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LeBron James
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

No, free agency isn’t officially in the books just yet, but all of the major pieces have fallen into place.

Like every offseason for every sport, there must be winners and there must be losers. Here are the five teams that “won” NBA free agency in the summer of 2014:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Duh. LeBron James is “coming home” to Cleveland and the team is all of a sudden back to being the favorite to win the NBA championship.

The world’s best basketball player now joins a young, talented lineup featuring Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, and either a high-potential prospect like Andrew Wiggins or All-Star power forward Kevin Love.

With James in the fold, more free agents will want to play in Cleveland over the next few years. They become the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

2. Dallas Mavericks

Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons are different-makers, and in acquiring them they helped weaken in-state rival Houston.

A front-court featuring Parsons, Chandler, and Dirk Nowitzki makes Dallas all the more dangerous, and if you remember Dallas pushed the defending champion Spurs more than any other team did in the postseason.

I consider Parsons to be a star in the making, with numbers comparable to Lance Stephenson‘s. That gives the Mavs a potential star in the post-Dirk era.

3. Charlotte Hornets

Josh McRoberts was the big loss. So … that’s it?

Lance Stephenson came to Charlotte for only a slightly higher paycheck than what Indiana offered him. Stephenson was one of only four players to average at least 13 points, seven boards, and four assists per game, and led the league with five triple-doubles and set career-highs in eight different statistical categories.

That’s a major improvement for a playoff team, especially in the Eastern Conference.

4. New York Knicks

Those who think that losing Carmelo Anthony would have been a good move for New York are wrong, because whenever you lose one of the NBA’s elite scorers you’re bound to regress in a big way.

Now ‘Melo is back in the fold along with new additions Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a budding talent.

Like LeBron’s return to the Cavs, Anthony back in New York allows Phil Jackson to continue to recruit players to play with a superstar.

5. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs didn’t make any big splashes in free agency, but they re-signed guard Patty Mills and power forward Boris Diaw to retain key cogs on their championship roster.

Tim Duncan also opted in to play at least one more season, while Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili will not play in international competition, which is also a win because they finally have a chance to get healthy.

The team also extended coach Gregg Popovich’s deal.

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