Five biggest winners and losers among NBA teams in the off-season

The great soap opera starring DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers and Dallas Mavericks certainly has been the most entertaining story of the summer in the NBA.

The mini-drama, with emojis dominating Twitter on Wednesday as Jordan backed away his verbal commitment to join the Mavericks and instead re-signed with the Clippers, made it one of the memorable days in the history of free agency.

But it was only one deal.

It's been two and a half weeks since the NBA draft, and with a flurry of other key free agent signings and various trades, the basic makeup of next season's rosters have taken shape.

So it's time to review the five best and five worst team moves so far in the NBA.

WINNERS

1.SAN ANTONIO: The Spurs made the biggest splash in free agency and have put themselves back in the conversation as a major contender for the NBA crown.

They lured unrestricted free-agent All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge away from Portland, giving him an $84.1-million contract. Then San Antonio won the derby for free-agent power forward David West, giving him a veteran minimum deal of $1.5 million.

Equally important, the Spurs re-signed their best young player, Kawhi Leonard ($95.3 million), guard Danny Green ($45 million) and found out ageless wonders Tim Duncan, 39, and Manu Ginobili, 37, are returning to play.

2. CLIPPERS: The light shines bright again over Clippers Nation after things looked dark when they seemed to have lost Jordan.

Jordan may win the flip-flopper of the year award, but when he re-signed with the Clippers for $88 million, he immediately revived his team's championship hopes.

The Clippers added the veteran savvy and championship know-how of small forward Paul Pierce as a free-agent pickup and acquired the talented but mercurial shooting guard Lance Stephenson in a trade from Charlotte.

With those pieces, and All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers look to be in good shape — after being the third seed in the tough Western Conference last season.

3. CLEVELAND: The King is back.

And that makes everything just fine in northwest Ohio, because all Cavaliers fans know the team's fortunes start and end with LeBron James.

James re-upped with Cleveland, signing a $46.9-million contract, assuring this championship-starved city of another opportunity to compete for the NBA championship after the Cavaliers fell to the Golden State Warriors in the Finals last month.

Kevin Love signed a $113-million deal to stay in Cleveland and guard Iman Shumpert re-signed with the team for $40 million.

Once the Cavaliers get forward Tristan Thompson signed and get Kyrie Irving (left kneecap surgery) back healthy, they will be a force again in the Eastern Conference.

4. MIAMI: There were some tense moments the face of the Heat franchise might actually leave.

But the Heat and Dwyane Wade came to their senses, with the 11-time All-Star agreeing to a one-year contract for $20 million.

Miami also re-signed talented point guard Goran Dragic to a $90-million deal and forward Luol Deng opted into his $10.2-million contract.

And the Heat got lucky in the NBA draft, selecting athletic swingman Justise Winslow with the 10th overall pick.

5. LAKERS: For the third consecutive summer, the Lakers lost out on their key free-agent targets. Aldridge turned them down, as did center Greg Monroe, who went to Milwaukee, and Jordan stayed with the Clippers.

Another off-season disaster was lurking, but instead of coming up empty, the Lakers signed free agent sixth man of the year Lou Williams to a $21-million contract. The team also signed veteran forward Brandon Bass and acquired Indiana center Roy Hibbert for a second-round pick.

The Lakers also drafted guard D'Angelo Russell, the No. 2 overall pick, and the team has a healthy Julius Randle, who missed his rookie season after breaking his right leg in the first game of the season.

LOSERS

1.DALLAS: The Mavericks were disappointed by Jordan and it was no fault of their own. Jordan left them hanging, pushing them closer to the lottery than the playoffs, and left owner Mark Cuban fuming.

The Mavericks are expected to sign point guard Deron Williams after his buyout with Brooklyn, and Dallas acquired center Zaza Pachulia from Milwaukee. But the Jordan fiasco hurts.

2. PORTLAND: Rip City lost a major talent when Aldridge bolted. Worse, the basketball-crazed city saw four starters depart — Aldridge (San Antonio), Wesley Matthews (Dallas), Robin Lopez (New York) and Nicolas Batum (Charlotte) — and the Trail Blazers lost part-time starter Arron Afflalo (New York). That's a lot to recover from.

3. INDIANA: It has to be bad in Indianapolis if West opted out of his contract, and walked away from $12.6 million, to take an $11.1-million pay cut to sign with the Spurs for next season.

West didn't like the way the Pacers treated his friend, Hibbert. Pacers' boss Larry Bird soured on Hibbert and made it clear he wanted to move the center to another team.

So now the Pacers, who missed the playoffs last season, are in rebuilding mode.

4. NEW YORK: Just hearing Knicks fans boo the draft selection of 19-year-old Latvian player Kristaps Porzingis, the No. 4 overall pick, showed the fan base wants to win now and not in the future.

Then Knicks President Phil Jackson signs guard Afflalo and center Lopez, who were the fourth- and fifth-best players on Portland's team, respectively. Jackson also signed underachieving power forward Derrick Williams and acquired forward Kyle O'Quinn in a sign-and-trade with Orlando.

But it all goes back to the entitled Knicks fans booing Porzingis, who is touted as a Dirk Nowitzki-type talent, but who will probably take years to develop.

5. DENVER: The Nuggets, who had a 30-52 record last season, did little or nothing to improve.

They drafted guard Emmanuel Mudiay with the seventh pick in the first round and hired Coach Michael Malone. But Denver made no other significant moves to show its fans that better times are ahead.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter:@BA_Turner

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
52°