It has been a very active offseason for the NBA.
John Wall was selected by the Washington Wizards as the first overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Miami now has a “super team.” Chris Paul apparently has demanded a trade out of the New Orleans Hornets. Lon Babby, who has been a NBA player agent for a long time, has been hired as the new President of Basketball Operations of the Phoenix Suns. The Golden State Warriors has a new owner, and it’s not Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. And players are already bracing for a lockout because the NBA owners and players’ union seem to be far from reaching an agreement.
There are more transactions that have taken place, some very good, the others questionable, and some still to be done for the upcoming weeks, but for now, here are five winners and losers of the 2010 offseason.
They were able to sign the three top free agents: LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. The three players also took less money to make sure the Heat had enough money to sign other free agents to complete their team.
They used the remaining cap space to bring back some of the players from last year, add sharpshooter Mike Miller, and add centers Juwan Howard and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
Anything short of the finals will be considered a failure, and their only goal is to win the championship, not only for this year but the next few years.
The Lakers just won the championship, but they didn’t stay put this offseason. They we’re able to re-sign Derek Fisher, an integral part of their team not only for his contributions on the court but off the court as well.
They also signed Steve Blake, a point guard well-suited for the triangle offense; Matt Barnes to add depth to their already deep roster; and Theo Ratliff, a fifteen-year veteran to provide defense off the bench.
These signings will only help them win another championship and achieve another three-peat under coach Phil Jackson.
The Thunder stuck to their plan to build the team through the draft and smart free-agent signings. They were able to add size to their frontcourt by drafting Cole Aldrich, signed veteran Royal Ivey as an insurance in the backcourt, and added shooting by acquiring Daequan Cook from the Heat and Morris Peterson from the Hornets.
But the reason they are big winners is because their franchise player, Kevin Durant, immediately accepted the maximum contract extension offered by the Thunder. That only shows Durant is committed to the Thunder and believes they can grow together as a team and win a championship.
You’ve probably seen the video of Livingston dislocating his kneecap after landing awkwardly in a game against the Bobcats on February 26, 2007. The video was so gruesome that when shown on television, a graphic nature warning is issued to warn viewers of the clip. The injury was so severe that few thought he would be able to play in the NBA again.
He started his comeback in 2008, accepting a minimum-salary deal with the Heat while trying to work his way back from the injury. He bounced around the league after his stint with the Heat, playing for the Memphis Grizzlies, the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA D-League, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Washington Wizards.
Recently he was signed by the Charlotte Bobcats to a two-year $7 million contract. All the hard work has paid off, and Livingston is back in the NBA with a decent contract.
When Jefferson announced that he was opting out of his contract and leaving behind $15 million, everyone shook their heads and wondered what Jefferson was thinking. He just finished the season with the lowest stats in his career since his rookie season, and many thought no team would offer anything close to what he was supposed to make this year.
Jefferson said that he wants to take advantage of the current CBA and sign a long-term deal now rather than when the new CBA is enforced. He definitely took a gamble in leaving $15 million, but it paid off for him because he was re-signed by the Spurs for four years and a total of $38.9 million.
The Cavaliers not only lost their best player ever and possibly the best player in the league in LeBron James, but they learned about it on a one-hour special on ESPN.
It’s going to take a while before the Cavaliers can be contenders again, and they’ll have a hard time attracting free agents because they don’t have James anymore. That’s why Zydrunas Ilgauskas signed with the Heat and Matt Barnes chose less money to play with the Lakers.
They can still make the playoffs, but don't expect them to get out of the first round.
When the offseason started, the Bulls had tons of cap space, enough to sign two max free agents. They also had a very good young core headlined by Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose, but they still failed to land any of the top free agents.
The Carlos Boozer signing finally gives the Bulls a legitimate post option, which they have been lacking for years, but the best power forward available was Chris Bosh. They also failed to sign Chicago native Dwayne Wade, who opted to stay in sunny Miami. The Bulls were also considered the early favorites to land LeBron James since they already had Noah and Rose, but James also chose to sign with Miami.
They’ve signed Boozer, Kyle Korver, and Ronnie Brewer. The also acquired C.J. Watson in a sign-and-trade. All are good players who can help them improve, but it doesn’t make them a championship contender. The best they can probably achieve this coming season is fourth place in the Eastern Conference—behind the Heat, Celtics, and Magic—and a second round exit in the playoffs.
Did they get better in the off season? Yes. Could they have done better? Definitely.
The Maverick’s plan this offseason was to use the non-guaranteed contract of Erick Dampier to trade or sign-and-trade for a superstar. The team that would get Dampier would be able to save $13 million just for declining the option on his contract. That’s a sizeable amount of savings, especially now that teams are more wary of paying the luxury tax.
The Mavericks were able to trade for Tyson Chandler, a good defense-minded center that will solidify their frontcourt. But Chandler will never be mistaken for a superstar—or an All-Star for that matter.
This hurts the Mavericks in the long run because instead of adding someone who can help them compete for a championship, they just added a good bench player. And it’s not like Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd are getting any younger.
Beasley hasn’t lived up to his potential of being the second pick of the Heat in the 2008 draft, and he won’t get to be part of the super team in Miami.
That has to hurt because the Heat re-signed Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, Jamaal Magloire, Carlos Arroyo and James Jones, but he was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team that seems to have no clue of what they are doing and is far from making the playoffs this year.
Raymond Felton recently signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the New York Knicks. He’s on the list because last year the Charlotte Bobcats offered him an annual salary of $7 million for five years and he turned it down, thinking that he can get more money this off season.
Players have been preparing for next year because when the new CBA gets signed, the salaries of all players would probably be reduced and have fewer years guaranteed in their contracts. It certainly looks like the gamble Felton took didn’t work out.