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One month into NBA season, signs point to buyer's remorse

A look at what transactions have not panned out for teams, players

POSTED: Nov 27, 2015 7:03 AM ET

By Steve Aschburner

BY Steve Aschburner

NBA.com

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Hard on the heels of all the gratitude that warms our hearts and even our leftovers this extended weekend comes the regret. Regrets over how outrageously you stuffed your face at the Thanksgiving table and the sounds that accompanied you. Regrets, as well, for running out of Cool Whip before they ran out of pumpkin pie, when your only job was to bring the Cool Whip.

Regret persists, too, some 12 or 18 hours later when you fight the Black Friday hordes, snag that shiny new whatever at a presumed discount price and realize only later that you were driven by equal parts adrenaline and competition in chasing what you neither needed nor truly wanted. That's where the NBA comes into play, with players and teams now coping with extra helpings of buyer's remorse over some eminently second-guessable summertime decisions.

When our Shaun Powell took a look this week at some notable offseason moves, he did so primarily to gauge how well those transactions have worked out for the teams, one month into the 2015-16 regular season. This list focuses more sharply on the moves that shouldn't have been pursued or, from the looks of it, consummated. It also looks at moves from the players' side, not just the teams'. Grass isn't always greener somewhere else.

Here are five instances in which someone should have backed away from the deal, hitting the snooze button or at least staying home to shop online instead:

Celtics vs. Nets

Brook Lopez scores 23 points and grabs 10 rebounds to lead the Nets past the Celtics, 111-101.

Brook Lopez: Kevin Garnett got out. Deron Williams got out. Joe Johnson, well, he's 34 and on his way out. But Lopez is 27, in the prime of his career. He'd already pocketed some $53 million or so when he re-upped with a bad-and-getting-worse Brooklyn team on a three-year, $63 million extension. We understand the injuries he's had that make future earning so precious. But Lopez was an All-Star 33 months ago, he's still posting PER numbers above 21.0, he's automatic as a scorer at the rim and he's even cleaned up the weak rebounding numbers of his early career. He shouldn't have signed up for what the Nets are enduring.

Okafor Post Move

Jahlil Okafor pump fakes and gets the tough hoop inside.

Jahlil Okafor: Admittedly, it's hard to say that an NBA rookie entered willingly into his first pro contract; when you're drafted to play somewhere, you generally don't have much say in the matter. But Okafor should have taken a page from previous elite prospects' books and made it abundantly clear before he was picked last June that he wasn't willing to sign up for Philadelphia's demoralizing tank-a-palooza. Not in the wake of big men Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid already being rounded up there, and not to endure the lack of purpose and seriousness that has turned that franchise into the league's ne'er-do-well distant relative. When the Lakers said no to him at No. 2, Okafor should have said no to the Sixers at No. 3, rattling whatever sabers he had available (threat to play in Europe, trade demand, etc.). He had way too much pedigree even then in his young basketball life to abide by Philly's plan and the strain of 0-16 showed Tuesday, both in his reactions to the Sixers' collapse against Boston and then in his alleged post-nightclub scuffle later in the evening. That team might be OK for players who have one foot out of the NBA or spend their first years red-shirting, but not for a potential franchise guy who brings real pride to the job.

Pau Gasol Highlights

Bulls big man Pau Gasol scores 16 points and grabsnine boards in Chicago's 111-88 victory over Philadelphia.

Pau Gasol: This one actually goes back to the summer of 2014, so it's likely the classy Spaniard's warranty has run out on his buy-in with Chicago. But things have turned on the veteran 7-footer in a hurry. Last season, Gasol posted some of the biggest numbers of his career (18.5 ppg, 11.8 rpg) and was amply rewarded, starting for the East All-Stars and earning second-team all-NBA status. But this season has been almost a complete reversal: the coach, Tom Thibodeau, who made Gasol such a focal point is gone. The Bulls' new coach, Fred Hoiberg, emphasizes pace, space and 3-pointers, so much so that the diplomatic Gasol discontentedly spoke up about it last week on the West Coast. Chicago has enough other questions marks (Joakim Noah's decline, Derrick Rose's durability) to seem less than a serious contender, and it's likely Gasol will look elsewhere to play out his final NBA seasons. He could have signed two summers ago with San Antonio.

LA Clippers' Kryptonite

What's wrong with the Clippers? Like everyone else, it might be the Warriors.

Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers will be on the wrong side of our fifth and final bout of buyer's remorse, but they deserve their due as well. Lance Stephenson, Paul Pierce and even DeAndre Jordan hardly look like the sparkling summertime acquisitions they did a few months back. Stephenson (6.6 PER) ought to in his prime but isn't, Pierce (6.8) has way less left than he or Doc Rivers hoped and Jordan (19.5) has dipped from the numbers that had Dallas so hung up in the offseason. This all might be due to Rivers' difficulty in demonstrating he can successfully handle both the coaching and personnel jobs, but the players involved had to shoulder some of the weight as well.

Smith Slams It

Jamal Crawford finds Josh Smith who gets under the rim and slams it home.

Josh Smith: Here's the one place where it's the player, rather than the Clippers team, that ought to be seeking a do-over. Smith simply chose wrong when he had no good reason to do so. He left the Houston Rockets, where he finally had fit in to refurbish his reputation after his don't-let-the-door-hit-you dismissal from Detroit. The Rockets wanted to keep him around and, given the minimum money he got from L.A. while still living off the Pistons buyout, it made no sense for him to change addresses. As badly as things have gone for Houston this season, you wonder if maybe the Clippers and Rockets could put toothpaste back in the tube in the coming weeks and send Smith back to a team where he actually provided help.

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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