The NBA offseason still isn’t quite over – we don’t know what’s going to happen with Dwight Howard … will anyone give Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas another chance? … who is signing Josh Howard? – but for the most part, the big moves have been made. Deron Williams, Eric Gordon, Steve Nash, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and the rest of the best available names have chosen teams for next year.
The offseason is always an interesting time because it’s not always about making the right move. Sometimes, you can see organizations folding under the weight of fan expectations. Inevitably, they’ll make a move to appease them. It’s like seeing an accident before it happens. Someone isn’t watching the road. A car pulls out, and BAM. It’s a predictable outcome.
However, for the most part, every NBA team has the same goal heading into July: just get better than you were the year before. Some teams do that. Others? Not so much. With us stuck in one of the quietest times of the NBA calendar, here are the top 10 winners of free agency.
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10. KEVIN LOVE
Love eventually worked his way into the Team USA rotation – I guess when you’re beating teams by nearly 40 points a game, that’s almost inevitable – and appears ready to take his next step towards becoming one of those NBA stars that isn’t just an All-Star but an automatic All-Star. Once you hit that point, you start getting calls every night, the 20/10s become automatic, your name gets thrown into every individual awards race, and if you’re like Kobe, you can drop F-bombs at refs and not get T’ed up. Love is almost there, and it happens to be perfect timing… The Wolves should be in the playoffs this year.
They added Andrei Kirilenko, who’s looking like a stud in the Olympics, for a modest price of two years and $20 million, and he’s bringing his friend, Alexey Shved. Maybe AK47′s time away from the NBA rejuvenated him. Then, there’s the Brandon Roy signing. For just over $10 million, Minnesota will get a chance to see if the former All-Star has anything left. With a limited stable of swingmen, and absolutely no pressure on him at all, Roy has perhaps the best chance he’ll get to prove he can still play in the NBA.
After his knee injury put a bullet in the Wolves’ season last year, Ricky Rubio is rehabbing and apparently way ahead of schedule. Love might be disappointed the Wolves were never able to pry Nicolas Batum away from Portland, but their time is coming.
9. PHOENIX SUNS
The Suns had to know Steve Nash was leaving. When you purposely deplete your bench, and sell your draft picks year after year, and then refuse to even offer the man a deal, the writing is on the wall. Phoenix wanted this. They probably wanted it too much. Leave it up to Robert Sarver, and he’d be fielding a 20-62 team every year with 10 guys on minimum contracts. They won’t win much this year, but it wasn’t like bringing back Nash would’ve saved them. The run was over. Rebuilding was inevitable.
With that in mind, they picked up Wes Johnson in a trade, a limited player but at least he’s a limited player who’s young and athletic. Goran Dragic is coming back to the desert for four years and $34 million, where he’ll get to compete with Kendall Marshall for minutes and ease the memory of Nash. And they picked up Luis Scola off the amnesty waiver wire, which was probably the best bargain of the entire offseason.
I know there are many who have called Phoenix out for giving Michael Beasley a three-year, $18 million contract. Some are calling it the worst offseason move of the summer. I’m not. Listen, the dude is 23 years old, and has career 15 and 5 averages. Is he a great player? No. Is he a No. 2 overall pick? Probably not. Is he a one-dimensional player, a problem off the court, kind of a weirdo? Probably. But I’ve seen PLENTY of craziest contracts than three years and $18 million, especially when you consider Beasley averaged nearly 20 points a game in 2011 before Derrick Williams was drafted into his spot and all Hell broke loose.
Is Phoenix the best place for him? I doubt it. He needs people to get him to follow, rather than allow him to lead. But he’s going to put up numbers, and he’s going to help the Suns simply because they don’t have anyone else.