Which 2023 NBA Offseason Moves Will Look Worst in 3 Years?

After first researching the 2023 offseason moves that will look your best in three years it is time to predict which will turn out to be the biggest mistakes.

Until now, last year’s predictions looks strong, with the Rudy Gobert trade and the Washington Wizards giving Bradley Beal a no-trade clause topping the 2022 roster.

From some massive overpayments, a star guard making the wrong choice with his player option, and a trade that doomed a franchise’s future finances while removing a key starter, these 2023 moves will look the worst in three year.

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Most of the time cap space is a good thing. Sometimes, like with the 2023 Houston Rockets, it can make you spend wildly on players just because you have them.

The NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement requires teams to spend at least 90 percent of the salary cap before the regular season begins. However, the Rockets made some truly questionable signings with their $60-plus million in salary cap space.

While the Fred VanVleet contract was a little wild (three years, $128.5 million with a third-year team option), Houston needed a point guard, veteran leader and culture setter. It was an overpayment, but he will make the rest of the young Rockets better.

On the other hand, giving Brooks $80-plus million was the worst contract handed out in free agency, especially since the final figure turned out to be $86 million over four years.

The primary problem with Brooks is that he is a defensive specialist who thinks he is an offensive specialist. Of the 74 NBA players who attempted at least 13 shots or more per game last season, Brooks’ true shooting mark was 49.4 percent ranked dead last.

Going from a championship-hopeful Memphis Grizzlies team to a young Houston Rockets team coming off a 22-win season likely won’t reduce Brooks’ shot selection either. The Rockets already placed last as a team in three-point efficiency (32.7 percent) and 28th in overall field-goal percentage (45.7 percent) this past season.

There is also no team option or partial guarantee in those four years to get Houston out of Brooks’ contract earlier. Every shot he takes away from players like Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., Alperen Şengün, Amen Thompson, Tari Eason and others will only hinder the progress of what could be one of the best young cores in the NBA.

It would have been understandable to get Brooks on a one- or two-year deal at an average exception-type salary. Paying him $20-plus million a year into his 30s doesn’t make sense for a Rockets team that instead needs to create shooting opportunities for its younger group.

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Harden, believed to be the best free agent on the market this offseason, surprised the league when he picked up his $35.6 million player option instead.

A month earlier, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said there was a chance Harden could land a four-year, $200 million contract as an unrestricted free agent. Harden had previously rejected a three-year, $161 million extension from the Brooklyn Nets in 2021.

With Harden turning 34 in August, this summer could have been his last chance to sign a max-level contract. Opting to play on an expiring $35 million deal while now ineligible to sign an extension is a potentially expensive move for Harden that he will almost certainly regret in three years.

Harden’s decision to take less money to be traded right away hasn’t worked so far, and there are no immediate trades on the horizon either. Joel Embiid he hopes change your mind. New teammate Patrick Beverley want him too.

Outside of the Los Angeles Clippers, there aren’t many teams that make sense as a Harden landing spot. That means the 2017-18 MVP might have to return to Philly with his tail between his legs.

Players typically don’t increase their value year-over-year into their mid-30s, which Harden will find out the hard way. He should have taken the Brooklyn extension, negotiated a long-term deal with the Sixers or at least tried to find a sign-and-trade this offseason.

No team is likely to offer Harden $200 million on a new deal next summer. The option was a big mistake.

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Kyrie Irving has averaged fewer than three seasons with his teams since requesting a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017. So it wouldn’t be a surprise if he tires of the Mavs (or vice versa) before the end of his new three-year, $126 million contract

Irving, who was paid over $40 million per season from Dallas, was a work of art by his agent and stepmother, Shetellia Riley Irving, especially since she also negotiated a third-year player option.

It was fair to wonder if Irving’s guaranteed money would be affected by his lack of availability in recent years, but it hardly mattered in the end. Irving’s contract has $120 million in guaranteed money, with only $6 million linked to incentives. Irving will collect an additional $1 million each season if the Mavs win at least 50 games and another $1 million if he plays in 65 or more games.

This was a desperate move by the Mavericks, who were desperate not to lose another star guard in free agency. Unlike Jalen Brunson, however, there were no other teams willing to give Irving that kind of money.

Something will eventually affect Irving’s availability. We just don’t know what yet.

Tying perhaps the most unpredictable player in the NBA to Luka Dončić is a dangerous game to play for Dallas, a franchise still largely carried by its Slovenian superstar. If (when?) Irving gets unhappy or becomes a distraction, the Mavs can only hope Dončić doesn’t ask out, too.

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On paper, getting Kristaps Porziņģis and two first-round picks for Marcus Smart looks like good value. Porziņģis is coming off a strong season, can be a third offensive option and rim protector for Boston and help balance the roster better.

However, dive deeper into the trade and this is a massive gamble for the Celtics.

Losing Smart, their starting point and an integral part of their success over the past nine seasons, is huge on a number of fronts. Once referred to called “the heart and soul of this team” by Jaylen Brown, Smart was Boston’s best passer and just one season removed from winning Defensive Player of the Year. He gets the Celtics into their offensive sets, calls teammates out if necessary and can start fires when they clearly need a spark.

With Smart, Jayson Tatum and Brown all sharing the floor this postseason, the Celtics had a net rating of plus-7.4 (90th percentile, per Cleaning the glass). When the two star strikers were on the field without Smart, that number tumbled minus -0.9 (47th percentile).

The Celtics will miss both Smart’s presence on the court and in the locker room. This trade will also have a big impact on their finances.

While Smart was owed a team-friendly average of nearly $20 million per year over the next three seasons, a two-year, $60 million extension for Porziņģis brings his total to $96 million over the next three seasons. That’s $12 million more per year than Smart, which is significant when looking at Boston’s financial future.

If Tatum and Brown each sign their expected $300-plus million extensions, the Celtics will become one of the NBA’s most expensive rosters going forward. Malcolm Brogdon is making $22.5 million each of the next two seasons, and Derrick White is also making about $19 million per year over that span.

Boston is destined to be another frontcourt team that will place restrictions on their future trades and drafts. With Porziņģis averaging only 54 games per season over the past four years since returning from a torn ACL, durability will remain a major concern going forward.

This trade may look fine now, but it has the potential to be disastrous in a few years.

Photo by AP/Kevin Kolczynski

Who among us expected Jerami Grant to sign the NBA’s biggest contract in free agency?

Appropriations 160 million dollars in total tops Fred VanVleet, Kyrie Irving, Khris Middleton and others. He was the only player to also sign a five-year deal.

Perhaps the Blazers did this so they didn’t lose a valuable player for nothing, locking up Grant with the hopes of turning him into a trade chip later. The 2018 Cleveland Cavaliers did the same with Kevin Love by giving him a four-year, $120 million extension that became untradeable almost immediately as Love crossed into his 30s.

In three years, Grant will be 32 and will still have two seasons and $70 million left on his contract, including a $36.4 million player option in 2027-28. He’s essentially being paid as a No. 1 or No. 2 option, but he’s probably the fourth-best player on a championship-caliber team. According to ProFitX.comGrant’s real-time contract this past season was valued at $19 million.

Portland has to hope Grant gets off to a strong start to the 2023-24 seasons and eats up more shooting opportunities after a Damian Lillard trade. The Blazers should try to move his contract as soon as possible, even if the ink is still drying.

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