Which Way Did He Go?
Now that Summer Leagues have wrapped up, the NBA starts to enter the dog days of the offseason. The free agency period is far from over, but a flurry of moves has once again changed the landscape of the league.
Some teams have spent some big cash and some big names have made bold moves. Other teams have chosen to keep their club intact – inking their own free agents. And young squads, like the Wine and Gold, continue to build their base primarily through the Draft.
As the calendar turns to August, with some of the smoke cleared from a busy July, here’s a look at some of the changes that have reshaped the league …
We didn’t see the sea change that shocked the league two summers ago, but some big names have changed uniforms this summer, including …
Change of Scenery – The World Champions didn’t make major changes to the lineup, but they did tick off a Conference rival something fierce by inking Ray Allen from the Celts. The “Judas Shuttlesworth” t-shirts and signs will be out when the Heat roll into Beantown in late January. Miami also signed Rashard Lewis over the summer.
The Celtics had a productive Draft and replenished Allen’s spot at the two-guard with Courtney Lee and Jason Terry.
Chicago, which could be without Derrick Rose for much of the season, went back t o the future with Kirk Hinrich. They looked to add some scoring punch with Marco Belinelli and Vladimir Radmanovic and filled their backup center spot with Nazr Mohammed.
The new-look Nets took Joe Johnson’s contract off Atlanta’s hands and inked Reggie Evans, but most of their big moves involved signing their own players – while still keeping an eye on Orlando’s disgruntled center.
The Nets didn’t re-sign Gerald Green, who finally found himself in 2011-12. Instead, Green lands with the Pacers – who also signed guard D.J. Augustin and traded for former Mavs big man, Ian Mahinmi.
The Knicks, as always, were very active in the offseason. But the moves they made at point guard shocked the NBA. Despite Linsanity sweeping the Big Apple last season, the Knicks let their promising guard walk – replacing him with veterans Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton. New York also picked up Ronnie Brewer on a one-year deal and welcomed Marcus Camby back to the Garden after a nine-year hiatus.
The Bobcats continue to reshape one of the worst clubs in NBA history. After landing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the Draft, they signed former Cav Ramon Sessions, added Brenan Haywood off waivers and dealt for Ben Gordon, the prize of Detroit’s offseason just three summers ago.
Other Eastern Conference moves saw Nick Young settling on the Sixers, Landry Fields taking off for the Great White North and super-sub Lou Williams taking his talents to Atlanta.
The Western Conference had its share of seismic movement over the summer months.
In Tinseltown, the Lakers made the biggest move of the offseason, dealing for two-time MVP Steve Nash to pair up with Kobe. Former Cav, Antawn Jamison, inked a one-year deal with the Lakers.
The up-and-coming Clippers were even busier – signing veterans like Grant Hill, Jamal Crawford and Rony Turiaf. Another former Cavalier – Ryan Hollins – returns to his hometown to help man the middle.
Nash’s old club replaced him with his former backup, Goran Dragich. The Suns will also provide former No. 2 overall pick, Michael Beasley, with a much-needed change of scenery and they inked former Rockets forward Louis Scola.
Also proving that you can go home again is former Cavalier All-Star Mo Williams, who wound up back in Utah – the squad that drafted him back in 2003 – via a four-team trade that eventually sent Lamar Odom back to the Clippers.
The Hornets had a huge summer. They changed ownership, won the No. 1 pick in the Draft (Anthony Davis) and tabbed Austin Rivers nine picks later. They then dealt for the league’s reigning Most Improved Player, sharp-shooting forward Ryan Anderson, and acquired backup big man, Robin Lopez.
The Mavericks look to return to the Finals after a disappointing second-round exit in 2011. They signed O.J. Mayo and traded for Dahntay Jones to beef up a backcourt depleted by defections. Veterans Chris Kaman and Elton Brand will help shore up the middle in the Big D.
Another Texas team, the Rockets, took some big risks this offseason. They had a productive Draft – selecting Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones – then rolled the dice (and some big cash) on Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. The Knicks didn’t match their offer to Lin and Asik’s seriously backloaded contract scared off Chicago.
The T-Wolves continued to reshape their squad, adding Chase Budinger in a Draft night trade and recently signing former Jazz standout, Andrei Kirilenko.
Staying Put – It’s rarely big news when a squad re-signs their own players, but keeping a team together can be just as important as adding new parts. Some of the bigger names that chose to remain with their current club include …
The Nets made the biggest news by retaining their own players. It looked like Brooklyn was bound to lose Deron Williams. But a deal to bring Joe Johnson changed his mind and he, Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries decided to stick around the franchise rebirth in Prospect Heights.
Across the East River, the Knicks retained the league’s top three-point threat, Steve Novak.
Elsewhere in the East, the Pacers held on to All-Star center Roy Hibbert, the Magic kept guard Jameer Nelson and Milwaukee re-signed coveted versatile forward Ersan Ilyasova.
In the West, the Hornets committed to their Big Easy rebuilding effort and retained high-scoring two-guard Eric Gordon. The Blazers matched an offer for swingman Nicolas Batum and the Nuggets retained promising big man, JeVale McGee. A pair of valuable veteran guards – Chauncey Billups and Delonte West – returned to the Clippers and Mavs, respectively.
Best of the Rest – So with all that movement – and non-movement --- who is left out there? Some of the players still looking for a team to suit up with next season include …
Teams looking for backcourt help have their choice of veterans, including scoring point guards like Mike Bibby and Nate Robinson Some available two-guards include former Cavalier Sasha Pavlovic as well as Mickael Pietrus, Michael Redd, Leandro Barbosa, Jodie Meeks and Brandon Rush.
Kenyon Martin, once drafted No. 1 overall, and Darko Milicic, famous drafted at No.2, are available forwards. Carl Landry, Lou Amundson and Troy Murphy are also still on the market.
The summer sees some solid swingmen still available. That list includes Matt Barnes, Carlos Delfino, Josh Howard, Sam Young and Josh Childress.
And finally, for teams seeking a backup veteran to clog the middle, some of the remaining bigs include enigmatic former Wizard Andray Blatche as well as Eddy Curry, Daniel Orton, Joel Przyzbilla and 37-year-old Ben Wallace.