NBA Teams That Got It Right in 2013 Free Agency
The free-agency period can be a tricky place for teams with so many risks involved, but a few clubs navigated the landscape really well.
It's not always easy to properly use assets once you get them. Trade pieces can be flipped for a bad return, cap space can be used on the wrong player and things can go south quickly. Here are the teams who managed to do it right and improve their stance over the 2013 offseason.
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Usually I'm extremely opposed to teams staying on the treadmill and banging out first- and second-round playoff losses every year, but the Atlanta Hawks are at least now on the elliptical, which is just slightly cooler.
Jeff Teague, John Jenkins, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and Al Horford combine to make an interesting lineup. Can they challenge for a title? Probably not. Will they be a lot of fun to watch? Absolutely.
The Hawks made some really nice supplementary signings as well, bringing in Elton Brand and DeMarre Carroll. Both guys are high-quality reserves who should help bolster the team defensively.
Add in a young core of draft picks to the equation, and the Hawks are a young, fun team who will need one star down the line to get serious. This was a good starting point.
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The Brooklyn Nets have no regard for luxury taxes, and that allowed them to make some nice signings in free agency.
Andray Blatche is coming off a career year, but he was a great value. Shaun Livingston is a very useful backup guard at either spot. Those were solid signings.
Of course, it's the big splash the Nets made when no one thought they could that puts them on this list. The signing of Andrei Kirilenko for about $6 million less than what he was scheduled to make this year is a killer deal.
AK-47 can still really play, and his defense and clever cuts away from the ball should help add some much-needed offense, which could get a little stagnant at times. Signing Kirilenko was the best move of the offseason.
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The Chicago Bulls didn't do an awful lot in free agency. They only signed two players, and one of them was Nazr Mohammed.
Still, Mike Dunleavy's fit and contract makes up for all of that. The Bulls have had shooters in the past, but none have the skill set Dunleavy does. He can run off screens and fire off the move, and you can really build an entire second unit's offense around his skills.
Getting a shooter of Dunleavy's quality for just $3 million is a big-time steal, and it's little moves like these that can tip the scales in the playoffs. Chicago's eight-man rotation should be nails.
Golden State Warriors
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What a killer offseason for the Golden State Warriors.
Stealing Andre Iguodala from the Denver Nuggets changes the Western Conference's entire landscape, and he's a perfect fit next to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Golden State improved greatly last year defensively, but with Iguodala, it should finish in the top 10 in defensive efficiency this time.
The other signings were smart as well. Jermaine O'Neal showed plenty of signs of life in Phoenix last season. Marreese Speights can stretch the floor and bang a bit on the defensive end. Toney Douglas might have been the most underrated point guard on the market.
The Warriors were already in good shape going into the offseason, but now they're a legitimate contender so long as they can stay healthy.
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This one is a no-brainer.
Dwight Howard was the biggest impact free agent available, and the Houston Rockets perfectly executed a plan to get him. It wasn't easy. A few players had to be waived, and Thomas Robinson had to be traded, but the moves paid off.
Howard will immediately slide next to James Harden, making one of the best pick-and-roll combinations in the league and the Rockets into a title contender. We'll see what happens with Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, but the Rockets got their star.
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It was quiet, but then again, the Indiana Pacers have quietly become one of the league's most elite teams.
David West is a perfect frontcourt fit next to Roy Hibbert, and now the Pacers will retain all the chemistry that starting lineup had. This was the league's best defense last season, and with the smart addition of scoring guard C.J. Watson, the Pacers bench should be able to help out its dominant starting five.
Don't forget about Chris Copeland, either. The stretchy big man should greatly bolster a bench that could be scary with Danny Granger coming back as well.
Los Angeles Clippers
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There was a lot of talk last season about the culture change surrounding the Los Angeles Clippers, but this was the biggest change of them all.
One of the greatest point guards to ever play didn't even take visits and gave his word that he would sign as soon as he could. And he did.
Chris Paul's return as a Clipper signified some pretty significant change, and part of that came along with other moves from the offseason. Matt Barnes and Darren Collison came on big-time discounts, and the Clippers now have all the makings of a dangerous team.
Rarely does a free-agency signing usher in a new era, but that's what happened for the Clippers.
San Antonio Spurs
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What do you do after you come seconds away from an NBA championship? You keep the crew together.
The San Antonio Spurs did a nice job of retaining some of their big pieces, re-signing Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter to fair deals. Regardless of their finals performances as a whole, Splitter helped defensively quite a bit, and Ginobili still has something in the tank, even if the consistency is gone.
The Spurs also added a few solid pieces in Marco Belinelli and Jeff Pendergraph. Belinelli can really stroke it from behind the arc, and Pendergraph is a classic banger who will slide into his role perfectly.
We seem to do it every year, but don't count the Spurs out next season now that they've kept their core intact.