The Summer of Dwight is almost over, and as NBA offseasons go, the biggest move of the summer wasn't all that bad. Dwight Howard didn't drag it out until Labor Day, didn't flip coins or play eenie-meenie-minie-moe (best we can tell) and didn't host a 60-minute show. It was a fairly clean decision, and that came as a disappointment to anyone hoping for drama and a reason to poke fun.
Actually, as the signings and trades are slowing down and becoming official, this entire offseason has gone almost as quickly as Chris Paul pledging his love for the Clippers. And that's OK, because we all needed this summer to be exactly what it was supposed to be, an appetizer before the Mother Of All Offseasons blows in next summer. Yes, the 2014 draft with Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, followed by free agency with LeBron and Carmelo among others, will be the combination of a tornado and hurricane.
But the 2013 offseason is just about ready to be judged, and here's what we like and don't like so far:
The Warriors. They had a sensational, unexpected and thrilling ride through the spring and unintentionally caused the destruction of the Denver Nuggets (more on them later) and weren't content to sit tight. Most teams, especially those with a young core like the Warriors, would drink a bottle of poison before tinkering with this kind of success. But the Warriors decided to be proactive and while their intentions were good, this could come back to haunt them.
They signed Andre Iguodala to enormous money ($13 million a year) for someone who can no longer carry a team, something the Warriors saw first hand in the playoffs when they beat Iggy and the Nuggets. He also plays the same position as Harrison Barnes, the young player the Warriors are trying to develop, and that makes this decision more of a head-scratcher. Barnes should be getting 30 minutes a night, not 20-25.
Plus, the Warriors had to let Jarrett Jack sign with the Cavs; he was valuable as a third guard and emergency starter whenever Steph Curry had ankle problems. Carl Landry left, too, and the Warriors are replacing those two with Toney Douglas, 80-year-old Jermaine O'Neal and Marreese Speights. They also must make peace with David Lee and Andrew Bogut, two players they tried to trade this summer.
In a best-case scenario, you still have to give the Warriors a chance to reach the West finals, if not the NBA Finals. But so much can go wrong here.
The Clippers. You almost hate to see Donald Sterling benefitting in any way, and yet the Clippers now have the look of a smart and bold organization. They didn't do anything to push Paul away in free agency. They stole Doc Rivers from the Celtics and didn't surrender anything of major consequence to get him. They added a pair of badly needed shooters in J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley while getting Darren Collison on the cheap to replace Eric Bledsoe. Ka-boom. Just like that, and with the help of Howard leaving the Lakers, the Clippers are the kingpin basketball team in town.
The difference between reaching and missing the Finals could rest with DeAndre Jordan learning a post move over the summer, but for the most part, the Clippers are aiming right for the top in the West.
Danny Ainge. He had the task of arranging a getaway for Rivers, finding a taker for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, hiring a new coach and getting help through the draft. All things considered, Ainge did a bang-up job in a short amount of time, even though the results won't show it next season and his work isn't quite done yet.
The Celtics should and will be lousy, and that's why Ainge would be smart to deal Rajon Rondo by the trade deadline if not this summer. That way, rebuilding can be conducted in relative peace without Rondo threatening to rip apart the locker room. The Celtics are armed with picks and youth and, pretty soon, cap flexibility, the perfect way to move forward.
Monta Ellis and Andrei Kirilenko. These guys left a total of $21 million on the table because they figured -- wrongly, as it turned out -- that someone would pay them just as much in a longer contract. Nobody was in a rush to sign an undersized shooting guard with limited range and a 32-year-old forward whose best days are well behind him, and the market dried up, leaving Kirilenko to sign with Brooklyn for just $3.18 million next season.
Masai Ujiri. The reigning Executive of the Year bolted Denver to quadruple his salary in Toronto. Then he got the Knicks to take Andrea Bargnani and got picks in return for a player who likely would've been amnestied. If he can find a sucker for Rudy Gay's contract (two years, $40 million) and get Canadian-born-and-raised Andrew Wiggins in next year's draft, they'll build a statue for him in Toronto.
Lionel Hollins. After leading the Grizzlies to the West finals, not only did he lose his job, he couldn't land another. The Nets and Celtics went for first-time NBA coaches over Hollins. He must be wondering if his breath smells or something. But at least he's not George Karl, who went from Coach of the Year to unemployed in a snap.
The Nets. They're on tap to pay roughly $50 million in luxury tax, an insane amount on a team that was embarrassed by the Bulls in the playoffs. Of course, the Nets changed things up since then. But Jason Kidd never coached a game in his life, while Garnett and Pierce, the new additions, are both in their twilight and could be toast by next spring.
Joe Dumars. The last time Dumars had money to spend, he wasted it on Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon and the Pistons went up in flames. This time he's largely banking on Josh Smith to give Detroit some respectability. Dumars could've saved up for next summer but decided to go for the playoffs now, perhaps with an ultimatum from ownership. Smith can help in a lot of areas but makes mental mistakes and nobody was willing to compete with Dumars' offer of $54 million over four years. Oh, and Dumars passed on C.J. McCollum and Trey Burke for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. We'll see.
Josh Kroenke. The heir apparent of the Nuggets empire had to find a GM and coach and replace his best player in a span of weeks. All of this happened after the Nuggets were ambushed in the first round. Nobody dealt with as much turmoil this summer as Kroenke and the Nuggets, and while they are probably still a playoff team under new coach Brian Shaw, they've likely taken a step backward in development, on and off the floor.
Mark Cuban. Wasn't he chosen in some player poll as the owner everyone would want to play for? Well, Cuban couldn't get anyone to take his money for the second straight summer, losing out on Deron Williams and then Howard. And now he'll save a chunk of cash for 2014 in order to chase you know who.
LeBron James. Well, he didn't do anything this summer except lift another trophy. But the Cavs perhaps had LeBron's 2014 free agency in mind when they went about their summer business. They signed Andrew Bynum and will give him at least a year to prove he can still stay healthy. They used the first overall pick on a power forward (Anthony Bennett), then went out and signed a guard (Jack) and will welcome back another center (Anderson Varejao) from injury. All they need now is help at small forward. Maybe they'll look for one next summer.
Overpaid. The Bobcats gave $41 million to Al Jefferson. He's probably the right player for them but at the wrong time, since Charlotte isn't in position to go anywhere. Besides, the Bobcats drafted Cody Zeller and are still developing Bismack Biyombo. Meanwhile, Tyreke Evans' numbers have declined since a solid rookie season, but that didn't stop the Pelicans from giving him $44 million over four years.
Steals. The Clippers signed Collison as backup insurance for Paul, and he cost them $1.9 million, a bargain for a guy who started in Dallas and Indiana. It's probably not a high-level heist, but Philly did get Nerlens Noel from the Pelicans and a potential high lottery pick next summer for Jrue Holiday, who became expendable when Philly chose to rebuild. But the biggest steal? That's easy.
Dwight Howard cost the Rockets only $88 million.