From Dwight Howard's professionally conducted decision, to Mikhail Prokhorov's bold arms race to the joyous unraveling of Metta World Peace on Twitter, it's time to examine the best and worst from NBA free agency in 2013.
This is an evolving list; since we're talking about the NBA, the worst is always yet to come. But as of this very moment in the never-ending news cycle, here's where things stand on the spectrum of goodness to badness in an offseason edition of Postups:
Dwight Howard to Houston: Dwight Howard is the best, isn't he? He has a chance to go down in history as one of the greatest Lakers to ever play, and he signs with the Rockets. To be honest, it's probably the best move for him. Being a Laker would mean getting measured on how many championships you win and on whether your accomplishments stand up to those of Magic, Kareem, Wilt, West, etc., etc. One thing about it that must be pointed out is that Howard actually conducted himself professionally throughout the entire process. He met with all the teams involved, he huddled with his advisers, he made a decision and he personally called teams to let them know what it was. The fact that the news leaked before Howard had informed the Lakers wasn't his fault. Frankly, everybody wins here. The Rockets certainly are more interesting with Howard, and in some ways, the Lakers are more interesting without him. Now we get to see who fills the void next summer when LA has all that cap space.
Prokhorov loads up: Luxury tax? What luxury tax? The Nets' Russian billionaire owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, knows nothing of this luxury tax you speak of. By adding Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, Andrei Kirilenko and Shaun Livingston, the Nets upped the ante in the superstar arms race. On paper, if healthy -- two qualifiers that will stick with them all the way to next June -- they're good enough to take down the Heat. If nothing else, Prokhorov has escalated the rivalry with the Knicks to a level that didn't seem possible when he bought the team that used to play in that dump in East Rutherford, N.J.
Kobe unfollows Dwight: Of course he did. Don't ever change, Bean.
Chris Kaman to Lakers: The same Chris Kaman who posts Twitpics of wild animals he has just disemboweled and assault rifles he's toting -- with the hashtag #NRA -- is going back to one of the most liberal states in the union. I embrace and fear this all at once. In all seriousness, the Lakers could've done a lot worse in their search for a center to replace Howard. Kaman will help them, and his one-year deal won't clog up cap space next summer.
Andre Iguodala to Golden State: A perfect fit for the Warriors, Iggy won't have to carry the offensive load or command the spotlight. He just has to play defense, finish fast breaks and pass the ball to Stephen Curry. The W's will miss Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, but I love the additions of Iguodala, Marreese Speights and Toney Douglas.
The Pelicans (The What?): I'm afraid I'll never get used to the New Orleans Hornets changing their name to the Pelicans. It's going to be a lot harder than, say, getting used to the Charlotte Bobcats going back to being the Hornets. What I can get used to is Jrue Holiday playing alongside a (theoretically) healthy Eric Gordon, with all the open looks they'll get once Anthony Davis shows that he consistently demands double teams. I'm not quite sure what the, um, Pelicans are going to do with Tyreke Evans. You can't pay a guy $11 million to come off the bench in New Orleans. So the, um, Pelicans better hope A) 'Reke can play the three, or B) they can trade Gordon. Either way, I'm intrigued.
The Hawks being patient: Under the 2011 CBA, the days of panicking and taking mediocre players on bad contracts just so you can say you got something for your departed free agents are over. Josh Smith left Atlanta for a four-year, $54 million deal with the Pistons, and Hawks GM Danny Ferry didn't blink. Atlanta entered free agency with the most cap space in the league, but Ferry to this point hasn't spent close to all of it -- and what he has spent, he has spent wisely. By adding Paul Millsap on a ridiculously friendly two-year, $19 million deal and re-signing Kyle Korver, the Hawks didn't get worse and they maintained flexibility for future moves. The next order of business will be whether to match Milwaukee's four-year, $32 million offer sheet for Jeff Teague. If I were Ferry, I would pass -- and leave the Bucks no choice but to send me Brandon Jennings in a sign-and-trade for pennies on the dollar.
Indignation over Doc Rivers: Let's put the notion to rest that Doc Rivers somehow deviously orchestrated his escape from Boston. The reality is, the Celtics were ready to rebuild and didn't see the point in paying one of the best coaches in the NBA $7 million a year to do it. The ingenious plan that was hatched to send Rivers to the Clippers along with Garnett and Pierce wasn't going to fly under NBA rules, so the Celtics found a way to get Rivers there regardless. It's a win-win. Boston found a way to get out from under the contracts of Garnett, Pierce and Terry when the Nets became willing trade partners, and Rivers got to take over a championship contender in LA. There was nothing devious or disloyal about it. It's just business.
No more Heat hating: With the Nets now becoming the lightning rod for loathing in the NBA with their $180 million-plus payroll and luxury tax bill, there are no more reasons to hate the Heat -- except this guy.
Woe is Milwaukee: Speaking of the Bucks, GM John Hammond will have an issue to address if the Hawks don't match his four-year, $32 million offer sheet for Teague. What to do with Jennings? If the Bucks get Teague to play alongside fellow free agent O.J. Mayo (who agreed to a three-year, $24 million deal), the trade avenues will open up for Jennings, a restricted free agent. As bad as it looks to potentially lose your starting backcourt in free agency, the Bucks arguably are better off with Teague and Mayo at $8 million a year each than they would've been with Ellis at $11 million and Jennings on whatever they would have to pay him on a new deal. However it works out, the roster churn in Milwaukee is just another sign that small- and mid-market teams still aren't playing by the same rules as those in the glamour markets. Teams like the Bucks have to get talent when they can because cap space will do them no good.
Timing is everything: I recently floated the idea to league officials of moving the draft because it's too close to the end of the Finals. The good news, according to a recent report in USA Today, is that the league is open to a slight adjustment in the timing of the draft -- perhaps moving it back a week or so.
The bad news is, the league does not appear open to a dramatic reshaping of its offseason calendar. Unlike the NFL, which takes a significant break after the Super Bowl and begins the offseason with free agency and then the draft, the NBA believes teams would balk at the notion of holding the draft after free agency begins. (Teams want the opportunity to fill needs with cheap labor before deciding which veteran players to pay in free agency.) Also, as difficult as it is to stage a major event like the draft only days after a champion has been crowned -- much less cover it from a media perspective after living out of a suitcase for two solid months -- moving it back significantly would cause other problems. No one involved in the NBA wants to think about a world where you work from September until June and are still working on free agency and summer league in August. Plus, the more time there is between the end of the Finals and the start of free agency, the more time there will be for endless gossip about where free agents may or may not be going. Could you imagine a month of speculation leading up to LeBron James' opt-out date in 2014? I couldn't. A few days of that is all America should be expected to endure.
World Peace gets amnestied: This is our 99,000th clue from the basketball gods that the world will be ending soon. If World Peace can get amnestied, what hope is there for the rest of us? The best part of an unfortunate situation is that the former Ron Artest clearly was hurt and surprised that the Lakers waived him with the amnesty provision this week, as evidenced by his Twitter feed being more obtuse than usual. Some of my favorite lines included, "What time is it? I lost my watch," and, "Most of my boxer briefs are inspired by the Magic Bullet." I also enjoyed, at 12:33 a.m. on July 11, "I'm not tweeting for 78 days," followed by -- at 1:24 a.m. on July 11th -- "I can't help it!! Twitter is my stability." That's where Ron-Ron and I differ, because Twitter is the worst thing in the world as far as I'm concerned -- except for, of course, Metta World Peace not currently being on an NBA roster.