Whether it was through trades, free agency, or the draft, some franchises just had no luck this offseason. With some teams, GMs were overspending and overvaluing; with others, they simply couldn’t retain their key players without serious financial penalties. Who do you think had the worst offseason?
The Suns’ offseason failures begins and ends with the ageless wonder, Steve Nash. He may be 38 years old, but there’s likely no one better at finding open teammates and making that precise pass. Team owner Robert Sarver tried convincing Nash to stay, but the need to stay close to his children, while also the possibility of winning that elusive first NBA title, brought the former Santa Clara University star to Los Angeles.
Unfortunately for Suns’ fans, the bleeding didn’t stop there. Backup point guard Aaron Brooks, who averaged 19.6 points and 5.6 assists just three years ago, signed as a free agent with Sacramento, leaving a sizable hole in the backcourt. In a strange twist, Phoenix signed Rockets point guard Goran Dragic, who had been traded to Houston for none other than… Brooks. While the Slovenian is a serviceable player, he isn’t worth the $34 million that Phoenix gave him for four years. With rookie Kendall Marshall waiting to take the reins of this team, why overspend on essentially a back-up caliber player?
Things don’t get much better in the frontcourt for the Suns, either. Fan favorite Grant Hill signed with the Clippers over the Suns, Heat, Knicks, and Lakers. While he’s likely on the last legs of his career, Hill is still considered one of the best character players in the league and still has some game left in him. They might have traded for his replacement in second-year pro Wesley Johnson, but the former Syracuse forward is still unproven in the NBA. The newly-signed Michael Beasley is also vying for a chance at redemption with his third team in five seasons, but will he be able to put his past issues behind him for good? The Suns will find that out this season, which should be one of extreme change for the recently successful franchise.
General manager Daryl Morey drafted three new players, signed two free agents, and traded for 11 more this offseason. With just four players under contract for 2012-13 when free agency started, it was obviously time for the Rockets to load up their roster. In his attempt to pick up pieces for a potential trade with Orlando for Dwight Howard, however, the sixth-year GM went for quantity over quality, leaving the roster bloated, unappealing, and overpaid.
The Rockets made either the smartest or dumbest move of the offseason, depending on who you ask, in signing overnight sensation Jeremy Lin away from the Knicks. While the former Harvard star was incredible for a stretch of last season, it’s debatable if those performances were worthy of a $25 million, three-year contract. New York let him leave because of the financial burden his signing would have put on their checkbook in the later years of his contract, and it was perhaps their smartest move in years. Lin should provide some excitement teaming with Kevin Martin in the Houston backcourt, but will it translate to wins?
Another $25 million contract was handed out by Morey this season, but its recipient was someone that most fans have likely never even heard of. Turkish center Omer Asik averaged just 3.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in 15 minutes last season with the Bulls; apparently that was worthy of a contract from the Rockets. He did provide solid interior defense and shot-blocking ability, but at that cost, they should have stuck with current center Donatas Motiejunas, who is five years younger and offers more offensively. If Morey is able to somehow pull off a trade for Howard in the upcoming months using the pieces he’s acquired, it could make it all worth it; Rockets fans shouldn’t hold their collective breaths though.
The Magic are included on this list not only because of the ongoing trade inaction involving star center Dwight Howard, but also because they haven’t really done enough to convince him to stay otherwise.
In keeping generally the same core of players from last season, the team has ensured mediocrity should Howard stay. One major loss for Orlando is sharp-shooting forward Ryan Anderson, who was traded to New Orleans. The third-year pro really came on last season, earning the Most Improved Player award with career-high averages of 16 points and 7.7 rebounds. The player they received in the deal, Gustavo Ayon, is a 27-year old forward who averaged just five rebounds last year; definitely not an upgrade.
If they do happen to find a trade partner, the team will be in for some pretty serious rebuilding. They did draft two big men this summer – Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn – but both are limited in their skillsets. They certainly won’t be able to replace Howard, but should he leave, it would give the team a chance to see Nicholson and O’Quinn play.
The Bulls’ offseason began pretty much the moment that star guard Derrick Rose went down in last season’s playoffs with a torn ACL. With a recovery period of 8-12 months, he would probably only be able to play in 40 or so games, and that’s if he begins to play right after rehab. If Chicago is smart, they would consider keeping him out of game action until he’s absolutely ready to play.
To replace him for the time being, the Bulls signed Kirk Hinrich from Atlanta and drafted Kentucky’s Marquis Teague. Hinrich is better than most back-ups, but depending on him to orchestrate the team’s offense is a big task. Teague played major minutes last year for the Wildcats’ national championship team, averaging 4.8 assists and one steal a game. He should provide some help off the bench, but again – it would be asking way to much for him to replace what Rose brought to the table.
In addition to Rose, this offseason saw the Bulls lost plenty of roster depth – one of the key factors to their recent success. Sharpshooting Kyle Korver was traded for a trade exception and cash considerations; defensive guards C.J. Watson and Ronnie Brewer left via free agency, and center Omer Asik got the mind-boggling deal of the offseason, $25 million for three years. They did add Marco Bellinelli and Nate Robinson, but neither of those players can make up for the losses the Bulls have experienced. Without Ross and their trademark depth, the Bulls could very easily be lottery-bound in 2012.