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Winners and Losers of NBA Free Agency

by Photo of Sam Cohen

Now that free agency is about to end, we take a look at which teams won and which teams lost.

Winners and Losers of NBA Free Agency

As free agency winds down and with almost all of the notable 2014 free agents signed, it has been a pretty interesting offseason to say the least. The landscape of the entire league completely changed when some guy named LeBron James returned to Cleveland and his decision led to the rest of the dominoes falling. Other players adjusted their plans accordingly, and now it has become clear which teams improved in free agency and which teams didn't.

Before getting into three of the teams that won and three teams that lost in this year's free agency, it is important to explain why the Heat are not listed as losers. The Heat definitely didn't get better in free agency, but the team had no control over the LeBron situation. He simply wanted to go home. Rather than going from a championship-caliber team to a mediocre one, Pat Riley made the most of the situation by bringing in Luol Deng while resigning Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger will also be nice pieces off the bench. While losing LeBron is huge, the Heat will still be able to contend this year.

With that said, here are the NBA free agency winners and losers.

Winners

Cleveland Cavaliers

I don't really need to explain this one, but I will anyway. The team brought back LeBron James, so that's not too bad, right? Besides signing the best basketball player in the world, the team also signed Mike Miller for less money than he was being offered by the Rockets and Nuggets. Miller was one of LeBron's favorite teammates in his four years in Miami and gives the Cavs the ability to spread the floor with his 3-point shooting.

The Cavs also got a great new coach in David Blatt. Blatt coached in Europe for the past two decades and is considered one of the most successful coaches in European basketball history. This was a huge signing for a Cavs team that went from missing the playoffs last year to a serious contender this year. Cleveland won big this offseason.

Chicago Bulls

Sure, the Bulls didn't get Carmelo Anthony, who seemed to be very close to choosing Chicago. But the team's offseason can be chalked up as a huge success, nonetheless.

The big splash that the Bulls made was signing Pau Gasol to a very affordable three-year, $22 million deal. While Gasol is certainly not the player he once was, he is still one of the better power forwards in the league and he joins Joakim Noah to form one of the best frontcourts in the league. He provides Chicago with a much-needed offensive boost and his high-post passing skills make him a really good fit for the Bulls.

Chicago also finally signed power forward Nikola Mirotic, the team's 2011 first-round draft pick. Mirtoic was arguably the best player in Europe last year and he has loads of upside at only 23 years old. He gives the Bulls a stretch-four because of his great ability to shoot from long range, which is so important in today's NBA. Mirotic shot 46% from deep last season and will be a very welcome addition to the Bulls. The Bulls got yet another talented big man in a frontcourt that now includes Noah, Gasol, Mirotic, Taj Gibson, and versatile first-round draft pick Doug McDermott. Chicago is a serious contender.

Dallas Mavericks

I can't even begin to describe how successful the Mavericks' offseason has been. The appropriate place to start would be talking about Dirk Nowitzki's new contract. The Mavericks should have been convicted of robbery when they signed Dirk to a three-year, $25 million deal. At age 36, Dirk continues to be one of the best players in the NBA and the Mavericks are very fortunate that he was willing to sign a contract that couldn't be more team-friendly. In fact, it was reported that Dirk turned down at least two max-contract offers to stay in Dallas.

Dirk's willingness to give the Mavericks a huge bargain allowed the team to sign up-and-coming star Chandler Parsons to a three-year, $46 million deal. At 6'9", the small forward will give Dallas yet another playmaker, as the team now has Dirk, Parsons, and Monta Ellis. Parsons can score from anywhere and also rebounds and passes well. He is a great fit for the Mavericks and should continue to improve.

The Mavericks also traded for Tyson Chandler, who is a very good defensive center. This was yet another good move by Dallas because while Chandler doesn't provide much on offense, the Mavericks already have three of the top offensive players in the league. Now, they also have one of the best defensive centers in recent years. Chandler played very well in Dallas during the 2010-2011 season and was a major reason the Mavericks won the championship. This was another good pick-up for the Mavs.

Other Winners: Charlotte Hornets, Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards

Losers

Houston Rockets

Yes, Houston is still a contender, but the team has to be considered a loser in this year's free agency. The team seemed to be in contention for Carmelo Anthony, but shifted its attention to Chris Bosh, who was reportedly going to explore other options if LeBron left Miami. The Rockets even had a deal in place to sign Bosh and both sides were just waiting for the LeBron news. Once LeBron signed with Cleveland, all signs pointed to Bosh going to Houston.

Somehow, the deal completely fell apart and Bosh went back to Miami. Then, the team shockingly didn't match Dallas' offer for Chandler Parsons and they let their super-talented small forward leave. While trading for Trevor Ariza was a good move, he is older and less talented than Parsons and has to be considered a downgrade.

The Rockets lost Parsons, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin. They certainly got a little bit worse and for a team that wants to compete for the championship next year, this was a very questionable offseason.

Sacramento Kings

The Sacramento Kings continue to make terrible decisions. The team decided not to resign Isaiah Thomas, who averaged 20.3 and 6.3 points per game. This is a big loss for the Kings, as Thomas played big minutes in a breakout year last season. The Suns signed him to a four-year, $27 million deal, which is not an overpay at all. So what did they do to replace him?

The team signed Darren Collison. This makes no sense to me. Isaiah Thomas is better than Darren Collison at just about every facet of the game, yet the Kings chose to significantly downgrade at the point guard position. Kings fans have to be shaking their heads, as this was a total head-scratcher.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers' biggest move this offseason was resigning Nick Young, aka "Swaggy P". For a team that had loads and loads of money, this offseason was a complete failure.

Los Angeles gave Young a four-year deal worth $21.5 million. While the money isn't a huge issue, Young and Kobe on the court together just doesn't make much sense. Young does basically nothing except shoot and that won't fly when Kobe Bryant is on your team.

The Lakers also weren't willing to resign Pau Gasol. but were willing to overpay for Jordan Hill, who signed a two-year, $18 million deal. Hill is alright, but he hasn't been able to consistently stay on the court and is making way too much money for what he's worth.

As if it wasn't bad enough, the team lost out on Carmelo Anthony. Kobe Bryant can't be happy, as the Lakers don't seem all that committed to getting him one last ring before he retires. This will be another long season for the purple and gold, who had the money to become a contender again.

Other Losers: Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks

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