While franchises like the Clippers and Nets landed big wins in NBA free agency, there was a long list of teams that made major mistakes or sat on the sidelines. The Crossover focuses on the former, taking a deeper dive into the clubs that proved to be clueless at one of the most crucial times of the year.
Rob Mahoney, Hornets
The plans of most NBA teams are at least decipherable by a certain logic. The Knicks didn’t get Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, so they signed the players they could to short-term deals with team options to keep somewhat flexible. The Magic committed quite a bit of money to maintain an iffy status quo, but in part because the franchise just enjoyed its first winning season in nine years.
There’s no such read on Charlotte. The problem with the Hornets isn’t that they chose not to offer Kemba Walker the supermax (a perfectly understandable position) or that they let him get away (a matter that was squarely in Walker’s control to begin with). It’s that they knew those things and still refused to trade him when they had the chance. And worse yet: it’s how they’ve chosen to replace him. There just isn’t credible evidence that Terry Rozier is a starting-level point guard. Charlotte has ignored that in signing him to a sizable contract for that very job.
Rohan Nadkarni, Wizards
This is more of a lifetime achievement award for the Wizards than for anything wildly egregious the team did this summer. Over the last year, Washington has lost Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, and Tomas Satoransky with basically no intriguing assets to show for them. Porter was traded for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker, neither of whom are still on the Wizards. Satoransky this summer joined Porter on the Bulls on a reasonable, three-year contract. Oubre was traded for Trevor Ariza, and Ariza left this summer for the Kings.
Basically, the Wizards have been losing all of their players without even a hint of promise and replacing them with uninspiring vets. Isaiah Thomas and Ish Smith will be the team’s point guards in absence of John Wall. C.J. Miles is going to be the starting small forward. Thomas Bryant is back, and that’s actually good, but does he really fit the timeline of everyone else here?
Washington is going to be in a tough spot for a while because of John Wall’s contract. The Wizards didn’t have any easy, obvious paths this summer. But treading water with a veteran-laden team that didn’t make the playoffs led by an interim GM doesn’t exactly inspire confidence moving forward. Eventually, the Wizards are going to have to do something drastic to get themselves out of the hole they seemingly instead only continue to dig. Pretty much everyone besides Washington itself came to that realization long before this summer.
DeAntae Prince, Knicks
It feels bad to pile on, but the Knicks structured their entire team around this summer. With Zion Williamson entering the draft and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant hitting free agency, they appeared to be in prime position to pull off a major acquisition. It finally looked like they were taking a proactive approach and making themselves available in a summer filled with big-time free agents. The lottery didn’t go the Knicks' way, which was out of their control, but that they came away from this completely empty-handed says a lot about this team and the perception around the league.
Michael Shapiro, Magic
Orlando’s cap space has to go to someone, but the Magic’s continued stockpiling of bigs is downright confusing. Nikola Vucevic’s return may ultimately be for the best given Mo Bamba’s disastrous rookie year, though the Al-Farouq Aminu signing continues to grow Orlando’s glut of bigs. The open jumpers will be available far less often with D.J. Augustin instead of Damian Lillard. Pair Aminu and Vucevic with Bamba, Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon, and Orlando’s roster construction remains among the league’s worst.
Jarrel Harris, Suns
Seriously, do I have to explain? Devin Booker should wear Anthony Davis’s "That’s all folks” shirt during the first game of the season to show how much of a disaster this team is. They reached in the NBA draft and selected Cam Johnson at No. 11 and this free-agency period has been brutal, as they lost out on D’Angelo Russell and signed Ricky Rubio instead. The Suns also parted ways with Josh Jackson, who they took one pick ahead of De’Aaron Fox in the 2017 NBA draft.