While many teams were spurned by their players for greener pastures despite their best efforts this offseason (the Heat by LeBron James, the Lakers by Pau Gasol, the Nets by Shaun Livingston) some teams decided not to up the ante when they could have, allowing key contributors to sign elsewhere. We’ll run down a few of the latter, and explore whether these teams will regret their decision:
- Lance Stephenson – from Indiana to Charlotte. Had Paul George‘s injury occurred before free agency, the Pacers might have been more willing to meet Stephenson’s demands. Instead, they let arguably their most versatile offensive piece walk, refusing to improve their five-year, $44MM offer before the combo guard signed with the Hornets for three years and $27.4MM. Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles are the incoming guards Indiana hopes can lessen the combined loss of Stephenson and now George. The Pacers also seeking Shawn Marion‘s services, but aren’t expected to win out over the Cavs in that pursuit.
- Chandler Parsons – from Houston to Dallas. The Rockets declined an option to retain Parsons for another season on one of the most team-friendly contracts in the league. The team decided to take their chances with the forward’s restricted free agency this summer rather than letting him hit unrestricted free agency next offseason, but ultimately decided against matching the Mavs’ three-year, $46.1MM offer sheet. The Rockets let Parsons go in part because they had already locked up Ariza, who is next on the list.
- Trevor Ariza – from Washington to Houston. Ariza bolted from the Wizards after turning in a career year for a team that advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Wizards were unwilling to increase their offer, which equaled Houston’s four-year, $32MM arrangement, but practically amounted to $3MM less due to differences in state taxes. Washington quickly signed Paul Pierce in the wake of Ariza’s departure, and received an exception by signing-and-trading Ariza that was partially spent on Kris Humphries.
- Channing Frye – from Phoenix to Orlando. In a surprise signing, the Magic snatched the sharp-shooting Frye away from the Suns, who wanted to bring him back to their surprise-playoff roster. Frye is one of a few bigs that stretch the floor at an elite level, and the team signed another shooter in Anthony Tolliver to make up for Frye’s loss. Orlando’s deal with the 31-year-old was for four years and $32MM.
- Isaiah Thomas – from Sacramento to Phoenix. The Kings didn’t see the scoring machine of a point guard in their future, signing Darren Collison while Thomas was still a restricted free agent. Thomas was one of only five players to average 20 PPG and 6 APG last season. Sacramento hasn’t recouped much scoring punch in free agency, but did acquire a $7.2MM trade exception, as well as the rights to Alex Oriakhi, by executing a sign-and-trade sending Thomas to Phoenix.
As with any transaction, these front offices weighed the immediate future against their long-term plans, and tried to make the wisest choice. It might be painful to lose some of these players in year one, but fans might breathe a sigh of relief if the same players are underperforming for their new teams in the future. Then again, a player could blossom into an even stronger producer, compounding any misgivings about the teams’ non-action. What do you think?