A year ago, when we looked at 2012 free agent spending by division, the Atlantic blew away the field, in large part due to the Nets' incredible spending spree. The total amount of money Brooklyn committed to free agents ($243MM+) was greater than every other division except the Southwest ($262MM+).
That script was flipped this year, as the Atlantic Division has been the league's smallest-spending division, with no team spending more than the Knicks' $32MM, including the Sixers, who have yet to sign a single free agent. The turnaround isn't surprising — last summer, the Nets had a virtually empty roster, with plenty of top free agents to re-sign, such as Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. This offseason, with all those players already locked up, the Nets didn't have much flexibility to continue adding big free agent contracts.
Using our free agent tracker, we've put together a list of total money committed to free agents this offseason, by division. These figures won't necessarily be 100% accurate — we're still sorting out a few details of the latest signings, which include summer contracts, and good portions of this money could be non-guaranteed. For example, we consider the Cavs' commitment to Andrew Bynum to be $24.79MM, but only $6MM of that amount is guaranteed. Keeping those caveats in mind, here's the breakdown of 2013 free agent spending by division so far:
- Southwest: $327.536MM. Most: Rockets ($105.882MM). Least: Grizzlies ($24.302MM).
- Central: $270.964MM. Most: Pistons ($94.082MM). Least: Bulls ($8.825MM).
- Pacific: $256.009MM. Most: Clippers ($154.26MM). Least: Suns ($0MM).
- Southeast: $194.254MM. Most: Hawks ($86.45MM). Least: Heat ($4.952MM).
- Northwest: $183.722MM. Most: Timberwolves ($119.912MM). Least: Thunder ($2.586MM).
- Atlantic: $83.277MM. Most: Knicks ($32.002MM). Least: Sixers ($0MM).
After ranking second among spending by division last summer, the Southwest was at it again this year, topping the list of highest-spending divisions. While the Rockets' big commitment to Dwight Howard was the key signing this time around, the Pelicans played a large role in the division's standing in both 2012 and 2013; New Orleans spent big on Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson a year ago, and inked Tyreke Evans to a $44MM pact last month.
The Clippers and Rockets, with their max contracts for Chris Paul and Howard respectively, rank among the year's highest spenders, with their totals representing a significant chunk of their respective divisions' totals. But the second-highest spender, nestled in between L.A. and Houston, may surprise you: That'd be the Timberwolves, who committed $60MM to Nikola Pekovic and inked Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, and Corey Brewer to lucrative multiyear deals as well.
Also notable: The Sixers and Suns, the league's two teams who haven't committed a dollar to a free agent this summer, are among the smallest-spending clubs, but so are the Heat, Thunder, and Bulls, all expected to be title contenders in 2013/14. Spending big in free agency doesn't necessarily translate to on-court success, particularly when a strong core is already in place.
Still, it may be worth noting that the two smallest-spending divisions from a year ago (the Northwest and Southeast) only sent two teams to the 2013 postseason, while the other four divisions sent three teams each. We'll see if that's a pattern that continues this season, or merely a coincidence.
The Hoops Rumors Free Agent Tracker was used in the creation of this post.