Blogtable: Lottery Teams In Free Agency

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Week 38: On lottery teams | Playoff wins: Nets or Knicks | Playoff wins: Rockets or Spurs


Which lottery team made the biggest free-agency splash?

Steve Aschburner, The Minnesota Timberwolves have made some surgical signings to fit their needs and coach Rick Adelman’s offensive system. Kevin Martin (via sign-and-trade from OKC) and Chase Budinger (their own FA re-upped after an injury-spoiled 2012-13) bring much-needed shooting and movement. Former Nugget Corey Brewer also happens to be a former Wolf returned to the fold now, and his defense on the wing and ability to run the floor will be big boosts. (Caution: This is predicated on Wolves boss Flip Saunders getting center Nikola Pekovic re-signed as a restricted free agent; if he gets a bonanza offer and Minnesota blinks, we take back this whole paragraph, OK?)

Fran Blinebury, If we’re talking strictly free agency and not including trades, then I’m going with the Pistons. Signing Josh Smith definitely qualifies as a big splash and getting Chauncey Billups to return to Detroit could make more than a ripple in the pond if he can help with the team chemistry and developing young talent. Gigi Datome could be a bonus. Cleveland is probably closer to making the playoffs, but that’s due to a healthy Kyrie Irving and other returning talent. I like the addition of Jarrett Jack, but think the Cavs are headed for disappointment with Andrew Bynum.

Jeff Caplan, From the standpoint of immediate impact my vote goes to the Detroit Pistons. Josh Smith‘s history with the Hawks wasn’t always pretty and has been an enigma, but the power forward is a talent. If he’s focused and fit — and he better be now that he’s out of Atlanta and has a lucrative contract — he can really help what certainly appears to be a franchise on the move. The Pistons hope he will mesh well with and be a good influence on youngsters Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Add veteran point guard Chauncey Billups, who won a title in Detroit a decade ago, and a young team just got supreme on-the-floor leadership and a respected figure that new coach Maurice Cheeks can lean on as he implements his system. Honorable mentions: Phoenix for acquiring Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler; Portland for adding Dorell Wright and Robin Lopez; Charlotte for signing Al Jefferson, even if they paid a hefty price; and a shaky honorable mention to Cleveland for taking a stab at Andrew Bynum.

Scott Howard-Cooper, The Timberwolves. They took care of business with their own free agents by re-signing Chase Budinger and, barring a big surprise, Nikola Pekovic. And they addressed an offseason priority to find shooting help by getting Kevin Martin. Adding the defense of Corey Brewer will help as well.

John Schuhmann, I’m not very bullish on Andrew Bynum’s prospects, but I still like what Cleveland has done, adding a couple of veterans at key positions to accelerate their progress. Their young players were going to get better and their defense was going to improve with the return of Mike Brown, but Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark can get them over the hump and into the playoffs. That’s a necessary step for the development of Kyrie Irving and also to pique LeBron James’ interest next summer. If Bynum and Anderson Varejao can combine to play 100 games or so, then they can get as high as the No. 6 seed in the East.

Sekou Smith, Dallas and Cleveland swung for the fences and came up a bit short. And I love what the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans did to bolster their rosters via trade and free agency. The Detroit Pistons, however, had specific targets and locked down the guys they identified as difference makers for a team that has a legitimate shot to climb up the charts in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. The additions of both Josh Smith and Chauncey Billups fill crucial needs for the Pistons. Toss in Italian league MVP Luigi Datome and the Pistons have added three significant pieces. That said, free agency seems a bit thin to me this summer now that all of the major transactions have been completed. The trade market is where the real action was this summer. And no one made a bigger splash there than the Brooklyn Nets.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: The Detroit Pistons? I used a question mark there on purpose, because it doesn’t seem like many of the lottery teams did very much in free agency, post-draft. The Pistons, though, signed Josh Smith, and J-Smoove gives them a heckuva front line, between Smith, Drummond and Monroe. I also like them bringing back Chauncey Billups, who will bring some stability to the backcourt. I don’t think these moves immediately make them a title team, but they should make them a playoff team this season.


  1. B Radd says:

    Cant count on Bynum. Let’s 1st see if he can at least make it now al the way to the start of preseason opener

  2. Ditch says:

    The Cavs were very smart this offseason. Bynum was a huge roll of the dice and given his contract is a 2 year 24 mil deal you’d think they are being a bit naive. But, he only is guaranteed 6 mil in his first season with the other 18 coming in his second season, which if I’m not mistaken is a team option. If Bynum plays and plays well, meeting the requirements the Cavs are asking of him then they have been successful, if not they only blew 6 mil and there was only a small, marginal loss. I mean Verejao is still there and an adequate 2nd option.

    The Cavs other big move was drafting Bennett as we all know. Now Bennett is raw, athletic and as a first round pick his salary is around 4-6 mil a season (I think, don’t hold me to that) now with Lebron in free agency next offseason it was smart to draft a player who could have the potential to fill a void left by Lebron. So when you package a deal together with say Bennett, Thompson, perhaps a few more role players to clear cap space it is a very realistic sign and trade option a year from now.
    But if Bennett is putting up promising numbers this year and wins ROTY and has a bright future who says that they won’t build around him and Kyrie, regardless of what the outcome of Bynum is.

    Lastly signing Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark was huge. We saw what jack was able to do for GSW off the bench and the depth he adds to a side, a great option to back up Kyrie just as he did for Steph Curry. Clark is there as an insurance policy this season. If Bennett isn’t the starter that a top pick should be then Clark can fill that spot at the 3 and Bennett can ease his way into the league off the bench by being part of the rotation for the front court.

  3. iivviiccaa79 says:

    Joe Dumars got sooo fat..

  4. […] Blogtable: Lottery Teams In Free (blog)I used a question mark there on purpose, because it doesn't seem like many of the lottery teams did very much in free agency, post-draft. The Pistons, though, signed Josh Smith, and J-Smoove gives them a heckuva front line, between Smith, Drummond and […]

  5. Kamote says:

    Bynum, even if we removed last year, hasn’t completed a whole year for a long time. Its either he doesn’t play at the start of the year, or he doesn’t play before the season ends. This won’t do much good on Cleveland’s youth development. And with Utah’s bigs and Pek available, they should’ve just gone for those people.

  6. celentano says:

    D’ont count out Bynum yet,still young can be very effective enouch during play-offs! He helped the Lakers a lot ’09-10′ getting rings with only on 1 leg,he’s a beast if he want’s.
    Also not forget that Cleveland has some potential’s with Irving,i’m seeying a new 1-2 punch combo rising with Cleveland.
    If Cleveland reaches the Eastern conference finals against Miami,it’s a big possibilty Letravel crawlin back to his home state-team.
    Again a new big 3(if Bynum stays healty) in the making,only this time Letravel can shine like a real hero instead joining with his ‘all star friends’ in Miami.
    Imagin healty Bynum,Irving,Le’juice’ all in they’re prime together makes the Nba back interesting again.
    That’s almost the same like the Lakers did during ’09-10′ with Kobe,Gasol,Bynum.
    That’s the biggest arsenal Kobe had at that time in his prime,wish to see Lebron follow that step with same big arsonal (Irving,Bynum) like Kobe did that’s a real messure to count for once!

  7. Canadian Cavs Fan says:

    If he’s healthy (and I know that’s a huge if), I don’t think it’s all that close. The last year he played he averaged around 19 points and 10 rebounds per game, and was top 10 in the NBA in PER. And with only one year and $6 million guaranteed, I don’t see a risk.

  8. SuperDude says:

    I feel like with Bynum, it’ll be a win big lose big concerning his health and if he plays. If he does play, the cavs will have their best center in a long time. But if he doesn’t they still have Varejao coming back. And I’d rather start Jarrett Jack over Dion Waiters cause Waiters has shown to be better coming off the bench than when he’s starting. He had a good run when Kyrie went out a few games but when he came back, it was back to normal. I think Jack would be a more reliable starter in their lineup. Irving, Jack, Clark, Thompson, Bynum, then the backup could be Gibson, Waiters, Gee, Bennett, Varejao. Not bad but not that good off the bench either,

  9. Canadian Cavs Fan says:

    I don’t see any downside at all for Cleveland signing Bynum. If he can’t play, he makes Luke Walton money for one season. If he’s healthy, they have the best center in the East.

    • Jayargh says:

      Woah, hold your horses there fella. Bynum is GOOD but definitely not the BEST center in the east. Why? We have Brook Lopez, Joakim Noah, Chris Bosh, etc

  10. Shawn K says:

    I really like what the New Orleans Pelicans did this offseason. Drafted Nerlens Noel 6th overall, then traded him to get all star point guard Jrue Holiday!!! And not only do they have Holiday, they traded to get former rookie of the year(2009 I believe) Tyreke Evans!!. With a possible starting lineup of Holiday, Gordon, Evans, Anderson and Davis, I think the Pelicans are officially a playoff team. They’ll probably just make the playoffs with the 7th or 8th seed, but they are definitely a possibility. And if their rookie center, Jeff Withey develops his offense while keeping his good defensive game, he might even be the starting center for this team someday.

    I Like SOME moves the Cleveland Cavaliers made. I really like the signings of Jack to back up Irving, and Clarke to possibly start at small forward. And even drafting Anthony Bennett 1st overall in the draft is probably going to work for them(if they decide to start him over Tristan Thompson, but I doubt it). But I hope they don’t try to play Bennett at the small forward position. He may be athletic enough, but he’s around 240 pounds. I don’t think Bennett can keep up on defense with small forwards like Durant or others. I think playing Bennett at power forward ill workout better. He may be a bit short compared to some power forwards in the league, but his athleticism will make up for that deficit Then there is the signing of Andrew Bynum… all I can say is I hope the Cavaliers have an early termination option if Bynum doesn’t workout like they hope he does.
    Possible starting lineup for the Cavaliers(provided EVERYONE(Bynum) is healthy) Irving, Waiters, Clarke, Bennett, Bynum.

    The Pistons have been active this offseason as well. Signing Josh Smith and bringing back Chauncey Billups almost a decade after his 2004 championship with the Pistons. I’m not a Pistons fan, but with a possible line up of Knight, Stuckey, Smith, Monroe and Drummond. They should have a decent season, probably not a playoff team this season(In my opinion).

    I also like what the Minnesota Timberwolves have done. Signing Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer and bringing back Chase Budinger will hopefully workout for the Wolves. BUT, if they don’t bring back Nikola Pekovic, they’re going to be in the lottery next year. But if they bring him back, they should have a decent season with the possible starting lineup of Rubio, Martin, Budinger, Love(if he is healthy) and Pekovic.

  11. steppx says:

    its not a joke, but id say Toronto, because they got rid of bargnani….a cancer on and off the floor. And they got a great GM and all that unfullfilled promise a year ago, plus a maturing beast in Valanciunus, and toronto might be a five or six seed. After that, maybe pistons, but not cavs. Come on….mike brown is a joke, and BYNUM??? REALLY??? plus a not smart draft…..Ill go with Portland actually. Just getting robin lopez means they are a seriously improved team.