BY: KWAME FISHER-JONES
It is easy to get money, but it is hard as hell to keep money. The NBA’s free spending period has commenced and it is obvious that some teams are determined to get rid of any available funds they may have.
Free agency is where names get paid regardless of their talent, production, or impact. In short, if they
have ever had a good game someone will pay top dollar for them.
In any sport free agency can change the dynamic of your team for better or for worse. Adding a future Hall-of-Famer like say a Terrell Owens or LeBron James can turn your team into a championship contender. Conversely, adding a Brett Favre or Amar`e Stoudemire could end with you right back in the help wanted line at season’s end.
Regardless, all were huge names who changed the course of the acquiring franchise’s direction, but only James’ acquisition resulted in a title.
Free agency has given credence to the old adage “a fool and his money are soon parted.” The recent success of LeBron James and the Miami Heat have provided a certain sense of hope for General Managers across the league, who believe by adding a top player championships are sure to follow.
However, this misguided hope of championship splendor never seems to quite pan out for other franchises. Eventually these teams are left with bloated payrolls, disenchanted fans, and unbalanced teams.
This year has proven to be no different in the wasteful spending department, yet it is the participators who have left many shaking their heads in disbelief. Teams who have been habitually meticulous in their spending and equally as strategic in their scouting have fell victim to the allure of sizzle over substance.
The Lakers sign and trade for point guard Steve Nash reeks of the microwave generation. A generation that believes in quick “add water and stir” fixes. No intelligent basketball mind, no disrespect, can honestly support this move. Yes Nash can knock down a jumpshot consistently and yes Nash will make the offense better by feeding the bears in the middle, but that was not the Lakers problem last season.
Los Angeles was the third best team in their conference in 2012, but that is misleading. L.A. was 41-25, which was a full six games lower than the second seeded Oklahoma City Thunder who went 47-19.
Interesting enough the Lakers were just three games away from being the sixth seed, which was held by the Denver Nuggets who posted a 38-28 record. This would mean L.A. is closer to falling then rising. So how does a significant downgrade on defense versus a slight upgrade on offense improve your club drastically?
The point guard will certainly elevate Los Angeles from last season’s offensive numbers which sat at eighth in team field goal percentage, 15th in points scored per, and 25th in three point shooting. The problem arises on the defensive end where Nash has regressed from abysmal to putrid.
Ignorance is a choice and people are choosing to ignore the grey haired elephant in the room.
L.A. was an old slow team that went seven games with the sixth seeded Nuggets and only five games with the second seeded Thunder. Now they are older and face a much longer road, against some of the games fastest drivers. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, one can only hope Head Coach Mike Brown is renting.
Ray Allen joining the Miami Heat on the surface makes sense. The guard is one of the game’s all-time great shooters and competitors. However, when one has limited funds it is important to fill need not desire. Allen is a high maintenance Rolls Royce with over 500,000 miles on it. The prolific shooter requires extensive maintenance and interrupts the cohesion of your line-up because the Heat would be forced to go small. A player like Carl Landry would have provided the Heat with a slugger in the paint who is capable of starting every game.
Landry brings a warrior’s mentality, similar to Allen, but also has that hunger for a title. The former Boilermaker requires little maintenance and would be content being a rebounder and occasional scorer. Yes Allen is the bigger name here, but the draft should have brought in a shooter not free agency. Allen at best plays 60 games for the Heat and plays HOPEFULLY 15 minutes a night, which will help the Heat.
Yet, for a team that does not have one player who averages more than eight rebounds a night and rests 21st in total team rebounds adding Landry would have addressed a need and not a desire. Landry is not a volume rebounder but would have provided a presence in the paint.
Why did the Clippers re-sign veteran guard Chauncey Billups?
This move was baffling. The Clips needed a starting shooting guard and did not want to overspend for one, got it. So grabbing Jamal Crawford for four years $25 million made sense, damn he would have looked good in a 76ers uniform for that price. Why bring back Billups, is he playing the role of Mr. Wisdom in the corner? It makes no sense, while veteran leadership is important it should not trump the ability to produce on the floor.
Billups, by all accounts, will not be healed from his Achilles’ injury and will not be able to contribute once the season starts. If the former champion is not available or is a shell of his former self the Clips are out of four million dollars and have wasted a roster spot. For a team trying to build itself into a contender, wasting money and roster spots cannot be done.
Michael Beasley going to Phoenix to play with 17 other small forwards is comical. At this very moment the Phoenix Suns have Channing Fry, Hakim Warrick, Jared Dudley and Josh Childress all occupying the small forward position. Someone decided four was not a crowd and the acquisition of Michael Beasley would put them over the top. Funny thing about this move is Beasley is not better than Fry or Childress. The former second overall pick is a scorer who works best with the ball in his hands.
Beasley has yet to demonstrate that he can pass the ball and play well without it. Off the court issues aside the small forward does not bring much production to a winning team, and infact fails to bring any winning attributes to an organization.
For those who think Beasley has any type of value to a playoff contending club remember this, just two seasons after being selected second overall by the Miami Heat Beasley was traded for two SECOND ROUND picks and pocket change.
Kirk Hinrich returning to the Chicago Bulls is an example of a good team gone bad. Hinrich should have flourished in Atlanta playing alongside Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and Al Horford but never did. The former Iowa star should have flourished in Chicago the first time, but did not. The point guard’s toughness and perceived ability to hit an open jumper has made him a viable starting candidate for teams.
The truth is Hinrich has been an underachieving guard for most of his career. The former seventh overall selection has yet to take his game to the next level and has struggled playing in any type of transition offense.
Bringing the former Bulls guard back to Chicago in hopes of him providing stability while Derrick Rose rebuilds his knee is a tough call. Especially, considering Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer are your starting frontcourt. The Bulls needed reckless scoring not disciplined hard play. Chicago needed a gunner who played hard on offense and had the potential of caring on defense. Goran Dragic would have been a perfect fit here and if the Bulls wanted to go big Steve Nash could have brought more to the line-up.
O.J. Mayo is another player the Bulls should have considered, anyone who is capable of averaging 20 plus a night would have been a welcomed addition. Bringing back Hinrich is the equivalent of a woman who always wears black jeans buying a black dress. Yes technically the dress is not jeans but it’s still black. Yes technically Hinrich can allow Rose to play the off guard but the former Hawk is more of the same type of “defense with a dash of offense” player the Bulls have a plethora of.
Free agency if used properly can rebuild a franchise and ignite a fanbase. If used incorrectly free agency can expedite the demise of a franchise and sustain the downtrodden. When the 2012-2013 season commences many will forget the numbers given to these players and will focus solely on the lack of value they have brought to their perspective franchises.