Basically, everything general manager Daryl Morey has done this offseason revolved around the longshot of landing Dwight Howard via trade from Orlando, even though Houston is not one of Howard's desired destinations and there is no guarantee he would sign a long-term extension with the team. The Rockets even amnestied their best player, Luis Scola, rather than trying to trade him for some assets, simply so the team could clear about $30 million in cap space over the next three years.
On top of that, Houston gave a 3-year, $25 million contract to Omer Asik, who has career averages of 2.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Morey also bought into Linsanity - literally - by signing Jeremy Lin to a 3-year deal that will net him $14.8 million in 2014-15.
I didn't really love the Rockets' draft either. I'm not sold on Jeremy Lamb and picking Royce White and Terrence Jones now gives the team about five combo forwards on its roster. Houston has set itself up to have a ton of cap space for next summer and, potentially, three first-round draft picks, including the one landed from Toronto in exchange for Kyle Lowry.
Glass-half empty though; Morey doesn't exactly have a great track record recently with acquiring young assets. So now, the Rockets enter next season with a likely starting five of Asik, Patrick Patterson, Chandler Parsons, Kevin Martin and Lin, and is a massive loser in the offseason.
Larry Bird's regime in Indiana was predicated around building the franchise through smart decisions, not overpaying free agents, and drafting wisely. Bird left, Kevin Pritchard took over as general manager, and that blueprint flew right out the window.
I understand the Pacers were backed into a corner and pretty much had to match the max offer sheet that the Blazers threw at Roy Hibbert. An amount of $58 million is a lot to give him for the next four seasons, but big men are constantly overpaid in the NBA - see: Omer Asik.
What didn't make any sense to me was trading a starting-caliber point guard, Darren Collison, to Dallas in a sign-and-trade deal for another center, Ian Mahinmi, just days after Indiania wasted its first-round pick on Miles Plumlee. That deal will net Mahinmi, who has averaged 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game during his four year career, $16 million over the next four years. The Pacers did also add some smaller pieces to improve their depth in the backcourt, but I can't look past the moves they made to "bolster" their frontcourt.
Perhaps nobody reaped the benefits of having a career year during his free agent season than Ersan Ilyasova. He had a terrific performance in 2011-12 and parlayed that into a 5-year, $45 million deal this summer.
That's a lot to pay Ilyasova, especially when just days before the Bucks drafted another power forward, John Henson. Ilyasova does give Milwaukee an effective stretch four, but now the team has a logjam at power forward which includes its lottery pick, who likely won't crack the rotation.
The Bucks also didn't do anything to improve the small forward position even though Carlos Delfino is a free agent. Therefore, they enter next season with some sort of rotation between Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - another defensive minded, offensively challenged, long forward -, Mike Dunleavy and second-year player Tobias Harris, who didn't show much during his rookie season.
With Monta Ellis holding a player option on the final year of his deal next summer and Brandon Jennings becoming a restricted free agent, Milwaukee needed to add better pieces around its explosive guard duo; I can't say the Bucks succeeded in improving as a basketball team. They did get a great second-round value in Doron Lamb, though and actually added a true center in Samuel Dalembert.
The Timberwolves entered the offseason with one major need: finding a scorer to put on the wing. Minnesota struck out on landing some of the bigger names it was targeting, including Nicolas Batum since the Blazers matched the offer sheet he signed with the Timberwolves. Instead, David Kahn dealt Minnesota's first-round pick for a decent bench player, Chase Budinger, and rolled the dice on signing no-knees Brandon Roy to a 2-year deal just seven months after injury forced him to temporarily retire.
The Timberwolves also let Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph walk in free agency while amnestying Darko Milicic. That all hurts the team's frontcourt depth. A shallow frontcourt is not exactly the next step the franchise needed to take to build off an improved 2011-12 campaign.