Offseason Moves Making NBA GMs Look Bad During 2012-13 Season
The NBA offseason is all about taking risks. GMs can do this in a number of ways. They can make an unorthodox pick in the draft, trade a star player either to dump salary or acquire younger players or give a free agent a lot of money.
These rolls of the dice sometimes prove to be the right move, but not all gambles can result in a winning hand. More often than not, taking such risks proves to blow up in the decision-maker's face. One can only imagine how much egg there was on the face of former Portland Trail Blazers GM Stu Inman after he selected injury-prone center Sam Bowie over a guard named Michael Jordan.
Similarly, what was former Knicks GM Isiah Thomas thinking in giving center Jerome James a $30 million contract?
This past summer's NBA offseason was full of big risks, some of which have paid off immensely. After acquiring the heavy contract of guard Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks, the Nets were able to re-sign star point man Deron Williams and are now contending in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta has not been awful without Johnson, but the scoring void is clear and hurting the team.
As a result, GM Danny Ferry is probably breathing a sigh of relief at his team performing so well as of late. Other executives, however, are not feeling the same way about moves they made.
Celtics Sign Courtney Lee to Replace Ray Allen
The Boston Celtics' Big Three was officially split over the summer. Shooting guard and three-pointer extraordinaire Ray Allen signed with the Miami Heat, leaving a glaring hole at the 2 in Boston.
GM Danny Ainge then chose to pursue guard Courtney Lee, who had spent the previous season with the Houston Rockets. Lee averaged 11.4 points and shot 40 percent from long range in 2012, so it looked as though he would be able to at least somewhat fill the void left by Allen. He was signed to a four-year deal worth $21.5 million.
In short, Lee has been a complete disappointment in Boston. He has been relegated to the bench and is lucky to average 20 minutes per game, though he has averaged 22.7 for the season. His scoring is borderline nonexistent, at just 5.2 points per game.
His three-point shooting is a horrific 24 percent.
Allen, meanwhile, is averaging 12.8 points per game as the Heat's sixth man and shooting 53 percent from long range.
It was certainly the end of an era in Boston, but one that could have been prolonged had Ainge been willing to spend more money on his star shooter.
Minnesota Lures Brandon Roy Out of Retirement
Roy retired prior to the start of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign due to chronic knee injuries, but chose to attempt a comeback during the offseason. A fine playmaking guard who averaged 19 points per game before his retirement, he signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Now, Minnesota GM David Kahn is known for making some odd decisions. This is the same man who drafted three point guards in the first round of the 2009 draft: Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn and Ty Lawson. Before the night was over, he had traded Lawson, the best of the trio.
His decision on Roy was even more bizarre, and now it just looks bad. Roy just had yet another knee surgery and is averaging just 5.8 points per game, shooting just 31 percent from the field. Multiple doctors have told him to retire again.
Minnesota will have a glaring hole at shooting guard if Roy does indeed listen to this advice, and Kahn will look all the worse for committing that much money to someone who sat out for a season.
Hawks Trade Joe Johnson's Salary Away, Leave Giant Scoring Void
It certainly was an interesting offseason for the Atlanta Hawks. First, GM Danny Ferry traded away guard Joe Johnson's massive contract to the Brooklyn Nets in return for a bunch of reserve players. Then, he dealt forward Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz for guard Devin Harris.
This seemed like a good deal at the time. Johnson's salary was off the books, providing some major financial relief for Atlanta. Harris had an off-year for Utah, but averaged 16.5 points per game over the final month of the season and was expected to provide a spark on offense.
The former Wisconsin Badger has been anything but that. He is averaging just 6.2 points per game and shooting only 40 percent from the field.
Johnson, on the other hand, has become an integral member of the Nets offense. He is struggling to find consistency and shooting just 39 percent from the field, but is averaging 15.2 points per game and shooting 36 percent from long range.
The Nets are also tied for first place in the Atlantic Division, while the Hawks are a game and a half back in the Southeast thanks to a five-game winning streak.
The situation is not as bad as it could be, but it's pretty clear that Ferry got a bit too little in return, just for the sake of dumping some salary.
Orlando Overpays Jameer Nelson
All summer long, it was clear that All-Star center Dwight Howard's days with the Orlando Magic were numbered. He had voiced his desire to be traded multiple times and wasn't backing down. It was clear that whenever a deal happened, the Magic would go into rebuilding mode.
Despite that, GM Rob Hennigan chose to re-sign point guard Jameer Nelson, who had been anything but lights-out amazing in his eight years with the team. Even worse was the fact that Nelson was signed to a three-year, $19 million deal.
The money on this one still doesn't make sense, particularly because Nelson has never been a freakishly good scorer or passer, and his defensive game is nonexistent. Either way, Hennigan is learning from his mistakes this season.
Nelson is averaging 12.9 points, but shooting just 39 percent from the field and 32.5 percent from long range. His six assists are respectable, but not enough to take away from the fact that bringing him back was a mistake on Hennigan's part.
Suns Sign Michael Beasley, Beasley Flames out in Desert
You're reading the picture correctly, ladies and gentlemen. That is Phoenix Suns forward Michael Beasley's shot chart for the 2012-13 season.
Beasley averaged a career-low 11.5 points for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2012 after posting a career-best 19.2 in 2011, but the drop in scoring came from his being relegated to a sixth man role. He still shot 38 percent from long range, and the Phoenix Suns inked him to a three-year, $18 million contract.
Given the fast-paced offense run by the team, it seemed as though Beasley was set for a breakout season.
Beasley has instead been a grand disappointment. As can be seen from the chart, his long-range shooting and even his mid-range jumper have suffered all season long. He is averaging 12.6 points per game, but shooting just 28 percent from beyond the arc.
There is simply no reason that Beasley should not be a star in this system. Shooting is his game, and the Suns are known for putting a lot of points on the board. Yet he struggles.
Suns GM Lance Blanks had better hope that his free-agency prize forward is just in a funk; otherwise, this will look like one expensive mistake.
Sixers Roll on Bynum's Career Year, Come Up Snake-Eyes
Andrew Bynum had a career season for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012, posting career highs in all major categories. 2012-13 was set to be his free-agent year, so the Los Angeles Lakers chose to send him to the Philadelphia 76ers as part of the blockbuster trade that brought Dwight Howard out west.
Instead of being the dominant center the Sixers thought they were getting, Bynum's injury woes have caught up with him, and he has yet to appear in one game this season. He has bone bruises in both knees, and there is no timetable for his return
Philadelphia instead relies on Kwame Brown and Lavoy Allen to handle most of the minutes at center. Neither has the same skillset as Bynum, and his presence is missed. The Sixers have still performed well, going 9-6 thus far and standing just one game out of first place in the Atlantic Division.
That still can't take away from the fact that Rod Thorn, who was the team's GM at the time of the trade, is wondering why he gave up star Andre Iguodala and rookie Moe Harkless to make this deal. It was a good move for the other teams involved, but has been nothing but a failure in Philadelphia.
Lucky for Thorn, he is now just team president while Tony DiLeo is GM. Either way, he has got to be feeling bad about this.