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NBA Free Agents 2012: Grading Every Team's Moves Thus Far

Bryant KnoxFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2012

NBA Free Agents 2012: Grading Every Team's Moves Thus Far

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    The 2012 NBA offseason has seen the bulk of its moves already take place, and we now have a pretty clear idea of which teams have accomplished what they set out to do this summer.

    Whether it be through free agency, the draft or finding a viable trade partner, teams are always looking to get better this time of year.

    Each team has begun to shake up their roster, and each team deserves a grade for their moves at this point in the offseason.

Atlanta Hawks

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    The Atlanta Hawks have been a decent squad for quite some time now, but they've also been in a rut when it comes to making deep postseason runs.

    The additions of Lou Williams, Kyle Korver and Devin Harris—as well as Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, DeShawn Stevenson and John Jenkins—are going to shake up this team quite a bit next year, but it's the departure of Joe Johnson and his massive contract that will set this team up for bigger moves down the road.

    When it comes to the 2012-13 season, it's tough to believe the team is truly that much better.

    However, new general manager Danny Ferry has begun looking toward the future and the team could be ready to compete in free agency as early as next offseason.

    Grade: B

Boston Celtics

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    The Boston Celtics may have lost Ray Allen to the rival Miami Heat, but all in all, it's easy to see how the team in Beantown has had a successful summer.

    Re-signing Kevin Garnett is a big move for this organization. The guy may be 36 years old, but a fantastic 2012 postseason shows that the vocal leader of the team still has some game left in him.

    Jason Terry and Courtney Lee are big pickups as well, as either should be able to step in and start until Avery Bradley is at 100 percent next season.

    The team took a risk in drafting Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, but the re-signings of Jeff Green and Brandon Bass assure that neither will be forced to step in and make an immediate impact.

    Grade: A

Brooklyn Nets

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    The Brooklyn Nets may not have pulled off a trade for Dwight Howard, but they're No. 1 goal this summer was retaining Deron Williams, and the team did just that.

    The team sent away a number of pieces for Joe Johnson, including Gerald Green, Anthony Morrow and Jordan Farmar, but the six-time All-Star is going to be a great backcourt partner to Williams next year.

    Re-signing Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries was important, but the max contract given to Brook Lopez sets up their frontcourt as they make the transition to Brooklyn next season.

    Acquiring Howard would have been the icing on the cake, but a healthy Lopez is going to be a fantastic piece alongside the rest of this emerging roster.

    Grade: B+

Charlotte Bobcats

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    The Charlotte Bobcats drafted a great young prospect in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but you have to wonder just how much the kid can help turn around the worst team in professional basketball.

    The Bobcats had the opportunity to take a player with more immediate impact, such as Thomas Robinson or Bradley Beal, but opted to play it safe.

    In realty, you shouldn't knock Michael Jordan and the Bobcats for taking a great perimeter defender and clear-cut leader in Kidd-Gilchrist, as they drastically needed both those things just a season ago.

    The team has been relatively quiet since the day of the draft, which also saw them swap Corey Maggette for the Detroit Pistons' Ben Gordon, but the acquisition of Ramon Sessions was a solid pickup following the departure of D.J. Augustin.

    This team should be better next year, but they're still a ways away from competing for a playoff spot out East.

    Grade: B-

Chicago Bulls

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    The Chicago Bulls had a tough decision to make on Omer Asik, but they ultimately opted to let their big man go following the big-time contract offer from the Houston Rockets.

    In doing so, the Bulls avoid spending $25 million over three seasons, but they also lose out on an opportunity to groom a true seven-footer with potential to become a force in the middle.

    The drafting of Marquis Teague and the signing of Kirk Hinrich are especially important with Derrick Rose out for the majority of the 2012-13 season, but trading away Kyle Korver and bringing in Vladimir Radmanovic won't do much to convince fans that the team will make a run at a title next year.

    If Rose can somehow make it back for the postseason, it's a whole new ball game in Chicago.

    If he can't, the moves made this summer make it difficult to believe they're anywhere near a top-tier team.

    Grade: C-

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Dion Waiters saw his draft stock rise as much as anybody's in the entire 2012 draft, and as a result, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected him with the No. 4 pick last June.

    The 6'4" shooting guard will either go down as a fantastic find or a total and complete reach, but either way, he should be a solid complement to Kyrie Irving.

    Having also added Tyler Zeller through the draft and trading for Kelenna Azubuike, the team is continuing to rebuild.

    The Cavaliers have recently become involved in the Dwight Howard discussions, and if they can somehow add Andrew Bynum to their roster next year, they'll be primed to reenter the playoffs and make a serious run at becoming a competitor.

    Grade: B-

Dallas Mavericks

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    The Dallas Mavericks have gone from having one of the worst NBA offseasons to one of the best with a few quick additions to their 2012 roster.

    Missing out on Deron Williams was unfortunate, but watching Jason Kidd and Jason Terry sign with teams out East was tough for fans to swallow.

    Even the acquisition of Jared Cunningham on draft day was questionable, as he was projected to be a second-round pick in many mock drafts.

    Things have turned around, though, as they've begun to rebuild this rotation in a very positive way.

    Trading for Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones are big moves for their backcourt, while Chris Kaman and Elton Brand are going to be fantastic additions inside.

    Most recently, O.J. Mayo joined the Mavs, giving the team hope of challenging those atop the Western Conference as early as next season.

    Grade: A-

Denver Nuggets

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    The Denver Nuggets have retained Javale McGee this offseason, and while it took a lot of money to make it happen—four years, $44 million (according to Yahoo!'s Marc Spears)—the big man has the athleticism and the potential to make a name for himself in this league.

    The team also re-signed Andre Miller this summer, who should continue to provide solid energy and production behind Ty Lawson next year.

    Having said goodbye to Chris Anderson after utilizing the amnesty clause, the Nuggets have added Anthony Randolph in an attempt to further boost their frontcourt.

    Denver won't look drastically different in 2013, but with a deep, talented rotation, they could make some noise if they can put it together next season.

    Grade: B

Detroit Pistons

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    The biggest addition to the Detroit Pistons this summer is undoubtedly Connecticut big man Andre Drummond.

    Drummond was a risky pick anywhere in the draft, but he has the size, talent and athleticism to become one of the best centers in the NBA if his skills improve and his effort stays strong.

    On draft day, the team also took Kim English and added Corey Maggette while shedding Ben Gordon's contract.

    The team has been quiet since draft day, and it appears that while Drummond is a question mark at the NBA level, he could also be a big-time answer if he pans out next year.

    Grade: C+

Golden State Warriors

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    When Harrison Barnes was available with the No. 7 pick in the NBA draft, the Golden State Warriors had an easy choice to make.

    Barnes will enter next season and be a serious upgrade at the small forward position, especially following the departure of Dorell Wright.

    Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green will also add depth.

    Jarrett Jack is another good addition, as he'll add depth and stability to the point guard position.

    Grade: B

Houston Rockets

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    The Houston Rockets began this offseason with Dwight Howard as their No. 1 target, but it looks as if they may have to settle for Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik—the Chicago Bulls have let him walk—and a collection of young draft picks.

    Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones were all drafted as prospective trade pieces, but they could all end up being integral parts of the rotation heading into the 2012-13 season.

    The team has said goodbye to a number of pieces to increase cap space, such as Kyle Lowry, Marcus Camby, Goran Dragic, Chase Budinger and Samuel Dalembert.

    Either the Rockets end up with a superstar next year, or they go into the season with a promising young group with loads of potential.

    Grade: B

Indiana Pacers

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    The Indiana Pacers have retained their starting lineup this summer, but they've spent a lot of money to make it happen.

    Roy Hibbert was offered a max contract by the Portland Trail Blazers, but as a restricted free agent, he'll find himself in Indiana for at least the next four years.

    George Hill was also retained, having signed a deal worth $40 million over five seasons.

    Hill's performance late last season made point guard Darren Collison expendable, and Collison found himself being traded to the Dallas Mavericks along with Dahntay Jones.

    The Pacers received a decent backup big in Ian Mahinmi, but you have to wonder if they could have gotten anything better in return for Collison and Jones.

    On draft night, the team added Miles Plumlee, and while the rookie will add size to their bench, you have to wonder if the Pacers reached to get the former Duke big man.

    Grade: B-

Los Angeles Clippers

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    The Los Angeles Clippers have said goodbye to Mo Williams and Nick Young, but having signed Jamal Crawford and re-signed Chauncey Billups, the backcourt should be just fine heading into the new season.

    Crawford is coming off a down year, and Billups' injury could cause some rust, but the two of them will provide scoring, clutch shooting and leadership.

    The impact of the Lamar Odom signing is a bit up in the air at this point, but we know what he can do when he's in the right mindset, and Los Angles might be just the place to get him going.

    Don't forget, either, that the Clippers extended Blake Griffin with a five-year, $95 million contract.

    Los Angeles is going to be paying Griffin a hefty salary moving forward, but they've ensured that the former No. 1 pick won't skip town when his rookie contract comes to an end.

    Grade: B+

Los Angeles Lakers

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    The Los Angeles Lakers pulled off the deal of the summer so far when they traded for eight-time All-Star and two-time MVP Steve Nash.

    Nash is a huge upgrade at the point guard position, and after yet another disappointing second-round elimination, the team needed this pick-me-up to challenge the Oklahoma City Thunder next year.

    Yes, it's possible that Nash and Bryant collide, as both players seemingly need the ball in their hands to make a difference; but for four draft picks and no players, what's there to lose in bringing in one of the league's best point guards?

    Grade: A+

Memphis Grizzlies

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    The Memphis Grizzlies re-signed Marreese Speights and Darrell Arthur this summer, giving them a familiar look as they head into next year.

    The biggest change? O.J. Mayo is finally gone.

    Mayo has been on the trade block for the past couple of seasons, so it will be interesting to see what the team looks like now that he's officially off the roster and Jerryd Bayless has been added to their backcourt.

    Another addition to the backcourt is the Tony Wroten Jr., who was taken with the No. 25 pick in this year's draft.

    Neither Bayless nor Wroten are where Mayo is today, but both have the potential to make up for his absence as this team continues to challenge teams out West.

    Grade: B-

Miami Heat

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    The grading of a free-agent signing is completely relative.

    For instance, if the Charlotte Bobcats had signed Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, would anybody consider them instant contenders heading into next season?

    Seeing as the defending champion Miami Heat have somehow managed to add depth, shooting and extreme talent to their already stacked rotation, they have to consider their summer a success thus far.

    The two spot-up shooters are going to fill perfect roles in South Beach, and as a result, the Heat should be the favorites to take another NBA title next year.

    Grade: A

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Ersan Ilyasova is coming off a breakout season, and he's been paid accordingly by the Milwaukee Bucks this summer.

    The Bucks signed the 25-year-old forward to a five-year, $45 million deal (h/t SLAM).

    Retaining Ilyasova was important, but if this team is going to be any better next season it's going to because of their draft acquisitions.

    John Henson and Doron Lamb are good pieces to the puzzle in Milwaukee, but their immediate impact is questionable.

    This summer's moves won't likely push the Bucks to the next level, but with a star-studded backcourt comprised of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, they have the potential to grow into a playoff team sometime in the not-so-distant future.

    Grade: C+

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Brandon Roy could prove to be a brilliant pickup for the Minnesota Timberwolves, or he could prove to be a complete bust.

    His style of play doesn't match what the Wolves do in Minnesota, and his knees are going to be a concern regardless of where he plays throughout the rest of his career.

    That being said, he is a three-time NBA All-Star and was the face of the franchise in Portland following his 2006-07 Rookie of the Year campaign.

    The team got Roy, but they couldn't land their biggest target in Nicolas Batum.

    While they didn't land their man, they cleared a load of cap space in their pursuit by waiving Darko Milicic, Martell Webster and trading Brad Miller.

    Truthfully, the biggest addition to next year's team is going to be a healthy Ricky Rubio.

    If the 21-year-old point guard can stay healthy and distribute the ball the way he did when healthy, he's going to be a big part of their attempt at a playoff run come next season.

    Grade: C+

New Orleans Hornets

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    The New Orleans Hornets have had the best summer of any team that struggled throughout last year's NBA season.

    Part of this, of course, is due to the selection of No. 1 pick Anthony Davis.

    Davis is a long, athletic defender who has an improving offensive game. Combine him with the No. 10 overall pick, Austin Rivers, and the team has a solid young core to develop moving forward.

    The team also re-signed Eric Gordon. the major piece they received after sending Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers last offseason, to a max-dollar deal.

    Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza's contracts have been shredded, and another good, young piece in Ryan Anderson has been brought in to add size and perimeter shooting.

    This team could very well experience some growing pains next year, but following an extremely successful summer, the future looks bright in New Orleans.

    Grade: A

New York Knicks

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    The 2012 offseason has been a roller coaster for the New York Knicks so far. 

    The offseason began with the unpopular selection of Kostas Papanikolaou in the 2012 draft, but was seemingly revived with the signings of Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby.

    The two signings bring experience to the roster, but age has to be a concern, as the question of how much longer they can produce is valid.

    The team has retained Steve Novak and J.R. Smith, giving them a legitimate presence on the perimeter, but having said goodbye to Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields, the lows might just outweigh the highs at this point.

    The Knicks had the opportunity to match the Houston Rockets' offer sheet to Lin, but opted to bring in Raymond Felton on a much cheaper contract.

    Admittedly, the Knicks were put in a tough position. Let the player go who was one of the most popular figures in sports last year, or sign him to a deal that's arguably more than he's worth at this point—especially when considering the luxury tax.

    The team is still full of talent and potential moving forward, but this summer has been tough for some fans in New York to swallow.

    Grade: C-

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Like the Miami Heat, anything the Oklahoma City Thunder add this summer is icing on the cake after their NBA Finals run last season.

    The Thunder have been quiet in free agency, but they may have gotten the steal of the draft in Baylor's Perry Jones III.

    Jones is a question mark at the NBA level because of his inconsistent motor and lack of a true position, but having been available with the No. 28 pick, the reward clearly overshadows the risk.

    Hasheem Thabeet has been the team's biggest addition via free agency.

    While the big man from Connecticut hasn't done much with his NBA career to this point, the Thunder need as much of an inside presence as they can get, and Thabeet's 7'3", 263-pound frame gives them just that.

    Grade: B

Orlando Magic

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    The Orlando Magic did what they had to do in re-signing Jameer Nelson, and they've drafted big men Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O'Quinn to play in the frontcourt, but this summer has ultimately been all about Dwight Howard.

    On the surface, the Magic have been working to strike a deal that will send Howard away for good, but with nothing completed as of yet, the summer has to be considered a massive failure.

    Of the two big men in Orlando last season, Ryan Anderson seemed to be the one most likely to remain with the team, but the Magic let him slip away in a sign-and-trade with the New Orleans Hornets.

    The summer's transactions aren't done for the Magic, but until they are and Howard is somewhere else, this team has failed at doing what it set out to do Day 1 of the offseason.

    Grade: Incomplete

Philadelphia 76ers

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    The Philadelphia 76ers may have lost Elton Brand and Lou Williams this summer, but they've made a few key moves in staying competitive out East next season.

    Re-signing Specer Hawes and Lavoy Allen keeps the team big inside, and drafting athletic prospects Moe Harkless and Arnett Moultrie gives the team a promising future.

    Nick Young and Dorell Wright are two solid additions to the Sixers, but you have to wonder if they'll make up for the offense they've lost with Williams no longer on the roster. 

    Grade: B-

Phoenix Suns

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    Steve Nash wanted out of Phoenix, and you can't blame him for that.

    The Phoenix Suns needed to start over, and while it's tough to say goodbye to a player of Nash's caliber and character, the team is doing everything in their power to rebuild starting next season.

    The Suns have had a decent summer when it comes to starting fresh, adding a number of new pieces and re-signing Shannon Brown.

    Having missed out on Eric Gordon, adding Michael Beasley will give the team a versatile scoring threat on the perimeter next year.

    The recent addition of Luis Scola is also a solid pickup.

    Nash may be gone, but two up-and-coming point guards, Goran Dragic and Kendall Marshall, will run and facilitate well in Phoenix next season.

    Grade: B-

Portland Trail Blazers

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    The Portland Trail Blazers deserve an A for effort throughout the 2012 NBA offseason.

    The team has snagged general manager Neil Olshey away from the Los Angeles Clippers, they offered Roy Hibbert a max contract in the opening hours of free agency, and they've approached both Jerry Sloan and Phil Jackson regarding the vacant coaching position—both have removed themselves from consideration.

    Hibbert didn't work out, as the Indiana Pacers matched Portland's offer, but the re-signing of J.J. Hickson and additions of rookies Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard will provide size inside next season.

    The team has lost guards Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, but they were finally able to lock up Nicolas Batum after they matched a four-year, $46 million offer by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    Batum's future looks bright, but at this point, it looks as if this team's ceiling goes as high as Damian Lillard's.

    Lillard was the No. 6 pick in June's draft, and so far, he’s looked like a stud, winning co-MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League.

    Take any exhibition games with a grain of salt, but his shooting touch, scoring ability and surprising court vision should help fans in Portland feel good about their core group moving forward.

    Grade: B

Sacramento Kings

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    Thomas Robinson and DeMarcus Cousins have the potential to make up one of the best frontcourts in the entire NBA.

    Robinson, selected at No. 5 overall in the NBA draft, is possibly the most NBA-ready prospect of the entire class, and his size and skill set should propel him to success early in his career.

    In the free-agent market, the Kings have done a decent job as well, re-signing Jason Thompson and picking up James Johnson and Aaron Brooks.

    While none of these moves will likely push the team into the playoffs next season, all of them help build toward the future and accelerate the rebuilding process.

    Grade: B

San Antonio Spurs

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    Per San Antonio Spurs policy—or so it would seem—the team has laid low this summer and flown under the radar.

    The team quietly re-signed Danny Green and Boris Diaw and locked up Tim Duncan for another three seasons.

    The Spurs haven't done anything spectacular this summer, but they haven't done anything that will make them worse off next year than they were this time around.

    They're going to be good next season, but at some point you have to believe that significant moves are coming if they're going to remain atop the Western Conference.

    Grade: C+

Toronto Raptors

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    The Toronto Raptors failed when it came to bringing in Steve Nash this summer, but they've succeeded in a number of different ways since he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers.

    The Raptors took advantage of the Houston Rockets' desire to clear cap space and collect trade assets by acquiring Kyle Lowry for a future draft pick.

    The addition of Landry Fields is also a solid move—although he didn't come cheap—but one of the biggest acquisitions of the summer has to be Jonas Valanciunas.

    Valanciunas was selected at No. 5 overall in 2011, and alongside Terrence Ross and Quincy Acy, he'll be one of three solid rookies on next year's roster.

    Missing out on Nash hurt the Raptors and their fans, but management in Toronto has done a great job of making moves to better this organization heading into the future.

    Grade: B+

Utah Jazz

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    With Paul Millsap, Enes Kanter, Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors all in the rotation, the Utah Jazz have one of the deepest, most promising young frontcourts in the NBA.

    Having rid themselves of Devin Harris and his inconsistent play this offseason, the team has brought in Mo Williams and Marvin Williams to complement their big men.

    The additions don't ensure a playoff spot next year, but they are good pieces that help the team continue to rebuild.

    Grade: B

Washington Wizards

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    The Washington Wizards have begun to rebuild nicely with their moves this summer.

    Drafting Bradley Beal was a smart move, as he can help take some of the scoring pressure off John Wall whenever he's able to crack the starting lineup.

    Getting rid of the contracts of Rashard Lewis and Andray Blatche were also big-time moves for this organization, as they've added Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to their rotation next season.

    This team still has a lot of growing to do, but they're headed in the right direction.

    Grade: B

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