MAMBINO Roundtable: Best/Worst of the NBA Offseason

With the NBA offseason tied up with a little bow and training camp still weeks away, we decided to sate our NBA appetites by wrapping up a crazy couple months. I threw out and e-mail and polled a couple of our brilliant young minds, and this is what we came up with:

Best offseason move: Houston Rockets sign Dwight Howard to a four year, $88 million dollar contract
After years of hoarding cap room and trade assets, the Rockets’ master plan has finally came to fruition in just 9 short months. The first part of this signing actually came at the end of October, when GM Daryl Morey got James Harden for three guys named Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams. In thirty years, will anyone recognize any player there besides Harden?
If Howard is healthy, which I don’t have any reason to suspect he isn’t, the Rockets got a complete game changer that will change the complexion of one of the league’s most porous defenses last year. Towards the end of the season, Dwight showed that when active and engaged he’s still capable of dragging a team of athletically impaired old men to being a respectable defensive squad. Even before we look at his offensive contributions as a devastating finisher at the rim, Howard is already the season’s most valuable signing.

Worst offseason move: New York Knicks trade Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quintin Richardson, 1st round draft pick and 2 second round draft picks to the Toronto Raptors for Andrea Bargnani

I don’t want to pile on the New York Knickerbockers fans because….well, you’ve been through so much.

It’s not that I think Bargnani is such a terrible player–after all, the NBA is clearly becoming a spacing-by-shooting league, and Bargnani being able to drag out other power forward or centers towards the three point line is such a disruptive presence on the floor. It’s not even that his contract is so terrible–he only makes $11 million this year and $12 the next. The Knicks are so far down the salary hole with $20 million going to Amar’e Stoudemire, so getting a former 20 ppg scorer with the limited assets they had is pretty impressive.

However, my problem with this signing is that they didn’t get appreciably better on offense with the oft-injured Bargnani and there is no question that he’ll hurt them on the defensive end. Thus, for the price of three draft picks, the Knicks perhaps got a little better on offense (if Bargs can stay on the floor; he’s missed 98 games over the past three years) and definitely worse on D. That looks like the worst move of the offseason to me.

Most underrated offseason move: Atlanta Hawks sign Paul Millsap for two years, $19 million

Even as I type out that signing for blogging purposes, I still am double taking at my own words. Two years and 19 million for an unselfish 28 year-old rebounding monster? For years, Millsap has been proving that his college pedigree (Louisiana Tech) and size (6’8″) don’t have any bearing on just how productive he is. With a wet mid-range jumper and a deadly finish at the rack, Atlanta’s new power forward probably should have gotten a deal closer to three years and $30 million. With less years and less annual value, it’s amazing that no one else could offer what the Hawks did.


Best offseason move: New Jersey Brooklyn Nets trading for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett

I love the ultimate win-now move. This one is a better version of the trade that created Miami’s critical depth for its first title run with D-Wade (Antoine Walker!).

The Nets had to hand over a number of draft picks to Boston, but otherwise they dumped all their non-productive assets, including Kris Humphries and the corpse of Gerald Wallace. I still can’t believe Boston took that contract back to be honest.

When you look at this move, you see a ridiculous starting five that can all create their own shots: D-Will, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, KG, and Brook Lopez. They will be huge and should defend better too with Pierce and KG in the fold. Getting Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko to supplement Blatche, Reggie Evans, and Shaun Livingston on the bench? Masterful. This team has a lot of “ifs” in terms of health and veteran meshing, but Pierce and KG have done this before and the veterans on this team should be able to coach themselves. Plus I suspect Jason Kidd will be a phenomenal players coach in time. He’s fortunate to start here. Here’s hoping for an epic Brooklyn-Miami showdown in the playoffs.

Worst offseason move: Everything the Denver Nuggets did.

Don’t want to kick a fanbase while they are down, but what… the… hell? The Denver Nuggets were a pleasant surprise last year, winning 57 games and creating what looked like a very repeatable model with their endless reserve of rotating young talent cemented by world-class glue guy Andre Igoudala. They had the best young GM in the league (Masai Ujiri would win Executive of the Year) and the right coach (George Karl, Coach of the Year). This was a team that should have been doubling down on those pieces and roster. It didn’t.

A few months later, the Nuggets have let Ujiri and AI walk and fired Karl after a first-round loss to the Warriors. Other moves? They have brought in Brian Shaw (a solid choice, to be sure) and promised a larger role to JaVale McGee. Traded Kosta Koufos for injury-prone Darrell Arthur. Randy Foye and Nate Robinson came into town, as did JJ Hickson.  As individual moves, none of the signings are worse than mediocre, but I can’t help but feel last year’s three seed will be fighting for a playoff spot next spring.

Most underrated offseason move: Andre Igoudala to the Golden State Warriors.

There were a lot of interesting attempts to add that last piece or two – Indiana pulling Scola onto the bench, Darren Collison/Jared Dudley/JJ Reddick to the Clippers – but AI could be huge. It required letting Jack and Landry walk, but they were able to shed Biedrins, Jefferson, and Rush to pick up Andre-Freaking-Igoudala. The Warriors needed a bold move to build on last season’s success and this was it. Iggy will thrive in the open court and really help out on defense immediately.

He’s a winner and doesn’t need the ball to be effective, which is the perfect fit with this potent Golden State offense. You have to like the supplemental signings as well – Marreese Speights, Toney Douglas, and Jermaine O’Neal should be able to replicate much of what they lost off the bench. If Harrison Barnes develops into a standout sixth man, this will be a fun fun team to watch next year.


Best offseason move: Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Hornets

Nobody’s going to say that this move will put the Hornets in the chip conversation, especially considering the acquisitions that KOBEsh and CDP outlined above. But I love this move for New Orleans because it shows their young stud, Anthony Davis, that they are serious about building around him. Too often do we see a franchise simply content with surrounding a young franchise guy with inferior talent. Holiday is a blossoming point guard, the best at his position in the Eastern Conference this past season (no apologies to Kyrie Irving or John Wall; Holiday was it.) He is also an absolute steal, salary-wise, making $11m-per until 2017.
Worst offseason move: Utah letting Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap leave
The Jazz have been down the Jefferson and Millsap road for a while now, and it hasn’t put them anywhere near the West’s elite. Utah also has budding bigs in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, both of whom need more playing time this season. But why let them leave for nothing? Considering the relatively inexpensive contracts that Jefferson ($27 over two years with a third year team option) and Millsap ($19m over two years) received from Charlotte and Atlanta, respectively, couldn’t these guys be dangled in a sign-and-trade with more desperate teams (UMM HELLO…THE KNICKS GAVE UP GOLD FOR ANDREA FREAKING BARGNANI)? Or why not just get what you could for them before the trade deadline last season? Contrary to their belief, getting two home playoff games is not worth keeping sure-to-leave contract-year free agents on your team. Favors and Kanter may eventually make Utah forget about Jefferson and Millsap (it’s not like they were superstars anyway), but this whole situation was managed poorly.
Brandon Jennings is a flawed point guard. He doesn’t shoot the ball very well, so naturally, he shoots a lot. He’s not a lockdown defender, and naturally he guards one of the game’s most difficult positions. But in The Good Land, Jennings played with what amounted to whatever spoiled food you can find in your refrigerator. His whole career has looked like the pickup basketball game you play where your team is absolutely awful, and one guy has had enough of it, so just starts chucking. The game falls apart rather quickly.
Jennings is better than that. He’s got liquid handle, competes every night, and received far too harsh criticism for his pick and roll play, considering the fact that he’s never had a legitimate PnR teammate. In Detroit, he’ll be listening intently to Chauncey Billups, throwing sick lobs to Andre Drummond, and will receive more open shots courtesy of Greg Monroe. Joe Dumars has a bad-move laundry list with the length of 8 Mile Road, but Jennings will not make that list.

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