The Los Angeles Lakers entered free agency with a lot to gain—and a lot to lose.
With Howard’s decision to sign with the Rockets, a whole slew of teams are now scrambling to pick up what’s left on the market. Houston and L.A. have soaked up most of the limelight thus far, but the truth is that they weren’t the only ones with a lot to gain during free agency.
Whether an organization is in rebuilding mode or looking for the final piece to the puzzle, the free-agent period is the time to be aggressive. Having a lot to gain is a good situation to be in, but most teams with a lot to gain also have a lot to lose this time of year.
The Houston Rockets entered the 2013 offseason with one goal in mind: get Dwight Howard.
As it turns out, that goal has been met, making free agency an unquestioned success.
Whether the team convinced Howard to sign or not, this offseason was going to be a defining one for Houston. It was either going to get the guy it had targeted for two seasons, or it was going to officially sever ties with the idea and move on.
With Howard on board, it appears that the next defining move surrounds Omer Asik. It has been reported by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst that the big man has no interest in playing behind Howard, and that the Atlanta Hawks are a potential trade partner.
If a deal goes down between the Rockets and Hawks, it’s going to include Josh Smith. Smith’s future in Atlanta has been in question for a long time, and if the Rockets can acquire him at this stage, it’ll add to what’s already been an incredible summer in Clutch City.
Speaking of the Atlanta Hawks, this was the summer they’d been waiting for ever since they parted ways with Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams. Their targets were Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, and if all had gone according to plan, we’d be calling them the league’s newest superteam entering 2013-14.
Unfortunately for the Hawks and their fans, things don’t always go according to plan, and the problem with such ambitious goals comes to light when none of them is met.
For most teams, one transaction doesn’t determine whether you’re going to be a superteam or whether you’re going to tank. The Hawks, however, were close to being in that situation, had it not been for the move that brought in Paul Millsap, per Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Hawks were unable to sway Howard their way, which means they’ll have to start fresh in their attempt to rebuild their organization.
Throughout the offseason, so much attention has been given to Dwight Howard that people largely forgot about the Milwaukee Bucks.
Drastic changes have already been made to the team’s backcourt. So far, J.J. Redick has been traded to the Los Angeles Clippers; the team has signed O.J. Mayo, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, and while Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are still on board, Ellis, a free agent, is a likely candidate to move on.
Leading up to free agency, ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported that Jennings wanted to “do more for the city and the franchise.” It was also being reported by CBS Sports’ Ken Berger that Ellis was coveted by the New York Knicks.
It’s yet to be decided exactly what this team will look like in 2013-14, but the moves that have taken place have already shifted the foundation of the organization.
Like a good number of teams on this list, the Dallas Mavericks set out before the summer with one goal in mind.
To sign Dwight Howard.
Also like a good number of teams on this list, they missed out on their man, begging the question, what comes next?
Dallas had a lot to gain entering the offseason. It was coming off of a disappointing year, but it had major cap flexibility as a result of the one-year deals it signed the summer before.
With Howard off the market, it’s time for Mark Cuban and the rest of the organization to hone in on its next target. That could be Andrew Bynum. It could be Monta Ellis. Or it could be a plethora of one-year contracts like it was the year before.
At this point, Dallas needs to decide if what’s left on the market is worth an investment. The team wasted little time signing Jose Calderon to a four-year deal, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, but now it’s time to fill out the roster—at least for the immediate future.
When it comes to the Portland Trail Blazers, the 2013 offseason is all about two things: cap space and a "use it or lose it "mentality.
According to Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com, the team entered the summer with nearly $12 million to spend. That’s a whole lot of cash for a fringe playoff team—cash that would go toward building a playoff-caliber roster and convincing LaMarcus Aldridge to stick around long term.
Fans in Rip City have been waiting for a big move for a while now, but it doesn’t look as if that move is coming. Smaller acquisitions have added much-needed depth, and while the team failed to bring in a star, it has added solid pieces to a rebuilding roster.
The moves made by Portland aren’t going to make headlines, but they will help propel the team back to relevancy. Owner Paul Allen has money to spend, and if the team hadn’t used it, the summer would have gone down as a huge disappointment in the Pacific Northwest.
The offseason started off with a bang during the NBA draft, and the Boston Celtics were a major reason why.
The fate of the Celtics has been a hot topic for the last couple of years, as people wondered when the team's championship window was finally going to close. That day was arguably long before the 2012-13 season came to an end, but Beantown finally accepted the inevitable when Doc Rivers took his talents to L.A. to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Following the loss of his head coach, general manager Danny Ainge decided it was time to officially move on from the current roster. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were dealt to the Brooklyn Nets, Rajon Rondo instantly became the subject of trade rumors, and the hiring of Brad Stevens capped off the team’s youth movement.
The 2013 free-agency period isn’t about the C’s finding a new franchise player; it’s about seeing how Boston rebuilds itself following the fire sale and how it adds to a decimated roster during a new era of Celtic basketball.
We all knew that this was going to be a revolutionary offseason for the Los Angeles Lakers. The problem for them was that as much as they had to gain, they had just as much to lose, based on the decision of Dwight Howard.
With the center officially on his way to Houston, it’s time for the Lakers to decide what comes next in a summer full of questions that are lacking answers at this point.
Can the team compete for a playoff spot as is? Will it use its amnesty clause to clear even more cap space now that Howard is gone?
Will Kobe Bryant’s health force the team into tank mode before the year even begins?
As many unknowns as there are for this franchise, one thing is certain: It’s time to move on from Howard.
Like the team’s former center, the Lakers are ready for a fresh start, and while there may be a long road ahead, L.A. can take solace in the fact that the Dwightmare is officially over.