In most cases, NBA fans typically regard their favorite team's offseason activity with a certain sense of optimism. With no evidence to the contrary, it's easy to see why plenty of people believe that their beloved franchise acquired that key piece that will push the team over the top.
And then, the regular season begins.
At that point, the "on paper" litmus test will no longer be valid: Once the games count in the standings, we're all able to truly evaluate the end product of the dozens of trades and signings that took place during the summer. And while there are those players who are certain to pay immediate dividends, there are others signed this offseason who look a lot better "on paper" than they will in reality.
Jamal Crawford should be able to hold down the fort at the shooting guard spot for the Clippers until Chauncey Billups returns from an Achilles injury later this season. But to think that the 32-year-old Crawford can be a true difference-maker at this point in his career would be overestimating his actual ability.
Crawford is a score-first, score-second combo guard who has been allergic to playing defense ever since he arrived in the NBA 12 years ago. Last season, Crawford shot an anemic 38.4 percent from the floor while playing for a dreadful Portland Trail Blazers team, which appeared to be going through the motions at times.
So while Crawford might wind up getting the most playing time out of all of the players who signed with the Clippers this offseason, he isn't the type of talent that can vault Los Angeles into the upper tier of the Western Conference. The Clippers could have merely re-signed Nick Young for the same money that they gave Crawford, and might have wound up with the better player, all things considered.
No matter how you slice it, the Nets' signing of Brook Lopez to a four-year, $60.8 million deal this summer was a terrible decision.
There are those (like Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports) who think Brooklyn did the right thing, primarily because Lopez is an offensively gifted center in a league where offensively gifted centers are rarer than unicorns. That type of logic, however, is flawed for a couple of reasons.
Just because there's a dearth of talent at a position doesn't mean that a team should give huge money to a player who is slightly above average at said position. Lopez is a good center, but his averages during his last full season (20.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG in 2010-11) don't scream "max contract."
More importantly, Lopez's best skill is putting points on the board, and with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson set to use up a large percentage of the Nets possessions this year, it's doubtful that Lopez will get enough touches to put up more than 16 points per game.
Boston is loaded with talent, and with Paul Pierce still capable of playing somewhere in the neighborhood of 34 minutes per night, Jeff Green is pretty much a luxury for the Celtics at this point. And if Boston is fortunate enough to make it to the NBA Finals in June, it won't likely be because of the contributions of Green.
Sure, it'll be nice to have the 6'9" Green spell Pierce at the small forward spot as well as fill in as a stretch 4 when Brandon Bass isn't in the game, but Boston might have been better served using that money (four years, $36 million) elsewhere. A top-flight shooting guard would have been a nice addition, and the team also could have used some more depth in the frontcourt.
Instead, the Celtics made a long-term commitment to someone who essentially plays the same position as the team's franchise player.
The Miami Heat already had enough firepower to defend their title before they signed Ray Allen, but bringing the 37-year-old guard into the fold wasn't a bad thing.
It also doesn't guarantee a second straight championship, either. And while there are those who want to talk about the Heat's "4 Kings", the fact of the matter is that Allen's role this year is pretty much that of a sharpshooting sixth man.
Allen will be on the court at the end of games, but don't expect to see him on the floor for more than 30 minutes per night. So, even though Allen clearly makes Miami better, the team will still have trouble getting past the Boston Celtics this season.
Money aside (and admittedly, it's hard to use that phrase given Lin's enormous contract), the Jeremy Lin signing didn't make all that much sense for the Houston Rockets.
Lin is a nice point guard who had an amazing run last season with the New York Knicks before he tore the meniscus in his left knee. However, to expect the 24-year-old to replicate that success on a team as devoid of talent as the Rockets is a bit unreasonable.
Life will prove to be a bit more difficult for Lin now that he's passing to Kevin Martin and Omer Asik as opposed to Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. Furthermore, Lin was a turnover machine in New York in 2011-12 (4.8 turnovers per 36 minutes), and it's only fair to wonder if that will continue now that he'll be asked to do even more on the offensive end of the court.