It's fitting that by the time NBA free agency opens, most team executives are making their way to Las Vegas for the NBA Summer League. Like the slot machines and table games that are responsible for building the luxury casinos along the strip, spending money on free agents can be alluring but often costly in the long term.
Consider the cautionary tale of Jarrett Jack, signed by the Cleveland Cavaliers a year ago Saturday. When the Cavaliers needed to clear space under the salary cap to offer LeBron James the maximum salary, they had to move Jack's salary. To get out from a contract less than a year old, Cleveland had to surrender first-round picks from the previous two seasons (Tyler Zeller and Sergey Karasev), as well as a future first-round pick.
The Cavaliers weren't alone in spinning the free-agency wheel and losing a year ago. Among teams that made major signings or re-signings, I count nearly as many that regret their moves already as would do them again, and only one team that truly won free agency by getting good values. Here's how they break down, team by team.
Winners of free agency
During the 2013 offseason, the Hawks signed five players -- either re-signed (Teague and Korver) or acquired via free agency (Carroll and Millsap, both from the Utah Jazz, and international veteran Antic). Combined, these players made less than $30 million while helping the Hawks take the Indiana Pacers to a full seven games in '14, and that's without center Al Horford. Millsap was the biggest bargain, earning just $9.5 million for an All-Star season, but Carroll and Korver were a solid wing duo for less than $10 million combined. Give Danny Ferry the highest marks for his use of free agency.