Ball Don't Lie - NBA



With the free-agency period winding down, and C.J. Watson(notes) one of the bigger stories of the day, I think it's time to declare a winner or two.

And I think you'd be with me in handing the crown — not the championship, but trophy for annoying the most people during the summer — to the Miami Heat. LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes), Chris Bosh(notes); and a host of others. They win. They might not win it all, but they owned July.

But what of the others? Not the teams looking to tinker, but the ones that went for broke? The ones that spent the last months, years, clearing out cap space in anticipation of LeBron's little dog and pony show? Let's rank.

1. New York Knicks

Notable give-ups: A large cadre of players that Isiah Thomas acquired. So, nobody special, save for David Lee(notes).

Significant additions: Amar'e Stoudemire(notes), Anthony Randolph(notes), Raymond Felton(notes), Ronny Turiaf(notes), Kelenna Azubuike(notes).

Stoudemire was the biggest name to make a move beyond the triptych down in Miami, and those picking Chicago as the top team might be overrating Chicago's take mainly because of the team's already stout foundation in Derrick Rose(notes) and Joakim Noah(notes). Chicago's the better team, New York made the bigger moves. Maybe better ones, too.

Whether or not you pick the Bulls or Knicks at this slot likely depends on how you view Amar'e Stoudemire's abilities without a pure passer like Steve Nash(notes) alongside him. And most indications are that Amar'e will be quite beastly.

2. Chicago Bulls

Notable give-ups: John Salmons(notes), Tyrus Thomas(notes), Kirk Hinrich(notes), the 17th pick in the 2010 draft.

Significant additions: Carlos Boozer(notes), Kyle Korver(notes), Omer Asik(notes), Ronnie Brewer(notes), C.J. Watson.

The Bulls no doubt regret letting Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons run free, but Thomas and a middling first rounder weren't too tough to give up, and the trio of Korver, Brewer and Watson might end up combining to top the potential contributions of Salmons and Hinrich (who will make around $17 million this year in Milwaukee and Washington).

And, however fleeting, the Bulls did have a real shot at LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. They had to take that chance.

3. New Jersey Nets

Notable give-ups: Vince Carter(notes), Richard Jefferson(notes), Chris Douglas-Roberts(notes), Yi Jianlian(notes), the entire 2009-10 season.

Significant additions: Travis Outlaw(notes), Anthony Morrow(notes), Jordan Farmar(notes).

OK, that didn't work.

The Nets will still boast a solid, young team — what with Brook Lopez(notes), Derrick Favors(notes), and Devin Harris(notes) on board — but they more or less whiffed in adding anyone with star potential. Lopez, Favors and Harris all have a chance to be stars, but adding role players like Outlaw and Morrow and Farmar to the established prospects wasn't exactly what New Jersey's front office had in mind.

And, no. I don't consider Billy King a "significant addition."

4. Los Angeles Clippers

Notable give-ups: Al Thornton(notes)?

Significant additions: Randy Foye(notes), Ryan Gomes(notes), Craig Smith(notes). Possibly several other Minnesota Timberwolves from the 2006-07 season.

The Clippers just happened to have a bunch of contracts that were to expire in 2010, so it's not as if they were working some master plan. The team's front office (?) did go to kiss LeBron James' ring, though, so they get lumped in. And they get lumped on.

This could be a good team next year, with some solid players and the return of Blake Griffin(notes) from a broken kneecap. But in terms of chasing down helpers? This hasn't been their best offseason.

Ironically, the best part of that Minnesota Timberwolves team that wasn't named "Kevin Garnett?" It was Dwane Casey, whom the Clippers declined to hire in favor of former Bulls coach (?) Vinny Del Negro.

So what's your say? Where do we rank these runner-ups?

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