Things are still fluid in the NBA free-agency/trade season, and they probably will be for the foreseeable future. Even with most of the major names already set on their new destinations, plenty of business is being done. But not every move will work out. In fact, many of them will crash and burn early. Last summer's opening splash --- Philadelphia luring Elton Brand away from the Los Angeles Clippers with a monster $84 million offer --- ended with a season-ending shoulder injury after 23 games.
That said, summer remains a time of hope for teams that have taken the plunge into the free-agent waters.
Here are eight guys vying for the honor of this summer's highest-impact free-agent acquisition:
New team: Dallas
Old team: Toronto
The case for Marion: The Mavericks have been searching for an identity since collapsing against Miami during the 2006 NBA Finals. Adding a veteran talent such as Marion to accompany Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Josh Howard might be the tweak needed to put a permanent smile on Mark Cuban's face. Of course, the Heat and Raptors thought that, too, and things didn't exactly work out in either place, not that Marion can be faulted entirely for those failed experiments.
The verdict: Marion hasn't been the same since he left Steve Nash.
New team: Hawks
Old team: Golden State
The case for Crawford: His task this season will be simple now that Mike Bibby is back in the fold to run the team: lead the NBA in points off the bench. Crawford, one of the league's most explosive offensive players, should have no trouble with that directive. Hawks coach Mike Woodson hasn't unveiled his plans for deploying Crawford and Bibby in a backcourt rotation that also includes All-Star and captain Joe Johnson. But the versatility of all three players, not to mention rookie Jeff Teague and veteran Mo Evans, certainly helps.
The verdict: A low-risk move with huge potential for Hawks .
New team: Detroit
Old team: Chicago
The case for Gordon: What is it with these two teams stealing each other's free agents? The Bulls swiped Ben Wallace a few years back and regretted it weeks into the season. Gordon is a much better fit with the Pistons than Wallace was with the Bulls. But $55 million for Gordon, who isn't even the best shooting guard on the roster (remember Rip Hamilton) does seem a bit strange for a Pistons team that can ill-afford to make too many more mistakes and stay among the playoff regulars in the Eastern Conference.
The verdict: This is recently hired coach John Kuester's headache come training camp.
New team: LA Lakers
Old team: Houston
The case for Artest: This is easily the riskiest move of the summer, so far. The Lakers are tampering with their championship chemistry by adding an emotional but undeniably dynamic talent in Artest, who takes over the starting spot previously occupied by rising young talent Trevor Ariza (who signed with Artest's old team). If anyone can manage a player like Artest, it's Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who dealt with Dennis Rodman at his eccentric best.
The verdict: This could be a $90 million science experiment that blows up in Kobe Bryant's face.
New team: Toronto
Old team: Orlando
The case for Turkoglu: He put an unusual twist on the free-agent season by agreeing to terms with Portland first and then reneging on that deal and choosing a slightly more lucrative deal with the Raptors. It won't take long to find out if Turkoglu's rise in recent seasons had more to do with his play or with playing alongside Dwight Howard. The Raptors can use plenty of what Turkoglu brings, particularly his clutch shot-making.
The verdict: Make the playoffs and it was all worth it.
New team: Orlando
Old team: New Jersey
The case for Carter: The Magic sacrificed great chemistry, not to mention Hedo Turkoglu and promising youngster Courtney Lee, for what they hope will be a jolt of superstar talent on the perimeter in Carter, who remains one of the NBA's more electrifying talents. This deal looks better on paper than it might play out. Stan Van Gundy will have to be at his hair-raising best to keep the Magic locked into the championship hunt they were on before being upended by the Lakers in the NBA Finals.
The verdict: Anything short of a title makes this deal a disaster.
New team: Boston
Old team: Detroit
The case for Wallace: He was the missing piece for a championship team once before, in Detroit. Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is betting that he can work similar Magic for his team. Wallace also serves as an insurance policy for Kevin Garnett, who will be coming back from major knee surgery and might need a little time to get back to his usual, superstar level of play. The biggest challenge in Boston is keeping all these high-profile players on the same page for a third consecutive season.
The verdict: The Celtics go for broke for two more years before starting over.
New team: Cleveland
Old team: Phoenix
The case for O'Neal: The Big Witness (one of the loquacious O'Neal's latest self-appointed monikers) adds a Hollywood element of intrigue to an already spine-tingling time for Cavaliers fans, who wonder if next season will be the last in wine and gold for hometown hero LeBron James. At 37, O'Neal is no longer the dominant force he once was, but he's still a force to be reckoned with in the low post and gives the Cavaliers a presence (when healthy) capable of battling Orlando's Dwight Howard for air and space around the basket.
The verdict: It works only if the Cavs win a title.