Re-Grading the 10 Biggest Moves of the 2013 Offseason, Midseason Edition
The 2013 NBA offseason saw plenty of action.
Two future Hall of Fame players changed addresses. One of the league's most dominant big men jumped ship and may have started a new Western Conference power. Another title contender added an elite complementary player on the wing. Multiple fringe playoff teams embraced a win-now mentality. Others hit the reset button.
How are some of those moves and more from the 2013 offseason panning out so far?
Now that we're halfway through the year and armed with more perspective, let's revisit the 10 biggest free-agent signings and trade acquisitions from this past offseason.
Andrea Bargnani to New York Knicks
The Move: New York Knicks trade Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, a first-round pick in 2016 (less favorable of NYK and Denver) and second-round selections in 2014 and 2017 to the Toronto Raptors for Andrea Bargnani.
It's not that Andrea Bargnani played all that badly before tearing his UCL and going out indefinitely.
Even though he shot poorly from behind the arc (27.8 percent) and offered little help against penetration, Bargnani rebounded better than he ever had before (although that's not saying much), shot 48 percent from beyond 16 feet and actually played pretty good one-on-one post defense.
At the very least, Bargnani was an upgrade over what Camby, Richardson and Novak could have provided.
Of course, that wasn't the issue with the Bargnani trade then, and it still isn't now. Taking on salary when you can afford to do so is one thing, but sacrificing an incredibly valuable first-round pick in 2016 along with two second-round choices is asinine. It's hard to imagine Bargnani could ever play well enough to justify this deal.
It's about more than undervaluing the draft, which the Knicks always seem to do. It's also about wasting the chance to trade that pick elsewhere to get a much more dependable player who could fulfill actual needs. From an asset standpoint, Bargnani is a luxury the Knicks couldn't afford.
This was one of the more predictable disasters, and Bargnani's injury only makes it worse.
Marcin Gortat to Washington Wizards
The Move: Washington Wizards trade the expiring contract of Emeka Okafor and a top-12-protected 2014 first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns for Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall.
Marcin Gortat has been exactly as advertised. His per 36-minute averages are right in line with his career numbers, and he's been sturdy and dependable on a nightly basis.
When you factor in Emeka Okafor's injury status, trading for Gortat has obviously been a huge upgrade in production for the Wizards.
But will it ultimately be worth it? It's tough to tell. Here's ESPN's Marc Stein with more on what the future may hold for Gortat and the Wizards:
According to the latest whispers out of the nation's capital, Gortat has been presented with the option of signing a contract extension between now and June 30 by the Wizards, who acquired the Polish big man from Phoenix just days before the season started in late October.
If the Wizards can retain Gortat for a discount before he hits free agency, this deal will look a whole lot better. While there's value in a young team gaining playoff experience, it's probably not worth sacrificing a mid-first-round pick in a very good draft.
As it stands right now, though, acquiring Gortat has proven to be a pretty solid move with the potential to be a great one.
Andrew Bynum to Cleveland Cavaliers
The Move: Cleveland Cavaliers sign Andrew Bynum to a non-guaranteed deal ($6 million guaranteed).
This one is incredibly difficult to grade.
Make no mistake: Andrew Bynum's short-lived tenure in Cleveland was a complete failure. Bynum shot 41.9 percent from the field in just 24 games, and on most nights, he looked like he could barely move.
It was even worse off the court. We can only guess what kind of negative impact Bynum's attitude had in the locker room, but it's telling that the Cavs eventually suspended him for conduct detrimental to the team.
The thing is, it ended up being being a good thing that Bynum was so bad. Thanks to the smart structuring of Bynum's deal by Cavs general manager Chris Grant, Cleveland was able to flip Bynum's non-guaranteed deal for Luol Deng, a player that's essentially a perfect fit with Cleveland's needs.
Bynum's performance gets an F, but the parameters of the actual contract deserve an A. Let's just average those out and move on.
Al Jefferson to Charlotte Bobcats
The Move: Charlotte Bobcats signed Al Jefferson to a three-year deal worth $40.5 million.
Al Jefferson has been one of the most dependable post scorers in the league for years now, and that hasn't changed in Charlotte. Jefferson is averaging 18.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game while only seeing a slight drop-off in efficiency.
That's about what was expected from one of the most consistent bigs in the league, but it's the other end that's offered up a few surprises.
Jefferson has never been a good defender, but he's been useful in Steve Clifford's system. To the shock of many, the Bobcats are seventh in defensive efficiency this season. For that reason, the Bobcats are in playoff contention.
That's exactly what Jefferson was brought in to help the Bobcats do, and he's succeeding thus far. This move seemed awfully desperate when it was made this offseason, but Jefferson has lived up to his contract and has been a big part of Charlotte finally trending in the right direction.
Andre Iguodala to Golden State Warriors
The Move: Golden State Warriors acquire Andre Iguodala in a three-way deal for Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush, first-round picks in 2014 and 2017 and second-round picks in 2016 and 2017.
As soon as you look past the fact that Andre Iguodala is not a scorer, he becomes much easier to appreciate. Iguodala is averaging just 10.1 points per game with the Warriors this year, but his impact has been felt all over the court, as Warriors forward Draymond Green explained to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:
Thanks in large part to Iguodala and a healthy Andrew Bogut, the Warriors have jumped from 14th in defensive efficiency last year to fifth this season. Iguodala has also played an important role as a distributor (4.7 assists), and that's helped Stephen Curry put together an incredible first half.
Even though the raw numbers aren't impressive, Iguodala's efficiency is. He's shooting 50.6 percent from the field and knocking in an incredible 43.3 percent of his shots from behind the arc. Guys that defend, rebound, create for others and only take good shots are always going to be valuable, and Iguodala is a shining example of that.
Will he be worth two first-round picks and $48 million over four years, though? That all depends on how the Warriors fare in the playoffs over the next few years.
That being said, so long as he doesn't lose too much athleticism and his teammates continue to compensate for his flaws (isolation scoring, free-throw shooting), Iguodala should maintain his status as one of the very best complementary players in the league.
Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans to New Orleans Pelicans
The Move: New Orleans Pelicans trade Nerlens Noel, Greivis Vasquez, Robin Lopez and a 2014 top-five-protected first-round pick for Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans.
The fact that the New Orleans Pelicans are currently starting Brian Roberts and Greg Stiemsma every night tells you what you need to know about how this trade has turned out so far.
It's tough to plan for injuries, but New Orleans threw caution to the wind by doubling down with Tyreke Evans when Eric Gordon was already on the roster. With Holiday and Ryan Anderson both out for extended periods of time, the Pelicans' season has turned into a worst-case scenario pretty quickly.
Unfortunately, there may be more bad news on the way. The Pelicans look primed to sacrifice a top-10 pick in the draft to the Philadelphia 76ers, so there isn't any reward whatsoever for this season's failings.
Was this bad luck? Absolutely, but it still doesn't cover up the fact that New Orleans went all-in with a roster that doesn't really fit. Now likely down a draft pick with limited financial flexibility, New Orleans may have a hard time rectifying this even once everyone finally gets healthy again.
These two trades could very well set the franchise back for multiple years.
Eric Bledsoe to Phoenix Suns
The Move: In a three-way deal, the Phoenix Suns dealt Jared Dudley and a 2015 second-round pick for Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler.
This was absolute robbery.
Rebuilding teams aren't supposed to be able to deal veterans on long-term contracts, no matter how reasonable the deal is, and receive by far the best player in the deal in return. The fact that Bledsoe is still on his rookie deal this year makes it even more mind-blowing.
Although Bledsoe is currently out with a meniscus injury, he was brilliant next to Goran Dragic in the first 24 games of the season, averaging 18 points and 5.8 assists per night along with his usual brand of ball-hawking defense.
The Suns have a keeper in Bledsoe, and they'll be able to match any offer he receives in restricted free agency this offseason. It's incredible that Dudley and a second-round pick was all that it took to acquire one of the most promising young guards in all of basketball.
It's hard to see any real downside to this move, even with Bledsoe on the sidelines.
Josh Smith to Detroit Pistons
The Move: The Detroit Pistons signed Josh Smith to a four-year deal worth $54 million.
Let's forget for a moment that Josh Smith is on pace to become the worst three-point shooter (minimum 300 attempts) in NBA history and cast the focus on what his signing has done to the Detroit Pistons as a whole.
The Pistons are 17-27 with Smith, which is somehow good enough to be in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, but nonetheless still pretty horrid.
Detroit's improvements defensively have been non-existent, as the Pistons currently have the exact same defensive efficiency number as they did last year. Smith was supposed to help there, but it hasn't happened yet.
In addition to that, Smith's expensive long-term deal might put promising young big man Greg Monroe out of the future picture.
While it's not fair to put all the blame on Smith, in no way has he lived up to his contract. This looked like a bad fit for all parties involved, and the first half of the season hasn't led anyone to think differently.
Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to Brooklyn Nets
The Move: The Brooklyn Nets acquire Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry for Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, first-round picks in 2014, 2016, 2018 and the right to swap in 2017.
Don't look now, but the Brooklyn Nets are approaching .500 and are finally looking like a playoff team. That seemed impossible just a few weeks ago, but regardless, the Nets are going to be judged by their performance in the playoffs more than anything else.
With that in mind, it's too early to call this deal a complete bust quite yet. While it seems highly unlikely the Boston trio can regain their form and lead the Nets past the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers, especially without Brook Lopez, you never know when injuries will pop up. The Nets could have a chance, however slim it may be.
All that being said, you don't mortgage your future for an extremely slim chance at getting out of the second round of the playoffs, and that's what Brooklyn did with this deal. It seems like only a matter of time before the Nets deeply regret making this trade, if that isn't the case already.
We'll see how it all plays out, but it's hard to be too optimistic, even with the improved play as of late.
Dwight Howard to Houston Rockets
The Move: The Houston Rockets sign Dwight Howard to a four-year, $88 million contract.
Signing Dwight Howard was about as close to a no-brainer as it gets, but so far the Rockets have failed to reap major benefits or fully capitalize on his arrival.
That has a lot to do with the failure to trade last year's starting center, Omer Asik, to this point. He's basically a wasted asset that should be turned into something valuable at some point.
Houston's defensive performance as a team so far this year hasn't been great either, however. Despite having Howard in the middle, the Rockets are just 15th in defensive efficiency. Last year with Asik manning the middle, the Rockets were 16th.
Of course, Howard's impact has shown up in the standings, and Houston looks like a real contender to nab home court in the tough Western Conference. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and Houston has plenty of time to find the right mix around Howard, James Harden and Chandler Parsons going forward.
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