With the NBA off-season comes bad decision making by general managers. The two go together like peanut butter and jelly, political campaigns and insults, or Kevin Garnett and profanity. Well you get the point. NBA executives just can’t help but overpay for marginal NBA players, even though they’ll regret it a year or two later. This off-season has been no different. While some teams have taken the proper steps to improve and potentially contend for a championship, others have set themselves up for future disaster.
We’ll begin with the least questionable and move down towards the very worst.
3. Brooklyn Nets
At first this seems like an odd selection. The Nets have perhaps made the biggest splash this offseason by acquiring Joe Johnson. They of course re-signed Deron Williams, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez. The Nets have put themselves in a better position talent wise. The problem comes with the amount of money they expended.
Re-signing Williams was a necessity and paying him top dollar is completely reasonable. However, paying $15 million a year for Lopez is quite excessive considering he played in just five games last year. When healthy there is no doubt Lopez is a solid center, but Brooklyn GM Billy King is putting a lot of stock into the 7-footer remaining durable.
The next question mark comes with handing Wallace $40 million for the next four years. There is a strong chance it will come back to haunt the Nets. Wallace relies heavily on his athleticism to be effective. He just turned 30-years-old and has seen his scoring and rebounding steadily decline the past five seasons. This may be a good signing for the next year or two, but come year three and four of that contract, King may be upset with himself. Also take into consideration Wallace comes as a result of trading the sixth pick in this year’s NBA Draft. The Nets could have selected Vegas Summer League co-MVP Damian Lilliard or promising swing man Harrison Barnes.
Brooklyn’s prized addition is Johnson. He is a six-time All-Star and everyone knows he can play. Does he take the Nets to the next level though? He’s still owed a total of $89 million dollars for the remaining four years of his deal. This is the same guy who shot 37 percent from the field in the playoffs against the Celtics. He’s also 31 and like Wallace has seen his scoring take a dip in the last six years.
Also of note was signing Humphries to a two year $24 million deal. The former Kardashian family member is a good player, but $12 million is a steep price to pay. On their starting five alone, the Nets have committed more than $300 million this offseason. While they should make the playoffs, are they really championship contenders? As the roster is currently constructed they appear to be a four or five seed. Maybe Jay-Z can rap about first round exits though. That will give Brooklyn fans something to cheer for.
The Nets have financially strangled themselves for the next five seasons and given away valuable draft picks, much like the neighboring Knicks did in the early 2000’s. The Brooklyn Nets will just learn the hard way from their offseason moves though. Of course if they manage to acquire Dwight Howard then this completely changes their offseason outlook.
2. Houston Rockets
This is a bit incomplete for now because the Rockets can still be big winners this off-season. Houston is continuously looking to acquire Dwight Howard, but everyday it is looking like less of a possibility. Considering the Rockets essentially put all their eggs into the Howard basket, missing out on him would be crippling.
The Rockets also made some interesting free agent pick ups. Everyone knows about Jeremy Lin. He had his moments, but does a two week spree validate giving him $25 million? Marketing wise it’s an obvious win, but on the court will Lin be worth the $15 million he’s due in year three of this deal? That is superstar money, and Linsanity is far from a super star. He’s started a grand total of 25 games in his NBA career. Someone tell Houston GM Daryl Morey that giving a player a million dollars for every game they’ve started is not a smart ratio.
Speaking of questionable ratios, how about two games started for $25 million? That will be the case with free agent center Omer Asik. The former Chicago Bull averaged 3.1 points per game last year and will now be earning an average of $8 million a year. Houston also lost Courtney Lee and Kyle Lowry in trades, allowed exciting young guard Goran Dragic to just walk away, and amnestied their most consistent player in Luis Scola.
Houston better hope they land Dwight Howard because they are on a fast track to NBA bottom feeding for the next several years. Watch out Michael Jordan, the Charlotte Bobcats could soon face stiff competition for the highest odds in the NBA Draft lottery.
1. Indiana Pacers
The rank of worst offseason goes to the Pacers for simply one very questionable trade. After finally making some noise in the playoffs last season, the Pacers decided to trade Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones to the Mavericks for Ian Mahinmi. Collison has been a proven starter in the NBA and arguably the best backup point guard in the league. While Jones had been struggling to get consistent playing time lately, he was still a very good perimeter defender.
What makes this even stranger is the contract situations. Collison and Jones were set to make a combined $5.2 million next year before their contracts expired. As part of the sign and trade deal, Mahinmi will receive a four year deal for $16 million. The center averaged 5.8 ppg and 4.7 rpg last season with the Mavericks. Collison nearly doubles his point production alone. One has to wonder what the Pacers were thinking by practically giving away Collison. The former UCLA Bruin will likely become the Mavericks starter and could be poised for a big year.
Of course all these teams still have a chance to improve on their decisions. Several key players remain available and one trade can turn a team into an immediate contender. Fans will need to keep a close eye to see how things progress. For now though, fans of the above teams can only sit back and shake their heads in dismay.