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@DennisBerry those "also rans" happened to be cap-friendly contracts to allow us to be able to hang on to some combination of Harden, Ibaka, and Maynor next season. In a tight-money offseason we were able to haul in Jones III, who was once a top 5 talent and presented the biggest steal of the draft at #28 other than Sullinger to Boston. We brought in Thabeet, who was once a #2 overall pick, so somebody must have seen something in him, Scott Brooks and Maurice Cheeks are great coaches to get the most out of him, he didn't really cost anything if he doesn't pan out for us, and I'm sorry but was any player really going to thrive in Houston last year? Hollis Thompson and Reggie Jackson looked great in the summer league, and best of all, we get a healthy Maynor back, who many consider to be one of the best backup PGs in the league.
we may not have signed any big name "actual contributors" but we didn't really need to. where exactly would this year's big name free agents have fit on this team? D-Will or Nash? We've got Westbrook. Eric Gordon? We've got Harden. Sure, Hibbert or Brook Lopez would be a great upgrade over Perkins, but we don't have the salary cap space. A Howard trade would have been great, but just like Miami did a few years ago when LeBron, Wade, and Bosh all came together on big contracts, taking on a Howard long-term contract would mean dumping our whole current bench (arguably one of the best in the league) and signing a bunch of cheap players in order to afford him, let alone having to trade away Harden/Ibaka, Jones III, Maynor, and picks just in the trade alone.
Sorry, but I think you're forgetting that we have some pretty great "actual contributors" on the roster already.
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