Monday we discussed the opening salvos of several teams and how they may address their deficiencies with the assets available to them (click here for part 1). Today we continue with the Warriors, Rockets, Pacers, Clippers and Lakers.
Golden State Warriors
When we last discussed the Warriors in mid-July there was much to be hopeful about, with a new ownership group and a new coach hopefully bringing some sanity to a club which had so obviously lacked it for a long period of time.
Sadly that doesn’t appear to be the case as in the first few days of the free agency period after the lockout, the GSW front office have badly botched things. Unless they are able to swing a deal for Chris Paul, there is no excuse for the way they have acted, tying up their cap space by signing DeAndre Jordan to a stupid offer sheet when the Clippers were always going to match and releasing rotation players Reggie Williams and Jeremy Lin for no gain.
The followed this up by today signing Kwame Brown to a 7M dollar 1 year deal. Granted there is no real risk to this given the short timeframe, but it’s hard to see the benefit when Brown isn’t starting quality and they are already overpaying David Lee and Andris Biedrins to do the exact same things.
Edit: The Warriors just signed guards Tommy Mitchell and Tim Pickett and forwards Julian Khazzouh and Tommy Smith and center Jeremy Tyler for the year. This is great news for the big Aussie, Khazzouh and we wish him the best of luck. He’ll be a long way down on the depth chart but has a chance to carve out a career for himself in the league with his heady interior play with the second unit hopefully.
The Rockets got screwed over more than any other team by David Stern’s meddling in the Chris Paul trade as they finally took their big swing to bring in quality players and whiffed. Now instead of Pau Gasol and Nene they have the same roster they had last year, who now know they aren’t wanted. Kevin Martin and Luis Scola are professionals who will likely just get on with the job however so this probably isn’t that big of a concern. The Rockets continue to add quality pieces that can be used in a blockbuster and are opportunistic as ever, the latest example is picking up the cast off Jeremy Lin from Golden State.
The question remains, how will Daryl Morey upgrade this team during the season?
Houston are likely to have a huge phone bill as they try to get involved as major pieces or at least facilitatiors for every trade this year. They have the assorted assets to make a big deal for a superstar such as Howard (if he can be convinced to add Houston to his short list of perferred destinations) or to swapping pieces and trying to complete their jigsaw. Hard to see them properly competing with the pieces they have as they are fairly mismatched without a superstar to fill in all the gaps and tie things together.
The Pacers have quietly put together a very solid team who could well be a top three team in the East. Orlando are likely to drop even if they keep Dwight, Atlanta are looking more and more like a mediocre team, Boston are old and very light on for talent past the top few, opening the door for a resurgent Indiana to rejoin the East’s elite.
I also suspect Chicago will slip from last year’s win total, although Indiana are unlikely to pass Chicago and Miami, they will be much much better than previously. David West will help considerably in this resurgence as he basically replaces what Tyler Hansbrough was providing, but at a much more effective level.
Edit: The widely expected Josh McRoberts for OJ Mayo sign and trade is off the table with the Lakers signing the big man as a free agent. That’s a real blow to Indiana as they need to upgrade their second unit with scoring.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers have had the most successful offseason of any team, and it can only get better if they can swing a trade for Chris Paul without giving up Eric Gordon. A starting lineup of DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, Caron Butler, Eric Gordon and Chris Paul is downright scary.
That unit is vastly less effective if they are forced to insert Chauncey Billups at SG however, and the bench is pretty thin if the Paul trade finally goes through. It may be hard to imagine, but the Clippers may be a prime free agent destination for veterans during the season so even this risk is somewhat mitigated.
Los Angeles Lakers
For the first time ever the Lakers are the poor and downtrodden LA club. So far they are the mirror images of the Clippers this offseason, having by far the worst time of any team. It might be easy for fans to point fingers at David Stern for cancelling the Chris Paul trade but even that was really a favour in disguise as the Lakers were giving up way too much for a player who would struggle to play with Kobe Bryant while losing all their size. Their size was the one real advantage they had over every team in the league as no one was able to match their interior length.
Now the only real hope is that the Lakers can swing a trade for Dwight Howard who fits this roster much better. The problem being that they gave away Lamar Odom in spite after the failed CP3 trade without really recieving anything in return and now lack the assets to make a deal work for Howard.
It’s hard to imagine this is how the Kobe Bryant era is going to end, with a whimper and a string of first round exits, but that’s what this team is now constituted for, as they are significantly behind the Mavs, Thunder, Clippers and Memphis meaning a likely first round ouster for the foreseeable future.
Edit: The Lakers sign Josh McRoberts. While McRoberts is a legit rotation player is undoubted, but that he can fill the role Odom played for this franchise for the last several years is unlikely.