Tag:Indiana pacers
Posted on: January 4, 2012 10:16 pm
 

Theory and Proof: Pacers get worked in Miami

Posted by Royce Young

THE THEORY: The Pacers are just beating up on bad teams

THE PROOF: Miami drills Indiana 118-83

The Pacers started the season 4-1 and had the look of a team that could be flying a bit under the radar. So with a Wednesday night game in Miami the Pacers had a shot to make a statement.

And I guess they did. In the wrong direction though. Indiana might not quite be ready yet.

Blowouts happen in the league a lot. Good teams get ripped, especially on the road against a buzzsaw like th Heat. But this Miami team was missing Dwyane Wade and the Pacers were clearly keyed up at the tip. Dahntay Jones had some misguided quotes before the game about taking the game to the Heat and whatnot. The Pacers saw this as a shot to catch some attention.

Because let's face it, their 4-1 start really wasn't something to get that excited about. Wins over Detroit, Cleveland, New Jersey and Toronto really aren't all that impressive. And the loss was to the Pistons. So there was a big question mark for this Pacers team coming into their game against Miami. Beating teams you're supposed to is the sign of a solid group, but competing against maybe the class of the NBA would go a lot further in telling us where Indiana is at than a win over the Nets or Wizards.

To put it simply: The Pacers got streamrolled. LeBron James just stomped them. Indiana went 1-15 from the floor in the second quarter and turned it over 10 times as Miami outscored them 33-12 and basically ended the game there. By the finish line, Miami was the first team to crack a hundred on Indiana and did it with about eight minutes left in the game for a 35-point win.

Are the Pacers for real? I think it's way too premature to say either way. Their wins aren't really impressive and their losses are bad, in different ways. But it's early and the Pacers will have a lot more opportunity to make statements soon. In the next two weeks Indiana gets Boston, Philadelphia and Atlanta. They've got some very winnable games still mixed in that batch but the Pacers don't get to just keep feasting on bad or rebuilding teams.

But looking at the East, there's a good chance Indiana could crawl up to No. 5 or 6. The Knicks dropped an ugly game to the Bobcats and the Hawks are still a bit of a question. The class of the conference is clearly the Heat and Bulls, but Indiana could potentially slot itself in that second pack of New York, Atlanta, Orlando and Boston (yes, Boston).

The Pacers performance in Miami definitely didn't make the right kind of statement. It's going to keep most in the camp of thinking they aren't there yet, at least in terms of actually competing with the big boys. David West was a nice addition, but the Pacers are lacking consistent scoring options. Danny Granger is good in spurts, Roy Hibbert sometimes works well in the post and Paul George's 3-point shooting has been nice. But like the opening round series against the Bulls, sometimes the Pacers don't know where to get points from.

It's too early to cross anyone off any list (except for the Wizards and Nets), but the Pacers definitely got a wake-up call from Miami Wednesday. They aren't there yet and really, probably aren't as close as they thought.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 11:34 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 1:08 am
 

Report Card 12.30.11: Heat escape from Wolves

Posted by Ben Golliver

lebron-wolves

A: LeBron James to Dwyane Wade game-winning inbounds lob

The Miami Heat really, really should have lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves, which is one of those phrases that you expect never to  think, much less write. But it's true: rookie point guard Ricky Rubio's 12-point, 12-assist effort kept Minnesota in it until the very end, and a careless LeBron James turnover on a critical late possession gave Minnesota multiple chances to steal their only game against the Heat this season.

Instead, order was restored by an absolutely brilliant play design from coach Erik Spoelstra. Miami set up a sideline inbounds play out of a timeout, using James as the inbounder. Miami ran two players to the near corner to pull Minnesota's defense away from the middle of the court and then ran guard Dwyane Wade on a looping pattern using a high screen from forward Chris Bosh to free himself. James then threw the lob pass to a suddenly open Wade, who did well to catch it from behind his body and finish a lay-up smoothly in one motion, as the Timberwolves defense tried, too late, to contest his shot. Final score: Miami 103-101. Can't draw it up any better than that.


A: Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls

You'll rarely see two teams play harder than the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers did during the third quarter on Friday night, when bodies were flying all over the court on both ends. Chris Paul and Derrick Rose went tit-for-tat, blow-for-blow throughout, and DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin finished more dunks than anyone could keep track of. But the Bulls, led by Rose, remained their steady selves, down the stretch, pulling out a 114-101 win at Staples Center. Rose finished with a ridiculous 29 points on just 14 shots, adding 16 assists on top of that. Elite, elite, elite play. Paul was excellent; Rose was on a different level.

B: Boston Celtics and Paul Pierce's return

It must have felt nice for the Boston Celtics to enjoy a return to normalcy. After a dismal 0-3 start to the season in All-Star forward Paul Pierce's absence, Boston got its first win of the year by thumping the pathetic Detroit Pistons at home, 96-85. Pierce wasn't dominant, finishing with 12 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists in just 23 minutes, but the contribution was much needed. 

C: Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers remained undefeated on the season, improving to 3-0 on Friday night, but it took overtime and a gift from the Gods to make sure it happened. Indiana struggled to shoot all night, finishing just 36-for-94 from the field and a pitiful 2-for-10 from deep. The Cleveland Cavaliers, one of the league's weakest sisters, were almost exactly as terrible (34-for-88 overall and 5-for-25 from deep) but one Cavaliers miss swung this in Indiana's favor. Rookie guard Kyrie Irving made a beautiful series of moves to free himself near the rim on the final possession of regulation, staring at a point blank lay-up that would have given Cleveland a thrilling buzzer-beating victory. Instead, Irving, who finished with 20 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, saw his attempt rim out, forced to hold his head in disbelief. The Pacers slammed the door, winning overtime 14-7, to seal the 98-91 victory. But, Indiana: you're better than all that.

D: New Orleans Hornets' bricklaying

The Phoenix Suns have had a rough start to the 2011-2012 season but they got an elixir for their ills in the New Orleans Hornets' bricklaying. Minus guard Eric Gordon, who didn't play because of a knee bruise, the Hornets starting backcourt of Jarrett Jack and Marco Belinelli combined to shoot 9-for-33. The starting frontcourt of Trevor Ariza and Carl Landry was only barely better, at 8-for-27. In fact, not a single one of the 12 Hornets who played shot 50 percent or better. The final damage: 26-for-90. Unreal.

F: Chris Bosh's ridiculous pass

Oh, Chris Bosh. Just when you were starting to look invincible and slightly more likeable you had to pull us back in. The following blooper brings plenty of unintentional comedy. Bosh, working near the three-point line, hesitates to pass the ball to center Joel Anthony, who decides to move away and set a pick for a teammate. With Anthony's head turned, Bosh decides to fire a pass to him, which richochets hard off his back and out of bounds. Bosh doubles down on the hilarity by giving Anthony a death stare, pointing at his own eyes as if to say, "Watch for the pass." Sorry, man. That one was on you.

Here's the video.



E for Effort: Minnesota Timberwolves

Just like the Charlotte Bobcats earlier this week, The young, frisky Timberwolves watched an excellent shot at upsetting the Heat slip between their fingers at the last possible moment thanks to miracle work by Dwyane Wade. Now 0-3 after suffering varying degrees of heartbreak throughout the first week of the season, Minnesota now possesses what it hasn't in previous seasons: its dignity. A respect level is beginning to develop around the league, thanks largely to the hype building around Rubio, and these close encounters will surely turn into nailbiting upsets before too long.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 11:49 am
Edited on: December 30, 2011 11:53 am
 

Report: Magic pursuing 'rental' team for Howard

By Matt Moore

Dwight Howard is expected to be traded to the perfect spot. It'll be a team he wants to play for, since that team is the only kind he'll re-sign with this summer in free agency. It has to be a contender, or potential contender (as in the case of the Nets with Deron Williams), and a major market so he can get all the media and commercial love he desires. That's pretty clear. But the Orlando Sentinel reports that the Magic are pursuing another option. The rental game. 

 
The Magic are talking to more teams than the ones on Dwight Howard's wish list.

They will listen to anybody who is willing to take a risk and give up a few good men for Howard if he can lead them to the NBA Finals as a temp.

It's another reason why they will wait until the March 15 deadline to make a deal for Howard, after he's played 44 games in Orlando. His new team would land him for 22 games, plus the postseason.

Far-fetched?

Absolutely. Sounds more like a means to put pressure on the teams that Howard has approved (Nets, Mavericks, Lakers).

But the Magic think some teams might take a flyer, hoping they can convince Howard to re-sign with them.
via Orlando Magic: Magic to explore renting out Dwight Howard - OrlandoSentinel.com.

No one would be crazy enough to do this, right? To actually give up assets in order to nab Howard for 22 games and the playoffs, before he likely leaves? Well, there should be. That's right. I'm advocating insanity. That's how I roll.

Two factors to consider if you're in the hunt for a Dwight rental.

1. You have to move contracts that have considerable money behind them. The reason being, if Dwight doesn't re-sign, you don't want to be left without the pieces you traded, without Dwight, and a large salary situation. You're basically angling for a rebuilding. Part of the complication here is the Magic will want to dump Hedo Turkoglu or other components with salary burden. But the Magic have to know that to get back more talent like they reportedly want, they can't dump salary too in a rental situation. So why would the trading team risk rebuilding? 

2.  Because the odds of a title is worth it. Consider the Pacers. If you're Larry Bird, what are you really trying to accomplish, honestly? You want to make a good strong showing in the playoffs, maybe get hot and uspet some folks on the way to the eastern Conference Finals, to try and be in position to make one big move to get you over the hump and win the title in a wacky year. You know you're not going to be able to compete with Miami, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles, Chicago etc. every year. You're hoping to pull off a Pistons-esque title. The same goes for any team considering a rental. So if you're angling for one title, anyway, why not take your shot with the best defensive player in the league, an MVP candidate for 22 games and the playoffs. 

That's the reasoning. You also have to establish how long it will take you to get back to being decent, since you have to factor how much winning a title will bring you financially versus two-to-three years of rebuilding will hurt you. And then you have to measure that against your actual odds of winning the title this season.

All of this leads to the reality that the chances are not good. You're asking GM's and owners to take a phenomenal risk with a devastating loss if they miss, and the payoff might not even be that good. Are several years of second round appearances better financially than a title and two years of lottery dwelling?

There's no list available of teams that might be interested, but here are five teams who should consider making the jump.  

Indiana Pacers: As I mentioned earlier, the Pacers should be a team willing to make the move. Larry Bird doesn't want to do this forever. Getting Dwight gives them a chance to win the title this season, instead of waiting for years and years and years potentially without any payoff. The Pacers are deep enough to offer the Magic an option plan. Darren Collison or George Hill, Danny Granger or Paul George, and Roy Hibbert (youth, talent) vs. Jeff Foster (expiring contract, veteran experience).  That's a great package and still leaves the Pacers with whoever the Magic don't take, along with David West for scoring. 

Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks have been involved in talks this week with the Magic anyway, according to ESPN. Offering to move Josh Smith or Al Horford along with Joe Johnson puts the Magic in a great position to keep making the playoffs. The Hawks would have Jeff Teague, Kirk Hinrich, and either Smith or Horford to pair with Howard to try and make a run. With Howard having been born in Atlanta, it's got some pull and a good run might talk him into it. Not really, but sure. The biggest objection from Magic fans is that the Magic would never take on Joe Johnson's contract. But this is Otis Smith who took on Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu in one year to try and win. Meanwhile, Johnson is an All-Star, and still is an above-average-to-pretty-good player at both ends without injury issues. 

Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies may wind up moving Rudy Gay anyway if this season keeps up and they have to make a move. The Grizzlies need frontcourt depth. So get Dwight Howard! Genius! OK,it's a long shot, but if moving Gay, Sam Young or O.J. Mayo, and either Marc Gasol or Zach Randolph brings in Howard, that could make the  Grizzlies the best team in the West. They'd have defense and the best low-post-scoring combo in the league. Memphis is unlikely to be able to stay in contention for several years. Why not take the shot now?

Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers have youth, Andre Igoudala as a centerpiece, and a full compliment of picks to add in. The team would be mortgaging the long-term value they've been angling for, but coach Doug Collins has also said that eventually they want to aim to bring in a star. Make a run with Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Elton Brand, and Howard, and if it doesn't work out, move towards the future.

Portland Trail Blazers: Paul Allen wants to avoid the luxury tax. What better way to do that than by trading for Howard's expiring contract? OK, kidding aside, the Blazers are so loaded, they can move Wesley Matthews and either LaMarcus Aldridge or Gerald Wallace. The remaining lineup would be good enough to challenge for the West.

Are any of these teams going to take the risk? No. Because this is not a league of gambling like this. The repercussions for failure would be catastrophic. But if a team really was all about winning a title, renting Howard for 22 games and the playoffs would be the boldest move possible.
Posted on: December 28, 2011 11:40 pm
 

Report Card 12.28.11: Spurs ground Lob City

Posted by Royce Young


A: San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are too old right? THIS is the year it all starts coming apart for them, right? Yeah, right. The Clippers came to town bringing their lightshow of dunks and alley-oops, but the old, slow Spurs had no problems handling all that noise. San Antonio used a 38-point third quarter to pull away from the Clips and really highlighted a lot of issues Lob City has. They need a shooter and some depth, badly. The Spurs seem to have it all together once again, as long as the old guys can stay healthy. Doubt them all you want. Pay attention to the young, excited kids running and jumping and dunking. But the Spurs will just keep winning no matter how boring you may find that, thank you very much. The Spurs are 2-0 with blowout wins over Memphis and the Clippers. No big.

A: LeBron James and Chris Bosh

The Heat got a tougher than anticipated test from the Bobcats, but LeBron and Bosh were terrific for Miami. LeBron had 35 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Bosh had 11 of his 25 in the fourth. And he also had this incredibly awkward and awesome dunk.

B: Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder picked up a third straight win, beating Memphis 98-95 on the road, but it's a bit tainted as Mike Conley injured his ankle on the very first possession of the game. And on top of it, the Thunder shot just 37 percent from the floor and gave up 19 offensive rebounds. But winning is winning and it's always good. Especially when it's on the road against a contender. Kevin Durant dropped a beautiful 32 points and carried OKC down the stretch.

C: New Orleans Hornets

They beat the Celtics to start 2-0. And they did this one without Eric Gordon. That really deserves an A. But you're supposed to be doing bad, New Orleans! You're supposed to be tanking this season away! You're supposed to be setting yourselves up for the Anthony Davis sweepstakes! Each win will be bittersweet this season for that stupid reason. It's supposed to be about the future and every win hurts that a bit. It's a horrible thing, but reality.

D: Russell Westbrook

How's this for a line: Four points, 0-13 shooting, four turnovers. Yikes. So why isn't this an F? Because Westbrook picked up six assists, hit two very important free throws in the final seconds and his team won.

F: Boston Celtics

What can you say? The Celtics are 0-3 and just lost to the Hornets despite their best player sitting. And it wasn't even a close game as they lost by 19. Yeah, Paul Pierce is hurt. Yeah, it's a night after that tough game in Miami. That's not supposed to be an excuse for a team like the Celtics though.

E for Effort: Charlotte Bobcats

So, sooooo close to knocking off the Heat. Miami was dragging a bit and probably overlooked Charlotte a bit as the Heat were coming off a game the night before against Boston, but the Bobcats were ready to go. Charlottle held a one-point lead with a few seconds left and if not for Dwyane Wade being ridiculous, the Bobcats would've registered the upset of the early NBA season. Things to be encouraged about though if you're Paul Silas and the Bobcats though. Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo and D.J. Augustin should give Bobcat fans something to be excited about.

Incomplete: Indiana Pacers

The Pacers are 2-0, but have wins over the Pistons and Raptors, with both games being relatively close. Are they good or just beating who they're supposed to beat? It's hard to know right now.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 12:01 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 5:53 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Central Division Preview

Posted by Royce Young



We're less than a week away from the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season. After an interminable lockout and a rushed free agency period, here's a first look division-by-division preview at how the league is shaping up. We continue with the Central Division.

2011 Standings:
Chicago Bulls, 62-20, lost Eastern Conference Finals to Miami Heat
Indiana Pacers, 37-45, lost in first round of Eastern Conference Playoffs to Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks, 35-47, NBA Draft lottery
Detroit Pistons, 30-52, NBA Draft lottery
Cleveland Cavaliers, 20-62, NBA Draft lottery

Best team: Chicago Bulls

The Central really is left to the Bulls. It's their division for the next number of years and it's really hard to see anyone challenging that strongly. The Pacers are better than the 37-win team they were a season ago, but David West isn't going to make that much of a difference.

It's really more of a question of how much better the Bulls are than everyone else. Meaning, can they have this division locked up by the end of March? February even? And after that happens, it's about playoff seeding and home court advantage. This Bulls team has big goals in mind. They fell short in the Eastern Finals, but they're a year older and Derrick Rose has now tasted the sting of failure. This team will be driven and hungry to avenge last season's shortcomings, but it's just a matter of if they can beat the Heat.

Worst team: Cleveland Cavaliers


The Cavs will be the Central's worst squad again, but not The Worst, like they were last season. They aren't going to set any record losing streaks. They aren't going to flirt with the worst record in basketball history. They probably won't even flirt with the worst record in the Eastern Conference. But this is a group in a total rebuild. The rubble is still smoldering from "The Decision" and the franchise hasn't completely recovered. There are questions: Is Kyrie Irving a franchise player; is Tristan Thompson worth his draft slot; is Anderson Varejao's hair self-aware -- these are the things the Cavs will have to start answering before they begin the climb out of the hole and back into the postseason.

Biggest surprise: Detroit Pistons

I want to just say that the Pistons aren't a playoff team and move on. But here's the thing: This is the Eastern Conference. The conference where teams five games under .500 make the playoffs. The conference where if you win 30 games in this shortened season, it might be enough. The Pacers used this formula to get a postseason series with the Bulls and it feels like the Pistons could be next in line to make a small push. It's not a terrible core in Detroit: Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon, Greg Monroe, Austin Daye and Tayshaun Prince. Is that a good team? No, not really. But if 30 wins could be enough for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, the Pistons might have just enough to claw their way in.

Three Best Players: Derrick Rose, Danny Granger, Joakim Noah

Do I need to explain why Derrick Rose is in this list? No, no I don't. But after him, there's really a lack of talent in the Central. Danny Granger is a good player and a former All-Star, but it feels a bit funny to have him listed as one of the three best players in a division.

It feels really funny to have Noah listed as one. But honestly, who else would you put there? Andrew Bogut, a guy still playing with one arm? Carlos Boozer? Brandon Jennings? Kyrie Irving? There's just not a lot of household names in the Central. Rose is a star among stars, but after him, pickings get slim. Noah is a supreme defender, excellent rebounder and makes a major difference on both sides of the floor because of his energy. When a guy impacts games as much as him, he has to be recognized for being a great player. It's not pretty like a Rose up-and-under or a Granger pull-up jumper, but Noah gets the job done and is an anchor for the league's best defense.

Biggest Question: Will Richard Hamilton really make that much of a difference for Chicago?

The Bulls were hunting a shooting guard. They wanted Jamal Crawford, didn't get him. They wanted J.R. Smith, can't get him. They wanted Arron Afflalo, couldn't afford him. They settled on Richard Hamilton, who was bought out by the Pistons and you know what, they might have gotten a steal in free agency.

Hamilton fills their need of providing a player that can score on his own, take pressure off Rose and add an extra much-needed dimension to the Chicago offense. Luol Deng is a nice third scorer, but he can't carry the weight of being the No. 2 option. Same goes for Carlos Boozer. Last season's playoff success for Chicago depended on two things: 1) Can Rose take over the game and 2) if he can't, can Kyle Korver or someone else make every 3-pointer they shoot? After that it was just about the Bulls trying to survive by dominating the glass or holding a team to 45 points or something. Hamilton will help alleviate some of that pressure. But it's just a question of if it's enough.

2012 Projected Standings:
1. Chicago Bulls
2. Indiana Pacers
3. Milwaukee Bucks
4. Detroit Pistons
5. Cleveland Cavaliers

Posted on: December 20, 2011 2:39 pm
 

Ray Allen calls out David West for picking Pacers

Posted by Royce Young



For a couple of hours, the Boston Celtics thought they landed a premier power forward to help make one more run at a championship. But then David West changed his mind and went to the Pacers, taking more money in the process.

West took a two-year, $20 million deal from the Pacers, turning down a three-year, $29 million offer from Boston. (The Celtics deal was a sign-and-trade thing and really complicated.) And while that deal is better for West in three ways -- a) he gets more money b) it's less years meaning he can get back on the market after proving his knee is fine and c) he gets to be a starter whereas in Boston he'd be playing behind Kevin Garnett.

Yes, he'd have a better chance at a championship, but that dog doesn't always rule for some players. They all want it, but there are other factors. Doesn't matter to Ray Allen though, who told ESPN Boston that West done messed up.

“Once it got down to the end, I think his ego kicked back in,” Allen said. “He wanted the dollars. I guess it comes down to ‘What is a championship worth to you?’

“Think of all the guys who have made $20 million and could be considered one of the best ever, but they get chided because they never won. We [the Big Three] all had to do less when we won. We’re still taking less to make it work. But it’s worth it. No one can ever say to KG, Paul or me, ‘You guys never got your ring.’”

Let's break it down: West gets $10 million a year in Indiana. He would've gotten $9.6 million a year in Boston. I'm pretty sure an extra $400,000 a year didn't make this decision for West. And for Allen to think that West just took money over the chance to win a title is a pretty serious charge. Because in professional sports, the desire for a championship is supposed to be what it's all about and to challenge a guy on not having that isn't holding back.

There was really no questions for me when West picked Indiana. It's not like he went to the Raptors or something. He went to a team that's ready to compete now. He went to a team that was in the playoffs last season and had they figured out how to score in the fourth quarter, might have upset the Bulls. And guess what? West could very well be a major part of figuring out how to score in the fourth quarter.

Allen is understandably miffed that West passed over the Celtics. This offseason has been rough on Boston. They lost Jeff Green for the season, didn't score Chris Paul while pretty much hanging Rajon Rondo out to dry in trade talks. It wasn't pretty for the Celtics and Allen might feel like their window is slowly closing shut.

Or he just felt like calling out David West. Either way, it was pretty weak.

Via PBT
Posted on: December 18, 2011 1:44 pm
 

Pacers to trade Rush to Warriors for Amundson

Posted by Royce Young

The Pacers just lost Josh McRoberts in free agency to the Lakers, so they've located a value replacement. According to CSN Bay Area, the Pacers will acquire big man Lou Amundson in exchange for Brandon Rush.

The Warriors were looking for a bit more guard depth after watching Reggie Williams sign with the Bobcats, but to give up a "little things" type of player like Amundson seems a bit odd. Especially when the Warriors are pretty thin inside. Remember: They just gave Kwame Brown $7 million to be their starting center.

Rush is a nice spot-up shooter, but not necessarily anything to get excited over. He'll play behind Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, and it's honestly a little tough to see him beating out rookie Klay Thompson for many minutes either.

Amundson though fills a pretty big need for the Pacers who need extra size inside. David West could be pushed a bit coming off his knee injury, so a little added insurance is a good thing.
Posted on: December 17, 2011 12:03 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 6:48 pm
 

2011 NBA Free Agency Winners and Losers



By Matt Moore


All the big names have landed, and while there are still a handful of guys working out where they'll be playing in 2011-2012, we have a pretty clear image of how free agency worked out this year. So to give you a recap on how teams managed to do, here are your winners and losers for NBA free agency.

Winners

New York Knicks: It takes a lot for them to get a winning status when they picked up Mike Bibby and re-signed Jared Jeffries. Tyson Chandler is a lot. Chandler gives them exactly what they need at center, for a reasonable price considering he's coming off winning the Finals as a difference maker starter and compliments Amar'e Stoudemire well. This could wind up as a disaster, but for pursuing defense over offense and size over speed, they get into the winner's circle.

Los Angeles Clippers: Two days ago I would have planted the Clippers in the losers circle with a dunce cap. $24 million for Caron Butler over three years? DeAndre Jordan for a ridiculous price? Are they stoned in Clipperland? Chauncey Billups who may or may not hate the ground you walk on for denying him free agency? But then they landed Chris Paul. And you go "Oooooooh" like you just figured out that they got off the island and it's a flash-forward not a flash-back. Shooters to go with Paul, veteran defenders to go with Paul, and the big man to provide long-term support for Griffin. The Clippers avoided disaster by getting CP3. But funny how that makes everything seem better.

Miami Heat: Eddy Curry already looks like a waste (has had conditioning issues already). Mario Chambers is a divisive point guard, but he's good enough to start for a team with no cap space. Landing Shane Battier, though, genius. Battier is going to miss threes like all Heat spot-up shooters do. But he's going to make their defensive rotations even better, their team chemistry even better, their basketball IQ even higher. He's worth the money and a win for them.

Indiana Pacers: We were all convinced the Pacers were going to splash onto the scene and overpay for a big man in such a way as to cripple the franchise. Instead, they got David West on a low eight-figures, 2-year deal that guarantees if his knees or production go, they have options and are not stuck. They re-signed Jeff Foster to give them another center, and they were prudent with not re-signing Josh McRoberts for more than he was worth. Good upgrade for them.

Phoenix Suns: Shannnon Brown is a great fit for the system, and they managed to convince Grant Hill to return. Brown in the run-and-gun system under Gentry should excel with Aaron Brooks stuck in China. Hill still played brilliantly last season and staying in Phoenix means he stays with that training staff which has extended his career after one filled with injury issues. The Suns didn't make any significant step forward, but in terms of just making good value signings, they did as well as most. 

Mid-level centers: Kwame Brown got one-year, $7 million. DeAndre Jordan made out like a bandit. Marc Gasol walked away with more money than Kendrick Perkins and Nene (though Gasol is arguably the best free agent in this class, just without the name value). It's a league short on legitimate star centers, and while the biggest free agent center names (Chandler, Nene, Greg Oden) did not land monstrous deals, the mid-level centers available rose up to meet in the middle of the band. Good year to get paid. 

Losers

Boston Celtics: They had David West stolen out from under them in the midst of the Chris Paul debacle. They re-signed Marquis Daniels which isn't bad but isn't great. They traded Glenn Davis in a sign-and-trade for Brandon Bass which is pretty good but doesn't address most of their concerns. They gave Jeff Green a big one-year deal after which it was discovered he will miss the entire season after surgery when a heart condition was revealed after a stress test. Their bench is unbearably thin with starters that can't log big minutes. No, it was not a good few weeks for the Celtics.

Orlando Magic: Giving Jason Richardson and Glen Davis mid-size contracts is not the way to keep Dwight Howard, I don't care how good a friend he is with them. The Magic sacrificed their future, which is going to become very important to them in the next six months, in order to try and make another run with the same team that didn't succeed last year, plus Davis who is a big who doesn't help their issues in rebounding and has conditioning issues. Re-signing Earl Clark doesn't make a big enough impact to matter.

Detroit Pistons: Re-signing Tayshaun Price at that price makes no sense whatsover, especially not for four years. They need to be looking to the future. I understand the desire to reward Prince for his time and send him off in Detroit white, but this team has questions it has to answer quickly, and Prince gets in the way of development for Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko. Rodney Stuckey's re-signing gets in the way of Brandon Knight's development and continues his very mixed-results stay in the Motor City. 

Dallas Mavericks: Maybe 2012 will make up for it. But if we're just judging the Mavericks on what they gave up and what they got back, this wasn't a good offseason. Even outside of the trades which brought in a quality player and sent two out, Dallas lost its starting center and part-time starting two-guard in agency, without really bringing in anyone. They're deep enough to survive it but this was a team that would have been considered favorites had they brought back the gang. As it is, there are questions about the Mavericks this season and beyond.

New Orleans Hornets: Setting aside losing Chris Paul in trade and impending free agency, the Hornets re-signed Carl Landry for a high one-year deal and brought back Jason Smith for three years. The deals are cheap. It's not a bad set of deals. But it's still a little perplexing considering the overwhelming need for this team to tank in order to ensure a top five pick to go with  

Arron Afflalo: Afflalo hasn't signed yet, which isn't a problem but the fact that no team was willing to bother with making him an offer knowing the Nuggets would match means he may not sign for as much as he could have. Bear in mind DeAndre Jordan is a less established player than Afflalo and was helped by the Warriors' attempt to free him from Los Angeles. Afflalo could have likely wound up with top dollar as an unrestricted free agent. Denver may wind up as the best thing for his career, though.
 
 
 
 
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