NBA Offseason Grades: Don't be fooled by Bulls' big-name moves
On the flipside, the Celtics came up aces and may not be done
In an offseason that saw Kevin Durant leave Oklahoma City to join the 73-win Golden State Warriors and Mr. Miami, Dwyane Wade, go back to Chicago to play for his hometown Bulls, there is plenty to discuss from a very busy offseason -- which may be far from over, with rumors still flying about Russell Westbrook possibly moving on from Oklahoma City as well, possibly to Boston, which is also reportedly trying to land Clippers star Blake Griffin.
So, yeah, sort of a crazy summer so far.
Here are our grades and analysis for each team's offseason to this point:
In: Dwight Howard, Kent Bazemore (re-signed), Taurean Prince, DeAndre Bembry, Jarrett Jack, Kris Humphries (re-signed)
Out: Al Horford
Howard's contract in and of itself is fine. The Hawks managed the years, and kept Kent Bazemore who had high demand on the market. But they had trade efforts involving Paul Millsap leak, and you can't feel confident that the pairing of Millsap and Howard will be better than Millsap and Horford were.
Throw in trading Jeff Teague for a pick in a poor draft to give the keys to Dennis SchroÃ¶der, who is promising but inconsistent, and you have a pretty sketchy recipe. I'm skeptical of what Mike Budenholzer has planned with this roster, but I'm open to the idea that he can get more from them than what's on paper.
In: Al Horford, Amir Johnson (re-signed), Jaylen Brown, Guerschon Yabusele, Demetrius Jackson
Out: Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner
Touchdown Tom may not have been able to help get Kevin Durant to come to Boston, but overall the Celtics had a solid offseason just with the addition of Horford. Boston also let Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger walk, which should open up plenty of playing time for the plethora of youth on its roster. Horford signing with them is a major win for the Celtics as the All-Star big man is perhaps Boston's biggest free agent signing in the last couple of decades.
Having Horford instantly makes the Celtics markedly better, and if they somehow manage to land Westbrook or Griffin, they become a real challenger to the Cavs' hold on the East. Grabbing Jaylen Brown with the the third pick over Kris Dunn, who has looked great in summer league, makes sense from a fit standpoint, but Dunn might well be the better player and this could end up being a big miss.
In: Jeremy Lin, Trevor Booker, Justin Hamilton, Anthony Bennett, Randy Foye, Caris Levert, Isaiah Whitehead
Out: Wayne Ellington, Thaddeus Young, Jarrett Jack
Wanting to get younger, Brooklyn put in offers for Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe but the Heat and Trail Blazers, respectively, matched those contracts. The Nets still had a very solid offseason. The addition of Trevor Booker is a good one as he should provide depth and energy off the bench. Jeremy Lin, though, is their prized signing. He will instantly be the face of the franchise in Brooklyn, which means the Nets will just be raking in cash as Lin's popularity is quite amazing. From a basketball standpoint, Lin will be their starting point guard and his relationship with new coach Kenny Atkinson should allow for a smooth transition in Brooklyn.
In: Nicolas Batum (re-signed), Marvin Williams (re-signed), Marco Bellinelli
Out: Jeremy Lin, Courtney Lee, Al Jefferson
Losing Lin, Lee, and Jefferson hurts, but it wasn't financially reasonable to keep the guards and Jefferson had slid too much to invest highly in him. The trade of their first-rounder (who could have been talented wings Patrick McCaw or Malachi Richardson) resulted in just Marco Belinelli. But they kept Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams, and those two were pivotal to their success last year. Imagine if they'd just taken the reported four picks they were offered for the pick they used on Frank Kaminsky last year.
In: Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, Denzel Valentine, Paul Zipser
Out: Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Justin Holiday, Mike Dunleavy, E'Twaun Moore, Aaron Brooks
The Bulls obviously needed to move on from the Rose-Noah-Thibodeau era, and they have done that. The problem is that they have not followed any sort of plan while doing so. They were supposed to be getting younger and faster, but instead they signed Rondo and Wade. These guys don't help Chicago's spacing, and they don't necessarily complement its star, Jimmy Butler.
If either Wade or Rondo can still be considered a star, which is very debatable at this point (with Rondo, it's not even really a conversation anymore), then the clock is ticking very quickly on how long they can produce at that level. They need to win now, and this team is nowhere near being ready to win now. Ultimately, these were big-name signings that could provide a pretty small return.
In: Mike Dunleavy, Kay Felder
Out: Matthew Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith (unsigned), James Jones (unsigned)
At some point, the Cavaliers might have to add some youth and athleticism on the wing, but Dunleavy is a perfect fit for now. Felder has good upside for a second-round pick. Credit the front office for talking Richard Jefferson out of retirement, too. (LeBron James still isn't signed, but he's coming back. The same is probably true for Smith and Jones.)
In: Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes, Seth Curry, A.J. Hammons
Out: Chandler Parsons, Zaza Pachulia, Charlie Villanueva (unsigned), Raymond Felton (unsigned), David Lee (unsigned)
The Mavs struck out on Mike Conley, Hassan Whiteside and Chandler Parsons, but they pounced on opportunities when the Warriors went and signed Kevin Durant. They brought in Bogut and Barnes immediately, signed Seth Curry to bring in some shooting, and they've also re-signed Deron Williams and Dwight Powell. Oh, and they also brought back some guy named Dirk Nowitzki for two more years on a team-friendly deal.
In: Darrell Arthur (re-signed), Jamal Murray, Juancho Hernangomez, Malik Beasley
They swung for the fences with Dwayne Wade and missed, but Wade was worth the gamble considering they remain $20 million under the floor. In the end, they didn't add anyone. The reason that doesn't hurt a team that only won 33 games last year is that in this market, not overpaying for a role player on a multi-year deal can be a win. The Nuggets remained fiscally disciplined, and that helped. They got back Darrell Arthur who has been their best defender and screener, and their draft was once again a hit, even if it may take some time for Jamal Murray and Beasley to find their roles. The Nuggets didn't worsen a pretty decent situation, and sometimes that has to be enough contextually.
In: Jon Leuer, Boban Marjanovic, Ish Smith, Henry Ellenson, Michael Gbinije
Out: Jodie Meeks, Anthony Tolliver, Steve Blake (unsigned), Joel Anthony (unsigned), Cameron Bairstow (unsigned)
These aren't huge names, but the Pistons continue to make sensible moves. This will be the deepest roster Stan Van Gunny has had in Detroit, but he didn't add anyone who will get in the way of the development of his young core. If Andre Drummond, who re-signed for five years at the max, takes another step toward true stardom next season, this team will be in fantastic shape.
In: Kevin Durant, Zaza Pachulia, David West, Patrick McCaw, Damian Jones
Out: Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli, Leandro Barbosa, Marreese Speights, Brandon Rush, Anderson Varejao (unsigned)
The Warriors already had arguably the best lineup ever, and they replaced its weakest link with Kevin freaking Durant. Even after watching his press conference and seeing him in a Warriors uniform, it's hard to believe this actually happened. Pachulia fell into their laps after they lost Bogut, too, so this all seems a little unfair for everybody else.
In: Mike D'Antoni, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Nene
Out: Dwight Howard, Donatas Motiejunas (restricted), Terrence Jones (unsigned), Jason Terry (unsigned), Josh Smith (unsigned), J.B. Bickerstaff
The biggest change this offseason is getting Mike D'Antoni to be the coach for Daryl Morey's roster. After that, Dwight Howard scrambling out the door for Atlanta is a big adjustment. Locking up James Harden on an extension was a nice bow on the offseason as well, and the Rockets seem to be going all in on offense by adding Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson to the mix. Nene is a nice rotation big at this point that is mostly offense. Re-signing Donatas Motiejunas would help this offseason look more complete because they still need a little size. It's impossible to know if this team will be very good, particularly for their defensive questions, but they'll be an offensive juggernaut and incredibly fun.
In: Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young, Al Jefferson, Jeremy Evans, Georges Niang
Out: George Hill, Ian Mahinmi, Solomon Hill, Jordan Hill (unsigned), Ty Lawson (unsigned)
The pieces are nice, but they might not fit together, and even if Teague returns to his 2014-15 production, he's not necessarily an upgrade over Hill. Larry Bird and the Pacers' front office clearly wants to improve the offense, but they could take a huge step backward defensively. If they're trying to run, what's the point of adding Jefferson?
In: Marreese Speights, Brice Johnson, Diamond Stone
Out: Cole Aldrich, Jeff Green, Pablo Prigioni (unsigned), Jeff Ayres (unsigned)
I mean, what did you want the Clippers to do? They probably overpaid to keep Jamal Crawford, but they didn't have any financial flexibility and didn't want to lose him for nothing. Los Angeles president and coach Doc Rivers made it clear that he wasn't going to trade Blake Griffin, Chris Paul or DeAndre Jordan, so I guess they'll give it another go with basically the same team. This whole thing changes, of course, if there is any truth to this Griffin-to-Boston rumor.
In: Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, Jose Calderon, Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac
Out: Kobe Bryant, Roy Hibbert, Metta World Peace (unsigned), Robert Sacre (unsigned), Ryan Kelly (unsigned)
The Lakers overpaid for Mozgov and Deng, but these moves were not that crazy and singled that the front office realizes they can't get big names right now. If Mozgov plays like he did in 2014-15, the contract is fine. Deng provides much-needed leadership, and he can play both forward positions effectively. Ingram is a potential star, and Zubac could be a second-round steal.
In: Chandler Parsons, Troy Daniels, Wade Baldwin, Deyonta Davis, James Ennis, David Fizdale
Out: Lance Stephenson (unsigned), Courtney Lee, Matt Barnes, Chris Andersen (unsigned), Jordan Farmar (unsigned), P.J. Hairston (unsigned), Dave Joerger
The only thing keeping this from being a perfect offseason for the Grizzlies is not quite knowing the impact of going from Dave Joerger to David Fizdale on the sideline. Fizdale was one of the most respected assistant coaches in the NBA, but it's a different deal being the head guy. Memphis handed out the biggest contract in league history to Mike Conley, then capitalized on the situation by bringing in Chandler Parsons for some much needed floor-spacing.
They swung for versatility in the draft with Wade Baldwin and Deyonta Davis, and the signing of Troy Daniels brings another shooter to the team. This franchise could've crumbled this summer but they've bolstered the roster, and Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are still in place. Memphis is still going to be a handful.
In: Hassan Whiteside (re-signed), Tyler Johnson (re-signed), Derrick Williams, Wayne Ellington, James Johnson
Out: Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Joe Johnson
It's not that you can't see the logic in Pat Riley's decision to cut the best player in franchise history, and to then retain the younger players on expensive deals across more years. But in the end, Wade, Deng and Johnson are very good players who are gone, and their replacements have very small sample sizes from which we can judge their relative, and respective, abilities to replace players like that.
If Chris Bosh can't come back, if Goran Dragic or Whiteside miss ten or more games, if the bench unit is as bad as it seems, there's a good chance the Heat fail to make the playoffs and will have parted ways with Dwyane Wade for nothing. The Heat made what they felt were appropriate maneuvers with a mind on their future. But don't act like that wasn't a big risk.
In: Mirza Teletovic, Matthew Dellavedova, Thon Maker, Malcolm Brogdon
Out: Jerryd Bayless, Greivis Vasquez, Steve Novak (unsigned), Damien Inglis (unsigned), Johnny O'Bryant (unsigned)
Teletovic and Dellavedova can shoot, and the Bucks desperately needed that. Maker was a swing-for-the-fences selection, and they will be scary if he realizes his potential. There was no headline-grabbing move, but Milwaukee had one of those last year -- the Greg Monroe signing -- and it didn't really work out. The front office is banking on internal improvement, which is a fine plan for this team.
In: Kris Dunn, Cole Aldrich, Brandon Rush, Jordan Hill
Out: Kevin Martin (waived last season using stretch provision), Tayshaun Prince
No. 5 pick Dunn was a terrific draft pick and one the Celtics could regret overlooking with the third pick. Dunn looks ready to contribute at an NBA level right away in some capacity, and Aldrich gives them a value signing for a guy who quietly had a very good year and is qualified at everything you need a reserve big to do. Rush gives them experience and shooting, two things they've badly needed for years. The Wolves may have tried to bring in Tom Thibodeau's former players in Chicago, but haven't been able to work out a deal, and that might be for the best. The Wolves made incremental improvements to an up-and-coming team. Staying patient is as important as knowing when to strike for the big upgrade.
In: Solomon Hill, E'Twuan Moore, Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield, Cheick Diallo
Out: Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Alonzo Gee (unsigned), Norris Cole (unsigned), James Ennis, Kendrick Perkins (unsigned)
If the final two weeks of his season are indicative of outside shooting to come then Solomon Hill was a good signing. If not, then you could have done a lot better for a potential 3-and-D guy. They grabbed shooting and a project big in the draft with Buddy Hield and Cheick Diallo, respectively, and they made two great backcourt depth signings with E'Twuan Moore and Langston Galloway. Losing Gordon and Anderson is tough, but the defense should be much better moving forward. They're one Tyreke Evans trade away from getting a full grade better on this report card.
In: Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Justin Holiday, Courtney Lee, Brandon Jennings, Willy Hernangomez
Out: Arron Afflalo, Jose Calderon, Langston Galloway, Jerian Grant, Robin Lopez
The Knicks made a splash early in the offseason by acquiring Derrick Rose and signing Joakim Noah. Sprinkle in the addition of Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee, and the Knicks will be have a vastly different rotation from last season. That doesn't mean the Knicks will be vastly better, however. They made a series of win-now moves to likely please Carmelo Anthony, but they also are betting on a pair of injury-prone players in Rose and Noah to help lead them. The Knicks will be better and should make the playoffs but they still remain the Knicks, so who knows what will exactly happen.
In: Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Ersan Ilyasova
Out: Kevin Durant, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant, possibly Dion Waiters, and did I mention Kevin Durant?
We can talk about how Oladipo is promising and that Ilyasova clears up future cap space, or how Sabonis is a great get in the draft, and that's all true. But they lost Kevin Durant, and the franchise will never be the same. This was a crippling, devastating summer for the Thunder after such a promising playoff run. Westbrook is a free agent next year and might be leaving town even before then, and this franchise could be facing the prospect of being a small-market team without a star and having to start all over again. Worst. NBA summer. Ever.
In: Bismack Biyombo, Evan Fournier (re-signed), Serge Ibaka, D.J. Augustin, Jeff Green
Out: Brandon Jennings, Jason Smith, Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, Andrew Nicholson
The Magic added good players. Jeff Green on a one-year deal is actually fine, even at $15 million. But he's so unnecessary when they have so many bigs and thus need more minutes for Aaron Gordon at power forward. They didn't lose anyone of huge value other than Oladipo. But they mostly just made a confusing roster weirder. Is Tobias Harris on a long-term, manageable money deal worse than Serge Ibaka headed into a contract year, along with Bismack Biyombo, all on top of Nikola Vucevic and Gordon? The Magic's offseason wasn't disastrous, but man was it weird.
In: Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Timothe Luwawu, Furkan Korkmaz
Out: Ish Smith
The Sixers had cash to spend and they picked up two solid and youngish veterans in Bayless and Henderson. They also drafted Ben Simmons and Dario Saric is finally expected to join the team this season. Bayless and Henderson won't move the needle much in Philadelphia yet they should be great locker room guys and provide some stability on the court as well. Early returns on Simmons have people raving about his passing ability and star potential. After being mired in losing, things are looking up in Philadelphia.
In: Jared Dudley, Leandro Barbosa, Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, Tyler Ulis
Out: Mirza Teletovic, Jon Leuer, Ronnie Price (unsigned), Chase Budinger (unsigned),
Dudley was a fan favorite the first time he was in Phoenix, and he's a (slightly) different player now. In his first tenure, he played shooting guard and small forward. Now he's a stretch 4. This was a smart signing for good value, and it followed a great draft night. Now the Suns just need to figure out their backcourt. Devin Booker's emergence means that Eric Bledsoe or Brandon Knight has to go.
In: Evan Turner, Festus Ezeli, Allen Crabbe (re-signed), Myers Leonard (re-signed), Jake Layman
Out: Gerald Henderson
Look, you could make an argument that a lot had to go wrong for other teams for the Blazers to get the 5th seed and reach the second-round (specifically injuries to the Grizzlies and Clippers). And you could make an argument that giving Evan Turner $70 million is a lot when they have Allen Crabbe. But they were a second-round playoff team last season, and they didn't lose anyone of significant consequence.
Turner occupies a bizarre space between underrated (he's a talented playmaker and hyper-versatile) and overrated (he's a good support defender but can be exploited and he cannot spread the floor in any capacity). It's a big price tag in a market full of them, but it doesn't make the Blazers worse. Ezeli was a good find at a great price, but his impact is still a question mark.
Like last year, the Blazers' offseason looks pretty bad, but then they went out and were a terrific team that had a playoff run. So in that spirit, I'm keeping neutral on their offseason. It was fine.
In: Arron Afflalo, Anthony Tolliver, Garrett Temple, Matt Barnes, Georgios Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson, Skal Labissiere, Isaiah Cousins
Out: Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli, Seth Curry, Quincy Acy (unsigned), Caron Butler (unsigned), James Anderson (unsigned), Duje Dukan (unsigned)
The Kings did a bunch of reasonable stuff in free agency, but their most meaningful move was probably on the sideline. They have been a mess since they fired Mike Malone in December of 2014, and new coach Dave Joerger was brought in to try to turn this into a cohesive team. The veterans the front office targeted will make that job easier.
In: Pau Gasol, Dewayne Dedmon, Dejounte Murray
Out: Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw, Boban Marjanovic, David West, Matt Bonner (unsigned), Andre Miller (unsigned), Kevin Martin (unsigned)
It's the end of an era with Tim Duncan retiring but this had to happen sooner or later. The Spurs will still have the same identity with Kawhi Leonard 100 percent the stone face of the franchise. Adding Pau Gasol meant having to lose Boris Diaw and Boban Marjanovic, but replacing Boban with sneaky rim protector Dewayne Dedmon is a smart value play. Drafting Dejounte Murray won't help now but he can be their next Cory Joseph type of project. Solid offseason, but not the win of grabbing LaMarcus Aldridge last year.
In: Jared Sullinger, DeMar DeRozan (re-signed), Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam
Out: Bismack Biyombo, James Johnson, Luis Scola
The Raptors haven't done too much this offseason, but re-signing DeMar DeRozan was a definite must for Toronto as he is such a large part of what they do. Also, getting Jared Sullinger on a cheap deal to fill in for Bismack Biyombo and Luis Scola was a fine pickup. Sullinger is a decent rebounder and can stretch the floor with his shooting. Overall, though, Toronto seems content to go with the same squad that got them to the Eastern Conference finals last season. And who could blame them? Not too many other teams in the East made huge upgrades, so why not see if the same team can give the Cavs trouble again this season.
In: Joe Johnson, George Hill, Boris Diaw
Out: Trevor Booker
The Jazz were very selective and smart in their approach this summer. They added stable veterans with the trade for George Hill at a position of need who can also play next to Dante Exum or Rodney Hood (or Alec Burks), and they added Joe Johnson who can play either forward spot and hit shots, giving them experience, offense and versatility. And notice that the Jazz managed to bolster their offense without compromising their defense. Just a really smart set of small moves that made them better and the Jazz project as a likely playoff team next season. Then again, we said that about this past season.
In: Bradley Beal (re-signed), Andrew Nicholson, Ramon Sessions, Jason Smith, Ian Mahinmi
Out: Jared Dudley, Nene, Garrett Temple
Given that they were eliminated from the KD race long ago, the Wizards did fine. Their pick was turned into Markieff Morris last year, and Nicholson and Smith were good value signings. They didn't commit any big long-term money to anyone but Ian Mahinmi, though that move was baffling given how good Marcin Gortat still is. The Wizards kept their heads above water and are just hoping things don't go as badly injury-wise as last year. Washington avoided disaster, but didn't add anyone great, and for that, they get a barely-passing grade.
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