Radical 2012 NBA Offseason Deals Nobody Saw Coming
The NBA is unpredictable, but that doesn't mean that people aren't trying to predict every move that could potentially happen.
The nature of the NBA is as soon as a deal gets done, past rumors are discarded and forgotten. Hence is the nature of the business.
In fact, shocking deals are what keep the offseason interesting. If everything happened exactly as expected, we would be just as well off if we started following the NBA again in October.
As NBA fans, we would prefer to read about a hypothetical deal involving Pau Gasol than read an analysis of an MLB game. While the Dwight Howard saga turned out to be more annoying than anything else, there were times in which discussing potential landing spots for the big man was a lot of fun.
When Howard is finally able to get back on the court, his play will remind the NBA world as to why so much attention has been given to him.
While some deals that transpired this offseason weren't surprising, there were quite a few that caught the basketball world by surprise.
Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers
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When the 2012 NBA season wrapped up, it was assumed that Steve Nash had played his final game as a member of the Phoenix Suns.
That being said, few expected him to join forces with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. The thought of the Suns trading Nash to a rival would have been nonsense in June, but it came to fruition in July.
Prior to the trade, Nash was rumored to be interested in the Toronto Raptors or Dallas Mavericks. But that would have been too straightforward for the summer of 2012, which has been nothing short of remarkable.
The Lakers did not have the cap space to sign Nash in free agency and needed to acquire the perennial All-Star in a sign-and-trade in order to afford him. As it turned out, that is exactly what happened as the Suns moved the face of their franchise for a handful of draft picks.
It should be noted that the picks aren't going to be in the lottery because the Lakers, barring a plethora of major injuries, are all but a lock to make a deep runs in the postseason for the next few seasons.
The Nash move only proved that large-market teams have an innate advantage. For the Lakers, the rich got richer in a way few would have predicted.
It should also be noted that Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has now managed to make his team a legitimate title contender twice in five years due to brilliant trades. Just when the Lakers appear to be falling behind, Kupchak swoops in and drastically changes the landscape of the entire league.
While it remains to be seen how Nash and Bryant will gel in the backcourt, the sky is the limit.
Bleacher Report writer Adam Fromal recently ranked the NBA's backcourts, and had the Bryant-Nash combination at the top of his list. Considering that Bryant is an all-time great at shooting guard, and Nash is the greatest facilitator of his generation, the ranking is well deserved.
Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers
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As the Dwight Howard saga was playing out, Andrew Bynum's future with the Los Angeles Lakers was unclear.
Most thought that the Lakers would move Bynum for Howard in an instant—and were proven right when that exact thing happened.
The mystery lied in where Bynum would ultimately land if the Lakers were able to acquire Howard.
Would the Orlando Magic demand that Bynum had to call Central Florida his home in order for the deal to get done?
Would a third-team get involved with the Lakers and Magic in hopes of landing Bynum?
As it turned out, Bynum was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in the four-team deal. In turn, the 76ers sent Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets and also took in Jason Richardson's bloated contract from the Magic.
While Iguodala is without a doubt one of the best wing defenders in the league, the 76ers haven't been comfortable with him being the player to lead the team to true playoff success.
76ers GM Rod Thorn believes that Bynum is the right cornerstone to make Philadelphia a consistent threat in the Eastern Conference. If Bynum is able to stay healthy and keep his head on straight—no guarantee on either—then he may be proven right.
If Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday reach their potential to form one of the best backcourts in the entire NBA, then there is no telling how good the 76ers could be if they convince Bynum to resign with them next summer.
After making a lucky run to the second round of the playoffs due to the Derrick Rose injury, the 76ers proved they weren't content with their team and acquired the second best center in the league.
It wasn't surprising to see Bynum get traded, but it was a bit of a shocker to see him land in Philadelphia.
Jason Kidd Spurning the Dallas Mavericks for the New York Knicks
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When Jason Kidd won his maiden NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks in the summer of 2011, his fans exhaled knowing one of the best point guards of the generation had finally reached the mountaintop.
While the Mavs were unable to conjure a similar performance in 2012, there didn't appear to be animosity between Kidd and the franchise. Perhaps there never were any negative feelings between the two, but that certainly isn't the case anymore.
At one point in the offseason, it was believed that Kidd would sign with whatever team Deron Williams chose.
When that turned out not to be the case, most assumed that Kidd would resign with the Mavericks. Among those who thought that Kidd would return to the lone-star state was Mavs owner Mark Cuban.
In fact, there were reports that Kidd and the Mavericks were very close on coming to a new agreement that would have seen the future hall-of-famer retire as a Mav.
When asked about Kidds' decision to leave Dallas, Cuban said the following to the ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Ben & Skin Show as reported by ESPN's Jeff Caplan:
"J-Kidd's a big boy, he can do whatever he wants. But you don't change your mind like that. I'm sure I'll get over it at some point, but as of right now, I wouldn't put J-Kidd's number in the rafters."
In this situation, Cuban sounds like a high school student who is trying to appear as if he doesn't really care about being spurned for a different prom date.
While Kidd isn't half the player he used to be and the Mavs won't miss him much on the court, it is clear that Cuban expected more from a player who was a key part in the teams only championship run.
It wouldn't have been surprising to see Kidd sign elsewhere, but few expected him to spurn his old team in such a manner.
The Minnesota Timberwolves Signing Brandon Roy
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When Brandon Roy retired in 2011, it was viewed as an extremely unfortunate situation because he had so much more to give to the game.
While it wasn't the first time that shoddy knees forced an athlete intro retirement, it never really gets easier for sports fans to deal with. In Roy's situation, all it took was conjuring up the memories of his superb play against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 playoffs to feel anguish for him.
As it turned out, Roy's retirement was short lived and he signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves a mere eight months after retiring.
It shouldn't come as a shock when players come out of retirement—we're looking at you Michael Jordan—few expected Roy to return to the game, especially so quickly.
While it remains to be seen how his knees will hold up once the wear and tear of an NBA season sets in, he has the potential to be the piece that could propel the Timberwolves into the playoffs.
It wasn't so long ago that Roy was considered to be among the best young shooting guards in the league. Even if he is unable to replicate his past production, anything similar would be a major gain for the Timberwolves.
The Portland Trail Blazers struggled mightily once Roy retired, which speaks to just how electrifying he was when healthy.
Predicting the health of an athlete is risky business, but unless Roy received new knees from a magic genie, he may be calling for his second retirement sooner rather than later.
It is too early to make a judgment on this situation, but all eyes will be on a Minnesota Timberwolves team that has a few interesting players on their roster for the first time in years.
Joe Johnson Getting Traded to the Brooklyn Nets
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Joe Johnson is a very good shooting guard and would start for the majority of NBA teams.
The problems is that Johnson is being paid as if he is the second best shooting guard in the NBA.
While that isn't his fault, and he shouldn't be blamed for getting the best deal possible, his contract made him appear to be untradable.
However, whoever thought that was the case didn't take into account how a desperate franchise would do whatever it takes to keep their best player from leaving town. That is exactly what happened when Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King acquired Johnson via trade in hopes of convincing Deron Williams to sign an extension with the team.
Luckily for King and the borough of Brooklyn, the risky move worked and Williams decided that the Big Apple was the place for him.
It was nothing short of a major shock to see the Atlanta Hawks jettison Johnson without taking back any long-term financial obligations in return. This move alone should keep Hawks GM Danny Ferry in the general manager of the year conversation well into February regardless of how his team performs on the court.
With this move, Ferry has given the Hawks the luxury of having financial flexibility in the years to come. As we move deeper into the new CBA, many owners and GM's will regret not building a more cost effective team, the Hawks will not be among those teams.
It remains to be seen how the Nets and Hawks will look on the court after this move, but it isn't hard to see the reasons that caused the teams to agree to the shocking deal.