Breaking Down the Best and Worst of the 2012 NBA Offseason
While we can't truly evaluate which team has had the best summer until at least the start of the next year—if not the end of it—it’s never too early to look at who made the best moves on paper and who swung and missed throughout the 2012 NBA offseason.
Many moves have been made, and while some are more significant than others, they have all helped shape what the league will look like heading into the 2012-13 season.
There are players who have yet to be signed and moves that have yet to be made, but the heavy lifting is complete, and it’s easy to tell which moves deserve the most credit and which ones simply should have been avoided.
Best: Los Angeles Lakers
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The Howard and Nash situations could not have been handled more differently, yet the two superstars both found their way to L.A., where they’ll compete for Western Conference supremacy right away alongside Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant.
The team did give up a young and improving Andrew Bynum, but by bringing in arguably the best big man in the league, the Lakers are building for the future as well as the present.
Trading draft picks for Nash was one of the best deals of the summer, and while it’s reasonable to question how well he and Bryant will blend on the court, you have to believe that, because the two stars are hungry for a championship, they will make it work throughout the course of the season.
Don’t forget that this team picked up Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks to help fix the bench problems next year.
The Lakers are built to win now, and it’s all because of the way they responded to a second straight second-round elimination last season.
Worst: Houston Rockets
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The Houston Rockets put all their eggs in the Dwight Howard basket this summer, yet they will enter 2013 without their guy and with a whole lot of uncertainty.
The contract given to Omer Asik is arguably one of the worst of the entire offseason, and while Jeremy Lin proved that he can get it done with a small sample size in 2012, it took a truly toxic offer to snatch him away from the New York Knicks.
If Lin and Asik both continue to improve, their contracts will be more easily justified down the road; for now, though, they’re simply the consolation prize for missing out on Howard.
The Rockets currently have 20 players on board for next season, which shows that they have no idea which direction they are going at this point in the summer.
The future should not look too dreary if the draft picks are able to develop the way that their talents suggest they can, but when it comes to competing immediately out West next season, this team failed at getting the job done.
Best: Boston Celtics
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The Boston Celtics began their offseason with so many question marks that we really had no idea what they were going to look like heading into the 2012-13 season.
Now, this team has made the moves necessary to keep the championship window open, and things are looking up as the summer continues.
Having re-signed Kevin Garnett, the Celtics are bringing back a player who is the vocal presence and emotional leader of the team. His postseason production was a nice incentive to retain him as well.
In June, the Celtics took a chance on Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, but if they can stay healthy and become integral parts of the rotation, they are going to prove themselves to be steals when we look back and analyze who won the 2012 NBA draft.
The Celtics did lose a key part of their rotation in Ray Allen, but as unlikely as it seems, it appears both the Celtics and the Miami Heat—who signed Allen—have benefited from the move.
Having brought in Courtney Lee and Jason Terry, as well as re-signed Brandon Bass and Jeff Green, this team now has the veteran presence and the youthful prospects to stay competitive deep into the future.
Worst: Orlando Magic
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The Orlando Magic did what they set out to do this summer, but none of it was pretty, as the spotlight was constantly shining their way whether they wanted it or not.
The Dwight Howard saga dragged on much longer than most cared for, and with the big man gone and Andrew Bynum in Philadelphia, the Magic have set themselves up for a rough 2013.
The team was unable to obtain Brook Lopez—or any other big-time players—and now it is without a cornerstone piece heading into next year.
That being said, the Magic are building for the future, and they got a big head start this offseason.
Having cleared cap space this summer, the team is ready to become a player in free agency next year, as well as build through the draft.
The Magic are ready to begin building for tomorrow, but today, things look bleak for the team in Orlando.
Best: Deron Williams Signing
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The Los Angeles Lakers made arguably the two best moves of the entire offseason in acquiring Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, but the Brooklyn Nets seemingly saved their franchise when they convinced Deron Williams to re-sign with the team following the trade for Joe Johnson.
Williams is a top-tier point guard in virtually every way, and he will be the true face of the franchise now that he is locked up for the long term.
Yes, the team would have loved to trade for Dwight Howard, and not getting him is probably a disappointment, but had it lost Williams to the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers or anybody else, it would have been a catastrophic start to its time in Brooklyn next year.
When it comes down to it, this team kept its franchise player, surrounded him with the talent he’s been missing and will look to make some noise out East in 2013.
Worst: Landry Fields Signing
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Having already touched on Omer Asik and the Houston Rockets, let’s move north to the Toronto Raptors' decision to sign Landry Fields.
It’s no secret that the Raptors wanted Steve Nash this summer. They offered Nash a huge contract and the chance to play in Canada, but they ultimately settled for Fields in what was a relatively busy offseason for the team in Toronto.
Fields ultimately accepted a three-year, $20 million deal, according to Ian Begley of ESPN New York, which went unmatched by the New York Knicks.
The big question here is, would the Raptors have even offered the contract Fields’ way if they had known that Nash was going to choose Los Angeles?
Fields could very well prove to be a great pickup as he continues to grow, but for now, he’s an expensive piece of the puzzle.
Best: Andre Iguodala Acquisition
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For years it seems, Andre Iguodala has been alternating on and off the trading block, but his time with the Philadelphia 76ers finally came to an end, and the Denver Nuggets are the ones who will benefit from his departure.
Having jumped in on the Dwight Howard deal this summer, the Denver Nuggets have acquired a big-time player who can have a big-time impact on a potential playoff run next year.
Iguodala has never been considered a true NBA superstar, but his athleticism and scoring abilities have been on display throughout most of his career.
The Nuggets are a young team, but their most valuable asset is their depth. They have solid role players all over the rotation, and the one thing they were missing in their playoff run last year was a flat-out No. 1 option on offense.
There’s no denying that the Sixers got a great young player in Andrew Bynum in return, but the Nuggets have been looking for a go-to player since Carmelo Anthony’s departure, and now they’ll have that player in Iguodala next season.
Worst: Raymond Felton Signing
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The New York Knicks let Jeremy Lin walk this summer in what could be one of the more unpopular moves the N.Y. fanbase will see for quite some time.
It’s no mystery as to why they let him walk—Raymond Felton was simply cheaper.
According to The New York Times, Felton’s deal is worth $10 million over three years.
Felton is coming off arguably the worst season of his NBA career, but he proved that he can play in an uptempo system when he played for the Knicks back in the 2010-11 season.
The issue here is not money; it’s the fact that the team simply let Lin walk instead of bringing him back and seeing what he could do for the team again in 2013.
Lin’s contract was an expensive one, and it would have pushed the Knicks into the luxury tax by the time his deal came to an end, but bringing in Felton was a fitting move for a curious summer in New York this year.