The NBA free-agent season is in medias res, but because most of the top dogs have found new homes -- or returned to their old ones -- it's as good a time as any to take stock.
The NBA does a remarkable job of feeding its hoops-starved fans even after the championship parade is over. The draft follows soon after the Finals end. Then we reach July 1, the day the NBA calendar flips, and our attention turns to trades, offer sheets and cap space. Meanwhile, the summer leagues hit Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas, giving us an early preview of incoming rookies and emergent fringe players. By August, things start to settle down, but, before you know it, training camp is here. Professional basketball has truly become a year-round proposition.
The hectic weeks after the league's transaction moratorium ends can make your head spin, so it's always good to take a snapshot of the league to get a sense of where things stand. That's what we're doing today by choosing some winners and losers from a free-agent season that isn't over. We're taking a snapshot.
Each free-agent signing adds wins to (or subtracts them from) a team's bottom line, and because there are only 1,230 wins to go around in a season, those wins are also subtracted from (or added to) the rest of the league. We chart those small changes in wins over the course of the summer, and these bottom-line changes in projected victories factor into the list of teams we're going to spotlight today.
Of course, there is a certain amount of art in declaring a team a winner or loser in this sense because some teams are positioning themselves more for long-term improvement than for the coming season. So the list is a mixture of subjective and objective criteria. Teams aren't being judged strictly on their possible jump in 2012-13 wins but instead more on how well they are executing their organizational plan by using -- or not using -- free agency. That assumes, of course, that the team has an organizational plan to begin with. Some teams make you wonder.
Retaining Deron Williams was huge and would make the Nets a winner in free agency even if they did nothing else. Remember, the Joe Johnson trade doesn't factor in because we're talking free agent-related activity here.