Believe it or not, there were some other significant moves this offseason than what “SportsCenter” would lead you to believe. Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to the Lakers, Deron Williams signing with the Nets and Joe Johnson joining him and even Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan re-signing with the C’s and Spurs, respectively, were stories that we heard about all summer long. As we close in on the 2012-2013 season, it’s time to take a look back at 10 moves that didn’t get enough notice this offseason.
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10. Aaron Brooks to the Sacramento Kings
It’s OK to feel some skepticism about signing a 27-year-old point guard who hasn’t played in the NBA for over a year. That’s certainly how the Suns felt about Aaron Brooks by withdrawing their qualifying offer, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent. The Kings on the other hand took a chance on the seven-year man, giving him a two-year deal worth roughly $3.3 million. Let’s not forget, in the 2009-10 season Brooks was hanging up 19 points a game and was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player. In his last season in the NBA, Brooks only appeared in 25 games and averaged fewer than 20 minutes in those appearances. Scared off by the chance of the lockout, Brooks got stuck in China right before the December deal, unable to get out of his contract like J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler did. What the Kings will get out of Brooks is a lightning quick guard with superb ball-handling skills, who can also score the ball a number of different ways. It’s a win-win for both parties here. Do the Kings get much better with Brooks? No. Brooks will use this opportunity in Sacramento backing up Isaiah Thomas to get his feet back under him in the NBA. By the time his contract is up, he’ll still be under 30 and looking to come off the bench for a playoff contender.
9. Devin Harris to the Atlanta Hawks
A little more thatn a week into his new position as Hawks GM, Danny Ferry dumped nearly $105 million in contracts (Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams). In return, the Hawks got Anthony Morrow and of course, Harris, who is coming off arguably the worst season of his career. I don’t know about you, but when I think of Harris the first thing that comes to mind is that buzzer beater he hit against the 76ers in 2009. Three years removed from that, though, and years removed from his best season (2008-09, 21 PPG. 7 APG with NJ), Harris finds himself on a Hawks team looking to make a splash in the 2013 free agency class. The offensively talented former All-Star has the potential to reestablish himself in a Hawks system longing for a change. With backcourt depth consisting of Harris, Morrow, Jeff Teague and Louis Williams, the Hawks find themselves with plenty of scoring/play making options.
8. Jarrett Jack to the Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are going to be in the hunt for one of the last playoff spots in the West if they can stay healthy, and that is a big “if.” Adding a seventh-year veteran like Jack to back-up the fragile Steph Curry is a great move. In 45 games with the Hornets last season, Jack averaged 15.6 PPG, 6.3 APG, and 3.9 RPG. Although Jack isn’t likely going to be that point guard to lead his team to a championship (is Curry, though?), he will provide much-needed consistency off the bench. For someone who doesn’t fill up the stat sheet with big numbers or have a very flashy style of play, you still find yourself respecting Jack for some reason, as an old-school, low-flying guy. He just plays tough. Something that Golden State lacks with a backcourt of Curry and Klay Thompson.
7. Landry Fields to the Toronto Raptors
After making some noise in his rookie season, Fields went through somewhat of a sophomore slump with the Knicks. The most relevance Fields experienced last season was being one of two people in New York City who let Jeremy Lin sleep on his couch. The two-year man out of Stanford signed a three-year/$20 million offer sheet with the Raptors, which believe it or not, was not matched by the Knicks (sarcasm). Fields went out and got himself a big boy deal, ladies and gentlemen. My favorite reaction to the Raptors offer was from Bill Simmons when he tweeted, “Landry Fields to his agent: ‘Wait… did you say 2 million or 20 million? Because honestly, I’ll take either. I don’t care'” Where Fields will fit in with the jumpshooter DeMar DeRozan and eighth overall pick Terrence Ross is unclear, but I do expect an improved year from Fields this season. His production took the deepest fall after Carmelo Anthony showed up in NYC, and the pressure of playing in the Big Apple while slumping probably isn’t the easiest of situations. Now he’s in Toronto and new coach Dwane Casey will probably give him the green light on offense. I like him in Toronto, just not the price they paid for him.
6. Jamal Crawford to the Los Angeles Clippers
Did Crawford exist last year in Portland? I initially really liked the move of him signing with the Blazers, with the thinking he would be a much bigger part of dealing with the heartache of Brandon Roy‘s (short-lived) retirement. I thought wrong. Crawford averaged fewer than 30 MPG, never finding his niche in Portland’s system. He opted out of the final year of his contract worth $5.2 million. The Clippers continue to add depth across the board with the addition of Crawford, though it comes with a cost: The contract is a little on the pricy side, at four years/$21 million. If he plays out the contract he’ll be 36 and most likely headed for retirement. It would have been nice for the Clippers to pick him up a little cheaper. However, their depth at the guard position is going to create problems for a lot of teams when healthy. Crawford will most likely start as Chauncey Billups isn’t expected to return until December from an Achilles injury. Since his Sixth Man of the Year campaign in 2009-10, he’s has been on a slight decline. Playing for the Clippers should motivate him to have a comeback year, and playing alongside CP3 is going to be great for the 12-year veteran.
5.) Raymond Felton to the New York Knicks
Remember when Felton was starting for the Knicks, averaging 17.1 PPG and 9.0 APG playing the best ball of his career and helping New York become relevant in the world of basketball again? Then the Knicks, showing their appreciation, sent him and practically everyone else in a Knick uniform to Denver in exchange for ‘Melo and Billups? The more you think about a particular situation the more able you are to pick it to pieces. Sure, Carmelo is an undisputed All-Star, but if it was about winning basketball games … I’m not sure I agree with what went down. Getting back to present day, I could see either Jason Kidd or Felton starting at the point for NY this season. My gut tells me Kidd will get the nod to start, but Felton will average at least 30 minutes a game. Linsanity was cool and all being an exciting product to watch, but I’ll take a Kidd/Felton PG tandem over a Lin/Bibby duo any day. Felton back to the Knicks is nice fit.
4. Courtney Lee to the Boston Celtics
I’m going to try to address this in the most unbiased way possible for being a Celtics fan. It’s hard, though, because Lee isn’t a guy you should be overly excited about coming to your team UNLESS your team is the Celtics. It’s because what Lee can provide for the Celtics this season is something they haven’t had in years: a two guard who can play both sides of the ball at the same, high level. The closest thing they’ve had to this was Delonte West and that wasn’t even for half a year. This undoubtedly makes the Celtics a better team. Ray Allen is one of the most gifted offensive players the league has seen but on defense, he just never was that guy. Avery Bradley has been praised as one of the best on-ball defenders in the league; on the contrary, don’t expect to run any sort of offense through him. Most of his points came from transition threes and backdoor cuts run in an offense playing sets in random. Lee isn’t going to be the solution to all of the Celtics problems on offense, but in addition to Jason Terry, it’s a step in the right direction at the two guard spot.
3. Nicolas Batum re-signing with the Portland Trailblazers
Talk about a conflicted return. Let me just start off by saying: I respect Blazer fans. It comes with just everything they’ve dealt with in their recent years in regards to Greg Oden and Roy. Aside from All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, Blazer fans haven’t had a whole lot to be excited about. Then there’s Batum. The thought process of a Blazers fan must be: “Wait, what’s this? A 23-year-old athletic SF who essentially came out of nowhere? Our fortunes are finally changing! There’s no way he’d leave us to play for Minny! Wait, he said he wants to play for Minny? Pay him! … But not too much.” Batum could very well be on the brink of a breakout year, or he could be on the underachieving side of a four-year contract worth roughly $45 million, not including bonuses. The price seems about right considering the importance of bringing back Batum after trading Gerald Wallace at the deadline. Unfortunately, unless the Blazers make some big splashes before this year’s trade deadline, they’ll be back floating around in limbo.
2. Michael Beasley to the Phoenix Suns
The Suns are going to surprise some teams this season, and the addition of Beasley is one of the biggest reasons why. The word that is always associated with Beasley throughout his career has been potential and this year will be no different as Beasley tries to reach his full talent in Phoenix — again. In his introduction press conference with the Suns, coach Alvin Gentry stressed that Beasley won’t just be used as a go-to scoring option, but a go to facilitator. I really like what the Suns put together to embark on the post-Nash era in Phoenix. The Suns will likely start Marcin Gortat, Luis Scola (underrated), Beasley, Wesley Johnson, and Goran Dragic. Off the bench they’ll have Shannon Brown, Jared Dudley and Jermaine O’Neal. For losing the face of their franchise, I don’t think Phoenix falls far from their .500 mark last season in 2013.
1. Lamar Odom to the Los Angeles Clippers
Alas, the return of Lamar to La La Land. The former Sixth Man of the Year returns to the team where he started in the NBA. A year removed from his worst season (career lows across the board, psychological meltdown, asked to leave, etc.), Odom is looking to revitalize his career and has every motivation to do so. His time spent in Dallas left a sour taste in all Mavs fan’s mouths, and everyone else wondering if he’d ever be relevant in the NBA again. Rather than elevating his game and thus delivering a giant “F you” to the Lakers for trying to trade him, Lamar shrunk. He now gets a kind of do-over of a post-Laker career with the Clippers, the only place I think he could feel comfortable. Ever since Blake Griffin started dunking on people and CP3 showed up on the scene, the Clippers have this newly found swagger that makes them not only an exciting team to watch, but a team that can compete. If Odom can tune out the distractions and come into the season in shape, it’ll be a good year for him and the Clippers.
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