Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wildish Speculation and Outrageous Guesses: Offseason Wrap-Up Edition

Wildish Speculation and Outrageous Guesses: Offseason Wrap-Up Edition

This seemed to be a much more active offseason than years past, with trade, trade speculation, crazy signings and sign-and-trades, teams radically remaking themselves etc. Is that an accurate assessment, or am I just caught up in the now?

Jacob Greenberg: I think you're "caught up in the now" (I sorta like that phrase). I think a lot of teams may have seemed more conservative (by comparison) during the season because of the lockout and the unruly "offseason" -- that is, the first three weeks of December -- and waited to make their big moves during this offseason. But as far as I can tell, more teams are making surgical adjustments and additions than having full blown evasive surgery. Only five teams have certifiably blown it up: the Rockets, Suns, Hawks, and to a certain extent, Mavs. Most teams are adding a few new pieces to support their higher paid players. Granted, some of these "pieces" are pretty nice (take a bow, Steve Nash), but they can't really be considered complete facelifts. In addition to the Lakers, some of the more notable teams include the Knicks, Warriors, Wolves, Nets and Clippers. A few teams have done nothing, like the Thunder, Spurs and Heat. Some teams started the painful process of rebuilding through the draft a month ago, like the Blazers and the Bobcats. And the strangest teams have just gotten rid of players, and not replaced them, like the Sixers and the Grizzlies. It's just as crazy as any other offseason.

Brian Benjamin: This was a free agent period that NBA fanatics probably loved but casual fans didn't think much about. It was a summer of solid players changing teams. Very few superstars were up for free agency and, although it took some offer matching, the stars didn't really change teams. Some teams are going to come in with different looks but I don't see many teams that will end up radically different in the standings.

Jason Arends: This offseason hasn't seemed incredibly active, but I have noticed a lot of free agents and RFA shuffling around, plus we have amnestied players being signed this year. It's tough to compare it to other years, because last year the players were locked-out, and the year before I have no idea thanks to massive self-inflicted memory damage. One thing this offseason has been lacking is blockbuster, franchise altering trades (unless you count the Joe Johnson trade, and no one does). Perhaps the new CBA makes these less prevalent, perhaps everyone's waiting for Orlando to shit or get off the pot, perhaps we'll have to wait until the trade deadline, or perhaps any minute now Iggy will be shipped out for a bag of chips and Maggete's expiring.

Franklin Meiuli: Well, I wrote the question, so yeah, I think it has been extremely active. It seemed that with few exceptions (Spurs, Bucks) no team really stayed pat, everybody was out making deals or trying to make deals.

What was the single best move of the offseason? Doesn't have to be a signing, but I don't want "everything the Nets did".

Jacob Greenberg: I'm gonna say the Nets' move to Brooklyn. They were forced to make splashy signings in order to have a watchable product in a crowded media market, and splashy signings they did make. Yes, they'll be going into the luxury tax for years to come, but if your owner's net wealth is higher than the GDP of 40% of the world combined, paying a $30 million luxury tax really isn't a concern. Inking D-Will was clutch. And they're overpaying Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. But hey -- next year, Kris Humphries' 2 year, $24 million contract becomes a fat expiring deal, and it seems pretty likely that they'll be in the playoffs in a brand new building. And it's Brooklyn. As a fan, I'm excited. And whoever Carles is, he's a hater.

Brian Benjamin: The Hornets matching for Eric Gordon. Without him, they're set back another two to three years trying to find enough talent to replace him. A little bit of development from their young guys, another late lottery pick next year, and a few role players and they're be near the top of the West in a couple of years.

Jason Arends: As a Timberwolves fan, I'm hoping the best move of the offseason was replacing Wes Johnson with Andrei Kirlenko. Assuming AK47 is only slightly worse than he was in 2010, the Wolves have essentially added the production equivalent of Kevin Durant (see here or really just here). Yep, that's how bad Wes Johnson was last season. Long term, I think the Hornets being able to draft Anthony Davis will be the best move. Not much they did, but hey, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. I also think time will bear out Denver retaining Javale McGee as a great move. He'll provide endless entertainment when he bolts the wrong direction, and given a functional organization the man could become one of the best centers in the game. Also a hat tip to the Bucks for keeping Ersan Ilyavosa, who would be more appreciated if it were bearable to watch Bucks' games.

Franklin Meiuli: The Suns handling of Steve Nash. They got him to a team he wanted to be at, and got a couple of picks in return for a free agent. They signed Goran Dragic (who they never should have let go in the first place) to play point guard. So, they basically traded Nash (a free agent) for Dragic and two picks, and they pay Dragic less. A good piece of business.

In the same vein, what was the single worst move of the offseason?

Jacob Greenberg: I had to think pretty hard about this one, because most of the moves made this season made sense to me. So I'm gonna say not firing Joe Dumars as the GM of the Detroit Pistons was the worst move of the offseason. Sure, they drafted Andre Drummond. But I don't watch college basketball. How good could he be? Is he good enough to necessitate not making a single move during the offseason? They have a core group of guys: Greg Monroe, Brendan Knight, Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko. But are any of those guys stars? Could none of those guys switch places and have landed a star, or at the very least, a few different pieces that fit more with the style that Lawrence Frank used with success in New Jersey? They have done nothing. Not a damn thing at all. The team's been sold, so they can't use the "can't make a move until we get a new owner" argument anymore. This team, perhaps more than any other, is overdue for a culture change and a house cleaning.

Brian Benjamin: The Rockets spending $25 million on Omer Asik. As a Bulls fan, I've watched Asik these last few years. He's a good defensive player but he's going to be called overpaid pretty soon. He still looks like a rookie on offense and I'll be surprised if he gets in enough shape to play more than 30 minutes a game. Seems like a lot of money for a good, but not dominating, defensive presence.

Jason Arends: The single worse move of the 2012 offseason, and possibly in the history of Western civilization, has to be the Lakers signing Steve Nash. It's like Han Solo agreed to transport Wookie slaves for the Empire. I also have a significant fear that instead of Nash's transcendent probe and dish game we'll see him stand in the corner while Bryant plays hero-ball. Terrible to contemplate, truly terrible. In non-existential crisis signings, I think the Celtics will come to regret signing Jeff Green. He wasn't all that great in OKC, and I can't imagine not playing for a year while recovering from heart surgery has helped. More power to him if he comes back and replaces Pierce, but I don't think it will happen. Oh, and the combined suck of Chicago's moves had better be mentioned by someone, even if it does clearly violate the terms of the discussion question.

Franklin Meiuli: I can't believe Jacob commented on the Pistons woefulness without mentioning that they traded a first-round pick for the right to watch Cory Maggette hoist up shots next season! They PAID to take CORY MAGGETTE! I wish I could do the Charles Barkley voice just so I could say "that's turrible" over and over to myself.

Finally...Jacque Vaughn? What's up with that?

Jacob Greenberg: I like it. Pop's only other assistant-turned-head-coach has done pretty well for himself. The Magic, I think, are looking at what the Sixers did, and are going top-down. They'll let the new GM Rob Hennigan, who has impressed with his cool handling of the Dwightmare, build a front office that can change the culture of the Magic. And though Dwight's largely to blame for the Magic's effed up state, things were dysfunctional with Otis Smith and Stan Van Gundy in charge. Young former role-players-turned-coaches have a mixed record in the NBA, and the Magic's roster will change as the season goes on, so it'll be up to Vaughn to keep that group together and focused.

Brian Benjamin: I'm good with Jacque Vaughn as coach. Popovich has a pretty strong coaching tree and Vaughn was always a solid player. This is no worse than giving Scotty Brooks a head coaching job a few years ago and it seems like that's worked out.

Jason Arends: I'll say this for the Jacque Vaughn signing: I don't have any reason to think it's going to fail spectacularly. I have absolutely no idea what the plan is for Orlando; they got rid of their second best player, they traded FOR Big Baby Davis, they might ship out the best center in the game for Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries or let him walk for nothing, and their current #2 is Jameer Nelson (or possibly Jacque Vaughn). Vaughn was an assistant coach for a few years; hes an interesting choice and it'll be fun to see how he manages the slowly developing train-wreck that is Orlando.

Franklin Meiuli: Terrible decision. Jacque Vaughn may end up being a good coach, but the Magic put him in a bad situation. When you have a young, unproven coach, you would like to pair them with a strong front office and a group of young (but not necessarily rookie) players for him to grow with. There will inevitably some first year jitters, but if both players and coaches are getting them out at the same time (Scott Brooks and OKC) it can work out. But you're expecting Vaughn to either deal with the mess that is Dwight Howard and a bloated veteran squad, or preside over a house cleaning that will leave the Magic irrelevant for a few years? They would be better off with some sort of placeholder (Kurt Rambiss, Paul Silas type) for a year or two until they get their shit together.

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