Off-Season Report Cards
The 2010 Off-season has been perhaps the most anticipated and wildest one in NBA History.
It is only appropriate to go team by team and deliver a grade for how each of the 30 NBA teams faired in this historic summer.
Atlanta Hawks – D-
Atlanta is coming off an impressive regular season which unfortunately concluded with a very unimpressive post season.
The Hawks athletic wild-cat type style worked well for them over the course of the year, but the team needed to make sufficient roster moves to improve on last year and ensure at least a more competitive post season run in 2011.
Marvin Williams should have been traded by now and the Hawks needed to improve their point guard slot and depth overall.
The off-season additions of Jason Collins and Josh Powell really won’t help much at all.
The team also had a chance at snagging Shaquille O’neal who could have worked well within the lineup and even allow Al Horford to play his natural power forward position.
Instead the Hawks shied away from giving O’neal anything more than the minimum and now he’s on a direct competitor.
Atlanta shouldn’t be as heavily criticized, as many believe they should, for shelling out max money to their franchise guy, Joe Johnson.
The fact is had Atlanta not given their star max money he likely would have bolted to the Knicks or Nets.
Still, couldn’t the team just played the waiting game with Johnson a little longer and seen what other clubs would have offered him?
All in all this was a very lousy off-season in the ATL.
Who had the best off-season outside of Miami?
Boston Celtics – B+
The Celtics had probably a much greater challenge entering the off-season than people realize.
Paul Pierce and Ray Allen’s deals were up and head coach Doc Rivers was considering retirement.
The team was on the verge of a major shakeup, only a deterrent for a true title contender.
On top of everything, the team also needed to ensure they had a replacement for Kendrick Perkins who will start the season on the injury reserve and of course the retired Rasheed Wallace.
Boston also had far fewer trading assets to dangle in order to fill in these voids.
Netting Shaq for the league minimum is a steal considering other contracts allotted to serviceable centers over the years.
The team also was able to spend their MLE (mid level exception) wisely on long time effective post player, Jermaine O’neal.
The Celtics were also able to retain Nate Robinson, who should benefit from a full training camp, and Marquis Daniels for reasonable price tags.
The major negative; however, is Boston’s inability to replace the departed Tony Allen and acquire a talented backup 2-guard.
With Boston being very limited in assets and exhausting their cap constraints, it will be hard to see how the team can acquire such a talent.
The void can certainly not be sufficiently filled by Marquis Daniels, rookie Avery Bradley, or recently acquired troublemaker Von Wafer.
Charlotte Bobcats - F
You lose your starting point guard and center, Ray Felton and Tyson Chandler.
You fail to use your one trading chip to acquire a major talent, Eric Dampier’s salary dump.
Finally, you manage to tie even more money to your starting power forward slot.
What grade would you give them?
The Bobcats are coming off the franchise’s first playoff appearance, but have not managed to muster up a roster to improve on last season’s success.
Point Guard, Ray Felton ,is now a member of the New York Knicks, a team likely to compete with Charlotte for the playoffs.
The team also netted a slower, older center for the athletic Tyson Chandler.
In addition to Eric Dampier though, the team also took back some of the most unattractive contracts in the league with Matt Carroll and Eduardo Najara.
The one small saving grace is that Charlotte was at least able to retain Tyrus Thomas.
Still, Coach Larry Brown didn’t seem too fond of Thomas late in the season as his post season minutes would indicate.
The team also was at least able to sign Shaun Livingston, who made serious strides late last season with the Washington Wizards.
It still doesn’t seem like a great situation for Shaun who now has to deal with yet another new situation and head coach who has been known to place younger talents in the dog house.
Charlotte may still make the playoffs, but they have certainly regressed from last season.
Chicago Bulls – A-
Anytime you start the off-season by firing an incompetent coach (Vinny Del Negro) and hire the league’s top assistant/ defensive guru (Tom Thibadeou) it’s a great start.
Unlike some other clubs with sufficient cap space (New Jersey cough cough), the Bulls were able to sign a true need at Power Forward in Carlos Boozer.
Booz should fit in like a glove as he is now paired with an athletic center in Joakim Noah and phenom point guard in Derrick Rose.
Even prior to signing Boozer the Bulls get bonus points for unloading the contract of Kirk Hinrich on draft day.
Besides the Boozer acquisition the Bulls filled the roster around him and Derrick Rose nicely.
Kyle Korver is a shooter the team desperately needed with the penetrating of Rose and post play of the aforementioned Carlos Boozer in place.
Ronnie Brewer should help on key defensive wing assignments and CJ Watson is a solid backup who can play either guard position and provide ample rest for guard Derrick Rose.
The reason we don’t see an A here is because the team was unable to pry JJ Redick from Orlando.
The Magic ended up surprisingly matching a very lucrative offer (even after they had acquired Quentin Richardson), but Chicago may have been better off over paying for Redick, as he would have been an absolute perfect fit next to Rose in the backcourt.
Cleveland Cavaliers – D+
The Cavs should not be punished for losing LeBron James.
He clearly wanted to play with his friends and enjoy a third of the limelight in sunny Miami beach.
Instead the Cavs should be blamed for their inability to react appropriately.
Without James now, what is the team suppose to do with veterans, Mo Williams or Antawn Jamison?
Furthermore, what is the team’s plan?
Rather than looking for deals to move the aforementioned vets, the team opted to replace LeBron James with Joey Graham and 2nd round pick, Christian Negaya.
They were able to trade for young point guard Ramon Sessions and wiry center Ryan Hollins which is a positive move for the team’s future outlook.
In the end though Cleveland hadn’t done enough to rebuild the club post James and shoot for a high lotto pick in 2011.
Right now the team has reminiscence of a perennial 11-9 seed out East.
The only thing preventing a failing grade here is the sympathy factor.
Dallas Mavericks - B
In perhaps the wildest off-season in NBA history, the Dallas Mavericks were able to retain one of the most talented free agents, Dirk Nowitzki, for a reasonable price tag.
The team wisely did not overreact from a poor post-season showing and retained most of last season’s club.
Dallas was impressively able to also unload the nasty contracts of Matt Carroll and Eduardo Najara for the athletic center Tyson Chandler.
The Mavericks were in the Al Jefferson talks as well and were unable to net a premier backup big like they hoped. Tim Thomas is not that.
Still, the acquisition of Tyson Chandler is a big one and retaining the team and handing out more minutes to 2nd year guard Rodrique Beabois should be on course for next season.
Denver Nuggets - Incomplete
This is a hard team to grade as we still do not know the final conclusion to the Carmelo Anthony saga.
The team still needs to fish out a general manager before trade talks can even truly begin.
Until that point in time it will be hard to determine a grade for the Nuggets.
Detroit Pistons – C
The Pistons managed to land a highly touted center in the draft with Greg Monroe.
Monroe gives the Pistons a much needed post presence and is also a very apt passer on the low block.
Detroit’s major, but hard to achieve goal, this off-season will be to unload the contract of Richard Hamilton.
The team is currently spending over 22 million on their two shooting guards, Rip and Ben Gordon, and will need to find a resolution sooner than later.
Hamilton’s deal runs for three more seasons and considering his age, his value should only depreciate from here on in.
If the Pistons are able to move Rip, this grade sky rockets. For now though a steady C is where they’re at.
Golden State Warriors – D+
The franchise is in the midst of going through a new ownership and is trying to field a more competitive team that can compete for the playoffs.
The team dealt away promising young big Anthony Randolph, durable backup center Ronny Turiaf, and efficient wing Kelenne Azubike in a sign and trade for David Lee.
True Warriors fans know that Randolph is capable of greatness considering his over length, athleticsm, and basketball skill level, but was subjected to the coaching oddities that is Don Nelson.
Turiaf also emerged as an extremely dependable big for them last season, especially admist all of the injuries the team had suffered.
Anthony Morrow was also a steady contributor, averaging 13 points per game, and being amongst the top 3 point assisans in the game.
The team also selected another athletic big in Ekpe Udoh when the team had similar talents in Brandon Wright and Andres Biedrins and very much needed a starting small forward.
Let’s get back to David Lee.
Lee did emerge as an All Star last season averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per contest for the Knicks.
Yes, Mike D’Antoini’s run and gun New York Knicks. Also known as the stat inflator.
So as much as Lee had a breakout year averaging 20 and 10 it should be known that he did it with a high pace system and playing at center, a slot he will likely see less time at with Golden State.
Unsure if someone of his stature was truly worth 5 years 80 million.
The new ownership is a start in the bay area, but Golden State will need to terminate Don Nelson and the shenanigans that come with him before truly emerging as a franchise.
Houston Rockets - B
Houston completed a very interesting deal last week which netted the team 2-guard Courtney Lee, but most importantly kept the Rockets within the dreaded luxury tax.
This was probably a better financial move than basketball move as the departed Trever Ariza did provide Houston with a nice all-around offensive game and nice athleticsm at the wing slot.
The team managed to retain highly touted foreign big man, Luis Scola and their young point guard, Aaron Brooks. Certainly a task not worth overlooking as many teams (how many times are we going to cough and refer to the Nets) were looking to sign either player for a hefty price tag.
Their overall outlook going for next season will depend heavily on the conclusion to the Yao Ming situation.
Questions are arising over his health status and/or whether he will opt to retire.
Indiana Pacers - A-
The Pacers entered the off-season with two major questions: Who would be the power forward and point guard of their future?
Indiana drafted a small forward in Paul George and dealt away their starting power forward, Troy Murphy.
The team still has hope that 2nd year forward Tyler Hansborough could emerge as a solid Power Forward with further development and more minutes.
The team also hopes that Paul George or Danny Granger can sneak in and play some spot minutes at the 4 slot if possible.
Finally, it does seem that the future Power Forward role will be determined next off-season when the Pacers use their enormous amount of 2011 cap space on either Al Horford, Marc Gasol or Carl Landry.
On the point guard front, Indiana hit the jackpot.
The Pacers were seeking a young point guard around draft time and had been rejected by Minnesota for a 10th pick for Jonny Flynn swap.
The team seemed inevitable to resolve their issue at the 1 with a stop gap option or to overpay for a veteran.
Instead the team was able to net highly touted 2nd year guard Darren Collison from New Orleans.
Collison played extremely well last season filling in for the injured Chris Paul and should enjoy a nice career in Indiana.
Collison finally gives Granger another offensive option as well and allows D-Grange to focus more on the scoring end than the facilitating one.
The cost to obtain Collison was also far less than many pundits believed as Indiana only had to absorb the contract of James Posey and unload the expiring contract of Troy Murphy in the trade to acquire the UCLA product.
Los Angeles Clippers – B-
The Clippers came into the off-season with the ability to shell max money for someone and will enter the season without a newly acquired star on the roster.
Still, unlike some other clubs with the ability to extend deep pockets this off-season (Ahem New Jersey…my throat hurts), the Clippers spent wisely on some key free agents instead of shelling out contracts just because they had the ability to.
Forward Ryan Gomes and Guard Randy Foye will be a nice fit on Los Angeles’ bench.
Gomes was had at a particularly low price tag.
The former Providence College Friar can provide consistency at the 3 slot and can even play some spot minutes at the 4.
Foye is a nice combo guard who should be able to fill in nicely behind Baron Davis and Eric Gordon.
The team also did a fine job on draft day picking up an athletic wing, Al Farouq-Aminu, who should be able to fill in immediately next to Blake Griffin and Chris Kaman and one of the better point guards in the draft in Eric Bledsoe.
The team will need a full season to evaluate Blake Griffin and see exactly what course is necessary for this present team.
All in all it was a very steady, solid and safe off-season in Clipper County.
Los Angeles Lakers – A-
When a team is coming off a championship usually the course of action that off-season is to ensure the team for the most part remains in tact.
Somehow not only are the usual cast of Lakers characters returning for another title run, but somehow General Manger Mitch Kupcheck and the Lakers front office were actually able to improve their roster.
The team toyed with the idea of signing Mike Miller, but opted to save a few bucks and were able to lure former adversary Matt Barnes.
Barnes is one of more underrated wing defenders in the league and was vital in Orlando’s success last season.
Matt can play either wing effectively and would ensure that Kobe Bryant is never stuck guarding the other team’s prime wing talent.
Steve Blake would also be a welcomed addition to the triangle offense and can either start immediately for this club or spell minutes from the aging Fisher aptly.
Finally, the team was able to retain the aforementioned Fisher and backup guard standout Shannon Brown.
The Lakers were able to secure small holes on the team and add even more depth to areas with some aging talents.
LA has ensured themselves as the team to beat in the league for yet another year.
Miami Heat – A+
How is this not the best off-season for any team in NBA history?
Perhaps even sports history.
The club somehow not only retained their own highly sought free agent, but were able to steal two others for less than market value no less, around him.
Enough has been said about Miami’s abilities to secure long term contracts for the trio of James, Bosh, and Wade.
That alone deserves the team an A for their off-season.
Let’s focus on the other signings, the role players, that Miami was able to solidify with their absurd talent.
Mike Miller was being sought after by the Lakers and Celtics to name a few, but Miami was able to sign the sharp shooting veteran wing as their likely 6th man.
Miller gives the Heat more options offensively (as if they need it) and allows James, Wade, and Bosh more room to slash to the hoop as defenders will worry about his outside shooting.
Speaking of shooting, the team filled out their likely starting unit and backup guard slots by signing LeBron’s older buddy Zydranus Ilgauskus and backup guard Eddie House.
Both Z and Eddie should relish in a role in which defenders need to leave them open in order to help out on the aforementioned stars.
Miami also retained necessary talent to ensure proper depth at point guard and center/power forward.
Udonis Haslem, Carlos Arroyo and Joel Anthony should allow Miami to stretch their rotation to 8 or 9 players deep and allow for needed help on the rebounding side and for point guard play.
Anything less than 66 wins and a trip to the finals should be an utter disappointment for this club.
Milwaukee Bucks - B
The Bucks had many holes to potentially fill this off-season despite their surprising successes last year.
The team needed a proper Power Forward to help out Bogut down low and provide another option at the low post than just the big Australian.
Drew Gooden was not a terrible option for Milwaukee, but did the team really need to overpay him 6+ million a season?
Milwaukee also knew aging guard, Jerry Stackhouse, was likely going to leave and possibly John Salmons as well and were able to potentially replace both with Corey Maggette via trade and Chris Douglas Roberts via free agency.
Maggette would be a stellar 6th man for the Bucks and has always had a knack for getting to the free throw line.
CDR enjoyed a nice season last year and could be a do-it-all reserve guard for the team.
Still, with Salmons actually re-signing in Milwaukee, it is difficult to determine how he and newly acquired Corey Maggette will co-exist.
Both have very similar styles of play and may be redundant together on the floor at the same time.
The team also needed to replace the departure of Luke Ridnour.
Kirk Hinrich was available on draft day and seemed like an ideal fit under Coach Skiles, mentoring Brandon Jennings.
The team decided
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