While tons of moves were made during the 2012-13 NBA offseason, we weren't able to properly evaluate them until players had gotten a little bit of action under their new belts. Well, that action has been gotten, so it's time to re-grade the 10 biggest moves of the summer.
We're including both free-agency moves and trades here, although players didn't necessarily have to change teams in order to be included.
They say hindsight is 20/20, so let's take a look at the biggest moves.
Note: All contract information comes from Spotrac.com.
When the Los Angeles Clippers signed ball-handling wizard Jamal Crawford to a four-year contract worth an average of $5,337,500 per year, I have to admit that I was a little bit skeptical. It just didn't seem like the team had much use for the oft-shooting combo-guard.
You know, they already had Chris Paul, Eric Bledsoe and Chauncey Billups on the roster, among others.
Well, it turns out that the L.A. brass had a nice burst of foresight when it came to Crawford, as he's thrived in the Staples Center throughout the 2012-13 season.
Even though he's cooled off from his torrid start to the season when it seemed all but assured that he'd be the Sixth Man of the Year, Crawford is averaging 16.6 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game with a PER of 16.55.
He's been a crucial member of the league's top bench unit and a major part of the somewhat surprising success of this Western Conference power. And he's doing so while making less money during this season than 118 other players in the Association.
Ray Allen signed with the Miami Heat for a bargain of a contract: $6,319,050 over the next two seasons. In doing so, he strengthened both the Heat and the rivalry between his new team and his old one, the Boston Celtics.
The all-time leader in three-pointers made has contributed positively for the Heat, but it's also clear that his age is starting to affect him. At 37 years old, Allen just doesn't have the legs necessary to lose his man on off-ball screens throughout a game.
Instead, he's made the most of his limited time, coming up big in a few key moments and averaging 11.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. He's also knocked down 43.4 percent of his three-pointers and has been particularly deadly from the left corner, the spot he's laid his claim to over the years.
Allen has met the expectations of the Heat, but he hasn't exceeded them by too much. Then again, it'll all be worth it if he helps out when the postseason rolls around.
A three-year contract worth $25,123,938 seems like a bit much for the services of Jeremy Lin now, doesn't it?
It seems like a long time ago that the New York Knicks, Lin and a billion dollars were being mentioned in the same sentence, even though it's only been a couple of months.
The former Harvard standout has started to play better as the season has progressed, and he's gotten more comfortable playing alongside James Harden in the Houston Rockets' starting backcourt, but the 2012-13 season has still been rife with disappointment.
Lin is averaging only 12.0 points and 6.1 assists per game, and he's doing so while averaging 3.1 turnovers per contest and shooting just 42.8 percent from the field. Lin's 14.15 PER is decidedly lower than the league-average mark of 15.0.
The Rockets might have a winning record, but the vast majority of the credit for that lies with Omer Asik and James Harden. At times, it's seemed like the team is winning in spite of Lin, not because of him.
Speaking of James Harden...
The bearded shooting guard was longing to be part of a young core on the Oklahoma City Thunder, one that was also comprised of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. However, Sam Presti didn't hesitate to ship Harden off to the Houston Rockets when the lefty balked at signing an extension.
It's the rare example of a trade that has been undeniably beneficial for both teams.
While Harden has thrived in his new role as the primary source of offense for the Rockets and become one of the main challengers to his former teammate's scoring throne, Kevin Martin hasn't exactly been a bad replacement.
The sharpshooting 2-guard has thrived off the OKC bench, knocking down threes in bunches and bringing the necessary offensive punch. If Jeremy Lamb can develop into a valuable player down the road, the trade will look even better for the Thunder.
Right now, it's hard to argue with the results that both teams have experienced, especially as the void left by Harden has allowed Serge Ibaka to step up on offense and show off his impressive mid-range game.
Grade for the Thunder: A
Grade for the Rockets: A+
And now, we come to the big kahuna. Undoubtedly the most talked-about swap of the 2012 offseason, the Dwight Howard trade has affected quite a few teams.
Let's take a look at them:
Los Angeles Lakers
The purple-and-gold clad squad received D12, Earl Clark and Chris Duhon for Andrew Bynum, Josh McRoberts and Christian Eyenga. Draft picks changed hands as well, but we're considering all of those irrelevant at the moment.
At first glance, the move appears to be a strong one for the Lakers, but it hasn't really turned out that way. Down the road, it's hard to imagine Howard failing to ascend back up the ranks of players to his rightful spot near the top of the pile, but he just hasn't been consistently dominant this season.
Then again, Clark has become a starter—over Pau Gasol even—and Bynum has yet to make headlines for anything other than his injured knees and hair styles.
Evaluating this trade for the Lakers was easy at the start of the year: It was a great one. Now, it's quite a bit harder.
The Sixers basically swapped Andre Iguodala, Moe Harkless and Nikola Vucevic for Jason Richardson and Andrew Bynum.
With Richardson struggling and Vucevic becoming more and more elite by the day, Philly needs for Bynum to do something in order to pass this trade. Even with Jrue Holiday thriving in Iggy's absence, they've given up more than they've received.
Is it possible that the Magic are the biggest winners of this trade?
Once ridiculed for not getting enough for Howard, Orlando is now having the last laugh. Vucevic has been tremendous down low for this squad, Arron Afflalo has shown glimpses of greatness, and Harkless has put his potential on display.
Add in a few other players and the fact that Howard was guaranteed to eventually put on a new jersey, and it looks like Rob Hennigan did pretty well for himself.
The Denver Nuggets gave up Afflalo and Al Harrington to get Andre Iguodala.
Even though Iggy hasn't been quite as good as he was back in Philadelphia, that's still a pretty nice deal for the facilitators of this trade. If he could emerge as a scoring threat once more, he'd make this deal even more lopsided in favor of the Nuggets.
A sign-and-trade sent Steve Nash from the Phoenix Suns to the Los Angeles Lakers, making him the ninth-highest-paid point guard in the NBA.
Unfortunately, we haven't been able to accurately assess whether or not he's been worth it due to the constant stream of injuries affecting his new team. When it wasn't his broken leg keeping him out of the lineup, Nash wasn't receiving chances to develop that all-important thing known as chemistry because someone else was hurt.
Well, the excuses are no longer valid, so it's put-up-or-shut-up time for Nash. (Not that he's been talking or anything; it's just a phrase.)
While healthy, Nash has been just about what we expected. He hasn't scored much, but he's shot efficiently while dealing out 8.0 assists per game for L.A. That number is lower than it could be, but it's still rather impressive for a 38-year-old point guard playing with new teammates.
The biggest problem is that the Lakers are still below .500, and Nash hasn't helped change that.
Before the start of the 2012-13 season, it would have been slightly crazy to suggest that Nicolas Batum would be a top-seven small forward in the NBA. That would have been putting enormous trust in the potential that had ultimately failed to manifest itself in his play up to that point in his professional career.
Well, call the Portland Trail Blazers crazy because they invested $44,621,500 over four years in the Frenchman, making him the seventh-highest-paid player at his position.
Now that Batum has recorded two triple-doubles and a five-by-five and established himself as a versatile defender and go-to player on offense with his ability to contribute on the inside and outside, crazy must just be a synonym for brilliant.
Go ahead. Name seven small forwards better than Batum.
Good luck coming up with any more.
It appears as though Eric Gordon was worth the wait for the New Orleans Hornets, even though the wait was painfully long for both the talented shooting guard and the team that gave him a max contract.
Gordon has played in just 14 contests. In those games, the Hornets have gone 8-6. Without him, they could only muster up a 7-24 record that showed just how hopeless the squad was in his absence.
Now, with Gordon playing alongside underrated point guard Greivis Vasquez, three-point marksman Ryan Anderson and ultra-talented rookie Anthony Davis, the Hornets are brimming over with potential.
Just imagine what will happen when the shooting guard fully hits his stride. He's still averaging only 17.4 points on just 41.1 percent shooting from the field with a PER of 17.6. As he's shown us while healthy, he's better than that.
I can't help but dock New Orleans a letter grade because of his injury, but this move will earn higher marks the more Gordon plays.
As of Jan. 30, there were six players in the NBA whose PERs were higher than their ages. Based on the placement of that tidbit of information, you can probably guess that Brook Lopez is one of them.
If you can guess the other five without cheating—honor code in effect here—you'll get a virtual pat on the back. I wish you the best of luck.
Needless to say, Lopez has been worth every penny of the max contract he received from the Brooklyn Nets over the summer. The move was criticized both for the exorbitant salary the supposedly soft center would be receiving and for the fact that Lopez was not Dwight Howard, but that criticism looks rather foolish now.
He's remained a stud on the offensive end of the court, but he's also been a mediocre—and that's a step up for Brook—rebounder and a competent defender who's improving every day under P.J. Carlesimo.
While Brook Lopez has lived up to his new contract, that's still a work in progress for Deron Williams. Unquestionably the biggest free-agent signing of the offseason, the formerly elite point guard is struggling to join those ranks once again.
D-Will struggled tremendously under Avery Johnson, clashing with the coach while the ink on his new max contract was still fresh. He's been much better under P.J. Carlesimo, but he's still only averaging 17.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game on 41.7 percent shooting from the field.
While Williams is still a top-notch point guard, it's becoming increasingly clear that the Nets signed a past-his-prime floor general. They couldn't just let him go, but the contract has the potential to morph into an albatross in the future.