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As The Ink Dries: Rating the NBA Free Agent Signings 2009

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As The Ink Dries:  Rating the NBA Free Agent Signings 2009

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With all the talk surrounding the big names, it seems as though this year's post-moratorium transaction period has changed the complexion of only about 6 teams. While these transactions are certainly important, they do not represent the only transactions to create franchise sea change in the last month and a half. It's not over yet, but since the NBA playoffs drew to a close there have been over 50 transactions involving players and close to this many involving team personnel, with every team involved in some shape or form. In some respects, teams did a decent job of keeping up with the Joneses, but the best of these transactions could prove, in the long run, to be more significant than renting a Shaq, or taking a Sheed.


1. San Antonio added Antonio McDyess and Richard Jefferson to the veteran trifecta of Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker for the most imposing starting 5 in the West, if healthy. Drafted banger DeJuan Blair. Another year of George Hill can't hurt. They still need a spot up shooter off the bench.

2. The Raptors started off the free-wheeling season by trading Kapono for gritty Reggie Evans. They got the most out of Shawn Marion in a sign-and-trade which yielded Devean George, and Swiss-army-knife Antoine Wright. Extended contracts on coach Triano and Andrea Bargnani. They also signed Hedo Turkoglu.

3. Vince has waited a long time to get his way. Carter gets an opportunity to play in balmy Florida adding shot creativity and joie de vivre to an already imposing Orlando lineup. They lose Turkoglu, but this is an upgrade. Carter is able to guard both Lebron and Kobe. Ryan Anderson will bring more than the departed Gortat.

4. When a team adds Ron Artest, they are making a statement about their level of competitiveness being turned up a few notches. When that team is the Lakers, the league might be in for another dynasty. The re-signing of Shannon Brown is a very good keep for the Lakers. All that's left to do is ink the candy man.

5. The Cavs made the move they wanted to make mid-season, acquiring Shaquille O'Neal for basically Sasha Pavlovic and Ben Wallace. This gives the Cavs, who like the half-court game, the ability to matchup with Dwight Howard, and also cause some matchup problems of their own. It's a better fit for Shaq than in Phoenix.

6. The Nets received excellent value for Vince Carter by receiving Courtney Lee, Tony Battie, and Rafer Alston. They may rue the day they let Ryan Anderson go in the trade, but this fun-looking, young team will have a breakthrough forward because of VC's departure (CDR? Yi?). Can Rafer and Devon Harris coexist?

7. All of a sudden, the Pistons don't resemble the Pistons anymore. Adding to the departure of Chauncey Billups is Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess, Allen Iverson and Amir Johnson. Enter Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. Detroit seem to have too many guards, which suggests a trade, but for now the Pistons look to the future.

8. Rasheed's addition is a setback for the development of Glen Davis, as Baby's minutes seem most likely to nosedive. How the Celtics will manage the rotation of Rasheed, Pierce, Garnett, Perkins, Rondo, and Allen is not the question, but rather, how will anyone else develop on this team? Also, the four main guys are getting old.

9. There hasn't been much of a sound from Washington, but joining the return of Hibachi-ball is the newly acquired Mike Miller and Randy Foye, two excellent players who were stolen for the relatively small price of Etan Thomas, Darius Songalia, Oleksiy Pecherov, and the fifth pick (who turned out to be Ricky Rubio.)

10. The Mavs acquired Shawn Marion, Chris Humphries and Nathan Jawai for Devean George and Antoine Wright. They sent Stack's expiring contract to Memphis for a reliable backup guard in Greg Buckner. They narrowly avoided losing Kidd to the Knicks, ensuring they will have a future 40 year old guard. They fielded an offer to Orlando's Marcin Gortat, for good measure.

11. The Hawks re-signed Mike Bibby and young center Zaza Pachulia. They also snagged Jamal Crawford for seldom used Acie Law and not-so-Speedy Claxton. All the players are expressing satisfaction and hope for the upcoming season playing in Atlanta. You can't put a price on loyalty... or delusion.

12. Memphis shed some excess players in the Marion deal, receiving an expiring contract in return, traded Darko Milicic to the Knicks for Quentin Richardson, whom they later parlayed into Zach Randolph. All this so that they could chase Allen Iverson on a low-ball offer? I don't know if it's enough. Focus on the youth.

13. It's difficult to believe that by trading Shaq the Suns' free throw percentages are actually about to get worse, but that's what has happened by trading for Ben Wallace. Sasha Pavlovic will get a chance to prove himself in Phoenix, and should make everyone forget the Matt Barnes experiment. Is this Nash's last year on Planet Orange?

14. The other Los Angeles team had a successful month and a half by drafting can't-miss star, Blake Griffin and then unloading Zach Randolph to make some space for the rookie. They received old Clip alum, Quentin Richardson in the deal, which will help spread the floor. This team could use a little health next season.

15. First of all, kudos to the athletic trainers who helped Eddie Curry lose over 50 lbs. of late, ensuring that the Knicks' exercise equipment will be safe. This also could mean that the Knicks might have a motivated center on their team, which adds another element to the conference. They traded Quentin Richardson to get draft-bust Darko Milicic in their biggest move and signed a variety of D- Leaguers to fill some space for a year.

16. Indy survived rumors of moving to Canada, and drafted feisty Tyler Hansbrough, who has won at every level, and used some cap room to sign defensive stopper Dahntay Jones. They parted ways with Marquis Daniels and his 7.5 million dollar team option. With health next season, this team will definitely be on the rise in the East.

17. The Kings solidified their coaching situation by hiring a crew of all new assistants in Mario Elie, Jim Eyen and Leonard Robinson. They also traded for a natural Point Guard, Sergio Rodriguez, deemed expendable by Portland, giving up nothing major in return. Modest, but efficient off-season so far for the Kings.

18. At times the best move you make is the one you don't. The Blazers must use their $7.2 million currently available under the cap prior to next season's trade deadline, or lose it when they must re-sign Aldridge and Roy. They lost on the Turkoglu sweepstakes, but perhaps have targeted Andre Miller to run the point now that Rodriguez is gone.

19. Denver hasn't had much of an exciting off-season so far, but the team did re-sign the "Bird-Man" Chris Andersen to a multi-year contract, which is good. Standing pat this year might work out for the Nuggets, but if for some strange reason things don't go their way, they'll be searching for answers via the trade route.

20. The Wolves traded away their two best perimeter shooters for a suitcase, a poet, and the saga that is Ricky Rubio. If the Wolves end up getting Rubio drunk enough to play in Minny, then all is forgiven, but if he stays in Spain for two years, this trade could go down as one of the worst. Randy Foye has all the potential to be an allstar, while Mike Miller is a proven veteran.

21. Nothing much going on in Oklahoma City, other than getting some players healthy and fielding not one, but two summer league teams. This is a very, very young team probably years beyond achieving success. Management must be careful not to have too many years of futility, lest they risk the players learning losing habits. Loads of talent here, and lots of cap room.

22. Houston lost their key acquisition of a year ago to the rival Lakers, and proceeded to sign the redundant Trevor Ariza. Ariza will be slightly less than he was for the Lakers while with the Rockets, despite similar opportunities for playing time. It looks as though the team has lost out on any chance of signing Marcin Gortat, who seems destined for cross-town rivals Dallas.

23. By vowing to sign Paul Millsap, the Jazz are doing what is necessary to keep all of their assets. The next step, is to explore trades. This team has proven to be ineffective against any of the top teams in the West, and must adjust the roster to change the dynamic. The likeliest candidate for a new address is Carlos Boozer, now that he's decided to stay.

24. The only significant move the 76ers made was to acquire Jason Kapono for Reggie Evans. This essentially amounts to replacing Kyle Korver, if nothing else. Elton Brand's health is questionable, while Andre Miller and Royal Ivey seem destined to take their services elsewhere.

25. Golden state wins the "most confused rookie" award by mentioning Stephen Curry in Amare Stoudamire trade talks, then parading him around the city a day later. Poor guy, but the fact remains that Curry presents an intriguing possibility for Golden State. It's not as if they don't have guards to trade...

26. Trade talks have swirled around this team every since they were dubbed the "baby bulls". How Kirk Hnrich has survived all these years in a Bulls uniform is testament to his likability and coachability. Other than Jannero Pargo's return to the Bulls, the team is hoping for a year of health from all their members, in particular Luol Deng. They will also have to find more scoring from someone, now that Ben Gordon's 22 points a game are in Detroit.

27. Charlotte has not attracted any major free agents thus far, and has failed to produce anything through the trade route. With Indiana, New Jersey and Toronto all appearing to have improved their chances, Charlotte needs to consider making a roster addition sooner than later.

28. Here is another team which has stood pat watching other teams improve. New Orleans did not have a good post-season, and has disgruntled workers in their midst, particularly Tyson Chandler who they've already tried to trade last season. Judging from that first lopsided trade, I can appreciate their reluctance to make another stupid deal, but they are not going to get better like this.

29. It's all-out stalemate in Miami, with Wade refusing to sign until Riley makes a commitment to improving the roster towards a championship, and Riley refusing to improve the roster until Wade signs. Signing Jamario Moon doesn't count.

30. Although Milwaukee made several moves, it appears as though each move was engineered to the detriment of the team. How you can trade Jefferson away for Kurt Thomas, Bruce Bowen and Fabricio Oberto, and then let Charlie Villanueva walk away without qualifying his offer and claim to be improving the team, is beyond me. I didn't know Kevin Mchale got a new job in Milwaukee!

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