5 NBA Teams That Will Regret Their 2022 Offseason
NBA rosters are largely set now, although we could still see a few trades and minor free-agent signings before training camps begin in late September.
Since most teams are likely done making moves, it's safe to start reviewing every team's body of work between the draft, free agency, contract extensions and trades.
For the following five teams, this hasn't been a great summer. At least, not yet.
These franchises will end up regretting the moves they made (or didn't make), although two still have a chance to turn things around.
Where does one even start when reviewing the Brooklyn Nets' offseason?
Their summer began early following a first-round sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics, one that Kevin Durant reportedly predicted. Kyrie Irving was given permission to seek a sign-and-trade, according to Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News, but he couldn't find a deal and had to trudge back to the organization and accept his player option instead.
Durant's trade request went unfulfilled for two months, only for he and the Nets to come to an agreement to drop it a few weeks after he reportedly asked the team to fire both head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks. Brooklyn also lost Bruce Brown and Andre Drummond in free agency, although getting T.J. Warren on a veteran's-minimum contract could end up as one of the biggest steals of the summer.
At the end of the day, there was a lot of unnecessary drama in Brooklyn for a team that's bringing back a similar roster from last season.
While we don't have a complete list of whom the Nets could have gotten in return for Durant, a trade package featuring Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and a draft pick was on the table from the Boston Celtics, per The Athletic's Shams Charania. While Brooklyn failed to get both Brown and Marcus Smart in a deal, finding middle ground on a package based around Brown would have saved a lot of headache for the Nets and given them a 25-year-old All-Star.
The Irving situation is still far from settled as well, as he'll now become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Brooklyn doesn't seem keen on giving the 30-year-old a long-term deal given his availability issues, but losing him for nothing as a free agent would be devastating as well. We haven't even mentioned Ben Simmons yet, who's coming off back surgery and hasn't played in a game since June 20, 2021.
On paper, Brooklyn has enough talent to be a title contender. But heading into the season, there are still far more questions than answers for a team that has to hope it didn't miss its best chance to trade Durant.
The Charlotte Hornets were extremely quiet this offseason. They failed to make any impact trades or free-agent signings that moved the needle from play-in contender to playoff lock.
During the draft, the Hornets selected Duke center Mark Williams with the 15th overall pick. The 20-year-old looks like a good long-term fit alongside LaMelo Ball, but he might not be ready to make a big impact yet, especially if he's stuck behind Mason Plumlee.
Firing head coach James Borrego just to rehire Steve Clifford seems like a step back. The Hornets were getting noticeably better the past three years with winning percentage jumps from 35.4 percent in 2019-20 to 45.8 percent in 2020-21 to 52.4 percent this past season.
In five years with Clifford at the helm from 2013-14 through 2017-18, the Hornets reached the playoffs only twice and never made it out of the first round. The 60-year-old isn't known for player development, but Charlotte's roster features a lot of young talent (Ball, P.J. Washington, James Bouknight, Williams) that needs seasoning.
While Borrego didn't use his young guys as much as management and fans might have liked, Ball has already become an All-Star, while Miles Bridges developed into one of the league's best power forwards. However, Bridges may not even be with the team moving forward, as he's facing three felony charges for domestic violence and child abuse.
Charlotte has to hope Washington can break out in his return to the starting lineup, although the Hornets did little to address Bridges' likely absence next season.
The Hornets appeared primed to make the jump to being a serious threat in the East. But going back to an old coach and failing to bring in depth or a new starter at power forward makes it feel like they're stuck in neutral.
If the Hornets take a step back from last season's 43-39 record (or don't make a noticeable jump forward), they'll regret not doing more this offseason.
The Dallas Mavericks acquired Christian Wood via trade and will be getting Tim Hardaway Jr. back from foot surgery next season, which may be reason to believe they can build upon their run to the Western Conference Finals. However, losing Jalen Brunson for nothing in free agency was a huge setback.
Not only was Brunson second to Luka Doncic in points and assists last season, but Dallas' net rating jumped from plus-2.8 with just Doncic on the court to plus-4.4 when both star guards were in the game.
If Brunson had his heart set on the New York Knicks no matter what, that's one thing. But Dallas should have exceeded the four-year, $104 million deal he signed with them. The team was likely worried about luxury-tax implications, but the alternative was losing a player of Brunson's caliber.
The Mavericks should have made Brunson an offer he couldn't refuse and looked to shed salary another way (Davis Bertans?), especially with teams like the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers still able to absorb roughly $30 million worth of salary.
Getting Wood from the Houston Rockets was great, but Dallas could find itself in a similar situation next offseason when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. According to ProFitX.com, Wood's real-time contract from last season was valued at $25.2 million, which is nearly identical to Brunson's new $26 million annual average.
The Mavericks still could win 50 games in the loaded Western Conference. But with Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie as the only remaining playmakers on the roster, Dallas got worse this summer.
Los Angeles Lakers*
The Los Angeles Lakers can still salvage what's been a disappointing offseason, although time is running out.
For now, this isn't a playoff-caliber roster in the West, and that's even assuming LeBron James and Anthony Davis can each play more than 60 games for the first time in three years. With an underwhelming free-agent haul of Lonnie Walker IV, Troy Brown Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones and Thomas Bryant, general manager Rob Pelinka has continued to do a disastrous job of putting the right fitting pieces around James.
Trading Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson for Patrick Beverley was a good start to a potential turnaround. The 34-year-old guard is now the fourth-best player on this roster.
Darvin Ham was a great hire at head coach, and he's said all the right things about using Russell Westbrook this season, but what choice does he have? Keeping Westbrook is likely a death sentence for Los Angeles' playoff chances. This team's only real avenue for improvement is moving his expiring $47.1 million contract along with future draft picks.
The Lakers can't enter the year with Westbrook as their starting point guard. The 33-year-old wouldn't be starting for any other contender in the NBA. He should be buying into a lower-usage role at this point of his career, much like Kevin Love did in Cleveland last season.
Moving Westbrook and picks for veteran help that fits better (Buddy Hield and Myles Turner or Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic) is the Lakers' only chance at sniffing a title this year.
The Utah Jazz already pulled off one of the greatest trades in recent NBA history with the return they received for Rudy Gobert. However, failing to completely hit the reset button would be a mistake.
If the Jazz go into training camp with Donovan Mitchell still on the roster, they'll be creating a media firestorm for first-year head coach Will Hardy. Moving veterans like Mitchell, Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic would give Hardy the peace of mind to know which players will be around on a day-to-day basis moving forward.
Trading Gobert for a draft-heavy package signals that Utah is prioritizing a rebuild over a reload. However, this roster is still too good to be one of the worst in the NBA and have the best odds at franchise-changing players like Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson.
The Jazz also owe their 2024 first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder, which they'll get to keep if it falls in the top 10. If they pick in the top 10 in 2025 and top eight in 2026, their obligation to send out a first-round gets entirely extinguished.
The Jazz can't stop now. A package including five first-round picks, Obi Toppin and Evan Fournier is already an outrageous return for Mitchell, one that no other team is likely to beat. Players like Conley, Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson and Malik Beasley should collectively bring in a few more first-rounders as well.
If the Jazz don't embrace a full rebuild before the season begins, they'll end up regretting it.