Steinmetz: The good, bad and ugly of the NBA offseason

When it comes to free agency in the NBA, there’s still a lot of ballgame remaining. We’re only a week into the official signing period. Still, some teams are off to fast starts and others have stumbled. There is a lot left to come, but it’s never too early to take stock.

Winners: Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors

¤ The Sixers have made the biggest splash of the offseason, swiping power forward Elton Brand from the Clippers and beating out the Warriors for him in the process.

Brand was the best frontcourt free agent available, and Philly put the full-court press on for him. Trading Rodney Carney and Calvin Booth to Minnesota gave the Sixers more money to throw at Brand and may have been the difference.

The Eastern Conference is making incremental strides toward overall respectability, and this signing helps. Brand might not put the Sixers in the Boston-Detroit class, but he puts them closer. 

¤ Jermaine O’Neal was once one of the league’s best frontcourt players. But as he was asked to carry more of the load for Indiana, he methodically began to lose his mojo. It didn’t help that he’d been banged-up the past few seasons. But getting O’Neal for essentially T.J. Ford was a no-brainer for the Raptors, who already have one long and lean power forward: Chris Bosh. That’s an intriguing tandem.

Re-signing Jose Calderon was a must, and that got done, too.

Losers: Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers.

¤ The Warriors are in a hole this offseason, having lost their team leader and face of the franchise, Baron Davis, to the Clippers. They’ve replaced him by signing Corey Maggette, and Rony Turiaf is likely to follow.

But the question is this: Before all thiscame down, would you have traded Davis for Maggette and Turiaf? The answer is an unequivocal “No.” Warriors president Robert Rowell and executive vice president of basketball operations Chris Mullin still have work to do. 

¤ The Clippers headed into the offseason with dreams of a

Davis-Brand combo. Instead, they’re sitting with Davis and are without Brand and Maggette. Signing Davis was a coup for the Clippers. But put it this way: Would the Clippers have traded Brand and Maggette for Davis? The answer is an unequivocal “No.”

Sideways: Washington Wizards

¤ The Wizards’ front office is quietly celebrating after holding onto Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas. Losing either or both of these players would have been a disaster, but Washington management stepped up and paid huge money to each.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Wizards didn’t get any better by doing this. They simply stayed the same. Who knows how Arenas will respond after missing most of last year with injury?

Jamison is solid but not getting any better. It’s still the same old issue in D.C., finding better players to surround Arenas, Jamison and Caron Butler.

Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

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