Do the Dallas Mavericks really belong in the “loser” category after failing to sign DeAndre Jordan in free agency? The basketball odds could prove differently next year.
It's a harsh, judgmental world out there. Consciously or otherwise, we label people, places and things as “winners” and “losers” the instant we encounter them. This thin-slice mentality serves an evolutionary purpose, sure, but how prepared are we to revisit our judgments in the face of new information? Not nearly prepared enough.
This is part of the reason why the Dallas Mavericks might be solid NBA pick next season. They've been labelled as free-agency losers after DeAndre Jordan walked back his decision to leave the Los Angeles Clippers and sign with Big D. However, the Mavs appear to have done quite well for themselves with their latest one-year rebuild around Dirk Nowitzki. Here's our handicapper-friendly spin on this summer's feeding frenzy.
At the end of July, ESPN stat gurus Steve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann ran the numbers and found that Dallas added a hint of surplus value in free agency, even without getting Jordan's name on a contract. The Mavs paid the big bucks to Wes Matthews (16.1 PER, +3.9 BPM), which is risky, but they also signed Deron Williams (15.7 PER, +0.1 BPM) and Jeremy Evans (20.5 PER, +3.5 BPM) to very reasonable contracts. Evans is a steal at two years for the veteran's minimum.
Of course, the San Antonio Spurs were the big winners in free agency after picking up LaMarcus Aldridge (22.8 PER, +0.3 BPM) and David West (16.0 PER, +1.7 BPM) while retaining most of their own players. We also like the smaller moves made by the Toronto Raptors (DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph, Bismack Biyombo and Luis Scola) and the Boston Celtics (Amir Johnson). And yes, the Clippers look a lot better this year after overhauling their bench and reuniting Paul Pierce (15.2 PER, +1.5 BPM) with head coach Doc Rivers. Is it October yet?
Keep Gettin' Dem Checks
As far as which teams hurt themselves the most during free agency, the Sacramento Kings are under the microscope as usual. They decided to give Rajon Rondo (13.5 PER, –0.5 BPM) a shot even though he flamed out with the Mavs last year. They also signed Caron Butler (9.3 PER, –1.5 BPM) and Marco Belinelli (12.4 PER, –0.5 BPM). We do like the four-year deal for Kosta Koufos (14.2 PER, –1.5 BPM), mind you. Someone has to play defense.
The biggest losers from a surplus value standpoint, though, were the Brooklyn Nets. They ate a ton of money on Williams' contract, and fair enough, but they also signed Andrea Bargnani (16.6 PER, –3.7 BPM) and Shane Larkin (10.9 PER, –2.4 BPM) away from the New York Knicks. Because everyone wants to be a little more like the Knicks. Or perhaps the Los Angeles Lakers; Brooklyn also signed Wayne Ellington (11.6 PER, –3.0 BPM). And don't forget about Donald Sloan (13.1 PER, –1.4 BPM). Ladies and gentlemen, your 2015-16 Brooklyn Nets.