August 10, 2012; El Segundo, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard holds his jersey during a press conference held to introduce the three-time defensive player of the year who they aquired in a four-team trade from the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Trades and Free Agency: Who had the best and worst offseasons in the NBA

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

It’s the end of August and things have settled down somewhat in the NBA. There aren’t a lot of free agents left out there looking for teams and we have a good idea of what kind of roster everyone will have for the start of next season.

The summer began pretty quietly with the NBA Draft, were there wasn’t quite as many trades as usual. Then the biggest news came with restricted free agents until Dwight Howard was eventually traded.

Here is a look at some of the best and worst from this offseason.


Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers clearly lead the way as having the best offseason of anyone this summer. They started it off by trading for Steve Nash, shocking just about everyone as Nash decided to join his past rivals in chase of a ring. The Lakers immediately became a much stronger team after this trade as their point guard play has been very weak in the past few seasons.

Then the Lakers landed Howard in what was inevitable and surprising all at the same time. All-Star centers have a knack for finding their way to L.A. and the trade wasn’t completely out of the blue. But the Lakers really didn’t give up much at all to get Howard, just Andrew Bynum and Christian Eyenga.

The Lakers immediately became title contenders after the Howard trade. They kept Pau Gasol and now have a starting five considered possibly the best in the league. No one is going to hand the title over to them but there isn’t another team that improved as much as they did.

Brooklyn Nets

With the move to Brooklyn on the horizon for 2012-13, the Nets wanted to make sure they had a quality product on the floor to give their new city. The biggest move they made was locking up Deron Williams for the next five years.

The Nets were then very much in the hunt for Howard who even came out and said Brooklyn was the only place he wanted to play next year. A deal could not be found with the Magic and Brooklyn decided to go a different direction. They traded for Joe Johnson then re-signed Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries to hefty contracts.

The Nets are spending a lot of money for the team they have right now but the money isn’t a huge issue to their owner. The one problem is that they are pretty locked in to the core they have now and if it doesn’t work out, they will be in some trouble.

The acquisition of Johnson and locking up of Williams were great though. The Nets have a very good chance of contending in a weak Eastern Conference right now with the roster they have. Wherever Howard landed was going to make that team have the best offseason in the league but despite the Nets missing put on him, they did a pretty good job.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics were supposed to be on the way out, old and unable to compete for a title anymore. The moves they made this summer will extend that window a little longer. The Big 3 era is over now as Ray Allen signed with the Miami Heat this summer but that era was really already over anyway.

The Celtics started things off re-signing Kevin Garnett for a good price. They also drafted well addressing a need in their lack of size. They picked Jared Sullinger who slipped very late in the draft and has the potential to be one of the most talented players from this draft class. Then they picked a 7-foot center in Fab Melo.

Jason Terry decided to sign with the Celtics a little later, essentially replacing Allen’s role. The sneakiest move for Boston was a sign-and-trade to acquire shooting guard Courtney Lee who seems just what this team needs. Lee is a good outside shooter and solid wing defender that should mesh well with this roster.

The Celtics may still be a far way off from the Miami Heat but their roster looks better than it did last year despite the expectation that they were still on the decline.


Orlando Magic

The Magic were put in a no-win situation this year. Their franchise player wanted out and quit on the team. The Magic knew they couldn’t replace him and were going to take a significant step back next season. So they decided to stay strong and hold out for the best possible deal despite all the drama that was going on.

Then they traded Howard and the deal they ended up getting seemed pretty terrible. They weren’t able to get Bynum or Gasol from the Lakers in the deal, although they may not have really wanted either, and instead ended up with Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless. They also received four protected first-round picks which won’t be very valuable either.

The plan was to completely start over with new GM Rob Hennigan who wants to imitate the Thunder model. They are definitely doing that but good luck drafting your version of Durant-Westbrook-Harden-Ibaka in the next three drafts.

The Magic come away post-Howard looking closer to the Bobcats than a team that is young with a promising future. It never ends well when your star player wants out but how could it have gone worse for Orlando?

Houston Rockets

The Rockets made some of the most noise this summer as they tried to go all-in on acquiring Dwight Howard. That obviously didn’t work out and their consolation prize was restricted free agents Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, not horrible but nothing even close to Howard.

While the Rockets were stockpiling assets to throw Orlando’s way, it started to look like they had the best package to woo the Magic. Later the rumored deals Houston was willing to trade to Orlando proved to be false and they weren’t offering quite that much for Howard.

The Rockets are parting ways with Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic, Marcus Camby and Chase Budinger from last year’s team while replacing those guys with not much. They do have three first-round draft picks that could be cool and Donatas Montiejunas is coming over next season.

The Rockets have a very good chance to have the worst record in the conference next season. Sometimes you have to get worse before you can get good and that seems to be Houston’s mindset right now.

New York Knicks

There wasn’t a lot the Knicks could do heading into this offseason but what ended up happening was embarrassingly bad. The worst thing was when they decided not to match Houston’s offer sheet for Lin. They are avoiding some harsh luxury tax penalties by parting ways with Lin, but letting him walk for nothing is truly unforgiveable.

The Knicks are replacing Lin with Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton. No one can get excited for that.

The Knicks were in the running for Nash too before the Lakers swooped in and got him. Not only did the Knicks lose Nash but Landry Fields as well, who signed a big offer sheet with Toronto that New York chose not to match.

When the Knicks acquired Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, they were supposed to start competing for NBA championships. It still feels like they are very far away from this and it’s hard to see how they can change that too.

Where the Thunder fit in

The Thunder had a quiet offseason for the most part and that’s how they like it. They weren’t the best or worst, and closer to one of the best if anything. In the draft, picking Perry Jones who fell so far to them is a great pick. He has nothing but potential and if he doesn’t work out, no big deal either.

The Thunder then made some headlines a few days ago locking up Serge Ibaka for the next four years. James Harden is next on the list and those close to the team really feel like that will happen soon.

The Thunder will improve next year simply from experience and are still the favorites in the Western Conference. There’s nothing wrong with that.

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Tags: Andrew Bynum Boston Celtics Brooklyn Nets Deron Williams Dwight Howard Houston Rockets James Harden Jeremy Lin Joe Johnson Los Angeles Lakers NBA Free Agency New York Knicks Oklahoma City Thunder Orlando Magic Serge Ibaka Steve Nash

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