End-of-Season Grades for Every NBA Franchise's Front Office

Brendan Bowers@@BowersCLEContributor IIApril 17, 2013

End-of-Season Grades for Every NBA Franchise's Front Office

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    The end-of-season grades for every NBA franchise's front office are measured by a combination of draft choices, trades and financial health of the roster, along with the ability to win games in 2012-13. 

    The production of players selected in 2012 were considered, along with steps made by prominent members of the 2011 draft class for each team.

    Trades that were made this offseason, or in some cases not made, all the way through the trade deadline in February were measured as well.  

    The salary cap flexibility of each team heading into the 2013-14 campaign with a projected luxury tax line of $72 million factored into each grade, along with the overall record that resulted this season.

Atlanta Hawks: A

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    Led by general manager Danny Ferry, the Atlanta Hawks' front office created valuable salary cap space just prior to the 2012-13 campaign by trading Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets.

    In addition to moving the $90 million owed to Johnson over the next four years, Ferry also sent Marvin Williams and his contract to the Utah Jazz.

    However, despite trading each player primarily based on financial reasons, the Hawks have still earned the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference through Monday. 

    Al Horford and Josh Smith—who the Hawks elected to not deal at the trade deadline—have combined to average over 34 points and 18 rebounds.

    While Smith will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, leaving only $18.6 million on the books for Atlanta in 2013-14, Horford is under contract until 2016, and his team is now able to build around him as it sees fit. 

Boston Celtics: C

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    The Boston Celtics rank 29th overall in rebounding at 39.36 per night through Monday.

    This was an area that Danny Ainge and the front office attempted to address in the 2012 Draft, and it hasn't worked out for multiple reasons.

    Fab Melo, the 7-foot center selected with the 22nd pick overall, has appeared in only five games for the Celtics this season.

    The 21st overall pick, Jared Sullinger—who showed legitimate promise averaging six points and 5.9 rebounds during 45 games—has been sidelined with a back injury since February 1. 

    I do respect the Celtics holding onto Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett at the trade deadline, though, while trying to push as far as they can without Rajon Rondo. This decision, along with the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference, are the two reasons the front office's grade isn't any lower.

Brooklyn Nets: B-

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    The Brooklyn Nets do not have a roster capable of winning an NBA championship.

    At the same time, the front office has constructed a payroll exceeding $83 million both this year and next, pushing the Nets well over the luxury tax line as a result.

    While the Joe Johnson deal has at least helped on the court in terms of production, signing Kris Humphries to a two-year, $24 million contract this summer is a move I'd imagine they'd like to have back.

    Humphries is averaging only 5.7 points and 5.6 rebounds after finishing the 2011-12 campaign with 13.8 and 11. 

    Brooklyn is on schedule to be the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, though, and it has earned home-court advantage for the first round.

Charlotte Bobcats: D+

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    The 2012-13 campaign has proven that the Charlotte Bobcats have used their last two first-round selections wisely.

    Kemba Walker has improved to 17.7 points and 5.7 assists in his second NBA season.

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, meanwhile, entered the most challenging situation of any rookie in the league, and is closing out the year with 9.0 points and 5.8 rebounds while turning in a solid effort defensively. 

    Those two players will provide a foundational structure of sorts to build around moving forward. 

    Outside of Walker and Kidd-Gilchrist, however, the remaining pieces on this roster have helped lead to a league-worst 20-61 record overall with one game remaining. 

Chicago Bulls: A-

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    In response to an injury that has since kept Derrick Rose sidelined throughout the regular season, the Chicago Bulls acquired Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli this summer. 

    For a combined salary of $3.1 million, they have added depth to the backcourt by collectively averaging 22.8 points and 6.4 assists.

    Besides the support those acquisitions have provided, coach Tom Thibodeau has used a front line constructed around All-Stars Joakim Noah and Luol Deng to help the Bulls defend their way into the postseason. 

    Chicago has ranked third in opponent scoring average while awaiting Derrick Rose's return and been good enough to earn the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference. 

Cleveland Cavaliers: C-

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    If the Cleveland Cavaliers' front office's goal was to put the team in the best draft position possible while developing Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and No. 4 overall pick Dion Waiters individually, it accomplished as much in 2012-13.

    Irving was an All-Star, Tristan Thompson demonstrated an improved skill set around the basket while averaging 11.7 points and 9.4 rebounds, and Dion Waiters is closing out his rookie campaign at a respectable scoring average of 14.6 per night. 

    The Cavs also acquired a future first-round draft pick in a trade for Jon Leuer that returned bench players Wayne Ellington and Marreese Speights from the Memphis Grizzlies.

    Beyond all that, however, Cleveland may have built its roster just a bit too much for losing, as it fell to a record of 24-57, which could end up costing coach Byron Scott his job this summer. 

Dallas Mavericks: C+

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    The Dallas Mavericks acquired O.J. Mayo heading into 2012-13, and he's since posted a field-goal percentage (45 percent), scoring average (15.4), assist (4.4) and rebounding average (3.6) all better than his career marks in each category.

    Each number for Mayo also represents a collective improvement over his production in 2011-12. 

    So, despite coach Rick Carlisle benching Mayo recently during a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Mavericks have received solid enough returns from their offseason investment.

    Darren Collison and Chris Kaman, the Mavericks other two primary acquisitions this summer, have been average on their way to scoring 11.8 and 10.6 points respectively.

    In the end, however, the front office did not do enough to help Dallas secure a playoff berth in 2013 despite a productive return from injury from Dirk Nowitzki.

Denver Nuggets: A

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    The Denver Nuggets' front office won the Andrew Bynum trade by a landslide, when they acquired Andre Iguodala. 

    He has shown up in Denver and become everything the Nuggets hoped he could be while averaging 12.9 points, 5.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds to go along with a stellar effort defensively.

    The collection of talent under coach George Karl alongside Iguodala has developed the team into the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference as well, without one player being named to the All-Star game in February.  

    Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee are all under contract collectively through 2015, too, giving the Nuggets a great opportunity for their winning ways to continue well after the 2012-13 campaign has concluded.

Detroit Pistons: B-

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    Andre Drummond has proven to be a valuable investment as the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft, which most NBA teams appeared timid to make. 

    Averaging 7.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks while playing just 20.5 minutes per night, Drummond has provided plenty of reasons for Pistons fans to be encouraged.

    He has also blended well with Greg Monroe and should combine with Brandon Knight to help those three young players form a foundation to build upon in Detroit moving forward.

    Corey Magette did make nearly $11 million to sit on the Pistons bench for a team who ultimately finished with a winning percentage below .400; however, and that's never good.

    The move to unload Tayshaun Prince was good though, and that has since put Detroit in a position financially to continue building in an efficient manner this summer. 

Golden State Warriors: B+

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    The Golden State Warriors' front office traded for Andrew Bogut during an injury-plagued season in 2011-12.

    Since arriving in Golden State, Bogut has appeared in only 31 games this year, averaging 5.9 points and 7.6 rebounds.

    Regardless, the Warriors have made enough moves outside of Bogut to earn the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference through Monday. 

    Turning the backcourt duties over to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson exclusively, by way of moving Monta Ellis in that Bogut deal, has helped create a winning identity in the Bay Area. 

    The trust demonstrated by the front office in coach Mark Jackson throughout the rebuild has also been critical, along with the performance of All-Star David Lee. 

Houston Rockets: A

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    After averaging only 3.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in 2011-12 for the Chicago Bulls, the investment made by general manager Daryl Morey to sign free agent Omer Asik this summer has returned a double-double performance at 10.2 points and 11.7 rebounds.

    Jeremy Lin, while not spectacular, has performed solid enough to fill the point guard duties adequately alongside superstar James Harden in the Rockets' backcourt.

    The trade to acquire Harden and then lock him up to a long-term contract may go down as one of the greatest moves in recent NBA history.

    At the moment, it has Houston into the playoffs with the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference despite the off-court struggles of its No. 16 pick Royce White throughout the year. 

Indiana Pacers: A-

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    The Indiana Pacers have built a roster that was able to collectively defend its way into the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference despite an injury that sidelined Danny Granger for most of the year. 

    Moving George Hill into the starting lineup exclusively by trading Darren Collison this summer has turned out effectively for Indiana.  Paul George has developed into an All-Star as well, and the Pacers expect a deep run in the playoffs as a result.

    The front office will have a decision to make with unrestricted free agent David West this summer, but until then, its work has been completed admirably. 

Los Angeles Clippers: A-

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    The decision to not trade Eric Bledsoe at the deadline has paid dividends for the Los Angeles Clippers. 

    Fueled by Bledsoe, along with Jamal Crawford, the Clippers' front office has constructed the deepest bench in the NBA. Ranked fourth overall in scoring, according to Hoopsstats.com, this reserve unit is averaging 40.1 points in support of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. 

    Griffin has also taken a step forward at the right time, as Paul becomes set for free agency this summer.

    Based on the moves made since Paul's arrival, chances are also good that the league's best point guard will sign on to remain in Los Angeles moving forward.

    As currently constructed, the Clippers have won their division and will open the postseason with home-court advantage just as soon as the playoffs begin. 

Los Angeles Lakers: C+

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    The biggest mistake the Los Angeles Lakers' front office made was the manner by which the head coaching situation was handled. 

    Firing Mike Brown after a 1-4 start eventually made it even more difficult for Mike D'Antoni's staff to effectively blend the talents of Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash in 2012-13.

    Based on the acquisitions of Howard and Nash, along with an MVP-caliber season from Bryant prior to his recent injury, the Lakers have earned the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference through Monday.

    The defensive effort has been lacking all year; however, and the Lakers' bench was not constructed well enough to compete on a nightly basis. 

Memphis Grizzlies: A-

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    The Memphis Grizzlies' front office traded away the team's leading scorer midseason for salary cap purposes and still earned the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference by winning 55 games through Monday.

    In shedding Rudy Gay's contract, the Grizzlies positioned themselves under the luxury tax threshold both this year and next with a projected $57.8 million guaranteed in 2013-14.

    They may have given up too much in dealing a first-round pick along with Wayne Ellington and Marresse Speights in exchange for Jon Leuer's contract, but it has been a solid effort overall for the Grizzlies in 2012-13.

    Behind Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, Memphis will remain a threat to beat anybody just as soon as the playoffs begin.  

Miami Heat: A

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    Pat Riley and his Miami Heat front office's work was essentially complete after the summer of 2010.

    Heading into the 2012-13 campaign, however, the office was able to tweak the roster some by adding a Hall of Famer in Ray Allen to help space the floor.

    Allen has gone on to average 10.9 points off the bench in support of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh while helping the Heat to the NBA's best overall record.

    Chris Andersen was solid pickup for the nominal price of $341,756, and Norris Cole has shown signs of development since being taken with a first-round pick in 2011.

    The Heat are well on their way to winning a second-consecutive NBA championship because of all that, though they really only needed James, Wade and Bosh to accomplish as much.

Milwaukee Bucks: B-

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    There is no guarantee that either of the Milwaukee Bucks' two leading scorers will be back in 2013-14.

    Brandon Jennings, who is do a qualifying offer this summer, appears as if he might be playing out his final days in a Milwaukee uniform.

    Monta Ellis, meanwhile, told Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times that he plans to opt out of his player option for next year as well.

    These are two of the primary reasons why trading Tobias Harris for J.J. Redick is somewhat confusing. 

    Redick has been effective, and the Bucks have earned the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference but appear to be starting completely over with only $29 million on the books next season.

    On one hand, I suppose it's a positive to start over while qualifying for the playoffs. If Harris turns into a missed opportunity, however, it could be a high price to pay in order to get swept by the Miami Heat.

Minnesota Timberwolves: B-

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    The Brandon Roy signing didn't work out, but I'm not going to crush the Minnesota Timberwolves' front office for making that decision back when it did.

    It seemed, at the time, like the type of high-risk, high-reward move that could put a young team featuring a healthy Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio over the top and into the Western Conference playoffs.

    Injuries to Roy, Love and Rubio during the first half of the year have demolished this team's chances of that; however, despite a solid effort from Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko along with Rubio upon his return.

New Orleans Hornets: C

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    Anthony Davis has demonstrated enough to warrant the first overall investment made by the New Orleans Hornets this summer. 

    While he will finish as the runner-up to Damian Lillard in the Rookie of the Year race, 13.5 points and 8.2 rebounds are a solid start for Davis' NBA career.

    The selection of Austin Rivers at No. 10 overall, however, has been similarly discouraging.

    Prior to having his season cut short by injury, Rivers averaged only 6.2 points and 2.1 assists on 37.2 percent shooting. 

    The Ryan Anderson acquisition has been beneficial, but only time will tell how wise it was for the front office to lock the often injured Eric Gordon up long-term. 

New York Knicks: A-

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    The decision made by the New York Knicks' front office to acquire Jason Kidd has resulted in a more stable locker room during the 2012-13 campaign. 

    This stability has helped lead to a No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference along with maybe the best season of Carmelo Anthony's career. 

    Obviously, coach Mike Woodson has had a major hand in all that as well, and the decision to stick with Woodson after D'Antoni's departure has proven to be critical.

    Anthony is now the NBA's leading scorer at 28.7 points per game and has helped eliminate any issues created by Amar'e Stoudemire's injury along the way.

Oklahoma City Thunder: A-

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    It's difficult to give a front office an "A," when that same front office traded James Harden.

    That said, I understand the financial reasons necessitating the move. Kevin Martin, who was sent to Oklahoma City as part of the compensation for Harden, has also provided solid value off the bench as the third-leading scorer for the Thunder.

    OKC will have salary-cap flexibility heading into the 2013-14 season when Martin's deal comes off the books, all while being led by two of the games preeminent superstars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. 

    Rookies Perry Jones III and Jeremy Lamb haven't had a real opportunity to demonstrate what they might be able to contribute on the NBA level, but to be fair, there's a lot of talent in front of them at the moment.

Orlando Magic: C

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    The Orlando Magic's front office did not receive the amount of assets you'd hope for in the deal that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Regardless, the Magic will close out the 2012-13 campaign with a collection of young players who could become core pieces very soon. 

    In Maurice Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris and Andrew Nicholson, the Magic should be even more competitive in 2013-14, as each player develops in the NBA level. 

    The move to acquire Harris along with the acquisition of Harkless and Nicholson are enough to get this grade into average territory. The Magic's overall record of 20-61, however, is still too bad to move it any higher.

Philadelphia 76ers: D-

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    I liked the Andrew Bynum trade from the Philadelphia 76ers perspective back when it happened.

    I assumed it meant that the Sixers would challenge in the Eastern Conference as a result. 

    Front offices, like teams and coaches, are ultimately graded on results, though, and the results haven't been good in Philadelphia.

    Despite an All-Star effort from Jrue Holiday, Bynum never made his way onto the court, and it has been nothing short of disappointing for Sixers fans in 2012-13. 

Phoenix Suns: D

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    The Phoenix Suns have no clear direction after the departure of Steve Nash.

    The front office invested a No. 13 pick in point guard Kendall Marshall, but he has appeared as anything but the long-term solution for Phoenix.

    Michael Beasley has had a Beasley-ish season as well, while averaging 10.1 points on 40.7 percent shooting from the field and 30.7 percent from three. 

    Beasley is locked up through next season at $6 million. Besides Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat, there aren't many pieces worth building around.

    This summer will be critical for the Suns' front office, as it looks to reconstruct this roster moving forward. 

Portland Trail Blazers: B-

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    The Portland Trail Blazers drafted the Rookie of the Year, when they selected Damian Lillard with the sixth overall pick. 

    They also squeezed a double-double performance of J.J. Hickson on a $4 million contract.

    Lillard and Hickson each combined with All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum to help form one of the best starting units in the league during the 2012-13 campaign. 

    Where the front office failed, however, is equipping this team with an NBA-caliber bench.

    According to Hoopsstats.com, the Trail Blazers' second unit ranks last in scoring at 18.4 points per night through Monday. 

Sacramento Kings: C-

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    It's almost unfair to grade the front office, coaches or players in Sacramento by the same measures as we do their colleagues throughout the league.

    With the threat of relocation hanging over the Kings all season, a number of decisions were influenced by outside factors.

    The roster rolled out onto the court has resulted in a 28-53 record through Monday, which isn't good.

    There doesn't seem to be a mix of players who fit with DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans either, nor does there appear to be a clear plan in place to acquire said players. 

    Once there is some stability with the Kings franchise, however, maybe some of that can begin to be determined. 

San Antonio Spurs: A

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    The San Antonio Spurs' front office is the standard by which all other front offices are measured. 

    The office has continued to sprinkle the pieces around Tim Duncan and Tony Parker necessary to post a 58-23 record through Monday. 

    Despite injuries along the way, including those to Manu Ginobili along with Parker specifically, the Spurs have earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. 

    Kawhi Leonard has continued his development in year two of his NBA career, and the Spurs are a legitimate threat to contend for a championship this summer.

Toronto Raptors: C

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    The Toronto Raptors have given themselves an opportunity to build a team around Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.

    Moving Jose Calderon has helped free up the cap space to accommodate Gay's $17.8 million contract, and the Raptors should be able to contend for a playoff berth next season as a result.

    I'm not sure where Andrea Bargnani fits in this equation; however, and Jonas Valanciunas will need to take a major step forward to reach expectations heading into 2013-14.  

Utah Jazz: C

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    The Utah Jazz decided against the idea of trading the expiring contracts of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap at the deadline in hopes of making a push towards the postseason. 

    Unfortunately, the Jazz remain one game behind the No. 8 seeded Los Angeles Lakers with only one game left to play. 

    The Jazz could potentially allow both Jefferson and Millsap to walk without receiving anything but cap space in return. The good news is, however, that Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter appear ready for an opportunity to fill each role in 2013-14. 

Washington Wizards: C

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    If John Wall had been healthy all season, the Washington Wizards could very well be in the Eastern Conference playoffs. 

    It wasn't until Wall returned from injury, however, that the Wizards began to demonstrate signs of life. While it will be ultimately held accountable for the losing, the front office's grade must also weigh this second-half effort equally.  

    A roster was constructed to be as competitive as possible around Wall, and that appears to be the case heading into 2013-14.

    Bradley Beal, before going down with injury himself, also appears to be a player who will excel next to Wall in the backcourt moving forward. 

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