A laughingstock two years ago, up-and-coming Milwaukee beat out the large-market Lakers and Knicks to sign Greg Monroe (three years, $50 million). The 6'11" post scorer fills a need for a team that excelled defensively but ranked 22nd on offense.
Talks with guard Dwyane Wade eventually produced a team-friendly, one-year, $20 million deal. Miami can now make a run at the 2016 playoffs without having compromised its position in next summer's Kevin Durant sweepstakes.
They poached All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (four years, $84.1 million) and re-signed Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginóbili and Danny Green. Those deals impressed forward David West so much that he took the vet's minimum of $1.4 million.
Bogged down by bloated contracts, GM Billy King had to settle for re-signing center Brook Lopez (three years, $60 million) and forward Thaddeus Young (four years, $50 million), while buying out point guard Deron Williams. More tedious, forgettable ball awaits.
Not only did president Neil Olshey lose four starters, including Aldridge, but he also failed to land comparable replacements. Like point guard Damian Lillard, the one returner, Portland will be offensively potent but defensively deficient in 2016--17.
Stan Van Gundy is the latest hybrid coach-executive to struggle with roster-building. Monroe left for no return, and deals for point guard Reggie Jackson (five years, $80 million) and center Aron Baynes (three years, $20 million) seem overly generous.
SAM FORENCICH/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (MONROE)
DAVID E. KLUTHO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (WADE, LILLARD)
CAMERON BROWNE/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (ALDRIDGE)
JASON DECROW/AP (LOPEZ)
CHUCK BURTON/AP (VAN GUNDY)