With the likes of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony hitting the open market, the 2014 NBA free agency promised to be one of the best in recent memory. Teams have completed a myriad of deals over the years, all in hopes of being able to position themselves to make a huge splash this summer.
While there is still plenty of business to be done with the players such as Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe still available, at least we know where most of the big names will be playing their basketball next season. And we now have a fairly good idea what all 30 teams in the association will look like.
So with that said who benefited most from the free agency frenzy?
By a country mile, the Cavs are easily the biggest winners. In fact the whole summer has been great. LeBron James came home; Kyrie Irving signed a five-year extension; and they selected Andrew Wiggins with the first overall pick in the draft (their third in four years).
Amazingly, though, things could still be better.
Cleveland is the front runner to land the Minnesota Timberwolves’ want-away star, Kevin Love. And in Wiggins, they have the marquee bargaining chip to tempt the Wolves into a trade.
Plus, Love is also interested in staying for the long-haul. Safe to say things are looking up in Cleveland.
The Houston Rockets found a diamond in the rough with the 38th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. The Florida product averaged 9.5points per game in his rookie year. But from his sophomore season onwards, that figure fluctuated to 15.5 and 16.6points in the third year.
And yet, because he was selected in the second round and his rookie scale contract, his base salary was only $850thousand and peaked at just over $925thousand.
This summer, however, he signed a whooping three-year £45million contract with the Dallas Mavericks. Talk about a huge pay rise.
New York Knicks
At this very moment, the New York Knicks are pretty bad – verging on awful. Put it this way: they had the arguably the best scorer in the NBA last season in Anthony, a player two years removed from being named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in J.R Smith, yet even with all that talent (it’s a heck of a lot more than what others have) at their disposal, they failed to make it into the playoffs in the woeful Eastern Conference in 2013-14.
After such a bad season, it’s no wonder Anthony genuinely considered leaving.
Nonetheless, he opted to stay in the Big Apple for the “championships prospects” and apparently the $129million contract had nothing to do with his decision.
Then again, I doubt the Knicks front office care all that much about his reasons, as long as he continues to produce at a high level.
Following the loss of James, and the Houston Rockets looking to steal Bosh by throwing in a four-year $88million contract, the Miami Heat were desperate to keep the rest of the “Big Three” intact. As a result, Heat president Pat Riley offered the All-Star a staggering $125 million over five years – which, of course, he accepted.
No-one can really argue that Bosh is one of the premier big men in the game. Although, he certainly hasn’t done much to warrant that big a payday during his four seasons in Miami.
But hey, you wouldn’t complain either if your boss handed you a shed load of money for not doing particularly outstanding work.
Just like Bosh, Hayward is another who arguably got overpaid.
Utah isn’t the most glamorous places and the Jazz certainly aren’t the best of teams having ended the 2013-14 season at the bottom of the heap out West.
Nevertheless, the former Butler Bulldog was one of the few bright sparks during what was an otherwise gloomy season, as he had career year with 16.2points, 5.2assists and 5.1rebounds per outing.
Those sorts of numbers led to an offer sheet from the Charlotte Hornets worth $63million over four years. But as a restricted free agent, Utah had first dibs and matched the deal that will pay him $15.7million a year, despite averaging just 12ppg for his career.