With the NBA's new CBA bringing teams closer and closer to paying bigger fines for exceeding the salary cap, player movement and contract negotiations were framed in a different light this offseason.
Couple ownership salary cap concerns with the unprecedented number of front office and coaching changes that took place this offseason, and the flood gates opened to provide a heaping helping of intrigue going into the 2013-14 season.
So, where did all of those free agents and misfit players end up up at the end of the offseason? Let's take a look at the Western Conference offseason moves.
Who's Coming: Nate Robinson (FA), J.J. Hickson (FA), Randy Foye (Trade), Darrell Arthur (Trade), Erick Green (46th pick), Joffrey Lauvergne (55th pick)
Who's Going: Andre Iguodala (FA), Kosta Koufos (Trade), Corey Brewer (FA)
The Nuggets were the third-youngest team in the NBA last season and surprised most by winning a franchise-best 57 games and finishing third in the Western Conference. George Karl was named Coach of the Year and general manager Masai Ujiri was anointed Executive of the Year. A month later, after the Nuggets were bounced from the first round of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, Ujiri bolted for Toronto and team president Josh Kroenke fired Karl. With a complete turnover in management, it's no shock that Andre Iguodala opted out of the final year of his contract.
Looking on the bright side of things for Denver, Kroenke hired Brian Shaw, a highly respected assistant coach who somehow had not landed a head coaching job until now. The team's immediate concerns will be their wing positions. With Iguodala gone and Danilo Gallinari (knee) projected to be out for what may be half of the 2013-14 season recovering from surgery, Shaw will look at 2012 first-round draft pick (20th overall) Evan Fournier, Jordan Hamilton and Randy Foye to claim minutes on the wing. Fournier was the leading minutes-getter in the summer league, while Hamilton was the team's leading scorer. And don't be surprised to see some of Andre Miller on the court with starting point guard Ty Lawson in a dual ball-handler backcourt. Nate Robinson should operate behind Miller and Lawson, and Wilson Chandler should hold the starting small forward job as long as he's healthy and Gallinari is out.
The starting center role will change. By trading Kosta Koufos, the Nuggets have opened up the position for JaVale McGee to unequivocally take over the job there. We expect J.J. Hickson to get some minutes, but McGee should end up playing a career high in minutes. Denver will be deep in the frontcourt, with Timofey Mozgov, Darrell Arthur and Hickson coming off the bench at the power forward and center positions.
Who's Coming: Ronny Turiaf (FA), Corey Brewer (FA), Kevin Martin (FA), Shabazz Muhammad (14th pick), Gorgui Dieng (21st pick), Lorenzo Brown (52nd pick), Bojan Dublijevic (59th pick)
Who's Going: Andrei Kirilenko (FA), Malcolm Lee (Trade), Luke Ridnour (Trade), Greg Stiemsma (FA), Mickael Gelabale (FA)
The Timberwolves finished out of the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season after an injury-marred 2012-13. There are some good young pieces on this team; however, Ricky Rubio (57 games), Kevin Love (18 games) and Nikola Pekovic (62 games) all spent time in the training room. The organization certainly expected more than 31 wins last season. The Brandon Roy gamble didn't work out as planned, so Minnesota acquired a shooting guard that still has good knees this offseason. Kevin Martin was the centerpiece of the team's offseason strategy. He joins Rubio, Love and Pekovic on a team that should flirt with 45 wins and a lower-tier spot in the Western Conference playoff picture.
The arrival of Martin blocks Shabazz Muhammad, the first-round draft pick the Timberwolves acquired from the Jazz. And that might be a good thing until Muhammad cleans up his act. Corey Brewer returns to Minnesota, where he began his career in 2007, having learned a bit during his personal NBA experience. He'll split time at the wing spots, and he proved in Denver last season that's he's capable of keeping pace on a running team. There's an outside chance he could even start at small forward as the first unit's best perimeter defender.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Who's Coming: Ryan Gomes (FA), Szymon Szewczyk (Trade), Steven Adams (12th pick), Andre Roberson (26th pick), Alex Abrines (32nd pick), Grant Jerrett (40th pick)
Who's Going: Kevin Martin (FA), Ronnie Brewer (FA), DeAndre Liggins (Waived)
The Thunder recorded 60 wins and finished first in the Western Conference, but their playoff run ended earlier than they had hoped. After Russell Westbrook went down with a knee injury, they had enough to get by the Rockets, but the Grizzlies were too good to overcome without Westbrook. What could have happened had the organization not traded James Harden? Harden could have made a bigger impact without Westbrook than Kevin Martin did, and we were left to wonder: What if?
Oklahoma City is still searching for Harden's replacement. Martin wasn't it and left in free agency. His departure has opened the possibility of an expanded role for a designated shooter shooter off the bench. Jeremy Lamb, who has only 147 minutes of NBA experience, appears to be the frontrunner for that role, but that's a big role on a title contender for someone lacking experience. He was inefficient in summer league, but showed he can get his own shot. Reggie Jackson should finally move into the undisputed backup point guard role behind Westbrook, and he can also shoot the ball. He showed up well in the postseason after Westbrook's was ruled out (11 games, 13.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 34 minutes, 48 percent shooting). If Jackson plays aggressive he could pick up the slack left behind by Martin. The big question is if Lamb or Jackson can carry the Thunder for a stretch while Kevin Durant and Westbrook are out of the game.
Portland Trail Blazers
Who's Coming: Robin Lopez (Trade), Terrell Harris (Trade), Dorell Wright (FA), Thomas Robinson (Trade) Earl Watson (FA), Mo Williams (FA), C.J. McCollum (10th pick), Alan Crabbe (31st pick)
Who's Going: Elliot Williams (FA), Nolan Smith (FA), Eric Maynor (FA), J.J. Hickson (FA), Luke Babbitt (FA)
The Trail Blazers acquired a few players in the offseason that should be part of the team's rotation, including a new starter at center. Robin Lopez will take over the role that was filled by J.J. Hickson. Myers Leonard, Portland's first-round draft pick in 2012, is still considered a project and will remain in an under-20-minute per night role. The rest of the starting until will be the same as it was last season.
The reserve unit, however, will have a decidedly different look. Veterans Dorell Wright and Mo Williams will fit in at small forward and point guard, respectively. Wright is a sharpshooter who will improve the Blazers as a three-point threat. Williams has a history with head coach Terry Stotts from their time together in Milwaukee (17.3 points, 6.1 assists in 2006-07), as well as general manager Neil Olshey when the two were in the Clippers organization. The addition of Thomas Robinson, the fifth-overall draft pick in 2012, is a nice addition. The athletic power forward won't see much time backing up LaMarcus Aldridge, but the Blazers didn't have to give up much to get him. First-round draft pick C.J. McCollum excited onlookers during the summer league (21.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists per game), but he's not ready to be a full-time NBA point guard. He needs to learn how to pick up things quicker and make the correct decision. Regardless, McCollum should be a rotation piece as a combo guard.
Who's Coming: Brandon Rush (Trade), Andris Biedrins (Trade), Richard Jefferson (Trade), John Lucas (FA), Ian Clark (FA), Trey Burke (9th pick), Rudy Gobert (27th pick), Raul Neto (47th pick)
Who's Going: Paul Millsap (FA), Al Jefferson (FA), Randy Foye (Trade), DeMarre Carroll (FA), Jamaal Tinsley (FA), Earl Watson (FA), Mo Williams (FA), Kevin Murphy (Trade), Furkan Aldemir (Trade)
The Jazz were competitive enough to be in the hunt for a low playoff seed deep into the regular season and held on to a couple of soon-to-be unrestricted free agents through the trade deadline - Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap - delaying an inevitable roster overhaul that occurred this offseason. Those two and a handful of the Jazz' other veterans are gone, leaving the team in a period of transition. The 2013-14 season will be about building the next great team in Salt Lake City.
Other than first-round draft pick Trey Burke, the Jazz players impacted most by the team's offseason moves are ones already on the roster. Enes Kanter, Derek Favors, Alec Burks and possibly Jeremy Evans will be asked to player larger roles. We expect to see Kanter start at center, Favors at power forward and Burks at shooting guard. Burks showed marked improvement in his shooting over the course of the 2012-13 season. Evans, most notable for his dunking, enters his fourth season with Utah. The Jazz are a bit light in the frontcourt, which should give Evans an opportunity to play more than eight minutes per game this season.
They boldly traded up to acquire Burke, the ninth-overall pick in the 2013 draft. He'll lead the team from the point guard position, hopefully with better results than he produced in the Orlando Summer League. The young guard looked a bit lost and struggled with the speed of the NBA game, often having his shot blocked and shooting just 24 percent from the field. The good news is the Jazz are in a position to give him space to grow into the job. As for the other new faces added, Rudy Gobert could get some rotational minutes in the frontcourt, but he is primarily just a rim protector at this stage. And Brandon Rush will back up both the two and the three.
Golden State Warriors
Who's Coming: Andre Iguodala (FA), Marresse Speights (FA), Toney Douglas (FA), Jermaine O'Neal (FA), Nemanja Nedovic (30th pick),
Who's Going: Jarrett Jack (FA), Carl Landry (FA), Brandon Rush (Trade), Andris Biedrins (Trade), `Richard Jefferson (Trade), Scott Machado (FA)
The Warriors won 47 games and broke a five-year playoff drought last season. They then continued to shock the world by knocking off the higher-seeded Nuggets and throwing an early scare into the Spurs. Golden State head coach Mark Jackson guided the team without having Andrew Bogut available for much of the season and largely rolling with three guards in a smaller lineup.
To keep the train rolling, the Warriors needed to get deeper on the bench, so it was somewhat surprising that they got a starter, especially one with the stature of swingman Andre Iguodala. His addition clogs the perimeter, which already features Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes. Iguodala will get starter's minutes, so one or both of Thompson/Barnes will see a reduction in playing time. However Jackson divvies up the playing time, adding Iguodala does make the team deeper.
The bench will have a new look. Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry were very important pieces, both in terms of on-court play and team chemistry. Marresse Speights and Jermaine O'Neal will fill out the depth in the frontcourt. If Bogut's health issues continue, the Warriors will have experienced replacements. To backup Stephen Curry at point guard, Toney Douglas and first-round draft pick Nemanja Nedovic will battle it out in camp.
Los Angeles Clippers
Who's Coming: Jared Dudley (Trade), J.J. Redick (FA), Byron Mullens (FA), Darren Collison (FA), Reggie Bullock (25th pick)
Who's Going: Caron Butler (Trade), Eric Bledsoe (Trade), Lamar Odom (FA), Chauncey Billups (FA), Ronny Turiaf (FA), DaJuan Summers (FA),
The biggest change in this corner of Los Angeles is the head coach. Out goes Vinny Del Negro; in comes Doc Rivers. Rivers will be charged with getting the Clippers beyond the level of a good-but-not-great team. Building through youth isn't Rivers' forte; melding veteran talent is. As a well-regarded head coach and wearer of a championship ring, Rivers makes the Clippers an attractive destination for free agents. And that includes persuading the Clippers' unrestricted free agents to stick around. As in the case of Chris Paul, who re-upped for another five years.
On the court, there will be significant rotation changes. Los Angeles had major churn on the perimeter with Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler and Eric Bledsoe leaving town. J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford will share the off-guard duties, but neither will defend much. That could be the job of Matt Barnes, who was brought back on a cap-friendly four-year deal. Byron Mullens gives the Clippers some flexibility as a power forward/center, but he doesn't rebound like one. Jared Dudley could also be part of the starting five. He'll certainly be in the top seven. He makes heady plays and doesn't need the ball to impact games. Darren Collison reunites with Paul. As a rookie with the Hornets in 2009-10, he served as Paul's backup.
Los Angeles Lakers
Who's Coming: Chris Kaman (FA), Wes Johnson (FA), Jordan Farmar (FA), Nick Young (FA), Elias Harris (FA), Ryan Kelly (48th pick), Shawne Wiliiams (FA), Xavier Henry (FA)
Who's Going: Chris Duhon (FA), Darius Morris (FA), Andrew Goudelock (FA), Devin Ebanks (FA), Antawn Jamison (FA), Dwight Howard (FA), Earl Clark (FA), Metta World Peace (Waived).
After losing Dwight Howard to Houston via free agency, the Lakers are facing a season in which the postseason is far from a guarantee. The salary cap, coupled with the NBA's new labor contract, has restricted the Lakers' ability to improve last season's 45-win roster. Aside from salary issues, health is an offseason concern. When Kobe Bryant will from a torn Achilles is unknown, and Pau Gasol had a procedure during the offseason to decrease tendon pain in both knees. Add in Steve Nash, who's still working his way back from last season's broken leg, and the Lakers have obvious concerns.
With Bryant's status up in the air for opening night and Metta World Peace in New York, we expect Jodie Meeks, Nick Young and Wes Johnson to log good minutes at shooting guard and small forward. To replace Howard in the middle, the Lakers added former Clipper Chris Kaman on a one-year deal. Eventually, when Bryant returns, playing time for the Meeks, Johnson and Young group will be cut.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak insists the organization isn't punting this season, but looking ahead to next offseason when the organization has just $10 million in committed salary and a list of unrestricted free agents that could include LeBron James, the incentive is there to do just that.
Who's Coming: Malcolm Lee (Trade), Eric Bledsoe (Trade), Miles Plumlee (Trade), Gerald Green (Trade), Alex Len (5th pick), Archie Goodwin (29th pick), Alex Oriakhi (57th pick),
Who's Going: Luis Scola (Trade), Jared Dudley (Trade), Hamed Haddadi (FA), Jermaine O'Neal (FA), Wes Johnson (FA)
The Suns bottomed out last season, going through two coaches and finishing last in the Western Conference. They became a lifeless team, losers by more than 25 points on 10 occasions and posting a 25-57 season mark that was the worst record the franchise had posted in 44 years. It was a situation screaming for house cleaning. So, in came a pair of new decision makers. Ryan McDonough took over as general manager and former Sun Jeff Hornacek was hired to be the team's third head coach of the calendar year. They needed to make the team younger and more athletic and continued the makeover that began last summer when Steve Nash was signed and traded to the Lakers. The organization jettisoned Luis Scola and Jared Dudley while letting Wes Johnson and Jermaine O'Neal walk this summer. Much like last season, they're left with a bunch of parts from different puzzles that Phoenix's coach needs to figure out how to assemble.
It's a situation where fantasy contributors may come and go and come again. Returning point guard Goran Dragic and center Marcin Gortat should maintain their roles as starters. Joining them will be Eric Bledsoe, who will form a two-playmaker backcourt capable of pushing Hornacek's uptempo offense. It will be interesting to see if they give Gerald Green an opportunity to start at small forward in an offense more suited to him. Michael Beasley, who was arrested for marijuana possession in the offseason, wore out his welcome in Phoenix and was released. The power forward spot will be there for Markieff Morris, though Channing Frye is an option as well if returns from an enlarged heart condition that cost him all of 2012-13. The draft picks should get their time as well. Alex Len, who is recovering from dual ankle surgeries, will be ready for training camp. With Gortat in the final year of his deal, the Suns could trade him and let Len grab more playing time. There's a lot in flux with the Suns' frontcourt, and that could lead to surprise players being valuable in fantasy.
Who's Coming: Greivis Vasquez (Trade), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (Trade), Carl Landry (FA), Ben McLemore (7th pick), Ray McCallum (36th pick)
Who's Going: Tyreke Evans (FA), Cole Aldrich (FA)
The Kings are another Western Conference team re-modeling its front office, as new ownership wasted little time making an imprint. First, they hired Golden State assistant coach Mike Malone to lead this new era in Sacramento. Two weeks later, the Kings hired Pete D'Alessandro as general manager. The two take over a team that's had seven straight losing seasons and a reputation as a lazy and undisciplined team that plays shoddy defense. Reputations don't change overnight, but Malone comes to town known as a defensive specialist.
The biggest personnel change was the sign-and-trade of Tyreke Evans. His departure opens up minutes on the perimeter, where the defensive-minded Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will fight to start at small forward over the incumbent John Salmons. Rookie first-round draft pick Ben McLemore, who had an up-and-down summer league, is expected to start at shooting guard. He'll line up with point guard Greivis Vasquez, acquired from New Orleans in the Tyreke Evans trade, who was third in the NBA in assists per game last season and gives the Kings improved ball movement. That should be a help to DeMarcus Cousins. Sacramento was caught up in too much one-on-one last season. The addition of Carl Landry, inked to a four-year pact, clogs the power forward position. Landry will battle Jason Thompson and Patrick Patterson for minutes.
Who's Coming: Jose Calderon (FA), Monta Ellis (FA), Wayne Ellington (FA), Samuel Dalembert (FA), Devin Harris (FA), DeJuan Blair (FA), Gal Mekel (FA), Shane Larkin (18th pick), Ricky Ledo (43rd pick), Mike Muscala (44th pick)
Who's Going: Jared Cunningham (Trade), O.J Mayo (FA), Mike James (FA), Chris Kaman (FA), Anthony Morrow (FA), Rodrigue Beaubois (FA)
The Mavericks have been treading water for a couple of years now and finished with a .500 record in 2012-13. An empty two-year pursuit of Dwight Howard leaves the Mavericks with another roster of players unfamiliar with each other and filled with age concerns - Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion have a combined 44 years of NBA experience. No fewer than four of their free-agent signings will have a significant role in the rotation.
Beginning in the backcourt, Jose Calderon will take over the starting point guard job. He's a pure point guard and can dial it up from three (39.9 percent). Joining him at shooting guard is the team's most exciting offseason move, Monta Ellis. He's a ball dominator but has learned to inject some playmaking into his game. He'll need to find a fit with Dirk Nowitzki, but Ellis should challenge Dirk to be the team's leading scorer. Devin Harris and Vince Carter will get the backup minutes on the wing. First-round draft pick Shane Larkin will be brought along slowly, after suffering a fractured ankle during summer league. At center, to replace the departed Chris Kaman, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle will use both Samuel Dalembert and DeJuan Blair.
Who's Coming: Dwight Howard (FA), Marcus Camby (FA), Reggie Williams (FA), Omri Casspi (FA), Ronnie Brewer (FA), Kosta Papanikolaou (Trade), Isaiah Canaan (34th pick), Marko Todorovic (45th pick)
Who's Going: Carlos Delfino (FA), Thomas Robinson (Trade), James Anderson (FA), Tim Ohlbrecht (FA),
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has been on the Dwight Howard trail the past two seasons, and it finally paid off this summer. The biggest free-agent domino fell to Houston, and it reshaped the Rockets' offense and will send ripples throughout the rotation. Howard is obviously the biggest offseason move, and he'll be a starter - whether at center or power forward will be determined in training camp. Houston head coach Kevin McHale plans to experiment with a two-big lineup featuring Howard and Omer Asik, who averaged over 30 minutes a game in his first season with the team in 2012-13. If that doesn't work out, Asik will the first big off the bench, and we'll see Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas and Greg Smith in the mix for minutes at the four.
The young Rockets team of last year has given way to a more experienced roster, one which is expected to compete for a top slot in the Western Conference. Defensive specialist Ronnie Brewer, rim-protector Marcus Camby and shooter Reggie Williams are three veterans with which the team has surround Howard. The Rockets also re-signed Francisco Garcia and Aaron Brooks. Omri Casspi, entering his fifth season in the NBA, will provide spacing and could see minutes at power forward in smaller lineups.
Who's Coming: Kosta Koufos (Trade), Nick Calathes (Trade), Mike Miller (FA), Jamaal Franklin (41st pick), Janis Timma (60th pick)
Who's Going: Darrell Arthur (Trade), Austin Daye (FA), Keyon Dooling (FA), Donte Green (Trade), Tony Wroten (Trade)
Memphis joins Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers as Western Conference organizations that let head coaches leave after successful seasons. Lionel Hollins led the Grizzlies to a franchise-best 56 wins and an appearance in the conference finals, but his contract was not renewed amid talk of philosophical differences with the new ownership group and strained relations with some players. In comes Dave Joeger, the defensive coordinator under Hollins.
Joeger's challenge is to build a bench unit to support what has been one of the league's better starting fives. Mike Miller attracted a lot of high-level interest as a free agent, including a look from Oklahoma City, but ultimately decided on coming back to Memphis, with whom he spent five-plus seasons with between 2002 and 2007. He will address a long-standing need for a perimeter shooter. Health is a concern for Miller, who played 59 games in 2012-13, his highest total since 2008-09. Kosta Koufos, an 81-game starter who averaged 22 minutes per game for Denver last season, will not see anything close to that with the Grizzlies, who boast an elite frontcourt in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, plus the developing Ed Davis. Nick Calathes jumped to the NBA after earning MVP honors in the EuroCup for Lokomotiv Kuban. He's expected to be the top backup to Mike Conley, moving Jerryd Bayless to backup shooting guard.
New Orleans Pelicans
Who's Coming: Tyreke Evans (FA), Jrue Holiday (Trade), Anthony Morrow (FA), Greg Stiemsma (FA), Arinze Onuaku (FA), Jeff Withey (39th pick/Trade), Pierre Jackson (42nd pick)
Who's Going: Louis Amundson (FA), Xavier Henry (FA), Roger Mason (FA), Robin Lopez (Trade), Greivis Vasquez (Trade)
The Pelicans made more than just a name change in the offseason. The backcourt and perimeter rotations will have major changes, and a new center will need to crowned to replace Robin Lopez. The addition of Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday crowds a backcourt that also includes Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers. New Orleans head coach Monty Williams hasn't outlined his plans for all the guards in his lineup, but we expect a lot of three-guard lineups with Evans capable of swinging out to small forward. Gordon, long rumored to be unhappy in New Orleans and coming off ankle surgery, is expected to start but could be used as a trade chip should Rivers build off the momentum he showed in summer league. Rivers will find minutes backing up both guard spots. The offseason changes will likely reduce Al-Farouq Aminu's role in the upcoming season.
Greg Stiemsma, a backup center thus far in his career, will battle Jason Smith to replace Robin Lopez as the starting center. It's mostly a question of whether the coach wants a more offensively gifted player (Smith) or a rim protector (Stiemsma). Williams could also decide to move Davis to center and start Ryan Anderson at power forward, but he has said in the past that he prefers to leave Davis at his natural position.
San Antonio Spurs
Who's Coming: Marco Belinelli (FA), Jeff Pendergraph (FA), Livio Jean-Charles (28th pick), Deshaun Thomas (58th pick)
Who's Going: Gary Neal (FA), Tracy McGrady (FA), DeJuan Blair (FA)
The Spurs had some money to spend this offseason, but they also needed to lock up core members Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter. So, keeping a contending core intact took precedence over adding new pieces to the mix. Securing Ginobili and Splitter meant letting free-agent rotation members Gary Neal and DeJuan Blair walk. Beyond the re-signings, San Antonio made some minor moves, replacing Neal with Marco Belinelli and Blair with Jeff Pendergraph.
Serving as a spark off the bench and three-point shooter, Neal's efficiency dropped last season, making him expendable. Belinelli isn't a model of efficiency either, but he'll be San Antonio's designated shooter off the bench. That is, until a bad defensive effort gets under the skin of head coach Gregg Popovich. Blair, a one-time starter as an undersized center, fell to the end of the bench last season with the emergence of Splitter. Jeff Pendergraph is well accustomed to the end of NBA benches, having spent considerable time there with Indiana the last two seasons. We wouldn't be surprised if Popovich gets some value out of Pendergraph, who had a top-50 rebound rate last season. He'll probably see time at both forward spots and gives the Spurs flexibility they didn't have with Blair.