The NBA offseason can cause a sea of emotions for fans of a particular franchise. For some, the offseason brings hope of a playoff berth and championship run. For others, their team's offseason transactions can bring feelings of doubt and lack of faith in management.
The 2012 edition of the NBA offseason definitely has not been lacking in big moves—some expected and others that have made everyone collectively scratch their head while trying to make sense of them. There were the usual major players handling their business as usual (the Lakers, Celtics and Mavericks, for example) and a few surprise franchises getting in the mix as well.
Let's take a look at the eight best and worst acquisitions of the NBA offseason, starting with the worst then progressing to the top pick up this summer.
Given their other moves this summer it has been evidently clear that the Orlando Magic are in full rebuilding mode, which makes re-signing an aging Jameer Nelson for three years, $25 million nothing short of a mystery.
To his credit, Nelson is a gritty, veteran point guard with good leadership qualities. But Nelson has also been injury prone throughout his career and is a limited playmaker (he's never averaged more than six assists per game, despite having the NBA's best finisher).
Nelson is also undersized, making him a liability on defense. And without Dwight Howard to protect the rim, Nelson's defensive deficiencies will be more evident than in previous years.
If the Magic were fully embracing their rebuild, they would have been better served to keep Chris Duhon for a lot cheaper and let him distribute the basketball to their young players. Instead, the Magic are on the hook for about $8.4 million to a 30-year-old PG with more limitations than strengths.
Despite being overshadowed by some higher profile teams this summer, the Minnesota Timberwolves have quietly put together the makings of a young playoff team, and their best pick up this summer may have been the addition of guard Brandon Roy for two years, $10.4 million.
Signing Roy was a bit of a risk given his history of knee injuries, but if Roy is indeed as healthy as everyone claims, he is a great addition to the Timberwolves roster. In his best years, Roy was a top-5 caliber shooting guard in the NBA capable of single-handedly carrying a team to a W on any given night. Roy was also an excellent playmaker from the 2-guard position with the ability to create scoring opportunities for his teammates.
Roy's skill set is a great compliment to Kevin Love and young point guard Ricky Rubio. Combine that with the rest of the T-Wolves summer acquisitions (Andrei Kirilenko, Chase Budinger, Alexey Shved) and don't be surprised if they sneak into that eighth seed in the West.
Raymond Felton's conditioning (or lack thereof) coming into last season has been well-documented. Felton went into Portland overweight, played sluggish and out of shape and produced arguably his worst season to date. It's safe to say that Felton was failing to live up to the expectations of being drafted as a top-5 point guard in the same draft class as Deron Williams and Chris Paul.
But somehow, Felton parlayed an 11.4 ppg, 6.5 apg and .407 shooting season into a four-year, $14.8 mil deal as the starting point guard for the New York Knicks.
Granted, Felton was having a career year with the Knicks before being dealt to the Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony, but that was in Mike D'Antoni's offensive system that favors point guards. This time around, Felton will be sharing the basketball with Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. Not to mention Felton has to fill the void left by Jeremy Lin, who is now in Houston.
Felton may have a decent 2012-2013 season, but the Knicks could have used the money they gave Felton and Jason Kidd and kept fan-favorite Lin in Madison Square Garden. Instead, the Knicks opted for the cheaper option instead of the high-risk, high reward a successful Jeremy Lin would have produced.
Many may look at the loss of Ray Allen to the Heat as a negative for the Celtics, but picking up Jason Terry and Courtney Lee to replace Allen may actually be upgrades.
Both Terry (34) and Lee (26) are younger and have been more durable than Allen in recent years. They also have experience being productive playing in reserve roles and both came relatively cheap (about $5 mil per season for each).
Also, both Terry and Lee are solid shooters, with Terry connecting on 38 percent of his career three-point attempts and Lee knocking down an equally impressive 38.6 of his shots from behind the arc.
Throw in Terry's ability to create his own shot and Lee's defensive prowess with Avery Bradley once he's back from injury, and the Celtics now have one of the top wing rotations in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics did make a run to re-sign Allen before he decided to bolt to Miami for less money, but may have come out with the better options because of it.
The Cleveland Cavaliers struck gold when they selected PG Kyrie Irving first overall last year and Irving responded with a stellar 18.5 ppg, 5.4 apg and a Rookie of the Year award-winning campaign. I highly doubt this summer's selection of Syracuse guard Dion Waiters will produce anywhere close to the same results.
Let me offer a disclaimer by admitting that Waiters has some skills and may be a productive NBA combo guard at some point. Waiters was also the highest-rising leading up to the draft, despite not conducting a single official workout. That doesn't dismiss that fact that Waiters wasn't even a starter on Syracuse his sophomore year before going pro and struggled more times than not as the main option on the Cavs summer league team.
Waiters is at his best with the ball in his hands, but with Irving as the lead guard, a player who is more adept at the catch-and-shoot game would have been a much better fit than Waiters.
The Cavs signed C.J. Miles recently and Miles may get the starting nod over Waiters for the time being. But the Cavs could have gone with a couple other options with the fourth pick that would have fit their roster better, such as Harrison Barnes, or even traded down for a more polished player like Jeremy Lamb.
Instead, the Cavs bought the hype and reached for Waiters, which may come back to haunt them in the long run.
The rich continue to get richer, with the NBA Champion Miami Heat snagging two of the best shooters available in free agency by signing Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, at discount prices at that. Allen shunned a more lucrative offer from the Celtics to sign with the Heat for two years, $6 million while Lewis was acquired for $2.75 million over two seasons after being bought out by the Hornets.
Lewis and Allen are re-united after spending time launching threes and starring together with the Sonics from 2002-2007. Now they can camp out and enjoy open looks at the three-point line courtesy of penetration from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. There aren't many easier ways to earn an NBA paycheck than that.
Miami won their second title last season via the same strategy and with shooters not quite the caliber of Allen and Lewis so picking up both this summer was a definite upgrade. Allen shot a blistering 45% from three-point range last season, and Lewis is a career .388 from behind the arc, despite playing sparingly for the Wizards last year.
Adding two veteran shooters for less than a combined $6 million a year after winning an NBA title ranks as one of the best moves not only this season, but also in recent memory.
Kudos to Omer Asik for taking advantage and cashing in on the NBA's restricted free agency regulations that somehow inspired the Houston Rockets to make him an offer than would make zero sense for the Chicago Bulls to match.
But when you look Asik's production in his two NBA seasons to date, it makes little sense that Houston was willing to pay an average of $8.3 million per season for the next three years to a center that has only started two games, played 13.2 minutes per game and produced just 2.9 ppg in his career to date.
Asik is known as a solid defensive backup center, but making a reserve big man with limited offensive skills one of your highest-paid players makes little to no sense at all. Not only is the Asik offer bad financially, it also helped to prevent the Rockets from making a realistic run at acquiring Dwight Howard from the Magic, leaving Houston with no NBA-caliber starting center.
Well done, Daryl Morey.
The Los Angeles Lakers unquestionably have had the best offseason of any NBA franchise. The Lakers were able to convert the free agency exit of Ramon Sessions and Matt Barnes into Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison, then parlayed Andrew Bynum and Christian Eyenga into Dwight Howard, giving the Lakers one of the most complete starting lineups in the league.
Of course, the Lakers have to play and gel together before we declare them the 2012-2013 NBA title frontrunners, but on paper they are close. Howard is a much better fit in the pick-and-roll with Nash than Bynum.
With the new Princeton-style offense the Lakers are said to be installing, Kobe Bryant should be able to get much easier shots than he has experienced in years. Bryant and efficient scoring have rarely been used in the same sentence, but that should change with the roster the Lakers have for next season.
The biggest questions facing the Lakers at this point are chemistry and depth, more so the former than the latter. The Lakers' bench has been upgraded this summer as well with Jamison's versatility and with Chris Duhon and Earl Clark also coming over in the Howard deal. With these upgrades across the board, anything less than an NBA Finals appearance for the Lakers will be a disappointment in Los Angeles.
One thing is for sure; with all of these acquisitions (both good and bad), fans are in for quite a 2012-2013 NBA season.