Did Each NBA Team Get Better or Worse This Offseason?

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2012

Did Each NBA Team Get Better or Worse This Offseason?

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    The fireworks of the NBA offseason are more or less over as most of the big-name free agents have been signed and are settling into their new homes. Of course, there is one firework left waiting to burst in the Dwight Howard trade, but that one seems to have a wet fuse with one guy continuously dousing that fuse in water every time it starts to dry off.

    Basically, what's ahead are final training camp invites going out to Summer League standouts, a few more decent free agents moving (Brandon Rush is still out there) and more Howard rumors.

    So, as most everything has gone down that will go down, now seems to be as good a time as any to take a look back and see which team had the most successful offseason.

    Instead of judging each team's moves on the surface, I've decided to take a look at the short-term and long-term ramifications of each team's moves this offseason.

Atlanta Hawks

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    Short Term: Worse

    The Atlanta Hawks lost their leading scorer for a handful of guys who made up the meat of a lineup that went 22-44, which isn't exactly an upgrade. Addition by subtraction is still a possibility depending on how the team is run in the absence of Joe Johnson.

    One place they did seem to make a good move for this season was getting rid of the consistently and frustratingly average Marvin Williams for Devin Harris and picking up Lou Williams to bring in some bench scoring.

    Long Term: Better

    The Hawks were able to shed an absurd amount of money with the Johnson deal, which is great for the future. That, combined with the potential for a Josh Smith trade for some young fellows, should make for an interesting few years in Atlanta.

Boston Celtics

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    Short Term: Better

    Ray Allen got away, which isn't a good thing, but the C's upgraded with Jason Terry who is younger (by a bit) and capable of scoring without the help of double screens and Rajon Rondo pounding the ball for eight to 12 seconds at the top of the key.

    Terry's arrival, combined with Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox coming back, the drafting of a potential steal in Jared Sullinger and the sign-and-trade for Courtney Lee has officially retooled the Boston Celtics for another great season.

    Long Term: Neutral

    The Celtics added one more young player in Sullinger who could be a top-six player on a championship team one day, but for the time being, Boston is still a bunch of old guys, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley.

Brooklyn Nets

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    Short Term: Better

    Anybody doubting that the Nets made the right moves this offseason is crazy. Brooklyn gets to put Deron Williams and Joe Johnson together on billboards all over the city, compete with the Knicks and excite people about a new team in town all season long.

    Win-win-win situation, as long as the team wins.

    Long Term: Better

    The Nets had no future last season. The prevailing opinion was that Deron Williams was going to walk along with Gerald Wallace (for whom they would have essentially traded the No. 6 overall pick for half a year of work on a lottery team), which would have left them Brook Lopez and MarShon Brooks in their march to Brooklyn.

    Now they have all four of those guys along with Joe Johnson. Life is good for a Nets fan.

Charlotte Bobcats

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    Short Term: Better

    It's not every day that Michael Jordan's team gets the better end of a deal, but it definitely happened when the Bobcats swapped Corey Maggette for Ben Gordon and Detroit's first-round pick in 2013 (protected to the point that they probably won't get it until 2015, but still).

    Sure, they'll have to pay Gordon for two seasons as opposed to Maggette for one, but that is a small price to pay for a lottery pick.

    Long Term: Better

    Along with that draft pick, Charlotte drafted Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, which was the right choice, surprisingly.

Chicago Bulls

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    Short Term: Worse

    There really isn't much the Bulls could have done to make their team better this season, but they didn't get much worse.

    C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer and John Lucas have been replaced by Kirk Hinrich and Vladimir Radmanovic, and now it seems Omer Asik is being replaced by Nazr Mohammed.

    Long Term: Worse

    Saying the Bulls are worse is like saying Louie Anderson lost two pounds, there's not going to be much difference in the long term.

    The big problem is that the guys they picked up are older than the guys they let go and much closer to being out of the league than at their peak, but they still have their core intact.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Short Term: Better

    Cleveland has made exactly two moves this offseason, re-signing Luke Harangody and picking up Jon Leuer off waivers. It hasn't been an exciting few months in Cleveland.

    However, drafting Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller makes them undeniably better, so there's that.

    Long Term: Better

    Once again, Cleveland has done little to make themselves drastically better, but drafting a guy in the lottery and picking up a seven-footer who can run the floor is never a bad, even if they traded a bit much to get Zeller.

Dallas Mavericks

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    Short Term: Worse

    The Dallas Mavericks really wanted to snag Deron Williams, but that didn't happen, so what came about over the few weeks following Williams' signing with Brooklyn was shoddy patchwork by the Mavericks.

    Signing Chris Kaman was a decent enough start, giving Dirk some needed frontcourt-scoring help, and trading for Darren Collison was a solid move, although giving up Ian Mahinmi meant giving away some defense.

    What followed was picking up Elton Brand for a few bucks and then O.J. Mayo, both sound patchwork pieces, but the offseason moves don't exactly make the Mavs a good team, and they certainly don't make them the dangerous team that they've been in years past.

    Even worse, after the Mayo signing, it came out that he might end up playing some point guard for Dallas. If I could predict one player position change being a disaster, that is it.

    Long Term: Worse

    The Mavs' best offensive signing was a poor man's Jason Terry and their best defensive signing was a 33-year-old power forward who runs like he's moving through a foot of snow.

Denver Nuggets

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    Short Term: Better

    Natural progression and team chemistry are keys to making a squad better, which are exactly what the Nuggets seem to have gone for this offseason.

    They re-signed their glue guy in Andre Miller and got a steal of a deal (four years, $44 million) for JaVale McGee.

    I know people like to bash McGee and his goofy antics, but during the Nuggets' seven-game series with the Lakers, McGee was the best big man on the floor three times, which isn't bad.

    Long Term: Better

    McGee coming back means George Karl gets a full training camp and four more years to work the dumb out of him, and if there's one guy left coaching that can do that, it's Karl.

Detroit Pistons

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    Short Term: Worse

    The Pistons trade for Corey Maggette was meaningless in terms of basketball. Ben Gordon and Maggette are interchangeable pointless lumps of shot-chucking—one just gets paid longer than the other.

    However, the concerning part for the Pistons is the fact that they'll be giving minutes to Andre Drummond this season, which isn't going to be pretty initially.

    Long Term: Neutral

    The team gave up a draft pick for Maggette's expiring contract, but that's not exactly a bad thing.

    Charlotte will likely get that pick in 2015 (it's lottery protected in 2013, top-eight protected in 2014 and top-one protected in 2015), but Detroit will have nearly $11 million coming off the books after this season.

Golden State Warriors

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    Short Term: Better

    Harrison Barnes looks like he's going to be a terrific addition to the Golden State Warriors, and Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green could be beneficial at some point, but the addition that helps them by leaps and bounds is Jarrett Jack.

    As a starter, Jack is good, but as insurance for Stephen Curry's creaky ankles, he's amazing, especially when all they had to give up was Dorrell Wright, who fell off quite a bit last season. Oh, and he's a hell of an improvement over the Nate Robinson/Charles Jenkins combination that backed Curry up last season.

    Long Term: Better

    Every move that Golden State made was one that was working toward the future, rather than winning before Andrew Bogut's leg falls off or his face explodes or whatever freak injury may befall him next, which is great.

    They disregarded pressure to win now, which simultaneously allowed them to make smart decisions for the present and the future.

Houston Rockets

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    Short Term: Worse

    The Rockets lost Chase Budinger, Kyle Lowry, Samuel Dalembert, Goran Dragic, Luis Scola and Courtney Lee. Or as I like to call it, 70 points per game. So yea, they got worse.

    Long Term: Better

    The Rockets basically have two scenarios going on at this point. They either trade for a star player and have a fun season, either re-signing him for another contract or letting him go and bottoming out and getting a good 2014 draft pick. Or they whiff on big superstar trades this season, bottom out now and get a good draft pick this season.

    Either way, Houston isn't going to be the 10th best team in the Western Conference anymore.

Indiana Pacers

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    Short Term: Better

    The thing the Indiana Pacers did this offseason was get rid of doubt so their team could buckle down and get to business.

    They shipped Darren Collison to Dallas for Ian Mahinmi, basically telling George Hill that the starting point guard job was his (and signed D.J. Augustin in the process, a horrible starter but a good backup). Then they gave Roy Hibbert a maximum deal, telling him that their eggs are in his basket.

    Long Term: Better

    This team is locked up this year and will inconceivably have cap space next season after David West's $10 million a year contract expires, at which point they can either re-sign him or try someone new.

    That's it, right? After that they've got to be done having cap room, right?

    Well, kind of. Danny Granger's remaining two-year, $27 million contract comes off the books in 2014, and after re-signing Paul George they could still have some room, should they decide to let Granger go.

    If managed correctly and with some natural progression, this team could be the next San Antonio Spurs. If not, then they're the next Atlanta Hawks.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Short Term: Better

    Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill are a better bench rotation than Reggie Evans, Mo Williams and Nick Young. That's just the way it is, unless, you know, Lamar Odom continues to mope, Jamal Crawford shoots 38 percent and Grant Hill's knees fall out of his skin after leaving the bliss that is Phoenix's medical staff.

    Long Term: Worse

    It looks like the Clippers are better off this season, all jokes aside, but they got better by taking on older, more fragile players.

    Evans and Odom are the same age, but Williams is three years younger than Crawford, and Young is a good decade younger than Hill. 

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Short Term: Better

    C'mon guys, really? Do I have to explain this to you?

    Okay, I'll keep this one short; Steve Nash is better than Ramon Sessions, and Antawn Jamison is good at standing around and making shots sometimes.

    Moving on. 

    Long Term: Neutral

    Before they traded a handful of draft picks for Steve Nash, the Lakers basically consisted of an aging Kobe Bryant, a declining Pau Gasol and a headcase of a man that is Andrew Bynum.

    What they have now is Steve Nash for the next three years instead of two picks that'll be in the final five picks of the drafts in 2013 and 2015 and two that'll be in the final five picks of those drafts. Not bad, eh?

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Short Term: Better

    It seems like a coin flip as to whether letting O.J. Mayo go was a good or bad thing. On one hand, it frees up possessions to split between Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay, potentially even setting up the rotation so they don't play as much together anymore. On the other hand, Mayo was a guy who was liable to get hot at any moment.

    Still, the Grizzlies picked up Jerryd Bayless, the first legitimate backup point guard they've ever had for Mike Conley.

    Long Term: Neutral

    Memphis made very few moves this offseason, and besides the two mentioned above, all they did was draft Tony Wroten. None of these moves are going to be damning for their future, while none will make them title contenders. 

Miami Heat

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    Short Term: Better

    The Miami Heat lost nobody and added Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. Not too bad for a team with just a mini mid-level exception to work with.

    Ray Allen is a definite addition to this team, and it wasn't a bad idea to take a flyer on Lewis, who can still hit a shot or two when he's open.

    Long Term: Neutral

    Nothing the Heat did will change the way they'll work in 2016. Ray Allen will be retired (most likely) and Rashard Lewis will be gone, so there's no positive and no negative to come from this offseason for the slightly distant future.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Short Term: Better

    The biggest problem that faced the Bucks this offseason was the fact that they had no big men to play defense. That doesn't seem to be a big deal anymore.

    Milwaukee picked up Samuel Dalembert in Houston's purge and drafted skinny John Henson to block some shots. Add Doron Lamb, who can knock down open jumpers, and this team is a borderline playoff contender.

    Long Term: Better

    Samuel Dalembert probably isn't in the long-term plans of this team, but John Henson certainly is, especially if he can add some weight to his frame.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Short Term: Better

    The Minnesota Timberwolves were ready to take some risks this offseason, whether it be overpaying for a chance to see what happens to Nicolas Batum (even though Portland re-signed him) or rolling the dice on Brandon Roy's knees.

    Minnesota also picked up Chase Budinger while watching Martell Webster, Anthony Randolph and Michael Beasley leave, effectively ending David Kahn's wing hoarding disorder. 

    Long Term: Better

    Minnesota, at the very least, will make the playoffs this season should health not betray its core, which will hopefully convince Kevin Love that the team is doing enough for him to re-sign again.

New Orleans Hornets

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    Short Term: Better

    New Orleans is much improved from last year simply because it took the best player in the draft, possibly the best player in the past three drafts.

    On top of Anthony Davis, the Hornets added Austin Rivers and Ryan Anderson. Oh, and they re-signed Eric Gordon, giving them a scary, young core.

    Long Term: Better

    The Hornets have two players for the next four years (at least) who are going to make a big impact, another player who has proven that he can score and yet another who could be great in the right environment.

    They should be just fine for the future.

New York Knicks

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    Short Term: Worse

    There's no way to defend the Jeremy Lin catastrophe that the Knicks allowed to happen. Lin may not be worth the money that the Knicks would have had to spend on him, but since when does that bother New York?

    Honestly, would you rather pay Lin $25 million plus luxury tax implications over the next three years or an old Jason Kidd and a fat Raymond Felton $20 million over the same time period?

    Long Term: Worse

    If the Knicks would have matched the Lin deal they would have a huge expiring contract on their books during the 2015 season, which is a great trade chip.

    Now, however, they're left with an old dude and a fat dude playing point guard and no room to sign anyone, rather than a potentially dynamic point guard and no room to sign anyone.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Short Term: Neutral

    The Thunder didn't lose anyone, but they added Hasheem Thabeet and Perry Jones. Thabeet is a decent gamble for a few pennies, but he's unlikely to add anything to this team, and Perry Jones will need time to develop.

    Long Term: Better

    What Jones brings to this team is the potential to be yet another draft steal for Oklahoma City. 

    With a year of seasoning playing alongside Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka (two very similarly built players who can teach him how to use his body), Jones could end up being a very good player.

Orlando Magic

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    Short Term: Worse

    The Magic are a sinking ship, and they have but one huge piece left yet to send overboard, and with it goes most of the rest of this era of Magic basketball, which has left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

    Orlando has only jettisoned Ryan Anderson so far (and Stan Van Gundy), but that combined with the threat of Dwight leaving at any moment makes the team a worse team than last season.

    Long Term: Worse, for now

    The Magic have done nothing to improve their team but draft Andrew Nicholson (and Kyle O'Quinn, I suppose), and until they finally trade Dwight Howard, this team will continue to look like it has a bleak future.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Short Term: Worse

    Philadelphia has had an interesting offseason, replacing Elton Brand with Arnett Moultrie and Maurice Harkless and Lou Williams with Nick Young and Dorell Wright. Oh, and they picked up Kwame Brown.

    Moultrie and Harkless probably aren't going to be the force on defense that Brand has been, and Young isn't going to be the sixth man that Williams was, but Philly didn't make bad moves (aside from overpaying Spencer Hawes).

    Long Term: Better

    What the 76ers have done is give themselves options. They now have enough youth to either build their team up around the foundation they have now or throw the young players into a trade with Andre Iguodala in hopes of building the team around Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner.

    Either way, Philly seems to be a very dynamic place for basketball this season.

Phoenix Suns

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    Short Term: Worse

    Phoenix is losing Steve Nash—no combination of Michael Beasley, Goran Dragic, Luis Scola and Kendall Marshall could make up for the loss of the best point guard of the past decade.

    Long Term: Better

    The Suns are likely to struggle during the first few years of the Post-Nash era, but it was inevitable that they would have to rebuild eventually.

    What they can take away from this offseason is the fact that they grabbed four draft picks for Nash, when they might have ended up with nothing, even if it did mean dealing him to a rival team.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Short Term: Neutral

    The biggest thing the Trail Blazers did this offseason was sign their draft picks, by which I mean they went back to guys they picked as early as 2006 and gave them their first NBA contracts.

    In all, Meyers Leonard, Damian Lillard, Will Barton, Victor Claver and Joel Freeland will be rookies for the Blazers next year. At least one of those guys has to hit, right?

    Elsewhere, Portland was stuck overpaying Nicolas Batum, but it was the right decision to match his offer in the end.

    Long Term: Better

    The Blazers did two main things that seem to give them a brighter future, albeit slightly brighter.

    First, they signed half a team's worth of rookies, which should prove to be beneficial with at least one of the guys they have under contract.

    Second, they got rid of Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford, both of whom were absolute disasters for Portland last season.

Sacramento Kings

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    Short Term: Better

    The biggest move the Sacramento Kings made this offseason was the signing of Thomas Robinson, which should create quite the fearsome frontcourt for Sacramento moving forward. The Kings now have a guy with limitless potential in DeMarcus Cousins and a guy with the competitive drive to infect him with the desire to continue to get better in Robinson.

    Aside from that, they signed Aaron Brooks at a scant $6.6 million over two years, which is great for a guy with the potential to become their starting point guard.

    Long Term: Better

    Sacramento had a quiet offseason, but that's the way it should be sometimes for teams in rebuilding mode.

    All the Kings did was add young players and stay away from ugly contracts, which is the best you can ask of them.

San Antonio Spurs

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    Short Term: Neutral

    The Spurs added Nando De Colo to their already deep roster, otherwise they just went ahead and re-signed their own free agents, deciding to run it back yet again.

    It's hard to say whether that was a good idea, but far be it from me to argue with the geniuses up in San Antonio's front office, so let's just get ready for the Spurs to be in the Western Conference finals yet again.

    Long Term: Neutral

    De Colo and Marcus Denmon (their draft pick) are the only new guys in town, neither of whom should have a huge impact this year or next for that matter, and it's hard to say what they could do beyond.

    It's plain to see that the Spurs are no worse this year than they were last year in terms of how their future looks.

Toronto Raptors

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    Short Term: Better

    The Raptors could have had a disaster of an offseason if they would have lost hope after Steve Nash spurned them for Los Angeles, but they got back on the horse and caught a good deal.

    Kyle Lowry, coming from Houston for a draft pick and Gary Forbes, was a steal as he will supplant the defensively inept Jose Calderon. Couple that with what Jonas Valanciunas, Terrence Ross and Landry Fields could bring and Toronto is suddenly a playoff contender.

    Long Term: Better

    Not only did Toronto do a good job of getting ready for this season, they went and got young guys who should be around for a while to help this team grow for years to come, not just for a few seasons.

Utah Jazz

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    Short Term: Better

    Utah addressed two huge needs this offseason. Trading for Marvin Williams at small forward was their first bright idea. Williams isn't amazing, he's actually maddeningly average, but he is a legitimate starter, whereas the same may not be able to be said for Gordon Hayward, who is much better suited for the shooting guard spot.

    Elsewhere, they picked up Mo Williams for a year to fill the hole left by Devin Harris, who was traded for Marvin Williams. Mo should get more play this year than he did with Los Angeles and go back to being more of a point guard, which should be interesting.

    Long Term: Better

    In the end, Utah turned Devin Harris and Tadija Dragicevic into Marvin and Mo Williams, neither of whom have horrible contracts. Not a bad offseason at all for Utah.

Washington Wizards

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    Short Term: Better

    The Wizards had the biggest addition by subtraction offseason of any team in the NBA. In fact, they may have had one of the best addition by subtraction calendar years of all time, starting all the way back with the trading of JaVale McGee and Nick Young to the trading of Rashard Lewis and culminating with Andray Blatche finally, mercifully being amnestied.

    Aside from that, they also ended up nabbing Bradley Beal in the draft, who is pretty much universally viewed to be a stud.

    Long Term: Better

    They got rid of idiots, picked up some professionals in Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza and signed one of the best players in the draft, so I think they made some great moves for their future.


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