Free Agency was a busy and shocking one as multiple big names including the best player on the planet signed with new teams. There are still a few big names out there such as Greg Monroe and Eric Bledsoe, so we should see where they go pretty soon. Regardless, there were plenty of winners and losers from this free agency, and this upcoming NBA season should be one of the most interesting ones in a while.
Without further ado, here are my winners and losers from this year’s free agency along with some awards predictions:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: I could summarize this up in two words: LeBron James. The Cavs re-signed their hometown king who automatically makes any team a contender. It goes further however. The Cavs landed the #1 pick and drafted guard/forward Andrew Wiggins. How many teams can say they landed a duo like that? It isn’t over for Cleveland as they are in discussions to trade for forward Kevin Love. I personally wouldn’t trade Wiggins for Love, but even if they did, landing LeBron and Love in one offseason is one for the ages.
2. New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans traded for center Omer Asik who was rotting on the bench in Houston. Now Asik will start next to Anthony Davis to form arguably the best defensive and rebounding front court in the NBA. They signed John Salmons and gunner Jimmer Fredette which were minor depth moves, but getting Asik makes them winners all in it’s own. Look for New Orleans to make a serious playoff push this season.
3. Dallas Mavericks: Call me biased, but the Mavs had arguably the best offseason in the Western Conference. Yes, Chandler Parsons is overpaid, but the Mavs have been desperate for a key signing in free agency for years, and Parsons is a young player with very nice potential who will blossom in Rick Carlisle’s system. The Mavs also traded for Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton which is a great improvement at center, but a step back at point guard. Dallas also signed veterans Richard Jefferson and Rashard Lewis on veteran deals and young center Greg Smith.
4. Chicago Bulls: Honestly, all the Bulls need is a healthy Derrick Rose and they become one of the best five teams in the NBA again. The Bulls amnestied Carlos Boozer and replaced him with Pau Gasol on a relatively cheap 3 year, $22 million deal. They also brought over Nikola Mirotic, the prized Montenegrin sniper. The Bulls just need Derrick Rose to return healthy, but that is still a big unknown. Gasol is still a very good player, and will be part of a solid three man rotation at the front court spot with Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. They also traded for Doug McDermott in the draft, who adds much needed scoring at the small forward position with the loss of Luol Deng.
5. Charlotte Bobcats: There are only maybe one or two sure things in the Eastern Conference, so there is plenty of room for a surprise team to make a jump towards the top. Charlotte signed Lance Stephenson to a 3 year, $27 million contract, the biggest steal of the offseason. Stephenson has a chance to blow up (both positively and negatively) in Charlotte where he can be the primary option on different nights. The Hornets drafted forward Noah Vonleh with the ninth pick who has looked good in the Summer League, as well as guard P.J. Hairston in the late first round.
1. Miami Heat: The Heat aren’t losers over the past four years, but they are by far the biggest losers this offseason. Losing LeBron James is basically losing everything and the Heat go from one of the two best teams in the league to a middle of the pack Eastern Conference team. On a positive note, the Heat did re-sign Chris Bosh after it was almost certain he would bolt for Houston. However, the deal was for 5 years, $118 million and the question is Bosh worth it? They also brought back Dwyane Wade (shocker) on a pretty big two year deal. Miami also signed Luol Deng to a 2 year, $20 million deal. The other minor signings they made were Josh McRoberts, Danny Granger, and Shabazz Napier (drafted). Is it enough to make up for James?
2. Houston Rockets: The Rockets had a plan to sign both Chris Bosh and Chandler Parsons, but that backfired on them. After Bosh rejected them, they decided not to match Parsons, their third best player last season. They did get Trevor Ariza on a 4 year, $32 million deal, but he is a clear downgrade from Parsons. They signed forwards Joey Dorsey and Jeff Adrien on small deals for depth. The Rockets may have gotten better on defense, but they lost their leader in Chandler Parsons as well as Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik in trades to get Chris Bosh. In the tough West, they may be fighting for one of the last seeds.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder: OKC is a loser simply because they made no significant moves in the offseason. It’s obvious they are in desperate need of a bench and backup big men. They “solved” that by drafting forward/center Mitch McGary and signing sharpshooter Anthony Morrow. They will still be one of the best four teams in the NBA, but the question is did they do enough to get past the Western Conference Finals?
4. Indiana Pacers: The Pacers offered Lance Stephenson just $200,000 less than Charlotte did and Lance bolted. That says something about what he thinks about the Pacers. The Pacers lost their second best player and made no signings to improve the roster. They signed forward CJ Miles and Croatian forward Damjan Rudez, both should be rotational players for them (not a good thing). I think Paul George could have a huge year, but the Pacers could really fall this season in the East.
5. New York Knicks: I have the Knicks as losers solely because they gave Carmelo Anthony that outrageous contract that will be paying him $28 million when he’s 33 years old. However, the Knicks will be a team to watch for me. Phil Jackson obviously has a plan, and he’s started cleaning house by getting rid of Chandler and Felton. Jose Calderon is an upgrade over Felton, but his contract still gets him nearly $21 million over the next three years. The Knicks did a solid job in the draft however by stealing Cleanthony Early in the second round and drafting Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the lesser brother of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Early 2014-2015 Awards Predictions
Most Valuable Player: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Rookie of the Year: Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks
Defensive Player of the Year: Anthony Davis
Sixth Man of the Year: Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls
Coach of the Year: Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers
All NBA First Team: Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard
All NBA Second Team: Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Marc Gasol
All NBA Third Team: Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Paul George, Kevin Love, Al Jefferson
Western Conference Champions: San Antonio Spurs
Eastern Conference Champions: Cleveland Cavaliers
2014-2015 NBA Champions: San Antonio Spurs (Finals MVP: Tony Parker)