Not everyone can win the NBA’s free-agency period. It’s a zero-sum game, after all.  When the Golden State Warriors poached DeMarcus Cousins away from the other 29 organizations populating the Association, they won that move while the rest of the league lost.

Ditto for the Los Angeles Lakers after LeBron James chose to grace the Purple and Gold with his Father Time-defying presence. Each of these moves benefits the chosen team, while the remaining ones engage in a whiff forceful enough to lower the air temperature.  But some of these misfires impact one organization even more directly.  Take the New Orleans Pelicans, who were building a compelling squad around Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday.

Not only was the team thriving before Cousins went down with a ruptured Achilles—if anyone tells you the bayou residents are definitively better without Boogie, please check to see if they reside in Bomont and are utterly opposed to players with dance-related nicknames—but also it benefited tremendously from the inspired postseason play of Rajon Rondo.  Both those players are now gone, departed to the Warriors and Lakers, respectively. For New Orleans, that’s not one, but two whiffs.  If it gives the Pelicans any comfort, at least they’re not alone.  If you need one symbolic signing that represents the Minnesota Timberwolves’ futility this offseason, that’s a simple request.

Adding Anthony Tolliver on a one-year deal worth $5 million, as first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania, is a justifiable move that fills a need (floor spacing from the second-unit frontcourt), but the deal came so early in the free-agency period and hard-capped the organization, essentially preventing it from making any other splashes.  Given how quickly money is drying up in the current market, that’s a bit troubling—reminiscent of the Detroit Pistons hard-capping themselves last offseason to sign Langston Galloway during free agency’s opening salvo. And that’s not good news if the franchise is trying to win over a potentially disgruntled Jimmy Butler.  “A league source said Butler, who has been frustrated with the nonchalant attitudes of younger teammates—specifically Karl-Anthony Towns—does not intend to sign an extension with the Timberwolves,” Joe Cowley reported for the Chicago Sun-Times.  The Philadelphia 76ers have done just fine making low-level moves.

Absorbing Wilson Chandler into their cap space is a positive, especially because they picked up a second-round pick in the process. JJ Redick is coming back, and Nemanja Bjelica (more on him shortly) could be a savvy addition to the second unit.  But the Sixers are still whiffing on their top priority.  Blessed with plentiful cap space and a roster brimming with young, prodigious talents, this squad was in prime position to pair an established star with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Read more from…

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