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Every NBA Team's Biggest 2013 Offseason Mistake

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2013

Every NBA Team's Biggest 2013 Offseason Mistake

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    We already know about the best moves of the 2013 NBA offseason, the home-run free-agency acquisitions and the can't miss draft moves.

    What about the worst moves and the biggest mistakes for each team?

    Some franchises committed egregious errors in free agency, traded unwisely or failed to pull the trigger on essential transactions. Other squads didn't have as many problems, as they made minor mistakes in rounding out their rosters.

    How bad was your team's biggest mistake? Find out as we break down all 30 clubs.

Atlanta Hawks: Stashing Lucas Nogueira in Spain

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    Severity: Moderate

    Even if the Atlanta Hawks aren't in a rebuilding mode, it would have been worthwhile to keep draftee Lucas Nogueira on the squad instead of sending him back to Spain for a year.

    He's not ready for substantial NBA minutes yet, but more would have been gained individually and collectively from him playing for the Hawks rather than returning to the ACB League.

    Prior to Atlanta's decision to stash him, Nogueira explained the benefits of training with the Hawks to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Chris Vivlamore:

    "Right now, the most important thing is my body. I can’t improve my body in Spain. I’m perfect to stay here because the most important thing is to improve my body."

    Nevertheless, Atlanta is opting to delay his NBA development in favor of Gustavo Ayon and Co.

Boston Celtics: Taking on Gerald Wallace's Contract

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    Severity: Low to Moderate

    If the Boston Celtics wanted to pull off the blockbuster swap with the Brooklyn Nets, this side effect was pretty much unavoidable.

    Shouldering Gerald Wallace's three years and $30 million is something they may regret in a couple years, as he weakens their salary cap flexibility until 2016.

    He leaves everything on the floor each game, and he'll prove to be a valuable cog defensively, but his scoring skills don't warrant an eight-figure contract. Wallace is too inept offensively as a shot creator and shot maker, so he won't be able to pull his fair share of cargo.

    Again, there was really nothing Danny Ainge could do, it's something they'll have to live with.

Brooklyn Nets: Not Solidifying Backup Point Guard Spot

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    Severity: Low

    As long as everyone stays healthy and keeps their legs fresh, this shouldn't be an issue.

    The Brooklyn Nets will have several non-point guard facilitators to help Deron Williams run the offense, including Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Joe Johnson.

    When it comes to true floor generals, however, the Nets' bench options are newcomer Shaun Livingston and sophomore Tyshawn Taylor.

    Even if retaining C.J. Watson was not as feasible as imagined, Brooklyn still could have made greater efforts to secure a high-quality backup. Late-signing guards such as Mo Williams, D.J. Augustin and John Lucas III come to mind.

Charlotte Bobcats: Signing Al Jefferson

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    Severity: Moderate to High

    Adding Al Jefferson will certainly make the Charlotte Bobcats frontcourt more formidable.

    Unfortunately, the $41 million man will be good enough to help the team improve, yet not impactful enough make an authentic change. Charlotte will remain in the lower half of the league, but not in position to earn a prime lottery selection in June's draft.

    Hoop76's Tom Sunnergren laments the signing:

    Charlotte overpaid Jefferson so it could ... win 28 games instead of 24? Still miss the playoffs, but dent its odds of landing one of the future stars of the 2014 draft class? Continue its run as the worst team in the history of North American professional sports? Am I getting close?

    It seemed like a hasty agreement on both sides. Jefferson was eager for the big bucks, and the Cats seemed willing to pay any star in the A-range rather than pursue a B-plus player or two.

Chicago Bulls: Hastily Re-Signing Nazr Mohammed

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    Severity: Low to Moderate

    Across the board, the Chicago Bulls weren't too active this offseason, including in the paint.

    Outside of power forwards Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson and center Joakim Noah, the Bulls have almost nothing in the post.

    Instead of aggressively exploring their options for a period of time, they quickly agreed on an affordable deal with Nazr Mohammed. The 35-year-old had some solid years in his prime, but at this point, he is not much more than a sacrificial lamb thrown in to rebound sporadically.

    This shouldn't drastically affect Chicago's bottom line, but stronger depth in the paint would certainly enhance the club's 48-minute outlook.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Declining to Shop One of Their Wings

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    Severity: Low

    By no means is this a blunder. In fact, it's a testament to the splendid offseason the Cleveland Cavaliers had.

    The squad has a nice mix of veterans and youngsters in its rotation, but swingmen Alonzo Gee and C.J. Miles aren't highly valuable to the current or future operations at Quicken Loans Arena.

    Why not shop one of them to see what the return would be? Their contracts are short-term and affordable, and both are still in their 20s.

    Again, I'm not about to bury Chris Grant for this one. It's just something to take a closer look at.

Dallas Mavericks: Signing Monta Ellis

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    Severity: Moderate to High

    In different circumstances on a more balanced roster, signing Monta Ellis might make sense for the Dallas Mavericks.

    Sadly, the move doesn't compute given the current roster.

    The Mavs had already acquired point guard Jose Calderon, which was a questionable decision in itself considering Calderon's age and defensive shortcomings. Adding the ball-dominant and defensively flawed Ellis to the mix wasn't the best way to follow it up.

    After missing out on the marquee names the past couple summers, Mark Cuban made these moves in an attempt to salvage the team's relevance and pursue a playoff berth.

    In the process, he risked the club's chemistry and may miss the postseason once again.

Denver Nuggets: Firing George Karl

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    Severity: High

    Philosophical and contractual disagreements expedited George Karl's dismissal from the Denver Nuggets, and it's a shame the two sides couldn't work things out.

    Denver lost several key figures in the offseason, including Andre Iguodala and general manager Masai Ujiri, but losing Karl was damaging to the identity and continuity of the club.

    Karl is one of the winningest coaches in hoops history, and although his playoff record in Denver was sub-par, firing him was an overreaction. Nuggets brass should have weighed Danilo Galinari's absence more heavily, and they needed to find a way to work through the philosophical differences.

    Brian Shaw will eventually be a fine replacement, but that doesn't make Karl's firing a good move.

Detroit Pistons: Settling for Josh Smith

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    Severity: Moderate to High

    In a move that will pose lineup dilemmas and could create chemistry difficulties, the Detroit Pistons grabbed one of the top free agents in the 2013 class.

    Josh Smith is a talented, explosive, multidimensional forward. However, he shouldn't be confused with a truly versatile playmaker who can play both forward positions with equal facility.

    Detroit is spending $54 million on a player who is not skilled enough on the wing to produce as a small forward. Consequently, the Pistons will regularly face the decision of whether to live with Smith at the three spot or steal playing time from Greg Monroe at the four.

    More specifically, there's Smith's shooting inefficiency to consider. He's a career 28 percent behind the arc, including 30 percent in 2012-13 on 2.6 attempts per game. And that doesn't take into account the amount of deep two-pointers that fly errant.

    Smith won't just cost the Pistons $13.5 million per year, he'll also cost them a few headaches.

Golden State Warriors: Signing Jermaine O'Neal

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    Severity: Low

    Signing Jermaine O'Neal was the Golden State Warrior's least necessary move, and it shouldn't be classified as a "mistake."

    The seasoned pro is a competent backup despite his career mileage, so his presence won't hurt the team. But he won't prove to be as useful as the rest of the Dubs' newcomers, which include Andre Iguodala, Toney Douglas and Marreese Speights.

    In the frontcourt, Golden State already has Andrew Bogut, David Lee, Festus Ezeli and Speights, all of whom are younger and more productive than O'Neal. It's doubtful that the 17-year veteran will be a critical component to the Warriors 2014 playoff run.

Houston Rockets: Adding a Surplus of Players Without Shopping Any

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    Severity: Low

    The Houston Rockets have tentatively signed a whopping 19 players entering training camp.

    There's nothing wrong with having a few extra bodies entering autumn, because it makes for good competition, but the club might have done well to shop an asset or two.

    Whether it was a pair of youngsters or the disgruntled Omer Asik, Houston had some opportunities to trade players and didn't entertain the possibilities thoroughly enough.

    With 19 players signed, it may be tricky to mold chemistry among the bench in October, so the Rockets might as well seek transactions to try and narrow things down.

    I'm sure Asik and Dwight Howard will coexist wonderfully and form a terrific frontcourt. But the refusal to discuss trade options denied them any exciting swaps.

Indiana Pacers: Not Shopping Danny Granger

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    Severity: Low to Moderate

    In a similar scenario, the Indiana Pacers lost out on any dynamic upgrades by keeping a tight grip on the expiring contract of Danny Granger. The franchise didn't hold much interest at all in entertaining trade offers.

    Paul George is the clear star of the future of the franchise, and Granger might be out the door soon anyway, so the Pacers shouldn't have any qualms about dealing him if a suitable proposal arises. 

    We can't grade Indy too harshly on this one, because the worst-case scenario finds them holding a rehabbed proven playmaker coming off the bench. 

Los Angeles Clippers: Not Doing Enough to Bolster Defense

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    Severity: Low to Moderate

    Gary Sacks and the Los Angeles Clippers dominated the offseason by adding an elite head coach, re-signing Chris Paul and upgrading the supporting cast.

    Darren Collison and Byron Mullens are superb cheap pickups, as they'll be handy to utilize as role players. Meanwhile, on the wing, J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley will undoubtedly beef up Lob City's three-point attack.

    But what about the defense?

    Both inside and out, consistent stops were an issue last season, most specifically in the playoffs. The new faces on the roster, most notably Redick and Dudley, are unlikely to change the results on that end.

    Doc Rivers will have his work cut out for him when it comes to molding an authentically cohesive defensive unit.

Los Angeles Lakers: Failing to Sign and Trade Dwight Howard

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    Severity: Moderate to High

    While the extra flexibility in 2014 and 2015 is nice, the Los Angeles Lakers would have loved to get something in return for Dwight Howard this summer.

    Instead, they got little more than a thank-you tweet from Howard as he headed out the door for Houston.

    The Lakers' odds of re-signing Howard were dwindling long before the final days of free-agent deliberation, so sign-and-trade possibilities were something that should have been pursued more aggressively.

    Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and L.A. was focused primarily on bringing him back, but by the time reality sunk in, it was too late to formulate an effective sign-and-trade deal with the Golden State Warriors or anyone else.

     

Memphis Grizzlies: Not Trying to Get Younger in Backcourt

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    Severity: Moderate

    After an impressive run in the 2013 playoffs, the Memphis Grizzlies were a couple key backcourt pieces away from true title contention. 

    All they have to show for it is veteran shooter Mike Miller. Aside from Mike Conley and Jerryd Bayless, there's hardly any playmaking punch in the guard corps.

    When the lethal units of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs are unleashed, the Grizzlies will find themselves overmatched and falling short of last year's results.

    Grit can only get you so far, because at some point, you need talent and depth in the Western Conference.

Miami Heat: Dicey Parade Route

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    Severity: None

    This is my way of saying the Miami Heat had an unblemished offseason.

    Pat Riley's reigning back-to-back champions took care of necessary housekeeping by re-signing Chris Anderson and bringing Greg Oden aboard. The rest of the roster looks strong and ready for a three-peat attempt.

    Let's go over this "mistake" anyway, just for fun.

    Whether it was a poorly-planned route or an underestimation of the double-decker bus's height, Heat players encountered a close call and had to duck under some low bridges during the 2013 championship parade.

    If another title is in the cards, I'll bet they tweak the route.

     

Milwaukee Bucks: Overpaying Zaza Pachulia

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    Severity: High

    There's no way to sugarcoat it: The Milwaukee Bucks had a deplorable offseason.

    Out of all the mismanaged scenarios that transpired, the one that makes me cringe the most is signing Zaza Pachulia to a three-year, $15.6 million deal.

    Milwaukee already had a wide assortment of post players, including young talent like John Henson, Larry Sanders, Ekpe Udoh and Ersan Ilyasova. Bringing in Pachulia on board for $5.2 million per year only ensures that the development of bigs like Henson and Sanders will be undermined.

    Ethan Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post puts Pachulia's excessive contract into perspective, noting that he'll earn $1 million less than Ray Allen and Shane Battier combined in 2013-14.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Not Prioritizing Andrei Kirilenko

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    Severity: Moderate to High

    When Andrei Kirilenko declined his $10.2 million option with the Minnesota Timberwolves for 2013-14, it was their opportunity to pursue him with an adequate, yet reasonable two-to-three year deal.

    They didn't prioritize him, however, and he ended up signing with the Brooklyn Nets for $6.5 million over two years.

    Minnesota was able to upgrade the shooting guard position with Kevin Martin, but at the cost of $7 million per year and a potentially weaker team. Kirilenko's value in all phases of the game is definitely worth the $3-5 million per year he would have commanded.

    Martin may work out just fine, but he won't bring the defensive prowess and versatility AK-47 owns.

New Orleans Pelicans: Overpaying for Tyreke Evans

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    Severity: Moderate to High

    Making a big splash to signal a new era is understandable, but the New Orleans Pelicans doled out far too much cash to land Tyreke Evans.

    This is a classic example of exorbitant spending that comes back to haunt teams.

    Evans will collect $44 million over four years, which is a bit unnerving when you consider he's an inconsistent jump-shooter who hasn't settled into a defined position in the NBA. It's not usually a good thing when a four-year pro's best season was his rookie campaign.

    He's a phenomenal athlete and a dangerous slasher in the open floor, but Evans' facilitating efficiency and outside shooting accuracy fall short of his $11 million status.

    In two-to-three years, will we be talking about the guy who helped revive the franchise, or the one who financially handcuffed it?

New York Knicks: Trading for Andrea Bargnani

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    Severity: High

    New York Knicks 7'0" newcomer Andrea Bargnani will knock down some outside shots and keep defenses honest. And that's about it.

    He's not worth $23.4 million and compromising the squad's chemistry.

    Bo Churney of Hawkshoop explains that Bargnani's presence will prevent Carmelo from operating as a power forward:

    The Knicks needed to make moves that would allow them to feature Carmelo more at the 4 and would help them defensively. Not only does this move fulfill neither of those but it will cost them almost $24 million over the next two seasons.

    Bargnani and his career 14.3 PER may end up being more counterproductive than anything.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Letting Kevin Martin Go

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    Severity: Moderate to High

    Scott Brooks and the Oklahoma City Thunder will miss Kevin Martin more than they realize.

    Much like how they missed James Harden after the fact, OKC may regret signing and trading Martin to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    Especially if Jeremy Lamb can't consistently produce.

    With Martin gone, the Thunder will have no choice but to utilize Lamb more often as a rotational shooting guard. The second-year wing had a commendable summer league, but still struggled with consistency and playing effectively north-to-south.

    We'll know within the first few weeks how much Martin's departure will hurt OKC throughout the season.

     

Orlando Magic: Signing Ronnie Price

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    Severity: Low

    The Orlando Magic made nearly all the right moves this offseason, as the future is exciting for the core of this team. The draft was a huge success, and it's only a matter of time that the old albatross contracts are off the books and the young guns are running the show.

    However, if we want to nitpick about the club's depth, the addition of Ronnie Price at point guard is somewhat puzzling.

    The eight-year veteran hasn't posted respectable per-minute numbers since 2009-10, and his career PER is an underwhelming 8.9. Without a doubt, there were better floor-general options on the free agent market.

    Hopefully Orlando's front lines aren't decimated enough to expose this less-than-stellar acquisition.

Philadelphia 76ers: Acquiring Royce White in Exchange for Draft Picks

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    Severity: Moderate

    Getting rid of Jrue Holiday could backfire on the Philadelphia 76ers in the long term, but I understand the philosophy of completely rebuilding instead of toiling in the middle tier of the league.

    Welcoming Royce White in exchange for draft assets, on the other hand, isn't as forgivable. It's extremely risky, to say the least.

    Bleacher Report NBA league-wide analyst Adam Fromal questions the Sixers' logic:

    The Philadelphia 76ers are supposed to be in a rebuilding process, which means they should be stockpiling assets instead of trading them away for questionable returns. 

    Philly's most recent move involved trading away future draft considerations for Royce White and Furkan Aldemir, neither of whom figures to contribute much in the near or distant future.

    The potential reward for this move doesn't stand to be substantial, as Philly risks hampering the comprehensive re-structuring the team.

Phoenix Suns: Waiting Too Long to Ditch Michael Beasley

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    Severity: Moderate

    If the on-court failures of Michael Beasley weren't enough, his latest extra-curricular misstep should have been enough for the Phoenix Suns to swiftly waive him.

    The former No. 2 overall pick with a checkered past was arrested on August 6th after a Scottsdale police officer smelled marijuana coming from Beasley's car, and later found marijuana in the car.

    Phoenix is likely being patient and delicate with the situation as the details get sorted out, but they should cut their ties without further deliberation. If the Suns waive him before August 31st, they can divvy up his remaining $9 million over five years via the "stretch provision."

    It's time to bite the bullet.

Portland Trail Blazers: Changing Arena Name

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    Severity: None

    Much like the Miami Heat slide, this is an opportunity for Portland Trail Blazers fans to chuckle and know that the offseason was well-executed by the front office.

    The team drafted well again, made a couple steals in free agency and struck a superb inside-outside balance.

    Now about that name change...

    There was just something classic about the "Rose Garden" moniker for the arena, as name grew to symbolize Rip City's devotion to the Blazers. Now we have the cold, heartless "Moda Center."

    In all seriousness, the name change was a good decision, too, as the new deal with Moda Health is valued in excess of $4 million per year.

Sacramento Kings: Withdrawing Offer to Andre Iguodala

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    Severity: Moderate to High

    Although the Sacramento Kings acquired an influx of talent, they could have enjoyed a more successful offseason had they maintained their offer to Andre Iguodala.

    Sac-town reportedly offered him four years and $50-plus million, only to withdraw the proposition when Iguodala didn't immediately take it.

    The Kings would have gained a leader, a swingman playmaker and a lock-down defender if they had come to an agreement with Iggy. Instead, they are furnished with a cast of good-but-not-great players surrounding DeMarcus Cousins.

    It's not far-fetched to project that the mistake cost them 10 wins or more.

San Antonio Spurs: Settling for Re-Signing Manu Ginobili

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    Severity: Moderate

    When the San Antonio Spurs re-signed Manu Ginobili for two years and $14.5 million, it felt like they overpaid simply to keep the old crew together.

    Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are clearly the most valuable and irreplaceable players on the squad, so the extra effort to retain Ginobili seemed a bit unnecessary. The Argentinian star will be 38 at the end of this contract, which is nerve-wracking considering he played a combined 94 games in the past two regular seasons.

    Will San Antonio's offseason be enough to keep them afloat against the top-tier of the Western Conference? Probably. Will it be enough to match or exceed 2013's results? Probably not.

Toronto Raptors: Signing Austin Daye

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    Severity: Low

    Austin Daye signing with the Toronto Raptors is far from a mistake, as it includes a low-risk, non-guaranteed second year.

    It should rather be categorized as Toronto's least-productive move of the offseason.

    The Raptors pulled off a beneficial trade sending Andrea Bargnani to the New York Knicks, and also bolstered the paint (Tyler Hansbrough) and point (D.J. Augustin).

    Inking the underachieving Daye only served to add another name to a full list of swingmen and power forwards. Toronto is well-stocked at both the three and four slots, so Daye's career 5.6 points per game will be of little use.

    The 15th overall pick in the 2009 draft is now an expendable spare part; he never became the shooting combo forward scouts hoped he'd be.

Utah Jazz: Letting Paul Millsap Leave for $9.5 Million Per Year

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    Severity: Moderate

    Despite reports that the Utah Jazz were highly interested in re-signing Paul Millsap, the club opted to let him walk.

    He ended up agreeing to a two-year, $19 million contract, with the Atlanta Hawks, a figure that was certainly workable for the Jazz.

    Millsap would have provided continuity to Utah's frontcourt. Aside from Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, the Jazz don't have many NBA-ready resources in the post.

    Utah doesn't receive horrible marks for this mistake, because it enabled them to completely focus on remodeling and get involved in the Andre Iguodala trade. Nevertheless, the squad's future would have featured a nice mix of stability and excitement with Millsap on board.

Washington Wizards: Shuffling Otto Porter's Position in Summer League

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    Severity: Low

    Summer league is a time for trying new things and getting a feel for players' strengths within a system, but it's important to let rookies work through struggles to get comfortable within a role.

    After Otto Porter floundered offensively as small forward in his first summer league game, the Washington Wizards did some tinkering during the second. They used him as shooting guard for some stretches, trying to get him the shot opportunities he couldn't find as a frail small forward. The experiment didn't yield better results.

    Washington would have been better off letting him figure out how to manufacture offense as a forward, giving him time to make adjustments and get comfortable at the three spot.

    Fortunately, the summer league blues won't have far-reaching consequences, as he'll have ample time in training camp and preseason games to adjust to the physicality and speed of the NBA.

    Wizards fans can rest easy knowing they have a dynamic young backcourt and competent pieces at each position.

     

    Follow Dan O'Brien : @DanielO_BR

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