The 7 Most Pointless Moves of the Offseason
Pointless happens in today's NBA.
General managers and the teams they represent are supposed to be methodical in all they do. Every addition and subtraction must serve a greater purpose.
You trade Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce so you can begin to rebuild. You sign Dwight Howard because he's the best center in the Association and you're against making free throws. You part ways with Josh Smith because you know his nickname (J-Smoove) isn't all that special—you bring in Nick Young because you know his (Swaggy P) is. And you deal for Andris Biedrins because hell, there's no use hiding the fact that you're tanking.
Behind every transaction, there should be some semblance of a plan. Fans don't have to support it and pundits don't have to endorse it, but it needs to be there.
Sometimes, it isn't.
More frequently than most franchises would likely care to admit, bonds are forged without regard for practicality or sheer logic. They're difficult to justify, can be impossible to understand and often make less sense than Monta Ellis' shot selection.
Should your team of choice escape the offseason free from such futility, more power to ya. To the rest of you (especially Milwaukee Bucks' fans), good luck and Godspeed.
Denver Nuggets Re-Signing Timofey Mozgov
Sensible decisions came few and far between for the Denver Nuggets this summer.
Bringing in Randy Foye for his three-point shooting, J.J. Hickson for his double-doubles and Nate Robinson for his Instagram videos made plenty of sense. Trading away the immobile Kosta Koufos made too much sense.
Retaining Timofey Mozgov for $14 million over the next three years did not.
Not that Mozzy isn't worth it, and not that he is either. We really don't know. He appeared in just 41 games last season and at one point, it appeared he and the Nuggets were destined for a split.
Then Masai Ujiri and George Karl were out, Brian Shaw was in and before they themselves knew it, the Nuggets had multiple years invested in four bigs who can't create their own shot.
Next to Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee and Hickson, Mozgov serves virtually no purpose. He's big, I'll give him that, but Denver needed someone who could score in the post without having to tip their hat to Andre Miller or Ty Lawson every time.
Self-sufficient big men can be difficult to find, but the Nuggets didn't seem to be looking. Instead, they went for the offensively limited, size-over-function look up front.
At least it's working.
Gary Neal to the Milwaukee Bucks
Look, I totally understand the Bucks want ALL the scorers, but this is absurd.
In retrospect, his two-year deal didn't seem as meaningless before the Bucks traded Brandon Jennings. But then they traded Brandon Jennings.
Now, with Ish Smith, Nate Wolters, Luke Ridnour, Brandon Knight and Neal, Milwaukee technically has five point guards on the roster. The word "overkill" comes to mind.
Most of this mess couldn't be avoided. Ridnour had to be acquired in case the Bucks didn't have a replacement for Jennings and there wasn't anything else aside from Knight to be had in the Jennings deal itself. Inviting Neal to join the party, albeit it before Jennings was traded, is simply too much.
Valued because he can play the point and shooting guard positions, Neal joins a combine that also includes O.J. Mayo and Carlos Delfino (SG/SF). That backcourt rotation is going to be something of a headache for Larry Drew.
Smith and Wolters don't project as key contributors, but balancing the minutes of Mayo, Delfino, Ridnour, Knight and Neal will be a challenge, even if Drew tweaks the rotation to include small forward, thus opening up some minutes a la smaller lineups.
Either way, bringing in Neal to an already chaotic perimeter situation reeks of a team devoid of direction.
Tyler Hansbrough Joins the Toronto Raptors
Doubting Ujiri is like suggesting Andrea Bargnani should start rebounding—you just don't do it. Anytime I read "Tyler Hansbrough" and "multi-year deal" in the same sentence, though, I'll make an exception for anything.
Ujiri was never going to turn this roster around overnight, and the second year of Hansbrough's deal isn't guaranteed, but this is a move I can't wrap my head around.
Although I could understand the desire to replace Ed Davis, Hansbrough is to Davis what Rudy Gay is to efficiency—the two don't go hand-in-hand. And Davis was gone long before Ujiri inherited the Toronto Raptors' current mess.
Hansbrough does beef up Toronto's low-post rotation, but the Raptors are flush with wings. Fielding Steve Novak and Austin Daye as stretch forwards behind Amir Johnson fits the dynamic of their swingman-happy docket. Going uber small and using Gay, DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields and Terrence Ross does the same.
Speaking of which, are the Raptors hell-bent on depriving themselves of offensively inclined bigs? Jonas Valanciunas is going to be something special on that end, but Johnson is limited in what he can do, as is Aaron Gray. Had Toronto elected to butcher any potential floor-spacing lineups with a power forward who could do more than rebound, throw elbows and look bemused, then I could have been persuaded to give them a pass.
They didn't, so I won't.
Hansbrough won't help the Raptors make the playoffs and he won't help them tank, so I don't see the value in paying him $3.2 million next year. Probably because there isn't any.
Portland Trails Blazers Bringing in Mo Williams
Obviously this had to happen—except it didn't.
At two years (player option in year 2) and $5.6 million, Mo Williams wasn't particularly expensive. Shoot, he was actually had for chump change compared to the $8.5 million salary he earned in 2012-13. Most of us also know only too well how badly the Portland Trail Blazers needed to bolster their bench.
But this? After drafting C.J. McCollum? OK then.
Presumably Portland's new sixth man, Williams provides instant scoring and energy off the pine. His ability to man the 2 should also allow him to spend time next to Rookie of the Year recipient Damian Lillard without issue.
The Blazers' latest acquisition also ensures McCollum won't be surprising anyone next season.
Drafting him with the 10th overall pick was already puzzling after the year Lillard had and now, with another backup point guard on the roster, it's even more of a head-scratcher. If the Blazers were in the market for a veteran combo guard to pull double-duty next to Lillard, they shouldn't have selected another point man.
Minutes are only going to be taken away from McCollum with Williams in the fold, even if you believe his presence will have a minimal impact. For a rebuilding team like the Blazers, that still isn't figured for a playoff berth in the re-tooled Western Conference, shackling your newest lottery pick doesn't bode well for the future.
Especially when it's in favor of a career role player who doesn't guarantee you'll see the postseason.
Sacramento Kings Giving Carl Landry a Home
Of course the Sacramento Kings got their "pointless" on this summer.
While I was tempted to include their rescinded offer to Andre Iguodala, that wasn't so much a pointless move as it was a harbinger of a team in flux. Handing Carly Landry $26 million over the next four years—that was pointless.
Once you look past the 29-year-old Landry possibly not being worth $6-plus million a season, you'll also come to see that the Kings didn't need him. DeMarcus Cousins, Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson and Jason Thompson were already on the roster, all of whom averaged at least 16 minutes per game last season.
To be sure, the Kings overpaid to facilitate a positional logjam, like only the Kings would. I won't deny that Landry can be a valuable scorer, but he's hardly a mentor for Boogie and his defense is dalmatian-like in that it's spotty (he'll fit right in in that regard).
On a cheaper contract, perhaps this move becomes easier to defend. Right now, though, there doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason to Sacramento's frontcourt.
Unless, of course, the Kings always intended to invest piles of cash in redundant presences. Then this all makes perfect sense.
Zaza Pachulia Returns to the Bucks
In the Bucks' never-ending quest to depress the hell out of us, they inked Zaza Pachulia to a three-year deal worth almost $16 million.
Pachulia is a serviceable backup center who previously spent one year in Milwaukee before moving on to Atlanta. More importantly, the Bucks didn't need to sign him.
I say this not because Milwaukee just locked up Larry Sanders for four additional years, but out of genuine concern for how the Bucks think, or the absence of thinking altogether. They already have John Henson, Ersan Ilyasova and Ekpe Udoh. Toss in the raw but promising Giannis Antetokounmpo and their collection of point guards, and the Bucks seem fitted for small-ball fixings.
Not only that, Pachulia's $5-plus million annual salary restricts the Bucks financially quite a bit. The end goal here, then, doesn't make sense. They added size they didn't need, at a price they shouldn't have paid, to a roster better suited for almost anyone else than who they got.
Were their ultimate goal to consist of remaining stuck in middling purgatory, then yeah, they're right on schedule. After the offseason they had, however, I'm not entirely convinced the Bucks have any goals at all.
Charlotte Bobcats Inking Al Jefferson
Oh yes, this was pointless.
On a bottom-feeding team like the Charlotte Bobcats, Al Jefferson stands to be a 20 points and 10 rebounds a night kind of guy. And he also had 41 million reasons to commit the next two-to-three years of his life to a perennial failure. Trust me, I get why he did what he did. I cannot, however, say the same for the Bobcats.
Sure, they amnestied Tyrus Thomas, but have they suddenly given up on Bismack Biyombo? Was drafting Cody Zeller a prank? Are they hoping to win 30 games in an attempt to dwarf the 21 from last season?
If the 'Cats answered yes to the latter, Michael Jordan will want to get comfortable losing beyond next year. Because next season was made for the Bobcats. Made for them I tell you.
An incredibly deep draft class headlined by one Andrew Wiggins awaits, meaning Charlotte's inadvertent years of tanking could finally amount to someone other than Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Zeller.
But no, the Bobcats had to go after a center who considers defense optional and will only succeed in taking them out of the lottery's top five. For the first time, in a long time, Charlotte was right where it needed to be. Then this.
Remind me again why anyone has faith in this organization and I'll promptly tell you you're as mistaken as Charlotte's current blueprint.