Report Card Grade for Every NBA Team's 2016 Offseason
According to our (not) definitive, (not) indisputably perfect grades, the NBA as a whole has to be content with a 3.08 GPA for its work during the 2016 offseason. Most teams did well, as you'd expect from a group of general managers experienced in (usually) drafting quality players and making (mostly) intelligent free-agent signings in spite of the rising cap.
Unsurprisingly, the Sacramento Kings were one of the toughest students, dragging down the league's cumulative GPA. Equally unsurprising is the Golden State Warriors were one of the best. They landed the No. 1 free agent, after all.
Cross your fingers and hope your team is bringing the class up, not down, and that it got better over the offseason, with the incoming and re-signing talent outweighing what's no longer on the roster.
Outgoing Players: Kirk Hinrich, Al Horford, Lamar Patterson, Jeff Teague
Incoming Players: DeAndre Bembry, Matt Costello, Malcolm Delaney, Dwight Howard, Jarrett Jack, Taurean Prince
Re-Signed Players: Kent Bazemore, Kris Humphries
Projected Starting Five: Dennis Schroder (PG), Kent Bazemore (SG), Kyle Korver (SF), Paul Millsap (PF), Dwight Howard (C)
Unless first-round picks DeAndre Bembry and/or Taurean Prince immediately blossom into All-Rookie studs, the Atlanta Hawks' offseason will be disappointing.
Sure, they turned Jeff Teague into an extra 2016 NBA draft selection while handing the point guard reins over to Dennis Schroder. Yes, they re-signed Kent Bazemore and ensured the franchise didn't experience a repeat of the DeMarre Carroll develop-and-leave pattern.
But Al Horford is gone and replaced by Dwight Howard, who's less popular and less versatile. The new Atlanta center will help fix rebounding weaknesses and give the Hawks a legitimate rim-protecting stud. But his inability to fill Horford's offensive role could be problematic. Plus, you could make a legit case Horford has been Howard's defensive superior for a while now.
Atlanta made the best of a bad situation and opened the door to a higher ceiling, but some regression could be coming.
Outgoing Players: Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner
Incoming Players: Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Gerald Green (per Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com)
Re-Signed Players: Tyler Zeller (per Forsberg)
Projected Starting Five: Isaiah Thomas (PG), Avery Bradley (SG), Jae Crowder (SF), Amir Johnson (PF), Al Horford (C)
The Boston Celtics sent in the heavy artillery (see: Brady, Tom) during their pitch to Kevin Durant, but their efforts fell short. That's all that prevents them from a perfect score, since they rebounded nicely by landing a second-tier star.
Al Horford remains one of the game's best centers, and he brings legitimacy to a position previously filled by a handful of role players and below-average contributors. Losing Jared Sullinger might have been painful, but Horford's two-way excellence should help bring Beantown near the top of the Eastern Conference.
Additionally, the team’s reach for Jaylen Brown with the No. 3 overall pick could mitigate its failure to pull off a draft-day deal despite its best efforts. CBS Sports' Ananth Pandian called the California product the top rookie performer at summer league, and it's easy to see how the pros could be better for his skill set than college ever was.
Outgoing Players: Markel Brown, Wayne Ellington, Jarrett Jack, Sergey Karasev, Shane Larkin, Willie Reed, Thomas Robinson, Henry Sims, Donald Sloan
Incoming Players: Anthony Bennett, Trevor Booker, Randy Foye, Joe Harris, Justin Hamilton, Caris LeVert, Jeremy Lin, Luis Scola, Greivis Vasquez, Isaiah Whitehead
Re-Signed Players: None
Projected Starting Five: Jeremy Lin (PG), Sean Kilpatrick (SG), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (SF), Trevor Booker (PF), Brook Lopez (C)
Not one of the incoming players is a true game-changing presence. Some (Luis Scola and Randy Foye) don't make much sense: known commodities devoid of upside who will only get in the way of younger rotation members' development.
But the Brooklyn Nets weren't working with a full deck.
They had to trade Thaddeus Young to get a top-20 draft pick. They didn't enjoy much free-agency appeal, even if they had plenty of money to toss at the open market. That bad situation and extended rebuild still needed a plan, so at least Brooklyn landed players with upside.
Caris LeVert is a great fit for the Nets as a first-round gamble, given his immense offensive potential and a draft stock only downtrodden due to injury history. Jeremy Lin is coming off a legitimate run at Sixth Man of the Year for the Charlotte Hornets. Anthony Bennett could be due for a post-hype breakout...into a legitimate NBA player, not a star.
It's hard to love what the Nets did. It's not hard to like and understand both the plan and the execution.
Outgoing Players: Troy Daniels, Jorge Gutierrez, Tyler Hansbrough, Al Jefferson, Courtney Lee, Jeremy Lin
Incoming Players: Marco Belinelli, Roy Hibbert, Brian Roberts, Ramon Sessions, Christian Wood
Re-Signed Players: Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams
Projected Starting Five: Kemba Walker (PG), Nicolas Batum (SG), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (SF), Marvin Williams (PF), Cody Zeller (C)
Maintaining the status quo would've been fine for the Charlotte Hornets.
Even though they were a first-round casualty in the 2016 playoffs, they enjoyed a sterling regular season despite Michael Kidd-Gilchrist usually watching from the bench. According to simple rating system, which looks only at margin of victory and strength of schedule, just eight teams were better—and only the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics in the East.
The Hornets aren't quite running it back, though.
They re-signed Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams, but a number of key rotation members slipped through their fingers. The newcomers could be strong replacements, but it's tough to replicate Al Jefferson's post-up game or Jeremy Lin's skill at running pick-and-rolls for the second unit.
Charlotte should avoid significant regression, but it's tough to see much progress. Plus, what strides it makes will likely be the direct product of a healthy Kidd-Gilchrist and his shutdown perimeter defense.
Incoming Players: Jerian Grant, Rajon Rondo, Denzel Valentine, Dwyane Wade, Paul Zipser
Re-Signed Players: None
Projected Starting Five: Rajon Rondo (PG), Dwyane Wade (SG), Jimmy Butler (SF), Nikola Mirotic (PF), Robin Lopez (C)
In a vacuum, the Chicago Bulls' moves look positive. But Chicago is relying on the name power of past-prime players who don't boast cohesive styles. That won't help it win games, and it's terrifying that the Windy City is poised to use a starting five that will have trouble spacing the court—a necessity when seeking modern NBA success.
Here's how each member of the projected starting unit fared from downtown in 2015-16:
|Player||3PA per Game||3P%|
That could look even worse if Bobby Portis replaces Nikola Mirotic, which should happen in the not-too-distant future (because of Portis' production elsewhere).
Even more troubling, the Bulls had to get rid of proficient shooters Jose Calderon (acquired in the trade that sent Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks) and Mike Dunleavy just for the necessary financial flexibility to sign Dwyane Wade.
Outgoing Players: Matthew Dellavedova, James Jones, Sasha Kaun, Timofey Mozgov
Incoming Players: Chris Andersen, Mike Dunleavy, Kay Felder
Re-Signed Players: Richard Jefferson
Projected Starting Five: Kyrie Irving (PG), J.R. Smith (SG), LeBron James (SF), Kevin Love (PF), Tristan Thompson (C)
J.R. Smith and LeBron James still aren't back under contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but we're assuming both players return. However, it's worth noting that Smith and the Cavs "remain apart" in terms of a new deal, according to ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst.
As long as Cleveland retains both wings, it'll be hard to fault its offseason.
Cleveland struck out on its Dwyane Wade pursuit and failed to sign any notable free agents, despite looking like a logical destination for ring-hungry veterans. The Cavaliers also lost a handful of benchwarming contributors and Matthew Dellavedova, who had blossomed into a quality second-string point guard.
But they replaced them with an energy-spewing big (Chris Andersen), a legitimate sharpshooter (Mike Dunleavy) and a rookie point guard with more upside than Dellavedova (Kay Felder).
"Felder packs enough spring in his lower body to rival a caffeinated kangaroo," Greg Swartz wrote for Bleacher Report. "His ability to penetrate and willingness to give up the ball is a perfect fit for how the Cavaliers like to orchestrate offense. Head coach Tyronn Lue consistently preaches pushing the pace, getting downhill and kicking out to shooters."
These overall moves are still positive and should help during the title defense.
Outgoing Players: Raymond Felton, David Lee, JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Chandler Parsons, Charlie Villanueva
Incoming Players: Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Nicolas Brussino, Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith, Jonathan Gibson, A.J. Hammons
Projected Starting Five: Deron Williams (PG), Wesley Matthews (SG), Harrison Barnes (SF), Dirk Nowitzki (PF), Andrew Bogut (C)
According to NBA Math's total points added, replacing Chandler Parsons with Harrison Barnes isn't a positive for the Dallas Mavericks:
|Player||Offensive Points Added||Defensive Points Saved||Total Points Added|
Barnes has upside, and the hope is he can break out on a roster that won't see him cede touches to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. But there are few reasons to believe in his future stardom, whereas Parsons was already established as an above-average contributor in many areas.
Fortunately, the Mavs' other moves were largely positive. Losing Raymond Felton and Zaza Pachulia hurts, but Seth Curry and the other youngsters offer hope for a higher ceiling while Dirk Nowitzki plays out what could be his final contract—two years and $50 million, per ESPN's Marc Stein.
Outgoing Players: D.J. Augustin
Incoming Players: Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Jamal Murray
Re-Signed Players: Darrell Arthur, Mike Miller
Projected Starting Five: Emmanuel Mudiay (PG), Gary Harris (SG), Danilo Gallinari (SF), Kenneth Faried (PF), Nikola Jokic (C)
The Denver Nuggets failed to consolidate their many young players into an established star. They went after Dwyane Wade in free agency and could've thought about trading for Jimmy Butler, but they instead held the course and kept adding assets.
However, Jamal Murray looked fantastic on the scoring end during summer league, showing an ability to knock down shots from all over the court. He'll have to control his gunning instincts when games actually count, but that should be easier now that Gary Harris and Emmanuel Mudiay have improved.
Fellow rookie Malik Beasley has the makings of a three-and-D standout, while first-year player Juancho Hernangomez's versatility as a power forward will look good next to the other young pieces.
The Nuggets should be considered a threat to challenge for a Western Conference playoff spot in 2016-17, especially if a few of the youngsters can begin to break out ahead of schedule. Standing pat and acquiring more talent won't change that.
Outgoing Players: Joel Anthony, Cameron Bairstow, Steve Blake, Anthony Tolliver
Incoming Players: Henry Ellenson, Michael Gbinije, Jon Leuer, Boban Marjanovic, Ish Smith
Re-Signed Players: Andre Drummond
Projected Starting Five: Reggie Jackson (PG), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG), Tobias Harris (SF), Marcus Morris (PF), Andre Drummond (C)
How can you not love the Detroit Pistons' offseason?
They inked Andre Drummond to a new deal that will keep him as the franchise centerpiece for the foreseeable future. They found a legitimate backup center, Boban Marjanovic, who's brimming with upside and should look great in small doses. Solid backup point guard Ish Smith will make Steve Blake's tenure nothing more than an unpleasant memory.
Plus, they added shooters aplenty: Henry Ellenson should develop into a solid stretch 4 as he gains professional experience. Jon Leuer is already there. Michael Gbinije is coming off a senior season at Syracuse in which he shot 39.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Everything is geared toward making head coach Stan Van Gundy's four-out, one-in system work to perfection.
Golden State Warriors
Outgoing Players: Leandro Barbosa, Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli, Brandon Rush, Marreese Speights
Incoming Players: Kevin Durant, Damian Jones, Patrick McCaw, Zaza Pachulia, David West
Re-Signed Players: Ian Clark, James Michael McAdoo, Anderson Varejao
Projected Starting Five: Stephen Curry (PG), Klay Thompson (SG), Kevin Durant (SF), Draymond Green (PF), Zaza Pachulia (C)
The Golden State Warriors lost a great deal of bench talent to free agency, but they'll be fine.
David West and Zaza Pachulia are useful veterans who will immediately make championship-quest impacts. And this Kevin Durant guy is pretty decent at basketball. Landing him without losing any of the incumbent Bay Area stars borders on unfair for the rest of the league.
As if that's not enough, the Warriors added a high-upside center in the draft (Damian Jones) and used a second-round pick to acquire Patrick McCaw—a potential gem who thrived during summer league.
Golden State is coming off a 73-win season, and it somehow made its roster better. How is that deserving of anything less than a perfect grade?
Outgoing Players: Andrew Goudelock, Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Josh Smith, Jason Terry
Incoming Players: Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon
Re-Signed Players: James Harden
Projected Starting Five: Patrick Beverley (PG), James Harden (SG), Trevor Ariza (SF), Ryan Anderson (PF), Clint Capela (C)
The Houston Rockets no longer have to worry about the never-ending roulette wheel that's been their power forward rotation. Even without Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas and Josh Smith, they'll be just fine with Ryan Anderson helping space the floor with his perimeter shooting.
Eric Gordon should have the same type of impact, helping open the interior for the drives of newly extended James Harden. But just like Anderson, Gordon has a distinct weakness that makes us a bit less excited. While the new power forward can't play defense to save his life, Gordon has had trouble staying healthy and has devolved into a sharpshooting specialist.
The Rockets have plenty of talent, but they're also a risky squad. The new additions must be implemented properly, and Houston is betting a lot on Clint Capela's development now that Dwight Howard has left to join his hometown Hawks.
Outgoing Players: George Hill, Jordan Hill, Solomon Hill, Ty Lawson, Ian Mahinmi
Incoming Players: Jeremy Evans, Al Jefferson, Georges Niang, Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young
Re-Signed Players: None
Projected Starting Five: Jeff Teague (PG), Monta Ellis (SG), Paul George (SF), Thaddeus Young (PF), Myles Turner (C)
By itself, sending a draft pick to the Brooklyn Nets and getting back Thaddeus Young makes sense for the Indiana Pacers. So, too, did trading George Hill for Jeff Teague, who also now gets to work with his hometown organization.
But what exactly is Indiana's plan?
The Pacers' individual moves look nice, and they do have more raw talent for 2016-17. It also seems like the team wants to get faster and play a lot of transitional basketball, which these moves will help accomplish. That said, the team just created a new set of weaknesses that could be even tougher to overcome.
It's tough to see Teague, Monta Ellis and Paul George coexisting on offense, and the defense could be disastrous with two sieves filling the backcourt slots. Likewise, Al Jefferson remains a talented big man who can score from the left block with ease. But he prefers playing a slower tempo and can stop the ball when he goes to work with his back to the basket.
Los Angeles Clippers
Outgoing Players: Cole Aldrich, Jeff Ayres, Branden Dawson, Jeff Green, Pablo Prigioni, C.J. Wilcox
Incoming Players: Brandon Bass, Brice Johnson, Marreese Speights, Diamond Stone
Re-Signed Players: Jamal Crawford, Wesley Johnson, Luc Mbah a Moute, Austin Rivers
Are the Los Angeles Clippers ever going to add quality depth?
Instead of landing impact players, they chose to re-sign a quartet of contributors who provided varying levels of value in 2015-16. Unfortunately, most were negative, per NBA Math's TPA:
|Player||Offensive Points Added||Defensive Points Saved||Total Points Added|
|Luc Mbah a Moute||-76.29||38.15||-38.14|
Continuity is often positive in the NBA. But blind loyalty to players who aren't helping falls into a different category, especially when your new additions are limited backups and incoming rookies.
The Clippers still have a dynamite starting five. Beyond that...not so much.
Los Angeles Lakers
Outgoing Players: Brandon Bass, Kobe Bryant, Roy Hibbert, Ryan Kelly, Robert Sacre, Metta World Peace
Incoming Players: Jose Calderon, Luol Deng, Brandon Ingram, Timofey Mozgov, Ivica Zubac
Re-Signed Players: Jordan Clarkson, Tarik Black, Marcelo Huertas
Projected Starting Five: D'Angelo Russell (PG), Jordan Clarkson (SG), Brandon Ingram (SF), Luol Deng (PF), Timofey Mozgov (C)
Giving Timofey Mozgov $64 million over four years qualifies as a significant overpay, but it's more understandable in conjunction with the team's other moves.
The Los Angeles Lakers have so many young players on rookie-scale contracts that they can afford to hand out one exorbitant salary, and Mozgov fills a distinct need as a traditional big man. It was only two seasons ago that he was an up-and-coming center who thrived during the NBA Finals and appeared destined for a near-max deal.
Plus, Mozgov didn't prevent the Lakers from improving other parts of the roster. Re-signing Jordan Clarkson, acquiring Luol Deng and drafting both Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac are unmitigated positives for this rebuilding franchise.
The Lakers didn't land a star in free agency, though they might have found one in Ingram. Instead, they made small-scale moves that should finally get the Purple and Gold back on track.
Outgoing Players: Chris Andersen, Matt Barnes, Nick Calathes, Bryce Cotton, Jordan Farmar, P.J. Hairston, Xavier Munford, Lance Stephenson
Incoming Players: Wade Baldwin IV, Troy Daniels, Deyonta Davis, James Ennis, Andrew Harrison, Chandler Parsons
Re-Signed Players: Mike Conley
As Rob Mahoney wrote for Sports Illustrated, Chandler Parsons is a strong fit with the Memphis Grizzlies:
Those offensive possessions that seemed to go nowhere for the Grizzlies will take different, more interesting routes with Parsons involved. Most Memphis wing regulars don’t shoot as well as Parsons (39.5% from three over the past two seasons) or have the same capacity to improvise.
Adding both qualities with one player makes for much broader capability overall; an offense’s structure and orientation can only be shifted around so long as the talent allows it. Parsons gives new Grizzlies coach David Fizdale more to work with and the talent in place to play off of.
Aside from Mike Miller, Parsons may be the best shooter Memphis has rostered during the grit-and-grind era. And he's not even the only quality move it made, as it re-signed Mike Conley, drafted Wade Baldwin IV and Deyonta Davis, and signed veteran shooters Troy Daniels and James Ennis.
Thanks to all the incoming help, the aging Memphis core should be revitalized in 2016-17.
Outgoing Players: Luol Deng, Gerald Green, Joe Johnson, Amar'e Stoudemire, Dwyane Wade, Dorell Wright
Incoming Players: Luke Babbitt, Wayne Ellington, Stefan Jankovic, James Johnson, Rodney McGruder, Willie Reed, Okaro White, Derrick Williams
Re-Signed Players: Udonis Haslem, Tyler Johnson, Hassan Whiteside
Projected Starting Five: Goran Dragic (PG), Josh Richardson (SG), Justise Winslow (SF), Chris Bosh (PF), Hassan Whiteside (C)
Losing Dwyane Wade to the Chicago Bulls is nothing short of disastrous. He's served as the face of the Miami Heat since they drafted him in 2003, even if he took a back seat to LeBron James for a few years and once shared the spotlight with Shaquille O'Neal.
It may not be fair, but history will remember the Heat's refusal to pay Wade for his unabashed loyalty (while losing Luol Deng and Joe Johnson in the process), and then using that money to overpay 24-year-old Tyler Johnson. The younger guard has two-way potential and is coming off a season that saw him shine before his shoulder injury flared up, but he's not Wade.
He never will be.
Miami did save itself from a failing grade by re-signing Hassan Whiteside. The big man seemed like a flight risk when so many other organizations were willing to offer him max money, but his willingness to stay in South Beach and become one of the Heat's true leaders means the team doesn't have to enter a full-scale rebuild.
Outgoing Players: Jerryd Bayless, Damien Inglis, O.J. Mayo, Johnny O'Bryant, Steve Novak, Greivis Vasquez
Incoming Players: Malcolm Brogdon, Matthew Dellavedova, Thon Maker, Mirza Teletovic
Re-Signed Players: Miles Plumlee
Projected Starting Five: Matthew Dellavedova (PG), Giannis Antetokounmpo (SG), Khris Middleton (SF), Jabari Parker (PF), Greg Monroe (C)
The Milwaukee Bucks didn't make any big splashes, but they didn't need to. Each key player they lost can be replaced either internally or through one of the new additions.
Jerryd Bayless was valuable as a shooter and secondary playmaker, but Matthew Dellavedova is a more well-rounded point guard. He excels as a spot-up shooter, and he developed into a legitimate passer and defender during his final season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Mirza Teletovic eases the pain of losing frontcourt players, and his ability to serve as a stretch 4 will help give the Milwaukee offense a new element. Ditto for Thon Maker, who appeared far ahead of schedule while suiting up in the Las Vegas Summer League.
Throw in Malcolm Brogdon, a two-way prospect with plenty of experience at the collegiate level, and you're looking at a team on the rise, content to fill in holes and let its young pieces develop.
Outgoing Players: Tayshaun Prince, Damjan Rudez, Greg Smith
Incoming Players: Cole Aldrich, Kris Dunn, Jordan Hill, Brandon Rush
Re-Signed Players: None
Projected Starting Five: Ricky Rubio (PG), Zach LaVine (SG), Andrew Wiggins (SF), Gorgui Dieng (PF), Karl-Anthony Towns (C)
Tayshaun Prince is 36 years old and never had a long-term future with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Damjan Rudez struggled immensely during his one season in Minnesota and rarely found his way onto the floor outside of garbage time. Greg Smith was another seldom-used player, and his lack of range was never going to push the 'Wolves over the top.
Each replacement is superior, even if they line up at different positions.
Kris Dunn was impressive during the Las Vegas Summer League and should give new head coach Tom Thibodeau (good) headaches when he's trying to figure out how to balance the point guard rotation. The 'Wolves now have a glut of talent with him, Ricky Rubio and an improved Tyus Jones.
Jordan Hill made major strides with the Indiana Pacers and should be a beneficial defensive presence. Brandon Rush has championship experience and can help space the floor. Cole Aldrich grew immensely with the Los Angeles Clippers and gives the frontcourt even more physicality and interior defense.
Look out, Western Conference. The young Timberwolves just got a lot deeper.
New Orleans Pelicans
Outgoing Players: Ryan Anderson, Luke Babbitt, Norris Cole, Toney Douglas, James Ennis, Eric Gordon, Jordan Hamilton, Kendrick Perkins
Incoming Players: Cheick Diallo, Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield, Solomon Hill, Terrence Jones, E'Twaun Moore
Re-Signed Players: Alonzo Gee, Tim Frazier
Projected Starting Five: Jrue Holiday (PG), Tyreke Evans (SG), Solomon Hill (SF), Anthony Davis (PF), Omer Asik (C)
Kudos to the New Orleans Pelicans for finally moving on from nondescript hordes of role players they've been lining up next to Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans. They even parted ways with Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, who had both run their course.
But this would be better news if NOLA had actually replaced them with more talented players.
Buddy Hield could develop into a tremendous NBA scorer. However, it's hard to rely on him as a rookie, and his defense could be problematic. E'Twaun Moore has proved himself a quality marksman, but he's not a versatile guard and possesses limited upside. Solomon Hill, Langston Galloway and Terrence Jones could be strong rotation members, but there are no guarantees.
If you feel like the Pelicans are about to waste another year of their time with Davis, you're not alone.
New York Knicks
Outgoing Players: Arron Afflalo, Lou Amundson, Cleanthony Early, Langston Galloway, Kevin Seraphin, Derrick Williams
Incoming Players: Willy Hernangomez, Justin Holiday, Brandon Jennings, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Courtney Lee, Maurice Ndour, Joakim Noah, Marshall Plumlee, Derrick Rose
Re-Signed Players: Lance Thomas, Sasha Vujacic
Projected Starting Five: Derrick Rose (PG), Courtney Lee (SG), Carmelo Anthony (SF), Kristaps Porzingis (PF), Joakim Noah (C)
"They're high," Derrick Rose told NBA.com's Lang Whitaker when asked about the New York Knicks' expectations for 2016-17. "I mean, with these teams right now, they're saying us and Golden State are the superteams, and they're trying not to build that many superteams, and Adam Silver came out with the statement and this and that. And the expectations I think of us, we just want to win."
Not to be too harsh... but that's delusional. No one—well, no one outside of brainwashed fans bragging on Twitter—has called the Knicks a superteam. Nor should they. They're still not even a lock to make the playoffs.
Did New York add talent to the roster? Absolutely. Rose, Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings, Courtney Lee, Justin Holiday and Marshall Plumlee lend some level of legitimacy, even if none currently plays at a star level.
But this is an outfit composed of mismatched pieces and players who have struggled in recent years. Rose hasn't been the same since he started earning the injury-prone label, though he did look better down the stretch of 2015-16. Noah is coming off the worst year of his career. Jennings can't hit 40 percent of his shots from the field.
The Knicks have more star power on the roster, and they're earning some excitement in the Big Apple. The depth chart looks like it's filled with legitimate NBA players.
But they're not contenders. Not even in the Eastern Conference.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Outgoing Players: Kevin Durant, Randy Foye, Serge Ibaka, Nazr Mohammed, Dion Waiters
Incoming Players: Ersan Ilyasova, Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis
Re-Signed Players: None
Projected Starting Five: Russell Westbrook (PG), Victor Oladipo (SG), Andre Roberson (SF), Ersan Ilyasova (PF), Steven Adams (C)
When the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for Victor Oladipo and Ersan Ilyasova, it was a positive move. They'd freed themselves from a big man whose development had stagnated while shoring up a position of need and adding a stretch 4.
But that's almost irrelevant now.
This offseason was about making sure Kevin Durant stayed in OKC, even if it was on nothing more than a two-year deal with an opt-out clause after the 2016-17 campaign. The high-scoring small forward has been the face of this franchise since it drafted him, and there was no way to replace him if he left.
Well, he left.
Outgoing Players: Dewayne Dedmon, Ersan Ilyasova, Brandon Jennings, Devyn Marble, Shabazz Napier, Andrew Nicholson, Victor Oladipo, Jason Smith
Incoming Players: D.J. Augustin, Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka, Jodie Meeks, C.J. Wilcox, Stephen Zimmerman
Re-Signed Players: Evan Fournier
Projected Starting Five: Elfrid Payton (PG), Evan Fournier (SG), Aaron Gordon (SF), Serge Ibaka (PF), Bismack Biyombo (C)
Individually, the Orlando Magic's moves were sensible. But, that's not how the NBA works.
Talented as Bismack Biyombo, Serge Ibaka and Jeff Green may be, how do they all work in conjunction with one another? Better still, how do they fit when the Magic still roster Nikola Vucevic and must give Aaron Gordon significant minutes as he develops into a star power forward?
The same applies to the backcourt, albeit to a lesser extent. Even without Victor Oladipo, it's tough to see how D.J. Augustin, Elfrid Payton, Jodie Meeks, C.J. Wilcox, Evan Fournier, Mario Hezonja and C.J. Watson can all share the finite minutes head coach Frank Vogel has at his disposal.
Talent acquisition is an important part of any rebuild. But it can't be the only part of the plan.
Outgoing Players: Elton Brand, Isaiah Canaan, Ish Smith, Christian Wood
Incoming Players: Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Timothe Luwawu, Sergio Rodriguez, Dario Saric, Ben Simmons, James Webb III
Re-Signed Players: None
Projected Starting Five: Jerryd Bayless (PG), Gerald Henderson (SG), Robert Covington (SF), Ben Simmons (PF), Nerlens Noel (C)
Writing for an NBA.com panel, Lang Whitaker responded to a question about which rookie was the best bet to become a star in the next few years:
Well, Ben Simmons was the best rookie in Summer League and one of the best players overall, so I’d say you have to consider him the leader. There were other rookies who I thought were impressive, such as Brandon Ingram, and I also really like Jamal Murray‘s game. But those guys probably need some time to develop. Simmons can play right now against anyone you put him out there against.
How much credit do the Philadelphia 76ers deserve for picking the clear-cut No. 1 prospect with the 2016 NBA draft's first pick? Not enough to get an "A+" for that alone, especially because Brandon Ingram might've been a better fit for their roster.
Simmons—along with the willingness to sign veterans such as Jerryd Bayless who fill weaknesses—earns this struggling franchise a strong score, just not a perfect one.
Outgoing Players: Chase Budinger, Jon Leuer, Ronnie Price, Mirza Teletovic
Incoming Players: Leandro Barbosa, Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, Jared Dudley, Tyler Ulis
Re-Signed Players: None
Projected Starting Five: Eric Bledsoe (PG), Brandon Knight (SG), Devin Booker (SF), Dragan Bender (PF), Tyson Chandler (C)
Bringing back old favorites (Leandro Barbosa and Jared Dudley). Addressing a distinct weakness with two high-upside players (Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss). Finding a steal later in the draft and then watching him thrive in Sin City (Tyler Ulis).
What's not to love?
The Phoenix Suns made the most of their offseason opportunities, and they don't have too much talent exiting the lineup. Jon Leuer and Mirza Teletovic were both important power forwards, but the rookies replacing them have the potential to take this franchise to recently unseen heights.
The only knock is that a lot of risk is involved. Bender and Chriss have plenty of bust potential, and it'll be a while before we see results from the offseason's marquee moves.
Portland Trail Blazers
Outgoing Players: Cliff Alexander, Maurice Harkless, Gerald Henderson, Chris Kaman, Brian Roberts
Incoming Players: Festus Ezeli, Jake Layman, Shabazz Napier, Evan Turner
Re-Signed Players: Allen Crabbe, Meyers Leonard
Projected Starting Five: Damian Lillard (PG), C.J. McCollum (SG), Evan Turner (SF), Al-Farouq Aminu (PF), Mason Plumlee (C)
Bringing back both Allen Crabbe and Meyers Leonard preserves part of the Portland Trail Blazers' upside.
The former had a breakout season before signing a massive offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets, and his two-way ability should make him a force for years to come in Rip City. The latter hasn't been able to fight through injuries and slumps quite yet, but his combination of shooting and rim protection makes him an intriguing commodity nonetheless.
And yet, both moves pale in comparison to getting Festus Ezeli on a bargain—two years and $15.1 million. All of a sudden, the Blazers are swimming in frontcourt depth and can continue to lean on Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum for offense.
The only reason we can't bump Portland up into "A+" territory is Evan Turner's questionable offensive fit. He's a ball-dominant player without floor-spacing ability, and that could be troublesome alongside the aforementioned guards.
Outgoing Players: Quincy Acy, James Anderson, Marco Belinelli, Caron Butler, Seth Curry, Duje Dukan, Eric Moreland, Rajon Rondo
Incoming Players: Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis, Lamar Patterson, Malachi Richardson, Garrett Temple, Anthony Tolliver
Re-Signed Players: None
Projected Starting Five: Darren Collison (PG), Arron Afflalo (SG), Omri Casspi (SF), Rudy Gay (PF), DeMarcus Cousins (C)
Here's what Jason Jones wrote for the Sacramento Bee while sharing some of DeMarcus Cousins' recent comments on his front office's offseason work:
"I do my job," Cousins said Monday after Team USA's practice at Mendenhall Center. "I can't control (the draft). I control what I can control."
After the June draft, the Kings are younger. With the additions of [Georgios] Papagiannis and power forward Skal Labissiere, they also are much bigger, even though they needed help at point guard and small forward.
Cousins said it’s not his responsibility to interpret the front office's moves. His task is to play at a high level as a two-time All-Star.
"I really don't understand it," he said of the addition of Papagiannis, "but I do my job."
We don't understand it, either.
The Sacramento Kings should view Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein as the two true building blocks, and yet they play the same position as the top draft picks. To shore up the actual weaknesses, the misguided organization turned to lackluster veterans such as Arron Afflalo and Matt Barnes.
At least the Kings added talent to a roster struggling to find it in recent years?
San Antonio Spurs
Outgoing Players: Matt Bonner, Boris Diaw, Tim Duncan, Boban Marjanovic, Kevin Martin, Andre Miller, David West
Incoming Players: Ryan Arcidiacono, Davis Bertans, Dewayne Dedmon, Bryn Forbes, Pau Gasol, Olivier Hanlan, Dejounte Murray
Re-Signed Players: Manu Ginobili
Projected Starting Five: Tony Parker (PG), Danny Green (SG), Kawhi Leonard (SF), LaMarcus Aldridge (PF), Pau Gasol (C)
The San Antonio Spurs couldn't prevent Tim Duncan from walking away, and that leaves us with no choice but to give them a failing grade. Seriously, couldn't they have locked him in a room for the entire offseason until he caved, or just offered him an endless supply of khakis and plaid button-downs?
Jokes aside, the NBA is a worse place without one of the 10 greatest players in the history of this sport. He'll be sorely missed.
San Antonio did manage to retain Manu Ginobili, who had a throwback offensive season and should continue to serve them well with his knack for creative bench scoring and distributing. And though a few memorable faces will be plying their trades in new locations, we're never supposed to doubt the decisions of this front office.
Dejounte Murray would've been a steal at No. 29 for any organization, so of course he ended up with the Spurs. Pau Gasol, when used in a role that minimizes the negative impact of his limited mobility, is still a double-double machine who can help a contending team.
The Spurs didn't get Kevin Durant, and that's our next biggest offseason complaint. So naturally, Davis Bertans is probably going to be better than the 2014 MVP in no time at all. That's just how the Spurs work.
Outgoing Players: Bismack Biyombo, James Johnson, Luis Scola, Jason Thompson
Incoming Players: Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam, Jared Sullinger, Fred VanVleet
Re-Signed Players: DeMar DeRozan
Projected Starting Five: Kyle Lowry (PG), DeMar DeRozan (SG), DeMarre Carroll (SF), Patrick Patterson (PF), Jonas Valanciunas (C)
Count the Toronto Raptors as another team that held course, re-signing key players and adding talent without actually addressing the biggest pressing needs.
Retaining DeMar DeRozan was important for this franchise, given the possibility he could seek out a max contract in a new location. Drafting Jakob Poeltl looks great in a vacuum, seeing as he was the clear-cut No. 1 big in this year's draft class.
But all the moves still leave the Raptors without the power forward they're forever in search of.
Assuming Poeltl, Jared Sullinger and Jonas Valanciunas are all still on the roster by the beginning of the 2016-17 campaign, one of them will have to play power forward. That's troubling, given the fleet-footed nature of today's 4s. Sullinger is the most likely candidate, but smart schemes would have him using his physicality around the rim.
Outgoing Players: Trevor Booker
Incoming Players: Boris Diaw, George Hill, Joe Johnson
Re-Signed Players: None
Projected Starting Five: George Hill (PG), Rodney Hood (SG), Gordon Hayward (SF), Derrick Favors (PF), Rudy Gobert (C)
In early July, four members of the Deseret News were asked to grade the Utah Jazz's offseason, and the results were resoundingly positive—three "A"s and an "A-." We'll now turn it over to David Smith, one member of the quartet:
Beyond the obvious—the Golden State Warriors—few teams have had as potentially impactful an off-season as the Utah Jazz. Going into the summer, they had some glaring needs: leadership, shooting, perimeter defenders and an overall increase in depth and talent.
The Jazz have aggressively addressed these through the acquisitions of cagey veterans George Hill, Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw. While it cost them the No. 12 pick, Hill is a vastly underrated two-way player on a remarkable contract ($8 million this season).
He's so underrated that I'm willing to give the Jazz a coveted "A+." What's more, Johnson can lead the second unit as a go-to scorer, while Diaw is another leader and gives the Jazz legitimate frontcourt depth.
Utah could've been content to hold tight, re-signing Trevor Booker and doing nothing more as the many young pieces developed. Instead, it took risks, and each one looks like it could pay off in a big way. This was a perfect offseason for the up-and-coming Western Conference contenders.
Outgoing Players: Alan Anderson, Jared Dudley, Drew Gooden, J.J. Hickson, Nene, Ramon Sessions, Garrett Temple
Incoming Players: Trey Burke, Ian Mahinmi, Andrew Nicholson, Daniel Ochefu, Jason Smith
Re-Signed Players: Bradley Beal, Marcus Thornton
Projected Starting Five: John Wall (PG), Bradley Beal (SG), Otto Porter (SF), Markieff Morris (PF), Marcin Gortat (C)
Color me unimpressed with the Bradley Beal extension.
Sure, it could pay off if the Washington Wizards have the next 2-guard stud under contract throughout the next five years. But given the never-ending health concerns and the lack of development he's displayed since leaving the Florida Gators, the risk may not be worth the reward. If Beal is only a shooter—admittedly, one of the NBA's better shooters—is he worth $128 million?
Fortunately, the rest of the Wizards' moves have a more positive tint—and again, the Beal deal could pay off.
Trey Burke began to show he could become a legitimate backup point guard during his final season with the Utah Jazz. Andrew Nicholson still has the tools necessary to break out, though the Orlando Magic's frontcourt depth held him in check. Ian Mahinmi deserved fringe consideration for 2015-16 Defensive Player of the Year and will become one of the league's best second-string bigs.
Washington's starting five didn't get any better, but the team sure got deeper. And that should be good news as it attempts to navigate back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Adam Fromal covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @fromal09.