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Shaun Powell

Jamal Crawford has made an instant impact in Atlanta.
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Some early returns on offseason moves

Posted Dec 1 2009 11:24AM

There's usually no need to wait very long to learn about offseason moves and whether they pan out or not. Although one in particular probably just set an NBA speed record for backfiring. Can you guess which one?

Every summer, NBA teams make dozens of key personnel decisions, all designed to fill holes and gaps and improve the team. The summer of 2009 was no different. The early returns are in and while some decisions will require months and even years to reach a conclusion, others are a bit more clear cut.

Here's an update on 15 of the biggest trades and free agent signings:

15. Allen Iverson to Memphis

Wow. He split after three games. Never saw it coming. In hindsight, what took him so long?

14. Andre Miller to Portland

It must be nice to have Paul Allen's disposable income. First, the Blazers gave generous contract extensions to Brandon Roy (the max) and LaMarcus Aldridge, when they could've saved money and waited another year. Then they threw starter's money at Paul Millsap, who was going to come off the bench had the Jazz not matched the offer sheet (he's coming off the bench in Utah, BTW).

They also tried for Hedo Turkoglu and flirted with David Lee, who once again would've been a backup to Aldridge. Finally they signed Miller, and in hindsight, given his role so far, he's either a starting point guard they don't need or a point guard who isn't good enough to start. If that makes sense.

13. Emeka Okafor to New Orleans

He's averaging the fewest minutes and points of his career, which is strange, because the Hornets acquired him from Charlotte for his low-post scoring. Decent rebounder so far, but given his contract, this could become a big-money mistake.

12. Tyson Chandler to Charlotte

Dollar for dollar, a better player for the Bobcats than Okafor. Which is why Charlotte made the deal.

11. Rasheed Wallace to Boston

He's 35 years old in his 15th season. His shooting is down and so is his rebounding. What did anyone expect? As long as he can resist taking so many 3-pointers, keep his technicals to a minimum, spell Kevin Garnett and save something for the playoffs, the Celtics will be thrilled.

10. Ron Artest to the Lakers

After all the hype, this marriage has been a slight disappointment, both in production and potential for chaos. All the Lakers care about is what Artest can do against Carmelo Anthony or another big scorer come playoff time.

9. Channing Frye to Phoenix

He's playing the best ball of his career, which admittedly isn't saying much because of previous flops in New York and Portland. He's a 6-foot-11 post player who'd rather shoot; still, a pleasant surprise so far for the Suns.

8. Shaquille O'Neal to Cleveland

Please don't nickname him The Big Mistake By The Lake. He hasn't been that bad. But if Shaq is still fighting injuries and averaging seven rebounds and isn't demanding touches come spring, look out.

7. Ben Gordon to Detroit

He had a nice start with Rip Hamilton out and averaged 20 points in a starting role, then his shot turned inconsistent. In any event, the Pistons paid good money for two players who may eventually be backups, Charlie Villanueva included.

6. Richard Jefferson to San Antonio

For the first time in his career, Jefferson isn't the first or second option on his team, and with that comes an expected adjustment period. His scoring and shooting has fluctuated. Once the Spurs get fully healthy and Jefferson figures out his role, this may actually live up to all the gushing that took place last summer when the Spurs acquired him.

5. Hedo Turkoglu to Toronto

He has blended into a fairly balanced team, which has been good in some respects and bad in others. It basically means Hedo, like his teammates, hasn't shown much on defense, either. To be fair, that's certainly not why they stole him from the Blazers. But he hasn't solved the team's greatest need: defense and toughness.

4. Trevor Ariza to Houston

The Rockets thought he could comfortably step into a major role for the first time in his career. Mission accomplished -- he's the team's first scoring option. But he needs 20 shots to get 20 points. And he'd be better as a third option, behind a healthy Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming.

3. Zach Randolph to Memphis

For the money they're paying Z-Bo, the Grizzlies could've just kept Pau Gasol, and imagine how Kobe would've felt about that. Anyway, Zach is giving the Grizzlies 18 points and nine rebounds and, most important, isn't running up the stats off the court.

2. Vince Carter to Orlando

He's been on a scoring binge lately after getting 20-plus points only once in the first 12 games. He's still a high-volume shooter who settles for too many jumpers and doesn't get to the line as much as he should, habits that followed him from New Jersey. A big reason why this has worked out for Orlando: Ryan Anderson came in the deal.

1. Jamal Crawford to Atlanta

This is turning out to be a Havlicekian steal by the Hawks, getting the best sixth man in basketball for a glass of sweet tea. Crawford is averaging nearly 17 points off the bench and, along with Josh Smith and Joe Johnson, has fueled the Hawks' quick start. The best news is that he's shooting 45 percent, a marked improvement over his career average of 40.

Shaun Powell is a veteran NBA writer and columnist. You can e-mail him here.

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