NBA Free Agency: Grading the Winners and Losers
by George Monroy - 7/18/2013
The NBA free agency process has shot off more fireworks than a July 4 party at Gilbert Arenas’ house — if you didn’t hear, he was arrested for possession of illegal fireworks a few weeks back. Dwight Howard decided to sign with the Houston Rockets after waffling back-and-forth until the final minute. The Golden State Warriors signed Andre Iguodala only hours before he was set to sign a deal with the Dallas Mavericks, and the Brooklyn Nets cleaned up at the take-any-player-you-want Boston Celtics yard sale. And that’s not even mentioning all the moves the Los Angeles Clippers made this offseason.
The already crazy NBA summer has left the oddsmakers scrambling to update their NBA futures odds after every major free agency signing or trade. No less than five teams made large futures jumps over the last couple of weeks. The Los Angeles Lakers went from semi-contenders in the +1500 range to the middle-of-the-pack fringe playoff team at +10000 — which for the Lakers is an absurd price. The Houston Rockets, on the other hand, jumped from the +3500 range and all the way up to the fifth-best odds at +1200.
Let’s take a look at the NBA offseason, pass out a few grades, and see who the big winners and losers were during the NBA free-agency frenzy.
Houston Rockets: A+
Title odds: +1200
The Houston Rockets made only one major move this summer, but it was enough to make them the big winner of the offseason. Despite all the criticism Howard has received for not being a leader or not being able to handle the “bright lights” of superstardom in Los Angeles, he is still a Top-5 player in the NBA when fully healthy. Even if Howard never wins a title with the Rockets, signing one of the marquee players in the league will still rejuvenate a Houston fan base and sell out every regular-season game over the next few years.
Golden State Warriors: A
Title odds: +2800
The Warriors pulled off a last-second heist of former Denver Nugget Andre Iguodala — a player that does a bit of everything on the court — and put themselves in firm position to be a contender in the Western Conference. At first glance the Warriors might not look like much, but the team is composed of pieces that fit together — a great coach, a superstar player in Stephen Curry, and a deadly shooter in Klay Thompson. Iguodala will add a much-needed toughness on defense as well as a solid second option on offense.
Brooklyn Nets: B+
Title odds: +1400
The Nets traded for two very good NBA veterans — and Celtics’ legends — in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. If this trade happed four years ago, Brooklyn would be instant title favorites. Unfortunately, age is a factor here, and there is no guarantee that either player can stay healthy. However, a starting lineup of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, Garnett and Pierce is still very intriguing, and at the very minimum the Nets got much better from the trade.
Los Angeles Lakers: C-
Title odds: +10000
The Lakers signed a very good free agent in Nick Young and added a few other solid role players as well, but when your offseason consists of losing the best center in the league, there is no way it can be considered a success. Los Angeles might actually be better off without Howard, as the team seemed to gel with lineups that did not include the center. Wagering on the Lakers to win next year’s title at +10000 might have some value. There’s one thing gamblers need to remember — it’s the Lakers. Los Angeles has a history of making blockbuster trades, and would it really surprise anyone of they pulled off another major deal next season and got Kobe Bryant and company right back into title contention?
Boston Celtics: D
Title odds: +12500
It feels like the Celtics had an “everything must go” sale early in the offseason. The team got rid of Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce all in a few days span and replaced them with a college coach and Kris Humphries. The team took a huge hit with their title odds and went from a getting something near +2000 to receiving +12500. The truth is the Celtics are tanking for next year’s draft and a shot at winning the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Incomplete
Title odds: +10000
The Cavaliers picked up Andre Bynum on a two-year deal with only the first year having any guaranteed money. The team’s free agency grade will really depend on how well his knees hold up. Andrew Bynum can be the best center in the NBA when healthy. His defense might not be as dominant as Dwight Howard’s, but Bynum’s offensive game is very good. However, the real reason the Cavaliers signed Bynum was in hopes of luring LeBron James back to Cleveland after next season with a young core of Kyrie Irving and the former Lakers center (if he returns to form).
Read more articles by George Monroy
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