Cohen 8-Ball: Ranking Best Acquisitions This Summer
July 31, 2013
#1 Nets Acquire Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce & Jason Terry
Josh Cohen’s Analysis: Are KG & Pierce damaged goods but big names because of past achievements or are they still valuable and even All-Star worthy despite their longevity in the NBA?
In other words, are they like Karl Malone and Gary Payton when they joined Shaq & Kobe in L.A. for a season (past their prime and periodically injured) or are they still substantial enough to be primary options on a championship contender?
While obviously both Garnett and Pierce are not A+ talent any longer, they still are threatening to any opponent and probably are equipped to not only provide big minutes for the Nets but also revolutionize the culture in Brooklyn.
While expensive and temporary, this experiment should be rewarding for next season. I think this trade propels the Nets to the next level and makes them the favorites to eliminate the Heat and eventually capture the NBA title in 2014.
#2 Clippers Acquire Doc Rivers, Re-Sign Chris Paul
Cohen’s Analysis: While it was evident that Paul never desired to leave L.A., he, according to sources, would have considered it if there wasn’t a coaching change.
Sure, the Clippers added J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade and they replaced Bledsoe with a proven backup, Darren Collison. Those were “quality” transactions.
But this offseason for the Clippers had very little to do with the “complements.” They needed to make sure CP3 stayed and the acquisition of Rivers secured that for the next several years.
Is L.A. any better today than they were when they lost to Memphis in the First Round of the 2013 playoffs? Maybe. Maybe not. But at least they didn’t lose their primary All-Star attraction.
#3 Pistons Sign Josh Smith & Acquire Brandon Jennings
Cohen’s Analysis: Some have accused Detroit of being hasty and acting desperate to dig out of the gutter. Like in 2009 when it strained its resources to sign Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, who both tanked with the Pistons, to mega contracts, some believe this summer was very similar.
However, Smith is no Villanueva and Jennings is no Gordon. Sure, the Pistons prefer Rajon Rondo to Jennings and no; Detroit is not yet a title contender.
But, unlike 2009 when clearly Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace were past their prime and the trade of Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson sunk the ship, now the Pistons have a very intriguing crop of budding talent, including Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
And because of that, there may be more moves down the line for Detroit to bolster and balance its core. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pistons are a top five team in the East next season with a chance to make more progress in the upcoming years.
#4 Rockets Sign Dwight Howard
Cohen’s Analysis: Considering all the attention this signing got, you would assume it was the best move of the summer.
Sure, Howard is an upgrade in Houston and with James Harden the Rockets should at worst advance to the second round of the playoffs.
However, we saw in L.A. last season that Dwight may simply not be the dominant, imposing and menacing big man he was during his eight years in Orlando. Perhaps injuries and substantial expectations are overwhelming Howard -- denying him from becoming one of the greatest centers in NBA history.
There is now a very bright beam shining down on Houston. Sometimes that can derail a franchise.
#5 Sixers Acquire Nerlens Noel & 2014 Draft Pick
Cohen’s Analysis: This fifth place ranking has very little to do with Noel, who slipped in the draft mostly because of injury concerns.
Rather, this has to do with patience and smart maneuvering.
At first the trade was somewhat puzzling. Philly trades its best player for a prospect who has a knee problem (a dilemma all to familiar to the Sixers after dealing with Andrew Bynum for an entire season). Yes, that’s baffling.
But clearly Philadelphia understands what’s in store after this upcoming season. The 2014 draft class is expected to be loaded with talent. In addition to its own pick, which will probably be a top five selection, it also acquired a limited protected pick from New Orleans.
#6 Pelicans Acquire Jrue Holiday & Tyreke Evans in two separate deals
Cohen’s Analysis: I know. I know. I just raved about the Holiday trade from Philadelphia’s viewpoint. But, I actually think it was a fair deal on both sides.
Sure, there is a bit of a logjam in the backcourt in New Orleans. How will Monty Williams spread the minutes with Holiday, Evans, Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers all battling for playing time?
The additions, nonetheless, make the Pelicans formidable. Anthony Davis now has a supporting cast to help speed up his progress.
It’s very possible that in three years New Orleans could be a title contender. That’s a big “if” but the talent is starting is pile up.
#7 Blazers Acquire Thomas Robinson
Cohen’s Analysis: There is something very puzzling here. When do you ever see a top five draft pick bounce around to three different teams in just one year?
There have been no reports of misconduct, unruly behavior or troubling attitude. There is no indication of injuries or a rapid decline in potential.
If Portland eventually trades LaMarcus Aldridge, it’s feasible for Robinson to be his replacement at power forward. I’m not ready to call him a bust. I think playing alongside Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum will only help Robinson grow.
Considering all they had to surrender was two international players and two future second round picks, this is a can’t lose deal for the Blazers.
#8 All Rebuilding Teams Choosing to be Quiet in Free Agency
Cohen’s Analysis: This is an applause for several teams including Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Orlando, Phoenix, Sacramento and Utah.
Sometimes teams feel obligated to do whatever it takes to make immediate improvement – even if it means getting stuck in the middle of the pack for the next several years.
Several teams, who are accepting being in the midst of a renovation, appropriately did not make a big splash this summer aside from perhaps trading off players (ex. Sixers trade Holiday) or acquiring young blossoming talent (ex. Suns getting Bledsoe).
With next year’s draft class likely to be filled with potential All-Star talent, it’s just simply smart to stay on course and continue in their rebuild phases.
It’s what other teams such as Charlotte (signing Al Jefferson), Dallas (signing Monta Ellis), Minnesota (signing Kevin Martin) and Atlanta (signing Paul Millsap) didn’t seem to do.
Some Honorable Mentions
Warriors Sign Andre Iguodala: I don’t completely agree with this decision because it seems Golden State has diminished Harrison Barnes a bit, but Iggy does enhance its defensive approach and playmaking options.
Pacers Acquire Luis Scola: Indiana has plenty of defense. It needed some extra offense. Scola will provide that off the bench.
Suns Acquire Eric Bledsoe: I think there is a bit too much hype surrounding Bledsoe’s potential, but it’s not like Phoenix had to surrender too much to get him.
Nuggets Sign Nate Robinson: It’s remarkable how Nate’s reputation as immature denies him from long-term contracts and stability. But let’s face it, if not for Robinson, Chicago doesn’t get past the First Round of the playoffs last season.