The NBA usually focuses strictly on basketball during the playoffs, but front offices don't go completely dark during this time of year. Scouts and executives are preparing for the draft and free agency, and sometimes teams get a jump-start on the summer with a key move. Here are five such transactions from the past three springs.
June 20th, 2012: Pelicans (then Hornets) trade Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to Wizards for Rashard Lewis and the 46th pick in the 2012 draft — None of the players in this deal had team-friendly contracts, but New Orleans swapped two years of Okafor and Ariza for one season of Lewis, whose massive $22.7MM salary for 2012/13 was only guaranteed for $13.7MM. New Orleans waived Lewis to save the $9MM difference. The Wizards played well in stretches this season, but Okafor and Ariza failed to help them into the playoffs. Both intend to opt in for next season, at a combined cost of $22.2MM.
May 30th, 2011: Timberwolves sign Ricky Rubio — Rubio and the Wolves ended a nearly two-year wait, finally agreeing on a rookie-scale contract after Minnesota made him the fifth overall pick in 2009. The two-year delay made Rubio slightly more expensive, since he signed for the 2011 scale amount, rather than the figure from 2009, but it also bought the Wolves some time before they have to extend or re-sign Rubio with his next contract, which figures to include a sizable raise. If Minnesota had signed Rubio in 2009, his rookie contract would be up this summer.
April 20th, 2011: Grizzlies extend Zach Randolph — Eighth-seeded Memphis had a 1-0 lead on the No. 1 seed Spurs when the Grizzlies finalized their four-year, $66MM extension. Z-Bo paid immediate dividends, leading Memphis to a series victory over San Antonio and helping push the Thunder to seven games in the next round. The past two seasons haven't been as fruitful, though, as Randolph's scoring has declined to an average of 14.4 points per game in 2011/12 and 2012/13 after four straight 20-PPG seasons.
June 17th, 2010: Kings trade Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni to Sixers for Samuel Dalembert — The Kings sent the 10th pick in the 2007 draft away with one season remaining on his rookie-scale contract for Dalembert, who also had just one season left on his deal. Unlike the affordable Hawes, Dalembert cost $13.4MM that season, and gave the Kings just 24.2 minutes per game. Nocioni had a similar cap hit spread out over two seasons, with $13.5MM left on his deal through 2012, but he never played a significant role in Philadelphia.
April 20, 2010: Trail Blazers extend Marcus Camby — Camby signed a two-year, $17.7MM extension, but after helping the Blazers to their third straight playoff appearance in 2011, Portland traded Camby to the Rockets at the deadline in 2012. In return, the Blazers received only Hasheem Thabeet and Jonny Flynn, neither of whom is with the team anymore, along with a future second-round pick. The Rockets signed-and-traded Camby last summer for a package of three players who are no longer with them, either.