It was a whirlwind free agency period following the NBA Lockout. While a lot of teams “handled their business,” there were a few that left me shaking my head…..
When Danny Ainge wasn’t busy cold-calling other General Managers about point guard Rajon Rondo, he was on the phone with the agent for power forward David West. Ultimately, the money was too much to pass up and West signed with the Indiana Pacers (can you blame him?). My question here is, why in the heck were the Boston Celtics looking to add a power forward when their need was to get a center to play alongside “The Big Four”? While Kevin Garnett is seven-feet tall (6’12″ if you ask him) I doubt that Doc Rivers wants him banging with centers all night long…not with that surgically repaired knee. Sometimes it is the moves you don’t make that mean the most. Despite management’s attempts, I think Boston fans will be happy in the end that West went to the Midwest.
The Dallas Mavericks signed shooting guard Vince Carter to serve as a hired gun alongside Jason Kidd in the backcourt. While VC is little more than a mercenary these days, it’s not a bad pick-up considering the financial strategy in Dallas. The Mavericks want to be players in 2012 but they still need some talent to get to next summer without falling off the map. David Aldridge reported on NBATV recently that the Mavs think he can do what DeShawn Stevenson did last year for them…take spot-up 3′s as the ball gets swung around off double-teams. While Carter is miles better offensively than Stevenson, that wasn’t the reason DeShawn started during Dallas’s championship run…it was D-E-F-E-N-S-E. He guarded the likes of Brandon Roy, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dywane Wade and Lebron James. Good luck with those assignments Vince. This move is obviously an offensive upgrade, I get that. But don’t compare the two defensively…it’s like George McCloud and Scottie Pippen.
The Detroit Pistons re-signed small forward Tayshaun Prince to 4-year, $27M deal. While this was classic Joe Dumars (keeping as many vets as possible during rebuilding) he’s guaranteeing four years of money to a player that has battled back issues for a most of the past two seasons. Maybe Joe D should make a call to Mitch Kupchak in L.A. and ask him how Luke Walton‘s contract smells marinating on the Lakers’ books the past few years (his back is as bad as his dad’s feet). How about Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn? Martell Webster also has a disc issue in his back and doesn’t know if he’ll ever play NBA basketball again. Lucky for Pistons fans, they have rising star Austin Daye at the SF spot. He’s a bigger player…he’s a better scorer…and he’s in one piece.
Why didn’t the Denver Nuggets go after free agent small forward Josh Howard? As weird as it was to hear reports that he planned to join whichever team Nene signed with (eventually the Nuggets), it would’ve made sense on a basketball level in Denver too. With Wilson Chandler stuck in China till at least March (and Gary Forbes joining the Toronto Raptors) the ‘Nugs’ are thin behind Danilo Gallinari at the 3-spot. Let alone that the Italian phenom plays the ’4′ for much of games. Howard would’ve been a bargain pick-up for a team looking to fill holes left by the Chinese migrations (add Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith to this Orient Express). Josh eventually signed with their neighbors, the Utah Jazz…geographically close, but no cigar.
The Atlanta Hawks had lightning in a bottle at the beginning of last season…actually, they had 2 bottles. Reigning 6th Man of the Year Jamal Crawford playing ahead of rookie phenom Jordan Crawford (no relation, despite both being point-a-minute scoring guards). I thought they had the perfect replacement for Jamal going into free agency…they wouldn’t even have to order new jerseys. But at the trade deadline last season they sent Jordan to Washington for Kirk Hinrich in order to direct their playoff run. Then, the team let Jamal Crawford walk as a free agent last week. He signed with the Portland Trailblazers for half of the $10M he made last year. I know they’re close to the luxury tax, but couldn’t the Hawks have freed up $5M for him (easy for me to saym right)? Now the team is hoping that Tracy McGrady can replace the scoring that either Crawford could’ve brought…I’m just hoping he can stay healthy.
The Golden State Warriors were one of the first teams to pursue point guard Chris Paul…what happened? well, they refused to include Stephen Curry in trade proposals. Monta Ellis is a great player but his contract was not New Orleans-friendly in the eyes of David Stern. ‘The Commish’ is trying to sell the team not add payroll. In the end, CP3 went to the Los Angeles Clippers. See, they included their young guard Eric Gordon in the transaction. You have to give something to get something, and GM Larry Riley didn’t want to go that extra mile. This is a trade that would’ve put the Warriors back on the national stage. New head coach and former point guard Mark Jackson must to be scratching his head…..I know I am.
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