelo Anthony or whose contract would breed detrimental resentment in the locker room. There's also no longer a budding floor general attempting to follow the path to stardom.
Instead the Knicks are left with a player hell-bent on reviving his career, whose addition all but perpetuated the lack of continuity at the point guard position.
While the gravity of Felton's impact is obvious, whether or not that will prove to be a good thing remains to be seen.
4. Jason Terry, SG, Boston Celtics
Brett Deering/Getty Images
Contract Value: Three years, $15.6 million
Jason Terry can shoot the deep ball in transition better than anyone in the NBA, and his addition made it abundantly clear Boston had no intention of rebuilding, yet neither will prove to be the greatest impact his signing had.
Once Terry joined the Celtics, it all but ensured that Ray Allen's tenure in Boston was over. The Celtics saved face by offering him a contract anyway, but he was out the door as soon as Terry came through it.
So while Boston's newest combo guard adds some serious firepower to the Celtics' second unit, this is essentially the man that facilitated the breakup of Beantown's big three.
Is that good? Is it bad? Is Rajon Rondo smitten with uncontrollable glee?
The answer to those questions is not yet known, but the fact that such questions exist speak volumes to the significance of Terry's latest contract.
3. Brook Lopez, C, Brooklyn Nets
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Contract Value: Four years, $61 million
Brook Lopez's deal certainly puts a dent in Brooklyn's wallet, but it meant more to the Nets' future than dollars and cents.
Re-signing Lopez essentially killed any chance Brooklyn had at landing Dwight Howard. The Nets were pushed into a corner, courtesy of stagnant trade negotiations, and chose to move forward with Lopez, not Howard, as their center.
Sure, Lopez is eligible to be traded once again in January, leaving the door open for Brooklyn and Orlando to re-engage in talks, but that's assuming the Magic even hold on to Howard that long. That's also assuming Orlando is willing to assume Lopez's $61 million deal and that the Nets are able to bring in a third—and potentially fourth—team to make it all happen.
That's simply too many assumptions.
For the longest time, it was expected that Howard would start next season in Brooklyn. Lopez's fully-loaded deal, however, made the contrary a reality.
2. Ray Allen, SG, Miami Heat
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Contract Value: Three years, $9.5 million
Not only has Ray Allen's decision to sign with Miami rendered the rivalry between the Celtics and Heat scorching, but it also made the Heat unquestionable favorites to repeat as NBA champs.
Allen's presence gives Miami an additional shooter to help spread the floor, making the Heat even more of a matchup headache.
The shooting guard is the league's all-time leading three-point shooter, and he will assume the role Mike Miller has been expected to play all along.
Allen's shooting prowess also suggests LeBron James will be spending even less time settling for jumpers and more time attacking the rim and experimenting with low-post sets. Drive-and-kicks are about to become even more of a staple in Miami.
The Heat scratched and clawed their way to an NBA title this past season, but with Allen in tow for next year, they'll be expected to cruise to a second straight ring.
1. Steve Nash, PG, Los Angeles Lakers
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Contract Value: Three years, $27 million
With Nash's ability to extract the most possible value out of his teammates, suddenly Los Angeles' supporting cast doesn't seem so thin. With his impeccable court vision, suddenly Pau Gasol seems poised to return to prominence. And with his ability to carry the burden of an entire team on his own, suddenly Dwight Howard doesn't appear to be a necessity.
The Lakers are once again considered bona fide title contenders. Nash's addition instills a sense of serenity in an uptight franchise that seemed ready to enter a downward spiral.
But Nash's presence squashed all that. He changes the dynamic of Los Angeles' offense completely and allows Bryant to play alongside a caliber of point guard he never has before.
So, while the Lakers' roster consists of many of the same faces as last season, Nash seemingly renders this team unrecognizable.
In a good way.