Top NBA Free Agency Hits and Misses
By Erik Lambert
Mar 23, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas (22) scores a basket between Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Knight (11) and forward Khris Middleton (22) during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 124-107. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
With the majority of the big NBA free agency moves done, which teams hit and which teams missed?
Hit: Mavericks retain Dirk Nowitzki and nab Chandler Parsons
Few teams had a more productive off-season than the Dallas Mavericks. It started when they were able to retain future Hall of Fame forward Dirk Nowitzki at a discount price. Next they made a daring trade to get back veteran center Tyson Chandler whom they lost in 2011. Their most cunning move however came when they pried young forward Chandler Parsons away from Houston, adding another 16 points per night to their front court.
Miss: Suns get Isaiah Thomas in sign-and-trade
Let it be prefaced that the acquisition itself of Isaiah Thomas is a big win for the Phoenix Suns. Regardless of the concerns about his size, the young point guard can fill up the basket and create offense for his team. That being said, the fact that he is the only notable signing for the Suns who had among the most salary cap space in NBA free agency is a reason this move is a miss.
Hit: San Antonio Spurs retain Patty Mills and Boris Diaw
Part of defending championships is understanding that if a roster isn’t broken, don’t fix it. The San Antonio Spurs applied this knowledge deftly when they worked quickly to retain key role players Patty Mills and Boris Diaw. Mills suffered an unfortunate injury earlier in the off-season, opening the door for the Spurs to get him back at a fair price and also allowing them more flexibility to get back Diaw who was probably the most important of the two.
Miss: Rockets whiff on Chris Bosh and settle for Trevor Ariza
A year after building what looked like the foundation for a championship, the Houston Rockets hoped this NBA free agency would be their D-Day. Instead it became their Waterloo. Not only did they miss out on Carmelo Anthony and backup plan Chris Bosh, who both re-signed with their previous teams, they also let Chandler Parsons go to a conference rival. Their consolation? Trevor Ariza. At 29-years old he is a downgrade on the state sheet from Parson but supposedly will help the defense. That isn’t enough to justify what the team lost.
Hit: Bulls add Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic
They too missed out on Anthony, but unlike the Rockets the Chicago Bulls were well-prepared with contingency plans. It started when they reached an agreement with Spanish League powerhouse Real Madrid to gain the rights to MVP Nikola Mirotic. The 23-year old finished his final season there averaging 12.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. That includes an average of just 24 minutes per night. He also shot 46% from three-point range. Next was the signing of veteran forward Pau Gasol, a four-time All-Star and two-time champion. Both will help Chicago with their offense, something that has been an issue for year.
Miss: Utah pays heavy to keep Gordon Hayward
After going 25-57 one can’t fault the Utah Jazz for wanting keep the few good players they have. The question is at what cost? Gordon Hayward was terrific for them this past season, averaging 16 points, five assists and five rebounds per game. The team fully intended to bring him back, but things got more difficult when the Charlotte Bobcats offered him $63 million on a four-year deal. It was considerably above the value many NBA free agency experts placed on him. In the end Utah was forced to match the offer, an action that may prove costly down the road.