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updated: 7/6/2013 9:20 PM

Winners, losers and tankers in NBA free agency

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  • Forward Josh Smith will be playing for the Detroit Pistons next season.

      Forward Josh Smith will be playing for the Detroit Pistons next season.
    Associated Press

 

By Mike McGraw

The dominoes toppled pretty quickly during the first week of NBA free agency.

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The most significant move, whether it turns out good or bad, obviously was Dwight Howard agreeing to join Houston. A few hours later, most of the big names were off the board.

The latest moves Saturday were Josh Smith agreeing to terms with Detroit, ex-Golden State guard Jarrett Jack going to Cleveland and power forward Carl Landry to Sacramento. Contracts can be signed beginning Wednesday.

One trend was predictable: A large number of teams are vying for a good spot in the 2014 lottery, when a group of strong incoming freshmen, including Kansas' Andrew Wiggins and Duke's Jabari Parker, are expected to be at the top of the draft.

With so much activity, let's take a look at the winners, losers and best tankers during the NBA's free-agent frenzy:

Winners

Golden State: The surprise team of the Western Conference playoffs didn't start out with any cap room but managed to land ex-Nuggets swingman Andre Iguodala.

In the process, the Warriors convinced Utah to take on three players they didn't want or need -- Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush.

Golden State's depth took a hit by losing Jack and Landry, so this is not a slam dunk. A couple of years ago, Iguodala qualified as one of the league's most overpaid guys, but he seems to have figured out that winning is important.

Brooklyn: No telling how Celtics South is going to work, but we all remember the Bulls refusing to guard Reggie Evans and Gerald Wallace in the first round of the playoffs.

Filling those two spots with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett certainly changes the defensive game plan. On the Bold Move Scale, this one ranks pretty high.

Shooters: Perimeter shooters have been at a premium, with Kyle Korver getting $24 million over four years, J.J. Redick $27 million for four years and O.J. Mayo $24 million over three, just to name a few.

The point guards and veteran big men have barely been touched as NBA teams focused on the court-spreading shooters.

Bulls: This is tepid success, but considering the Bulls didn't have much to spend and the market for outside shooters soared, they did pretty well to quickly lock up Mike Dunleavy Jr., who knocked down 42.8 percent of his 3-point shots last season. In comparison, Dorrell Wright, who agreed to the same deal with Portland, shot .374 from 3-point land.

Marco Belinelli: He talked all season about how happy he was to join a winner. When the Bulls turned him away, Belinelli landed a nice spot in San Antonio. He likely will take the spot in the rotation previously occupied by Gary Neal, who is not expected back.

Jury is out

Houston: Landing Dwight Howard was a victory, no doubt, but the talented center is coming off a couple of tough years. Howard's best success came when Orlando surrounded him with outside shooters, and the Rockets have some work to do in that regard, but James Harden and Howard is a promising combination.

Lakers: The whole Dwight debacle was strange. He was coming off back surgery but played at the start of last season why? To show people how tough he is? Then he couldn't take the criticism when people complained that he wasn't playing well?

There was talk about how this move was a blow to the Lakers' legacy because no one is supposed to willingly leave the league's dominant West Coast franchise. But with Kobe Bryant coming off a torn Achilles, a season in the tank might produce a better result. You heard it here first: the Lakers and the Celtics will be two of the final three in the 2014 draft lottery.

Losers

Dallas: Remember how the Mavs let some key players go from the 2011 championship team because they had a grand plan to add Deron Williams and Dwight Howard?

Well, since then Dallas has plummeted in the standings and ended up signing Jose Calderon this weekend. The Mavs can't really tank because Dirk Nowitzki is 35.

Milwaukee: The Bucks have done some strange player rentals in recent years (Richard Jefferson and Corey Maggette are two examples), but the J.J. Redick experience can't be topped.

To get Redick, they traded forward Tobias Harris to Orlando, and he averaged nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds over the last 15 games of the season. Then after flipping Redick to the Clippers, Milwaukee came away with two second-round picks. Well played.

Omer Asik: The former Bulls center loved playing starter's minutes in Houston last season. Well, Omer, meet your new locker mate, Dwight Howard.

Not sure the Rockets can even trade him, since Asik will be paid $15 million next season. That was so Houston could wrestle him away from the Bulls last summer. Brilliant.

Denver: Fire coach of the year. Let top executive run to Toronto. Watch Danilo Gallinari suffer a torn ACL. Wave goodbye as Andre Iguodala takes a smaller offer from Golden State. That's no path to success.

Utah: The Jazz landed Trey Burke in the draft, but few people would have thought Utah would let both Al Jefferson (Charlotte) and Paul Millsap (Atlanta) walk away for nothing in return.

File the Jazz into the tankers column with Boston, Philadelphia, Orlando, Phoenix, Sacramento, maybe Milwaukee and probably the Lakers.

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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