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They thought they had him.

The Houston Rockets, upstarts on the verge of becoming dominant, had Chris Bosh in their sights. And then he was gone.

The big man's decision to re-sign with the Miami Heat was devastating for the Rockets, who had moved heaven (point guard Jeremy Lin and a first-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers) and earth (center Omer Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans for a first-round pick in return) to make room for Bosh and had nothing to show for it. And then came the salt-in-the-wound finish for Rockets general manager Daryl Morey: After a strategic decision to let Chandler Parsons become a restricted free agent, he made the tough decision not to match a three-year, $46 million offer from the rival Dallas Mavericks.

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Calculated risk is the name of the game in free agency, and it's worth remembering that the Rockets are in a better place now than they were a year ago at this time. Last August, they won the offseason by landing center Dwight Howard. But Howard is represented by agent Dan Fegan, who also represents Parsons and is suspected to have played a role in the Rockets not picking up his option for next season (worth less than $1 million).

Once Bosh was gone, the Rockets had to decide if last season's starting five (minus key backups Lin and Asik) was championship-worthy. They decided it wasn't and left hope for the future by not going all in with a beatable hand: Goodbye to Parsons and hello to Trevor Ariza, the small forward they signed for four years and $32 million. His defensive prowess will help Houston's perimeter woes (save for Patrick Beverley), and the Rockets still could have space for a maximum contract next summer.

The Lin trade, in particular, seemed to be a sign Morey had a commitment from one of the many free agent stars he was chasing, so Bosh's decision after LeBron James left the Heat dropped jaws around the NBA. The Rockets still will be good, but they took an undeniable step backward in free agency.

Here's a look at some of the other big winners and losers in 2014 NBA free agency:

WINNER: Cleveland Cavaliers

If a team signs LeBron James during free agency, it is a winner. James' return to Cleveland automatically makes the Cavaliers contenders in the Eastern Conference. Though James had a desire to return home, give the Cavaliers credit for ensuring all past issues between James and the team were resolved.

The Cavs front office — past and current executives — also deserve recognition for freeing up cap space to give James a maximum dollar amount, which was another key step in making this happen.

Cleveland also reached deals with forwards Mike Miller and James Jones, who played with James on the Heat. They give the Cavs depth, three-point shooting and experience, which will be beneficial for a team with several young players.

Finally, Cleveland has interest in Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love. It remains unclear if the teams can pull off a trade, but if they do, Cleveland will start All-Stars James, Love and Kyrie Irving.

LOSER: Miami Heat

If a team loses LeBron James during free agency, that must make it a loser. But the Heat mitigated the loss by re-signing forwards Bosh and Udonis Haslem and guard Dwyane Wade and persuading forwards Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger to sign. Even without James, Miami still is a quality team that will compete for a top-four seed in the East.

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WINNER: Washington Wizards

The Wizards wanted to keep Ariza, so when they lost him to Houston, it looked like they wouldn't even maintain the status quo — hardly an inspiring offseason even though they also re-signed big man Marcin Gortat. Then Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld pulled off a stunner —signing free agent forward Paul Pierce and big man Kris Humphries. Those moves solidify the emerging team's rotation and places Washington on the winners' list.

LOSER: Los Angeles Lakers

If the Rockets need to take solace in another team's pain, look no further than the Lakers. They heaved full-court shots at top free agents that fell short and essentially kept their rebuilding plan in neutral. Instead, their biggest addition was Chicago Bulls castoff Carlos Boozer. Players such as Lin, Jordan Hill, Nick Young and Wesley Johnson will hope that Kobe Bryant doesn't lose his mind while losing all those games, and the Lakers — barring an unforeseen blockbuster trade — will try to land a superstar free agent again next summer.

WINNER: San Antonio Spurs

Though they missed on Pau Gasol, the champions did enough to remain the favorites heading into next season. Tim Duncan quickly ended the talk of retirement by picking up his player option for next season and the Spurs maintained their depth and versatility by re-signing forward Boris Diaw and point guard Patty Mills. And in the most Spurs-esque move of all, Gregg Popovich agreed to an extension announced in a short-and-sweet team news release that — against the NBA norm — didn't even include comments from their revered coach.

LOSER: Indiana Pacers

The Pacers wouldn't budge on their offer to free agent guard Lance Stephenson, and they watched him join the Charlotte Hornets. The Pacers didn't replace him with equal talent (Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles), so it's hard to see how they improved in the offseason. But they do have more shooting now and shouldn't take too big a step backward.

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WINNER: Dallas Mavericks

Have they built the Dirk Nowitzki statue in Dallas yet? The Mavs' beloved star not only agreed to stay as a free agent, but he also did so on a three-year, $25 million deal. That softens the blow of adding Parsons on such an inflated contract, leaves room for even more flexibility going forward and gives Dallas a lineup of Raymond Felton, Monta Ellis, Parsons, Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler. They should be even more formidable than last season, when they gave the Spurs their toughest playoff test.

LOSER: Brooklyn Nets

The Nets didn't re-sign Pierce, though they brought back guard Alan Anderson and forward Andrei Kirilenko. Not a great offseason, but the Nets didn't have much to spend in free agency. GM Billy King must find ways to get assets since the Nets are short on first-round picks the next four seasons. Acquiring young guard-forward Sergey Karasev from the Cavaliers is a start, but it will interesting to see if King transforms the Nets roster from older and expensive to younger and more flexible.

WINNER: Chicago Bulls

The Bulls solidified their frontcourt big time, signing forward-center Gasol and bringing stretch forward Nikola Mirotic over from Spain. Alongside Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, the Bulls will have one of the best big-men rotations in the league.

GALLERY: Top 20 free agents

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