This NBA offseason did not disappoint, with front offices shifting the direction of their teams, big-name free agents finding new homes, and a flurry of new and promising players entering the league. With all of this excitement, however, there has to be a loser. Poor draft choices, overpaying free agents, or failing to meet expectations can potentially plague franchises for years to come. Here are the five biggest losers from the 2022 NBA offseason…
5. Charlotte Hornets
The Charlotte Hornets may have been the very definition of ‘stagnant’ this offseason. They have not yet added a single player to their roster via trade nor free agency, and fans would’ve loved to have Memphis Tigers’ standout Jalen Duren in Buzz City, but they decided to trade that pick to the Detroit Pistons to select Duke center Mark Williams at 15th overall.
Williams is in no way a very good nor bad player yet; he hasn’t stepped onto an NBA court. While Duren is in the same boat, when you have the opportunity to draft a standout center that was drawing comparisons to a young Dwight Howard, it shouldn’t have been that easy of a pass up.
On top of this, Hornets forward and standout player Miles Bridges was charged with felony domestic violence and child abuse this summer.
Bridges, who is a restricted free agent this offseason, averaged 20.2 ppg and 7.0 rpg last season, at just 24 years old. Despite the on-court success, there is a good chance that Miles Bridges never plays in the NBA again, for obvious reasons.
Speaking of Hornets getting into trouble this offseason, forward/center Montrezl Harrell was stopped with three pounds of marijuana in July, and will hold his hearing in August. Harrell, an unrestricted free agent, has at least been linked to teams such as the Miami Heat, so there isn’t much doubt that he’ll be back on the court again.
Consider these situations, along with the draft choices, and the inability to sign or even trade for a single player, and you have a recipe for disaster. Once again, it looks like the Hornets will be a middle-of-the-pack team this season, unless the rest of their roster takes a major leap.
4. Washington Wizards
If you take a look at what the Wizards have done this offseason, you may scratch your head. “How are they a loser?” you may ask. They did manage to extend Bradley Beal on a massive five-year, $251 million supermax contract. Locking up your franchise star looks good on paper, but consider the Wizards’ situation:
Washington missed the playoffs last season. They didn’t even make the NBA Play-In Tournament. Beal is 29 years old, and the Wizards have failed to bring him any sort of help this offseason. Their biggest move was selecting Johnny Davis out of Wisconsin with the tenth overall pick in the NBA Draft.
It just doesn’t look like sticking with Bradley Beal is going to work out. The Wizards should have traded Beal this past season when they had the chance. They could have started their rebuild early instead of trading for Kristaps Porzingis and trying to make the playoffs, then failing to do so.
Many would say the Wizards are in the worst possible position as an NBA team: mediocrity. It’s better to have a set direction: rebuild through the draft and build your team from the ground up, or solidify yourself as a contender. The Wizards are in the middle with no direction: compete for the Play-In Tournament and hope for the best.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers were flat out mediocre this offseason. They’ve had ten players enter free agency, and have signed six new players. None of those 16 roster changes are relevant. In the NBA Draft, L.A. took Max Christie out of Michigan State, a solid shooter to complement floor spacing.
The reason the Lakers are a loser this offseason is because of one player: Russell Westbrook. There’s no need to get into the details of Westbrook’s 2021-22 season. It was just a flat-out disappointment.
What was almost certain was that the Lakers would look to shop Westbrook and all of the $47 million that goes with him. Unfortunately, no one wants Westbrook, and some people go as far as to ask if he’ll ever play in the NBA again.
That’s a little extreme. Russ did average 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.1 assists last season. The numbers don’t lie, Westbrook is still a good NBA player. But team-fit is valued more than ever in today’s game, and Westbrook doesn’t seem to fit any team.
LeBron James and a fully healthy Anthony Davis are looking to take the league by storm once again, but can they really do it if they don’t have the necessary support? GM Rob Pelinka can’t be done yet, and LeBron isn’t either. James became eligible for a $97 million contract extension on August 4, but it’s still unclear what direction he wants to move in.
The Lakers are very much in contention for a top seed in the West this season, but what they have is not enough to move past teams like the Clippers, Warriors, and even Suns when the postseason rolls around. Time will tell if the Lakers make big moves, but for now, it’s been anything but a good offseason in Los Angeles.
2. New York Knicks
The NBA is all about perspective. It truly is a blessing that we are so fortunate to engage in the debate of our great sport, and witness so many different opinions from so many different basketball minds.
There are two perspectives you can have when looking at Manhattan’s NBA franchise: you have one side of the spectrum laughing at the New York Knicks for their decision-making, and you have the other side of the spectrum defending the team.
The only people that defend the team are Knicks fans.
The entire NBA is laughing at the New York Knicks, not because of what they’ve done, but how they’ve done it. The Knicks opened the NBA Draft by trading away their lottery pick for compensation in future drafts. It’s not a horrible start, because it can be justified. Even though it would’ve been great to add a fresh and young face, the Knicks haven’t exactly been the luckiest in terms of drafting.
The Knicks then traded away role players in Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel for cash considerations and draft capital. Again, not bad. What IS bad is when you find out they did all of this to sign Jalen Brunson to a four-year, $104 million contract.
Jalen Brunson is not an NBA All-Star, and the Knicks decided he was worth more money than any other player on their team. On top of that, Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell was sure to be traded to New York weeks ago, but those trade talks have stalled, and it seems unlikely Mitchell will ever be a Knick. To top it all off, Julius Randle is one of the most hated people in New York, and he is currently on their active roster.
So there you have it. Your average New York Knicks offseason. Overpay for a mediocre player, draft poorly, and let the rest of the NBA laugh at you while you can’t even make the NBA Play-In Tournament.
1. Brooklyn Nets
Two New York teams. Two of the biggest losers. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Brooklyn Nets are the biggest atrocity this offseason. The thing is, the Nets haven’t officially lost anyone significant yet. They did add a veteran forward in T.J. Warren, and a solid role player in Royce O’Neal.
This would’ve worked, if only their biggest star had stayed committed to the team. Kevin Durant wants out of Brooklyn, and even though Kyrie Irving picked up his player option for the 2022-23 season, the decision would have only made sense if Durant didn’t request a trade soon thereafter.
‘Disappointment’ was the best word to describe the Nets last season. A first-round exit and a whirlwind of controversy surrounding Irving and his relationship with the team left Durant to seek a new opportunity over the summer. Durant requested a trade from Brooklyn on June 30, 2022, and GM Sean Marks is still actively looking for a suitor.
With the odds of Durant ever stepping on the court again for the Nets extremely slim, you can’t help but ask questions. What direction are they going in? Have they tried to convince Durant to stay? Will they trade Kyrie Irving? Where does Ben Simmons fit in all of this? There are so many questions and still no answers.
When one of the greatest human beings to ever pick up a basketball requests a trade from your team, you lose. It’s as simple as that, and there’s no debate: the Brooklyn Nets are this offseason’s biggest loser.