The NBA season is less than a month away, and training camps are now open around the country. Preseason games will start soon, and media day has come and gone. It lacks the star power that could be on the move next year, but the 2013 offseason did feature several teams attempting to climb their way to the ranks of the elite, while others traded down in hopes of rebuilding and starting anew.
For a second consecutive season, Dwight Howard, arguably the league’s best center was on the move, while the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets decided to switch identities with a few veterans moving south of the New England area.
Some of the greatest acquisitions of the summer come not through free agency or trade, but through a return from injury. There are several All-Stars this season who will be making significant returns from injuries that either ended, or cut their 2012-13 season early, including the 2011 NBA MVP, Derrick Rose.
A few of those returns will signify changes at the top of the conference, while other could signal more changes being made, especially those teams who made a few moves for the worse during their All-Star’s recovery period.
Often it’s the most subtle and quiet changes that turn out to have the most impact. While teams like Indiana, Miami and the Los Angeles Clippers didn’t bring in any notable stars, they did add role players who are going to fill in former voids in the roster.
Sometimes it’s these lesser-tier moves that end up being the biggest, such as the Heat quietly adding on Shane Battier in the summer of 2011 or the Dallas Mavericks bringing Tyson Chandler aboard in 2010. It doesn’t always take an All-Star to turn everything around, it could just be one final small, but necessary, piece to the puzzle.
With teams gearing up this offseason to prepare for the madness that will ensue in the 2014 offseason, we take a look at the ten acquisitions with the most significance, including returns from injury, of the NBA summer.
10. The Return of Rondo
This has less to do with Rajon Rondo and his return to the Boston Celtics and more to do with how Rajon and the Celtics end up in a few months.
Judging from what the roster looks like at the moment, Rondo is not going to be a happy camper, and it’ll be surprising if he’s still with the team by the end of the trade deadline.
This Celtics team isn’t going to be good. They’re not going to make the playoffs, despite being in a conference where there’s a possibility one or two playoff teams will be under .500. With the entire ‘Big Three’ departed, the Celtics are a lottery team once again.
You know who isn’t going to like that? Rajon Rondo. The perennial All-Star has made a name for himself as one of the league’s top floor-generals on a veteran-laden team that suited his game perfectly. Those days are now gone. Instead of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, it’s Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace and MarShon Brooks. It’s safe to say that is a regression, especially from the team that won a championship as recently as 2008 and was a game away from the NBA Finals as recently as 2012.
Rondo will find his new number two guy in the form of Jeff Green. As if it couldn’t get any worse, some other players who will have to step up in the scoring column include shot-chucking wunderkind’s in Brooks and Jordan Crawford. At least Boston still has the Patriots.
Rondo is coming off a 2012-13 campaign where he played only 38 games before tearing his ACL, which may keep him on the bench past opening night for the 2013-14 season. Before the injury ended his season, Rondo was averaging over 11 assists for a third consecutive season, while also grabbing a career-high 5.6 rebounds per game.
While many will wait until the summer 2014 for free agency fireworks, where Rondo ends up before the February trade deadline will be a fitting prelude. He may just end up on a legitimate contender, possibly even one with an All-Star center and shooting guard clad in red and white.