NBA free agency winners & losers
Now that the smoke is beginning to clear, Alan Hahn looks at the NBA's winners and losers:
Duh. They were already ahead of the game when Dwyane Wade decided to re-sign and Chris Bosh agreed to join him. But when LeBron James then followed, you have the foundation for not just a championship team, but a potential dynasty. Only a matter of time before Pat Riley puts on an Armani and replaces Erik Spoelstra on the bench. Perhaps this will finally get South Beach fans to fill the arena.
So the rumors of LeBron jumping into Michael Jordan's shadow were unfounded. But the Bulls already have their new superstar in Derrick Rose. What they needed was to upgrade the supporting cast and they did that, with pick-and-roll partner Carlos Boozer and perimeter threat Kyle Korver. The Bulls have set themselves up to be one of the top teams in the East, though they still need to improve their bench with a third guard now that Kirk Hinrich is gone.
Lost in the LeBronathon was a selfless act by Dirk Nowitzki, who opted out of his contract only to re-sign for $16 million less than his maximum value just to afford the capped-out Mavericks the ability to make roster moves. Dallas then re-signed Brendan Haywood and now have Erick Dampier as a trade chip for other moves. Though they were bounced quickly from the playoffs, it makes sense to give this group another shot while Jason Kidd still has some game left in him.
They didn't land LeBron, but they also didn't get left empty-handed or tied down with bad contracts. Signing Amar'e Stoudemire was a significant addition to a 27-win team and adding Raymond Felton is a much-needed upgrade over Chris Duhon. But what really makes the Knicks winners here is the cap flexibility the team has maintained to stay in play for other stars, such as Tony Parker, Chris Paul or Carmelo Anthony.
A devastating offseason for this franchise that is sure to plummet back into the dormant years before the arrival of James. But not only did they lose their homegrown superstar, the franchise lost a great deal of credibility when owner Dan Gilbert published an ill-advised rant against James' decision. Perhaps that provided a window to show why James was so inclined to leave. Expect a fire sale, and not just in LeBron-related merchandise.
LeBron just tested the strength of his friendship with Jay-Z. The Nets froze all activity until they got definitive word on James' decision, which came way too late. They missed out on any consolation prize, such as Boozer or David Lee, and wound up overpaying for Travis Outlaw, who, along with No. 3 pick Derrick Favors, become the most significant additions to a roster that won 12 games last season. Yikes.
A franchise that has never been known to spend, has a mediocre season-ticket base and is valued at only $305 million to begin with just locked itself into $119 million over the next six years with Joe Johnson, a player who clearly isn't a lead dog. It was a panic move that will now serve as an albatross, especially when Jamal Crawford and Al Horford look for new contracts next summer.