Potential Tectonic Shifts: Breaking Down The Wild And Woolly Beast That Is The NBA Offseason

So here we are. It’s the 8th of July, and as everything stands right now, we NBA fans are perched on the precipice of a potential avalanche of frenetic free agent activity. The landscape of the league could be undergoing some tectonic shifts over the next several days. All that will be taken into account, too, as we break down the good, the bad, the ugly and the completely confounding teams of the NBA offseason so far.

Breaking Down the NBA Offseason

The Good:

San Antonio Spurs – They’re on this list because they re-signed Patty Mills to a really good deal (although, to be fair, he has a torn right rotator cuff and will be out of commission for the next seven months), and Boris Diaw to a fair-market deal. I love that they talked to Pau Gasol, he’d be a nice upgrade over Tiago Splitter if he can stay healthy.

New York Knicks – In his tenure as Knicks President, Phil Jackson has thus far made a series of shrewd moves to both plan for the future and try to curb the mundanity of the recent past. He traded into the draft and moved one of New York’s few tradable contracts (Tyson Chandler) to offload another player who had become a cancer to the team, Raymond Felton, to the Dallas Mavericks, and in the process upgraded New York’s point guard position with Jose Calderon, one of the league’s great shooters and a smart passer who can fit well within a Jackson-Derek Fisher triangle offense. Jackson also drafted a high-upside guy, Cleanthony Early, with the 34th pick in the draft. Whatever happens with Carmelo Anthony, you’ve got to think Jackson will continue to tinker around the perimeter until he creates a tenable team.

The Bad:

Sacramento Kings – Why did Sacramento overpay for Darren Collison, a back-up point guard at best, when they have their own restricted free agent back-up point guard, Isaiah Thomas, waiting for his offer sheet? There is no way Darren Collison is worth $16 million over three years; yes, that is a contract that Thomas will most likely eclipse, but that’s because Thomas is better. Why did the Kings draft yet another shooting guard this year? Why are there apparently a million interchangeable power forwards on this roster? Why is Rudy Gay still on the team? And finally, the kicker: why isn’t Vivek Ranadive doing absolutely everything he can to try to nab Kevin Love or, as has been rumored forever, Rajon Rondo? They have some intriguing assets in Thomas, #8 draft pick Nik Stauskas, Gay’s expiring deal, and said power forwards. I’d say it’s time Kings GM Pete D’Allesandro cashed those chips.

Miami Heat – Granted, all the stars could align and LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade might just run it back for enough of a discount that they Heat could fit in additional role players. But the fact that they’ve all opted out and the three Heatles are apparently all on different contract-negotiating pages, after four consecutive Finals appears, is somewhat pathetic on the part of the organization. The cheapskate amnesty of Mike Miller and the whiffs on Michael Beasley and Greg Oden last year didn’t exactly inspire confidence in Pat Riley’s role player assessment skills, and I’m not sure why Danny Granger was added to the roster this early in free agency. That being said, 6’10” Josh McRoberts, at four years and $23 million, is a great pick-up as a Chris Andersen-esque energy piece off the bench, a bit more of a power forward than Birdman. But you can smell the desperation permeating South Beach, and if LeBron leaves, things could devolve into the Ugly.

The Ugly:

Philadelphia 76ers – I understand that Sam Hinckie and Co. are playing the long game, but things are only going to get worse before they get better. Sixers GM Hinckie is doing everything he can to try the patience of Sixers fans who’ve endured eight years and counting of basketball irrelevance since A.I. was traded to the Pistons. He is gambling on two injury-prone big man assets in Nerlens Noel and #3 draft pick Joel Embiid. He made a draft-day trade with the Orlando Magic to acquire an intriguing future piece, #12 lottery pick Dario Saric, who just signed a prohibitive three-year contract with Turkish club Anadolu Efes (Saric will stay in Europe for at least one more year). Most recklessly of all, he and coach Brett Brown Rookie of the Year PG Michael Carter-Williams’ out-of-control play (it devolved into high-turnover handling and grotesque monthly field goal percentages) while trading away every useful player on their roster not named Thaddeus Young. The Sixers looked good when they stole games from the Heat and Bulls early on in the 2013-14 season. For Hinckie to so cruelly rob them last season of any potential momentum just to improve his odds at Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Parker in this past draft was probably rough enough — to do it two years in a row to MCW might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Detroit Pistons – Losing their #9 draft lottery pick to the Hornets was certainly not the new Stan Van Gundy regime’s fault, but there’s no getting past the Motor City’s insane contracts for Jodie Meeks ($21 million over three seasons?!? Was there even a market for this guy?) and the immortal Aaron Gray (locking up somebody with D-League ability on a multi-year deal feels very shortsighted). Maybe there’s a method to this madness, but I’m not seeing it.

The Too-Soon-To-Tell:

Chicago Bulls – The Bulls started last week as the odds-on favorites to steal Carmelo Anthony from the Knicks, and find themselves this weekend as apparently his third-favorite team. They apparently did not explicitly address how much he would be paid, which would kind of be a nice thing to know before you sign a deal. Their back-up plan seems to be overspending on Pau Gasol, instead of trying to add Kevin Love via trade or signing Lance Stephenson, two options that, from a basketball perspective, make way more sense.

Charlotte Hornets – Here is an appealing franchise on the rise in a depleted Eastern Conference that has gobs of cap room to burn this summer, should they choose to use it. They remain in stasis, waiting for the Anthony/James chips to fall before making their big free agent moves. I almost had them slotted under “Bad,” and I’ll tell you why: they took two high-upside/low-floor guys with two first-round lottery picks in this year’s draft. I have no problem with the Noah Vonleh selection at #9, he slid from going as high as #3 to Philadelphia, and was someone almost everybody had projected to be gone by the seventh pick (Los Angeles). But there is no denying he is a bit of a risk. P.J. Hairston, their #26 pick, has all the talent in the world, but looks like a Ron Artest-level knucklehead. On Sunday, Hairston reportedly punched a high school teenager in the face during a YMCA pick-up game. I have no problem with taking a flyer on one risky super-athlete, but two? In a loaded draft? Michael Jordan’s Hornets could redeem themselves with savvy veteran signings, though, and they do have one heck of a piece in Al Jefferson to build around. We shall see.


For the latest sports injury news, check out our friends at Sports Injury Alert.

Thank you for reading. Please take a moment to follow me on Twitter – @kirschhoops. Support LWOS by following us on Twitter – @LastWordOnSport and “liking” our Facebook page.