With the NBA season around the corner, our resident analysts get together to discuss a variety of topics before tip-off. In Part 1 of their 5-part series, Vinny Ginardi, Mike Aurigemma, Michael Cresci, Greg Kaplan and Tom McCarthy discuss the off-season winners last summer.
VG: The Orlando Magic. You give up Dwight Howard and the best piece you get back is Arron Afflalo? Yikes.
MA: To avoid piling the hate on the Magic for a terrible, terrible trade, I will focus on the Dallas Mavericks. I think this was a pretty important offseason for the Mavs as they tried to stay in contention in the West. They lost out on Deron Williams and now it looks like will lose out on Howard barring an explosion of egos in LA. Then they were not even able re-sign their own guys like Kidd or Terry. They were able to fill out their roster with players like Chris Kaman and O.J. Mayo, but it looks like that will have them stuck in Atlanta Hawks land for a few years.
MC: I, on the other hand, will continue piling hate onto the Magic. Their offseason was so bad that I can’t even pick another team because they occupy the top 3 “worst offseason” spots. There were a million ways to handle the Dwightmare. Losing him would have been hard either way but at least they could have gotten some value back. Instead they turned a top 5 player in the league (and top one at his position no matter what Shaq says) into Aaron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Mo Harkless, a bag of balls, years of irrelevance and almost no cap relief. Oh yeah, and they also lost a very good coach in the process of trying to please their now absent star.
GK: Again, I’m going to take this in a different direction from my friends above me. There were two teams that failed to execute their off-season plans, though the other team in this equation actually salvaged their summer through a trade…with the most disappointing team.
That team would be the Houston Rockets. Ever since last fall when the Rockets failed to acquire Pau Gasol in the three-team Chris Paul trade, they’ve been positioning themselves to make a run at one of Dwight Howard, Gasol or Andrew Bynum. They were always the logical “third team” needed to complete a deal between the Lakers and the Magic, and all indications had them snagging a game-changing big they’ve desperately needed.
Well, we all know how the Howard trade went down, and all the Rockets were left with when all was said and done were two poison pill contracts that netted Omer Asik (a decent big, but not at his current salary) and Jeremy Lin (we really don’t know what he’s going to be over the course of a full season). The Rockets have put all of their chips in on Lin as well, as they traded a proven, quality guard in Kyle Lowery to clear the cap space. Fact is, while people like the draft class of Jeremy Lamb (has star potential), Terrence Jones (lengthy, versatile forward but flew under the radar for the loaded Kentucky team) and Royce White (arguably the best of the three, but has battled OCD and is still in dispute with the Rockets about how to treat it), there are no guarantees on this team that has to play in the top-heavy Western Conference.
The future may not be totally dark, but the Rockets may be stuck in that 7th-10th best team spot in the West for some time to come, and there is almost no getting out of that purgatory.
TM: The Magic made one of the 5 worst trades in NBA history, simple as that. But because I took the easy way out in the previous question, I’m going to give you another team with a disappointing offseason: The Charlotte Bobcats. After having the worst win percentage in NBA history last year, no one needed a talent infusion more than the Bobcats.
Luckily for them, arguably the best prospect since LeBron was coming out of college, but we all know how that went. David Stern rigged the lottery to send The Brow to New Orleans as part of his secret deal to get Tom Benson to buy the team, and the Cats got stuck with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who is much better suited as a Harden-esque super glue guy than a franchise savior. They look like the worst team in the league again, in a year where the best draft prospect (Nerlens Noel) is described as a homeless man’s version (Copyright Bill Simmons) of the guy you just missed out on. They still have Michael Jordan as an owner, even though he cares more about his golf game than his team’s performance. And they basically just copied the Maverick’s jersey designs for the upcoming season. I’d hate to be one of the five remaining Bobcats fans this year.