The most anticipated summer of free agency in NBA history isn't over yet. But less than two weeks after it began, all the major pieces are in place. The big-name players have found new homes, or stayed in their old ones, and the teams staking their futures on those players' choices are ecstatic, devastated or somewhere in between. John Galinsky sorts out the winners and losers.
Loser: LeBron James
Hard to blame him for picking Miami and his two superstar buddies. Very, very easy to blame him for the self-indulgent spectacle that turned his free agency into a farce. For someone who managed his image so well for years, he was tone deaf to public perception the last few weeks. And now, for many fans and sneaker buyers, his rep is tarnished forever.
Winner: Mediocre big men
Forget for a moment that Amar'e Stoudemire got $100 million from the Knicks and Carlos Boozer $80M from the Bulls. At least they're All-Stars. The real sign that big men are in short supply and teams had way too much money to spend is the deals signed by journeymen like Darko Milicic (pictured, $20 million from Timberwolves), Tyrus Thomas ($40M from Bobcats), Channing Frye ($30M from Suns), Drew Gooden ($32M from Bucks) and Amir Johnson ($34M from Raptors) to name a few. And if you don't know who Amir Johnson is, that's the point.
Loser: New York Knicks
The three men at the bottom of this picture (coach Mike D'Antoni, owner James Dolan and team president Donnie Walsh) basically tanked the last two seasons in order to create cap space for this summer. They surely hoped to end up with more than a second-tier superstar for their troubles. Amar'e Stoudemire is a nice player, especially when Steve Nash is delivering him the ball, but he's not going to make this once-proud franchise relevant again.
Winner: Chicago Bulls
Like the Knicks, the Bulls cleared cap space to make a run at LeBron James and settled for a good power forward. So why are they winners? Because they added Carlos Boozer to a solid nucleus of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, meaning Chicago should be one of the better teams in the East. Boozer and Kyle Korver give the Bulls the low-post scorer and shooter, respectively, they lacked last season.
Loser: Los Angeles Clippers
The Clips had money and no marquee free agent wanted to take it. Go figure.
Winner: Boston Celtics
They re-signed Ray Allen (two years, $20 million) and Paul Pierce (four years, $64 million), meaning the Big Three will get at least one more chance at a title together. Too old? Probably. But after their unlikely playoff run fell just short, they deserve another shot before the Celtics try to rebuild.
Loser: Dan Gilbert
The Cavs' owner had every right to be upset about LeBron's snub of his team and his city. But this upset? His shrill, bitter e-mail and over-the-top rants made him seem seriously unhinged, as if his answer to LeBron's franchise devaluation was an attempt at character assassination. Teenage girls handle breakups better.
Winner: Pat Riley
A lot of front-office executives around the league gambled their franchise's futures on this free-agent class. Only Riley cashed in. He did it by reeling in all three of the biggest catches in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Now the only question is whether he'll step down from the front office to coach them.
Loser: Mikhail Prokhorov
The Russian billionaire entered the NBA ownership ranks with a bold prediction, saying the 70-loss Nets would win a championship within five years. Reality may be setting in now that New Jersey failed to land any of the big names in this class. With no dramatic way of upgrading their roster in the foreseeable future, the Nets will be fortunate to make the playoffs in the next five years.
Winner: Joe Johnson
Desperate to avoid regressing, the Hawks rewarded Johnson with a max contract despite his 29-percent shooting in a second-round sweep by the Orlando Magic. Now, since Miami's three stars accepted less money to join forces, Johnson's deal ($116 million) is the richest of the class. Cha-ching!