NBA Rosters That Just Don't Make Sense After Free Agency
Most of the dust has settled from the 2013 offseason, and rosters going into the 2013-14 NBA season are pretty much set.
Some teams improved their title chances greatly (the Houston Rockets, for example), and others at least got on a path and followed a plan (Philadelphia 76ers).
The following teams didn't really do much of either.
While there is some room for teams in the middle who aren't contending or rebuilding, the following clubs constructed their rosters in free agency in ways that just don't make sense.
For some teams, just simply making the playoffs is a step in the right direction. The Cleveland Cavaliers haven't been to the postseason since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, so you can understand the desire to get back there.
With many other teams in the Eastern Conference tanking, the Cavs made some gambles to earn a playoff spot. No one knows if Andrew Bynum will be healthy anytime soon, but the thought process is that between Bynum and Anderson Varejao, the Cavs should hopefully have one healthy impact center for a good portion of the year.
There's now a crowded frontcourt in Cleveland (Anthony Bennett, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller, Bynum and Varejao), so the signing of Earl Clark was a strange one. Dion Waiters has also shown the classic profile of a sixth man, but the Cavs went out and got Jarrett Jack as another ball-dominant player in the backcourt.
The Cavs should make the playoffs, but there were better fits available next to Kyrie Irving than Jack and Clark in free agency. This could end up being an unhealthy team that struggles to mesh.
The Dallas Mavericks opted for heart over head in free agency. Once Dwight Howard went to Houston, the writing should have been on the wall to rebuild, to start fresh and to find a new home for Dirk Nowitzki.
The Mavs weren't prepared to do that, however, and so instead they picked at the scraps in free agency.
Jose Calderon is a wonderfully solid point guard and a great shooter, but how much does he move the needle for the Mavs' title chances? And is it worrisome that he'll block playing time for younger guys like Shane Larkin (once he's healthy) and Gal Mekel?
Monta Ellis can certainly score, but can you really build an entire team around mid-range jumpers with he and Dirk as a one-two punch?
The Mavericks are going to ride out the twilight of Nowitzki's career together, but it's hard to imagine they can really contend with this odd group of players.
When you talk about a team having to be dedicated to a plan, the Charlotte Bobcats come to mind.
The Bobcats have been rebuilding for a while now. Bad drafting and bad luck in the lottery have made them one of the worst teams in the league year in and year out. It's understandable that they want to get better, but spending a whole lot of money on Al Jefferson will almost certainly just give them a worse pick in the draft for the next few seasons.
Jefferson is a great post scorer, but defensively he can't move or protect the rim. That's a problem, and with Cody Zeller manning the frontcourt with Jefferson, the Bobcats are going to give up an awful lot of points. Again.
Signing Jefferson is just like burning cash and a few extra lottery balls. If you're going to sign Jefferson, at least add some other quality pieces and really go for it. This was a half-measure, and an ill-conceived one at that.
The Denver Nuggets lost their general manager, Masai Ujiri. They lost their head coach, George Karl. Then they lost their best player, Andre Iguodala.
Not the best offseason.
The Nuggets were coming off a great season that showed the world that Denver had the best home-court advantage in sports. The style of play was fascinating to watch, and conventional wisdom was being turned on its head.
Now? The Nuggets are still ultra-young and have some exciting pieces, but nothing was done in free agency to make playoff success more realistic after all the losses this offseason.
Signing J.J. Hickson was particularly confusing, considering the Nuggets already have a rebounding machine in Kenneth Faried and the means to play small ball at the 4 with guys like Danilo Gallinari.
I'm not sure what the direction of the Denver Nuggets is long term, but at least for now, the arrow is pointing down after a poor offseason.
The Detroit Pistons took an interesting approach to the offseason. Sure, they got one of the best players in Josh Smith, but they also just locked in a guy who happens to play the position their best player already does.
The Pistons were just fine with a Greg Monroe-Andre Drummond frontcourt pairing for the future, but now Josh Smith complicates matters. He's not a small forward, he can't shoot from distance and he'll probably eat into playing time for one of the talented young bigs.
Smith also doesn't make the Pistons a contender on his own, and the other signings Detroit made were poor. Will Bynum makes sense because of his chemistry with Drummond, but bringing back Chauncey Billups for a swan song when he very clearly can't play anymore is going to be bad if he actually wants big minutes.
The Pistons point guard spot is still in flux, and the starting lineup is unknown. Getting talent to Detroit is a good thing, but pushing in the chips too early for players who don't fit isn't.
The Milwaukee Bucks front office doesn't seem to realize where their strengths are.
After having a jam-packed frontcourt last season, the Bucks went out and signed big man Zaza Pachulia to add even more depth. John Henson has been a stud in the very few minutes he's played, but once again he'll have to scrap just to find floor time.
O.J. Mayo is an interesting choice at shooting guard as well. The Bucks have seen what inconsistent scoring and shooting can do to an offense and what lazy perimeter defense can mean for the defense.
Mayo probably gets a worse rap than he deserves, but it might have made more sense for the Bucks to punt a season and wait for a better fit instead of sealing their destiny for a 40-win season yet again.
At least the Carlos Delfino signing was a pretty good one.
New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans will either have three wing players who use a ton of possessions, or they'll have one of the most expensive sixth men the game has ever seen.
Taking a chance on Tyreke Evans isn't a bad idea in a vacuum. A change of scenery and the players around him should help, and the talent is still there.
But is New Orleans the right landing spot? Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon can really defend and score, and Evans requires the ball as much as they both do to be truly effective. Evans might make sense as an insurance policy for the injury-prone Gordon, but he hasn't been exactly healthy himself over the years.
Re-signing Al-Farouq Aminu was a pretty good move, however, in hopes that he can be a transition player and solid rebounder who doesn't need touches.
Losing Robin Lopez will hurt, and the Pelicans did little to replace him. Anthony Davis should make big strides and Ryan Anderson is a great stretch 4, but the Hornets might miss Lopez's big body and effort this season.
The jury is out on how the Pelicans did in free agency, but one has to wonder if a better fit than Evans would have been willing to play in New Orleans next season.