Biggest Takeaways from the First Week of NBA Free Agency 2013
The first week of free agency has been a wild one in the NBA.
Dwight Howard has chosen the Houston Rockets, Josh Smith has finally left the Atlanta Hawks and the Golden State Warriors continued to improve with the acquisition of Andre Iguodala.
With each passing day, it seems we answer another question that plagued us entering the free-agent period. Now, with the game’s top targets off the market, we can sit back and soak in what has already taken place.
The offseason has had plenty of storylines to follow, and there are a handful of things we can take away from what has transpired thus far.
The NBA Truly Is a Star-Driven League
From the perspective of fans and owners across the league, superstars dominate the competition. From day one of the offseason, Dwight Howard has made headlines. Chris Paul had his moment as well, followed quickly by Josh Smith.
Despite the new CBA being in full effect, superteams are still on the rise. Big Threes and Big Fours continue to pop up around the Association, and those teams continue to be the ones fans talk about.
It's true that there are franchises that contradict this notion. For instance, the Portland Trail Blazers entered the offseason with approximately $12 million to spend, yet general manager Neil Olshey opted to fill the roster with depth rather than top-tier talent.
That said, Rip City has never been a hot spot for free agents, not giving Olshey much of a choice. If Dwight Howard or Josh Smith had been begging to come to town, the team would have jumped on it and left the likes of Thomas Robinson, Dorell Wright and Robin Lopez behind.
Teams Are Still Spending Money
Following the collective bargaining agreement negotiations that forced a lockout in 2011, it was assumed that teams would be more frugal with their contracts moving forward.
As it turns out, players are still earning max deals, and teams are still shelling out cash to acquire talent.
Instead of watching how much a team spends on individual players, owners are looking to engage in lopsided deals. The Golden State Warriors dumped $24 million on the Utah Jazz, and the Houston Rockets traded Thomas Robinson and Royce White while getting no players in return.
Both the Rockets and Warriors wanted Dwight Howard, and while only the Rockets landed their man, Golden State found a quality addition in the form of Andre Iguodala.
Along with the clearing of cap space comes the strategy of filling cap space. The Detroit Pistons epitomize the latter, as they wooed Josh Smith with a four-year, $56 million deal, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
Max contracts may not be worth what they once were, but they’re still a common part of today’s game, and they’re still making it tough for teams to add stars while keeping depth a priority.
Fans Love Drama
It’s true that Dwightmare 2013 left a sour taste in the mouths of fans across the league. The back-and-forth nature of Howard’s decision caused confusion, and scrutiny was at its highest in the hours leading up to the official announcement.
All that said, drama is what keeps fans coming back for more, as it’s the storylines that entertain us until the game of basketball finally returns.
The day of Howard’s commitment to the Houston Rockets, Twitter was going berserk. Fans and media alike were posting their two cents, and the game’s most prominent center was being compared to figures like Brett Favre and LeBron James for the way he was handling his situation.
But as much as everybody wants to chastise Howard, think about this: If the big man had held “The Decision Part II,” would you have watched?
The answer is probably yes. We love drama when it’s at its highest, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The excitement for the summer has likely passed its peak, but it should be more than enough to tide us over until the 2013-14 season officially tips off.
2014 Is Going to Be a Fun Summer
If we’ve learned anything throughout the summer, it’s that we can’t stop talking about 2014.
The buildup for next offseason is unprecedented, and it’s impacting roster decisions around the NBA. ESPN’s Chad Ford recently tweeted that the number of teams tanking could be high in 2013-14 because of Andrew Wiggins and the rest of a highly touted 2014 rookie class.
Along with the draft, free agency has the potential to be something special next year. Here’s a list of some of the top names who may ultimately test their value on the open market: LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Greg Monroe, Andrew Bogut, Amar’e Stoudemire, DeMarcus Cousins, Tim Duncan, Rudy Gay.
You thought the hype surrounding Dwight Howard was intense? Just wait.
We have a chance to see one of the biggest makeovers in league history during the summer of 2014, putting 2013 to shame when it’s all said and done.
Silence Is Golden in Miami
For as much speculation as there already has been surrounding summer 2014, the Miami Heat have done a good job of soaking in their championship and avoiding distractions.
It has already been reported by Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld that the Los Angeles Lakers plan to pursue LeBron James if he opts out of the final year of his contract. But unlike general managers who trade their stars in fear of free agency, Pat Riley has stated that his ultimate goal is to keep the Big Three together, per Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald.
If you’re Miami, no news is good news. Business has gone on as usual, as Ray Allen opted in to the final year of his deal, Mario Chalmers will return and Chris Andersen is a likely candidate to return as well.
In fact, the biggest question mark at this point is whether or not Miami takes a chance on Greg Oden sometime between now and the end of next season.
The Heat have to appreciate silence for the first time since 2010, and as a result, they’re not trying to fix what clearly isn’t broken.
The Los Angeles Lakers Will Never Be Irrelevant
Remember how fans love drama? That is why the Los Angeles Lakers will never be irrelevant.
When most teams lose, they’re quickly forgotten. The Lakers, however, continue to grab headlines, as everyone wants to know what their next move will be.
Teams such as the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics fall into this category to a certain extent, but think about them before they acquired Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. The losing days were unfortunate for their own fanbases, but the national spotlight wasn’t nearly as bright as it’s been in L.A.
The Lakers have been an easy team to despise throughout the years, and that makes them an easy target. However, Dwight Howard has actually made them look like the victims in the eyes of the league’s most sympathetic fans, which is also noteworthy.
Whether you hate them or love them, it’s probably true that you haven’t stopped talking about the Lakers all summer. That’s not likely to change any time soon, as they’re under a permanent microscope regardless of whether they fail or succeed.