Grading Every NBA Team's Offseason so Far
If you blinked, you missed most of the 2020 NBA offseason action.
In a little over a week, we saw rosters revamped by the draft, trades and free-agent signings. And while not every team operated with the relentless transactional fury of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who swung deals with 10 organizations, it was still easy to come out of the experience feeling as dazed as Trevor Ariza, who shuttled between four teams in a matter of hours.
These offseason grades will assess how each organization did with the resources it had at its disposal, keeping in mind that not everyone had cap space, high draft picks or useful trade chips. There's no curve here, but we'll acknowledge each team's varying goals and positions in the league hierarchy as we evaluate their work.
In some cases, win-now moves made sense. In others...not so much.
We'll be tough but fair, though judging by the plethora of high marks we'll see, it seems like several teams used the lengthy hiatus from March to July to get their plans in order.
Then again, maybe the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets could have used a few more weeks.
Atlanta Hawks: A-
Notable Additions: Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kris Dunn, Rajon Rondo, Tony Snell, Onyeka Okongwu
Notable Subtractions: Dewayne Dedmon, Jeff Teague, DeAndre' Bembry, Vince Carter
Notable Re-Signings: None
The Atlanta Hawks weren't stingy with their cap space, handing 32-year-old Danilo Gallinari a three-year, $61.5 million deal and following that with a $72 million offer sheet for Bogdan Bogdanovic. If short-term improvement was the goal, Atlanta achieved it.
A partial guarantee on the third year of Gallo's deal offers the Hawks protection against the veteran's decline. If Gallinari ages poorly, Atlanta can get out from under the last year of his contract for a nominal fee.
Rajon Rondo addresses the playmaking void that opened whenever Trae Young sat last season—though at far too high a price (two years, $15 million)—and Kris Dunn is an ideal defense-first fit in the backcourt. Throw in Tony Snell and Onyeka Okongwu, and the Hawks have essentially added six rotation pieces.
It's fair to worry that Atlanta spent too aggressively in ways that might compromise long-term flexibility and, ultimately, lower the franchise's ceiling. But the Hawks also wisely held off on a big extension for John Collins and could flip him for future assets to offset their recent win-now expenditures.
Snatching Okongwu with the sixth pick could also go down as a draft success. There's a nonzero chance he winds up the best big in the 2020 class, and his versatility makes him a clean fit in the modern game.
In all, the Hawks paid handsomely to improve. The playoffs aren't just a goal; they should be the expectation.
Boston Celtics: C
Notable Additions: Tristan Thompson, Jeff Teague, Aaron Nesmith, Payton Pritchard
Notable Subtractions: Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Brad Wanamaker
Notable Re-signings: Jayson Tatum
Under no circumstances should the Boston Celtics have met the market rates set by the Charlotte Hornets for Gordon Hayward, who opted out of his $34.2 million 2020-21 salary to sign a four-year, $120 million agreement with Charlotte.
That said, if the Celtics could have pulled off a sign-and-trade with the Indiana Pacers for Myles Turner and Doug McDermott, as Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe reported was being discussed, that's a glaring missed opportunity. Now Hayward's gone, and Boston has nothing to show for it but a slightly lower tax payment.
Tristan Thompson and Jeff Teague are decent rotation options, though the former might be overpaid at the full mid-level exception (MLE), while the latter looked close to his NBA expiration date last season. Turner would have been an ideal fit in the starting five and—bonus—would have given Boston the kind of mid-tier matching salary it could use in a future trade for a superstar.
The only reason Boston ekes out an average grade: Jayson Tatum is locked up at the full max after signing a rookie-scale extension that could be worth up to $195 million. It was tempting to dock the Celtics a half-grade for failing to get Tatum on a full five-year deal; he managed to negotiate a player option on that fifth season.
Brooklyn Nets: C+
Notable Additions: Bruce Brown, Landry Shamet, Jeff Green
Notable Subtractions: Garrett Temple, Dzanan Musa
Notable Re-signings: Joe Harris
No spectacular additions here, as the Brooklyn Nets seem justifiably content with a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving constituting their major offseason talent infusion.
Bruce Brown can defend (and not shoot), while Landry Shamet can shoot (and maybe defend a little) on the guard line. Those two give Brooklyn some lineup versatility, and both fit with the KD-Kyrie core.
Joe Harris' eye-popping $75 million deal showcases the price of shooting while also underscoring governor Joe Tsai's willingness to spend. Nobody would have batted an eye if Brooklyn had decided that four-year contract was too rich for a player who, in the absolute best-case scenario, profiles as a third option. But the Nets ponied up for an elite sniper, and their status as fringe contenders gets a boost because of it.
There's still probably a blockbuster trade to be made (looking at you, James Harden) that would significantly alter the roster and force a regrading. For now, the Nets' offseason looks pretty average—with a little boost thrown in for having the guts to pay Harris like a star.
Charlotte Hornets: F
Notable Additions: LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Vernon Carey Jr., Nick Richards, Grant Riller
Notable Subtractions: Dwayne Bacon, Nicolas Batum (waived), Willy Hernangomez
Notable Re-signings: Bismack Biyombo
The Charlotte Hornets looked at last season's 23-42 record, which oversold the team's quality when measured against its net rating, and decided they were one player away from...something.
Thirty wins? The eighth seed in the East? A shot at the play-in tournament?
It's hard to say.
An easier task: labeling Hayward's four-year, $120 million contract as one of the most ill-advised signings of the past several years. Hayward, a fine player, figures to top out at "quality second option on a winner" over the life of this new deal, which will take him through his age-33 season. Price in age-related decline, the lack of proven help around him and an alarming recent injury history, and you've got all the ingredients for a disastrous deal.
The Hornets should know something about that, as they may have to waive and stretch the last one of those they signed, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. To make room for Hayward, Charlotte could be forced to spread the final year of Nicolas Batum's albatross contract over the next three years. That would amount to $9 million in dead money on the cap in each of the next three years.
On the plus side in that scenario, Batum doesn't have to be on the Hornets anymore. He gets an A for the offseason.
If you're high on LaMelo Ball and believe he's got superstar upside, there's hope. But it's faint.
The Hornets broke the bank for an aging former star who might be good enough to nudge them toward .500. This offseason might as well become the playbook for how to stay mired in sub-mediocrity forever.
Chicago Bulls: C-
Notable Additions: Patrick Williams, Devon Dotson, Garrett Temple
Notable Subtractions: Kris Dunn, Shaquille Harrison
Notable Re-signings: Denzel Valentine (qualifying offer)
It was surprising to see the Chicago Bulls prioritize Denzel Valentine, who got a qualifying offer, over Kris Dunn and Shaquille Harrison, who didn't. The latter two are among the league's best backcourt defenders, and Dunn even proved he could handle duties as a de facto small forward last season.
Valentine, often injured, doesn't have a standout skill. But he's a more balanced talent than either of the guards Chicago kicked to the curb. Versatility is apparently a point of emphasis for the new front office led by Arturas Karnisovas, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.
Patrick Williams rocketed up everyone's draft board the nearer we drew to Nov. 18, but it was still unexpected to see the Bulls take him at No. 4. Outside the top three picks, the 2020 draft was viewed as something of a crapshoot, though, so it's difficult to be too critical.
Devon Dotson is an intriguing undrafted free agent. Arguably the best player on the Kansas Jayhawks, who finished the truncated 2019-2020 NCAA season ranked No. 1 in the country, Dotson is a blur in the open floor and a dynamic scorer at the point. If he carves out a rotation role, the decision to move on from Dunn and Harrison will make a lot more sense.
Cleveland Cavaliers: C
Notable Additions: Isaac Okoro, JaVale McGee, Damyean Dotson
Notable Subtractions: Tristan Thompson
Notable Re-signings: Matthew Dellavedova
When Andre Drummond opted in for $28.7 million last week, the Cleveland Cavaliers' cap space disappeared. That was a foreseeable outcome, though, so it's not like Cleveland's grand plans for free agency were dashed unexpectedly.
The Cavs' big move came in the draft, as Isaac Okoro fits into a hole on the wing and should quickly become one of the team's top defensive weapons. Rookies take time, but Okoro's athleticism and effort should offer immediate help. If he hones his jumper and adds a little more to his off-the-dribble game, he's got a chance to be a high-end wing starter for a long time.
But let's not get carried away with comparisons to Jimmy Butler just yet.
Damyean Dotson should have gotten more interest around the league, and the New York Knicks would have done well to prioritize keeping him. Their loss is Cleveland's gain. The 6'5" guard is a solid shooter on the catch at 36.1 percent for his career.
Cleveland didn't have the opportunity to get much done this offseason, so the relative lack of activity doesn't result in a poor grade. Whatever improvement happens with the team this year will come organically—not via splashy acquisitions.
Dallas Mavericks: A-
Notable Additions: Josh Richardson, James Johnson, Wes Iwundu, Josh Green, Tyrell Terry, Tyler Bey
Notable Subtractions: Seth Curry, Delon Wright, Justin Jackson
Notable Re-signings: Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Burke
The Dallas Mavericks needed wing defenders, and they got them.
Josh Richardson should thrive as a shutdown option who won't be pressed into quite so many offensive responsibilities with the Mavs. He wasn't his best self with the Philadelphia 76ers, but he should be in a role that fits his game more cleanly.
Losing Seth Curry in the Richardson trade stings, but the latter's deal will likely come off the books (via a player option) after this season, a bonus for a Mavs team committed to preserving 2021 cap space.
Speaking of which, there can be no doubt the Mavericks have big dreams for next offseason. The Delon Wright salary dump was another clear indication of the team's aims—as was the James Johnson acquisition. The veteran forward's contract expires, you guessed it, after 2020-21.
Rookie Tyrell Terry could offer much of the shooting Curry did for a fraction of the price, and Trey Burke's return after a stellar showing down the stretch last year further bolsters the guard rotation. Draftee Josh Green is another ready-to-play option with serious defensive potential.
Dallas got better where it needed to—on defense—and simultaneously increased its future flexibility. That's a tough two-step to pull off.
Denver Nuggets: B-
Notable Additions: Facundo Campazzo, JaMychal Green, Zeke Nnaji, R.J. Hampton, Isaiah Hartenstein
Notable Subtractions: Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Torrey Craig
Notable Re-signings: Paul Millsap
It was tempting to knock the Denver Nuggets down to the C range, but we can't fault them for failing to compete with the foolish spending of other teams. Of course, it has to be noted that Denver reportedly matched the Detroit Pistons' gross overpay for Jerami Grant.
Grant was critical to the Nuggets' rotation, a key defensive component and a starter after a strong postseason showing. But they should count themselves lucky that Grant preferred Detroit's three-year, $60 million offer to theirs. That's just too much for a quality defender who can't create any of his own offense.
It should go without saying that the Nuggets were wise to also let the Pistons blow their cash on a ridiculous $25 million deal for Mason Plumlee. That absurd outlay will be studied by puzzled salary-cap scholars for decades.
Facundo Campazzo will dazzle with his passing and aggression at the point, and R.J. Hampton still has a bit of that top-prospect shine on him. He's a high-variance pick at No. 24, but Denver has had good recent luck with celebrated amateurs who slip in the draft for one reason or another. See: Porter Jr., Michael.
In feel-good news, Paul Millsap will return to the rotation. It's not ideal that Denver may need him to play a larger role at 35 than he did at 34, but that's where the Grant and Plumlee departures leave the team.
Denver may have taken a small step backward, but it still profiles as a contender. More than ever, its fate depends on Porter's rise and Jamal Murray's ability to play like a superstar for a full season.
Detroit Pistons: F
Notable Additions: Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Jahlil Okafor, Josh Jackson, Delon Wright, Rodney McGruder, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey
Notable Subtractions: Christian Wood, Langston Galloway, Bruce Brown, Luke Kennard, Tony Snell, Khyri Thomas
Notable Re-signings: None
Charlotte's deal with Hayward is the most damaging long-term agreement signed this offseason, but Detroit's three-year, $25 million pact with Mason Plumlee might be the most ridiculous.
In what world is a non-stretch center worth nearly the full MLE? Christian Wood would have only cost another $5 million per season. The mind reels.
Grant's contract is also a significant overpay, especially because Detroit has nowhere near the playmaking Denver did. Defensively, Grant will be fine. But he's not a get-your-own offense player, and the Pistons' decision to add 17 new centers will only cramp spacing, further limiting Grant's ability to contribute as a dependent scorer.
Worst of all, Detroit swung more than one deal, adding Dewayne Dedmon and Zhaire Smith, for the express purpose of waiving and stretching those salaries—all so it could fit Plumlee and Grant into space.
Credit Detroit for being active, and for snagging Killian Hayes at No. 7. But, holy smokes, did the Pistons ever botch this offseason.
Golden State Warriors: B+
Notable Additions: Kelly Oubre Jr., Kent Bazemore, Brad Wanamaker, James Wiseman, Nico Mannion
Notable Subtractions: Ky Bowman
Notable Re-signings: None
The Golden State Warriors had no control over the worst part of their offseason. Klay Thompson's torn Achilles, suffered on the eve of the draft, was the gut punch felt 'round the world.
While it wasn't always a certainty that the Dubs would use their $17.2 million traded player exception (TPE), the Thompson injury upped the odds. Kelly Oubre Jr. won't replace Thompson's production, but the 24-year-old brings necessary youth, transition verve and defensive activity. Presumably a starter, Oubre is about as much as the Warriors could have hoped for with that TPE.
Old pal Kent Bazemore is back, and he'll also provide much needed two-way play in the wing rotation. He and Brad Wanamaker are terrific gets at a minimal cost, and the Warriors still have their taxpayer MLE and a $9.3 million disabled-player exception in the war chest for midseason moves or buyout candidates.
Finally, though everyone agreed the 2020 draft was as uncertain as they come, James Wiseman feels like the right pick. He profiles as a potential starter right away, and his off-the-charts athleticism should make him useful as a paint protector and lob threat. If his skills develop quickly, we could see the Warriors trust him to space the floor and survive in a more switch-heavy defensive scheme.
The 7'1" David Robinson clone (just talking physical aesthetics) gives Golden State its best chance at a superstar bridge to the post-Stephen Curry era.
Houston Rockets: B
Notable Additions: Christian Wood, DeMarcus Cousins, Sterling Brown
Notable Subtractions: Robert Covington, Jeff Green, Austin Rivers
Notable Re-signings: None
So I guess we're back in on centers then?
The Houston Rockets secured one of the best values in free agency by somehow spending just $41 million on a three-year deal for Christian Wood. Say what you will about his journeyman past and small sample of success, but Wood is a wildly skilled offensive player who'll fit perfectly into Houston's starting unit, offering spacing, fake-and-go drives and plenty of gravity as a roll man.
Assuming James Harden and Russell Westbrook are still around, Wood will look fantastic as a third option in a juiced-up offense.
Alas, Houston's now undeniable fear of the luxury tax cost it Robert Covington, removing one of the team's more useful wing defenders and spot-up shooters. DeMarcus Cousins is a fine flier on the minimum, though, and you'd have to concede that Wood is at least as valuable on his new contract as Covington would have been.
The Rockets are thin, unwilling to pay the tax and face massive uncertainty with respect to their most expensive players, both of whom have expressed desires to be traded. That's a set of problems that could quickly metastasize and overtake the organization.
For now, though, Houston has somehow had a solid offseason.
Indiana Pacers: B-
Notable Additions: Cassius Stanley
Notable Subtractions: TJ Leaf
Notable Re-signings: Justin Holiday, JaKarr Sampson
Though he seemed like the basketball equivalent of a universal adapter (a fit absolutely anywhere), Justin Holiday only got a three-year, $18.1 million deal to return to the Indiana Pacers.
That's a bargain. Several other teams will be kicking themselves for not going above $6 million per year for the versatile two-way wing.
Other than Holiday's return, Indy had a quiet offseason. The deal that sent TJ Leaf to the Thunder for Jalen Lecque was designed to get the Pacers below the tax line, a perpetual concern for the franchise.
A Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade would have been exciting, but it wasn't to be. That may not be the worst outcome; Hayward is already 30, and Myles Turner, who would have gone back to Boston in the exchange, should have more trade value than Hayward, who would have inked a deal worth at least $100 million.
Minor disaster averted.
Los Angeles Clippers: B
Notable Additions: Serge Ibaka, Luke Kennard
Notable Subtractions: Montrezl Harrell, JaMychal Green, Landry Shamet, Rodney McGruder
Notable Re-signings: Marcus Morris Sr.
Serge Ibaka represents a substantial upgrade over the departed Montrezl Harrell at the 5. Unlike the Los Angeles Clippers' former backup center, Ibaka is easy to imagine closing games against top competition in a playoff setting.
Added bonus: Ibaka has experience playing alongside another center. Those who wanted Ivica Zubac to see more minutes in crunch time should rejoice. He and Ibaka can coexist in ways he and Harrell couldn't.
Whatever value Ibaka adds on his two-year, $19 million deal, Marcus Morris Sr. offsets with his new contract. The Clips didn't have cap space to replace Morris in free agency but could go all the way up to $18 million per season on a new deal via non-Bird rights. They almost hit that upper limit, retaining Morris, 31, on a four-year, $64 million deal that will almost certainly age like a gallon of milk left on the hood of a running car.
When your contention window is open, sometimes you have to sacrifice the future for the present.
Luke Kennard's persistent knee issues render him a mostly theoretical addition to the rotation. If healthy, he could fill in as a playmaking option in the backcourt, and his shooting stroke will provide spacing for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
The Clips seem improved. But if we've learned anything about this team over the last year, it's that championships aren't won in the offseason.
Los Angeles Lakers: A
Notable Additions: Montrezl Harrell, Wesley Matthews, Dennis Schroder, Marc Gasol
Notable Subtractions: Danny Green, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Avery Bradley, Dwight Howard
Notable Re-signings: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Markieff Morris
I'm not a huge fan of the Harrell signing because a team as attractive to free agents as the Los Angeles Lakers should have been able to find a more sensible fit with the full MLE. Harrell will keep opposing teams from erasing deficits whenever LeBron James sits, but it remains difficult to imagine him playing a significant role in the games that matter most.
That's when Anthony Davis mans the 5, and the Lakers spread the floor to devastating effect.
Still, there's a case to be made that Harrell will be better than expected if he spends more time at the 4. At least as far as the regular season goes, he'll be an asset.
Additional help from Wesley Matthews, Dennis Schroder and Marc Gasol keeps the Lakers firmly atop the league's hierarchy. Those three will all contribute to the rotation, with Schroder adding second-unit scoring L.A. lacked and Gasol bringing a new facilitating dimension to the center spot. He and James are going to conduct symphonies on offense, and though he's aging, Gasol remains one of the sturdiest low-post defenders in the league. You need that type of player when you share a conference with Nikola Jokic.
The champs got better in virtually every facet. So much for post-title attrition.
Memphis Grizzlies: B
Notable Additions: Mario Hezonja, Desmond Bane, Xavier Tillman Sr.
Notable Subtractions: Josh Jackson
Notable Re-signings: De'Anthony Melton, John Konchar
The Memphis Grizzlies clearly believe in De'Anthony Melton as a defensively impactful member of the guard rotation. Fortunately for their grade, so do I.
His four-year, $35 million deal is excessively team friendly, as it declines in annual value each season and has a $1.5 million partial guarantee on the fourth year. That gives Melton a shot to reenter free agency at 25, a nice little bonus in addition to the significant annual pay increase over last season's $1.3 million in earnings.
The Grizz determined adding Justise Winslow in a trade last season was a better use of their cap space than whatever they would have done with it on the market. That seems defensible in light of some of the overpays we've seen this offseason.
Miami Heat: B+
Notable Additions: Maurice Harkless, Avery Bradley, Precious Achiuwa
Notable Subtractions: Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr., Solomon Hill
Notable Re-signings: Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic, Meyers Leonard, Udonis Haslem
The Miami Heat know how to plan.
Even though Bam Adebayo's max extension will eat into the 2021 cap space the Heat have been prioritizing for at least the past year, their other moves assure it will be easy to clear max room should the need arise.
Goran Dragic and Meyers Leonard each got two-year overpays with team options for 2021-22. Flexibility retained.
The losses of Jae Crowder and Derrick Jones Jr. will hurt, but the Heat couldn't compete with the multiyear terms those two's play commanded. Moe Harkless and Avery Bradley will fill in adequately, bringing similar defensive value for a far lower price.
It's possible the Heat took a small step backward, but growth from Tyler Herro and Adebayo could easily offset the minor downgrades from Crowder and Jones to Harkless and Bradley. Plus, Miami preserved its ability to swing very, very big in free agency next offseason.
Few teams thread the "win now, win later" needle like Miami.
Milwaukee Bucks: D+
Notable Additions: Jrue Holiday, D.J. Augustin, Bobby Portis, Bryn Forbes, Torrey Craig
Notable Subtractions: Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, Sterling Brown, Ersan Ilyasova, Marvin Williams
Notable Re-signings: Pat Connaughton
The Milwaukee Bucks were active in a pivotal offseason, but the best way to summarize the turnover is this: They lost three players—Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and Wesley Matthews—who could plausibly be on the floor at the end of a conference finals game, and added two in Jrue Holiday and Torrey Craig.
And the route the Bucks took to that mild downgrade was defined by indications that they didn't really know what they were doing, per the Athletic's John Hollinger:
"Milwaukee agreed to a contract with Pat Connaughton that they couldn't sign—a two-year deal with a second-year player option for an Early Bird rights player—and ended up having to come back with a significantly more expensive deal for three years. They signed D.J. Augustin, who will help them, but could have put him into a sign-and-trade with the Holiday deal to preserve their mid-level exception, and it doesn't appear they will. Had they done Augustin that way they also could have kept their original deal with Connaughton."
And that's without nodding to perhaps the offseason's biggest gaffe, the failed sign-and-trade for Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Holiday is a key acquisition. He's going to make a difference. But the Bucks surrendered three first-rounders and swap rights on two additional firsts. If Giannis Antetokounmpo leaves, Milwaukee will be hopeless for the better part of a decade.
Zooming back in, the Bucks' regular-season offense seems improved. Bobby Portis and Bryn Forbes can score, and D.J. Augustin is the pick-and-roll orchestrator the Bucks have long lacked. Yet all three are virtually unplayable for defensive reasons in big moments. Maybe Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez will help hide those guys' shortcomings...but maybe not.
The stakes were high for Milwaukee. It had to impress Giannis, which means it was motivated to do its absolute best.
If "the best" is marginal, debatable improvement at the cost of depth, defense and experience, well...that's discouraging.
Note that if Antetokounmpo inks a supermax, this grade will rocket up to an "A."
Minnesota Timberwolves: C-
Notable Additions: Anthony Edwards, Ricky Rubio
Notable Subtractions: James Johnson
Notable Re-signings: Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez
It's hard to say an offseason was a failure when it involves the No. 1 pick in the draft, but a couple of the Minnesota Timberwolves' moves after selecting Anthony Edwards drag their grade in the wrong direction.
Pure speculation, but it seems likely Minnesota had a preexisting understanding with Malik Beasley of what his contract would look like after it brought him aboard from the Nuggets for a first-round pick last year. There is no realistic scenario in which Beasley would have gotten four years and $60 million from another team in restricted free agency, which suggests market rates were not part of the calculus on his deal.
Think of it this way: At his new pay grade, would another team give up a first-rounder for Beasley? Of course not. That's an ugly value proposition for the Wolves, and it doesn't ultimately matter whether the sunk cost fallacy or a wink-wink agreement made months ago is the reason.
Juancho Hernangomez also seems mildly overpaid at three years and $21 million. He projects as a starter at the 4, which means the Wolves did nothing to address their frontcourt defense this offseason.
Ricky Rubio's return brings good vibes, but he'll be a backup steward for a team that will be lucky to finish above the bottom three in the West.
New Orleans Pelicans: B
Notable Additions: Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams, Willy Hernangomez, Kira Lewis Jr.
Notable Subtractions: Jrue Holiday, Derrick Favors, E'Twaun Moore, Jahlil Okafor, Frank Jackson, Darius Miller
Notable Re-signings: Brandon Ingram
The big business got done, with Brandon Ingram signing a five-year max rookie extension. Everything after that is relatively insignificant for the very active New Orleans Pelicans.
Three first-rounders and two sets of swap rights with Milwaukee are a killer haul for Jrue Holiday, though some of the value diminished with the inclusion of Steven Adams in the four-team deal. New Orleans gave up a first and two seconds for the burly center and then inked him to a two-year, $35 million extension.
Derrick Favors returned to the Utah Jazz in free agency, so the urge to backfill the center spot was understandable. It's just that Adams is a no-stretch, no-switch big. That's not the ideal frontcourt complement for Zion Williamson, and that's certainly not the skill set you lock in with an extension.
On paper, New Orleans is probably a bit worse now than it was at the end of last season. But price in improvement (and availability) from Williamson, steps forward for young players like Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Lonzo Ball and even Ingram, and much could change. Even if the Pels take a step back, they've added a mountain of future draft capital and could probably flip Bledsoe for a bit more.
New York Knicks: C+
Notable Additions: Obi Toppin, Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks, Austin Rivers, Immanuel Quickley
Notable Subtractions: Bobby Portis, Maurice Harkless, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington, Damyean Dotson
Notable Re-signings: Elfrid Payton
The New York Knicks were one of three teams to enter free agency with an easy path to max cap space, and they're the only one at this late juncture with a good chunk of that room remaining.
Kudos to New York for its restraint.
The Knicks made three shrewd, on-the-margins signings that should upgrade the roster without compromising flexibility. Yes, you read that correctly. Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel and Austin Rivers are rotation-caliber players being properly paid. All are movable at their current rates, which is another bonus.
Obi Toppin will score, but the Knicks defense will be in real trouble with him, Kevin Knox II and RJ Barrett logging major minutes. Based on New York's measured approach to free agency, that may not matter. It appears the Knicks are finally ready to embrace slow growth and abandon the chase for a quick fix.
Or, at least that's how it appears now. If they would connected on a bloated offer for Gordon Hayward, we could have just started up the "same old Knicks" refrains like we do every offseason.
Oklahoma City Thunder: A+
Notable Additions: Al Horford, George Hill, Ty Jerome, Trevor Ariza, Kenrich Williams, Frank Jackson, Darius Miller, TJ Leaf, Aleksej Pokusevski, Theo Maledon
Notable Subtractions: Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams, Dennis Schroder, Nerlens Noel, Terrance Ferguson, Abdel Nader
Notable Re-signings: None
The Oklahoma City Thunder may have just completed the most disorienting offseason in history. After completing no fewer than 10 different trades that involved over a third of the league's teams, the Thunder's roster is virtually unrecognizable.
General manager Sam Presti transacted at warp speed for a purpose: He was after first-round picks. At last count, OKC is in possession of 18 firsts between now and 2027.
Other than Al Horford, no current Thunder player has a negative-value contract. Perhaps more remarkably, OKC can still field a starting five of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, Trevor Ariza, Darius Bazley and Horford that would at least be competitive most nights. We shouldn't assume the Thunder are done dealing, but there's almost nothing they could do that would hurt their sterling grade.
This was a rapid-fire rebuild the likes of which we've never seen—one made all the more incredible because it came immediately after a playoff trip, and the current team doesn't seem all that far away from making it back. This was basically The Process in fast-forward.
Orlando Magic: D
Notable Additions: Cole Anthony, Dwayne Bacon
Notable Subtractions: D.J. Augustin, Wes Iwundu
Notable Re-signings: Michael Carter-Williams, James Ennis III, Gary Clark
So far, the Orlando Magic's transactions have not included a trade for Russell Westbrook and his colossal contract. So that's a win.
Unfortunately, the Magic's inaction on that front extended to every other aspect of their offseason. It's hard to come up with another team that did less to alter its roster. If you're wondering how an organization stays firmly glued to the mediocrity treadmill, this is how.
Cole Anthony will essentially replace D.J. Augustin in the point guard rotation, but that figures to be the only meaningful difference between this year's team and the one that finished eighth in the East at 33-40.
Philadelphia 76ers: B+
Notable Additions: Danny Green, Seth Curry, Terrance Ferguson, Dwight Howard, Tyrese Maxey
Notable Subtractions: Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Zhaire Smith, Alec Burks, Raul Neto
Notable Re-signings: None
New President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey executed a pair of trades that cleaned up the books while also populating the roster with the kinds of players who fit better alongside Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
Though there were other pieces involved, the basic swap of Al Horford and Josh Richardson for Danny Green and Seth Curry clarifies roles and maximizes the skills of the stars on hand. In addition, the Sixers got out in front of Richardson's free agency. After having to overpay Tobias Harris last offseason, you can understand why the Sixers weren't in a hurry to see Richardson opt out in 2021 and face a similar circumstance with him.
Dwight Howard slides in as a backup 5 on the minimum, and there's a good chance Tyrese Maxey's playmaking at the point will earn him some rotation minutes.
For years, the 76ers have had a hard time determining the Simmons-Embiid ceiling because the players around them weren't ideal fits. Now surrounded by low-usage role players who can shoot, Philadelphia's two best players are better positioned to reach their potential than ever.
Maybe the Sixers downgraded in terms of overall talent, but they finally got the fit right.
Phoenix Suns: A-
Notable Additions: Chris Paul, Jae Crowder, Langston Galloway, E'Twaun Moore, Abdel Nader, Jalen Smith
Notable Subtractions: Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre Jr., Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, Aron Baynes
Notable Re-signings: Dario Saric, Jevon Carter
The Phoenix Suns sure look like a playoff team after the headliner addition of Chris Paul and several subsequent signings. Jae Crowder on a three-year, $30 million deal is a particularly solid fit who'll add toughness, experience and versatility to the frontcourt rotation.
Several other teams should have beaten Phoenix's bid for Langston Galloway, who only got the biannual exception, as well. E'Twaun Moore is a bucket, Abdel Nader can actually help the rotation...the list goes on.
The only potential knock on Phoenix's offseason comes in the draft. Jalen Smith projects, at best, as a backup to Deandre Ayton. It's possible Smith, an excellent perimeter shooter for his size, could eventually show enough mobility to man the 4. But for now, it seems like Devin Vassell or Tyrese Haliburton, the next two players off the board, could have fit better into the team's long-term plans.
Portland Trail Blazers: A+
Notable Additions: Robert Covington, Derrick Jones Jr., Enes Kanter, Harry Giles III
Notable Subtractions: Trevor Ariza, Hassan Whiteside, Mario Hezonja
Notable Re-signings: Rodney Hood, Carmelo Anthony
The Los Angeles Lakers are the best team in the West, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see this revamped version of the Portland Trail Blazers finish second in the conference.
Portland's offseason was that good.
Depending on how you feel about Anfernee Simons and Harry Giles III, the Blazers' rotation now goes 12 deep—13 if Zach Collins can get past his injury issues. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have a pair of low-usage, defense-first forwards to work with now, as new additions Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. figure to wreak havoc on D.
Enes Kanter returns to bucket-hunt as the second-unit center, and bubble breakout star Gary Trent Jr. now slides into a backup role for which he's overqualified. Also fun: Carmelo Anthony returned for the minimum to provide the occasional scoring flurry off the bench.
Portland is deep, versatile and can now put an intimidating defense on the floor to make what should be a top-10 offense matter even more.
This is the roster Lillard deserves for the latter portion of his prime.
Sacramento Kings: B-
Notable Additions: Tyrese Haliburton, Hassan Whiteside
Notable Subtractions: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kent Bazemore, Harry Giles III, Alex Len
Notable Re-signings: De'Aaron Fox
Tyrese Haliburton unexpectedly fell into the Sacramento Kings' hands at No. 12, giving them one of the best overall values in the draft and a player who, now that Bogdan Bogdanovic is gone, figures to see plenty of minutes alongside recently maxed-out star De'Aaron Fox.
The Bogdanovic debacle hurts, and it underscores the fact that Sacramento probably should have dealt him sooner in an effort to avoid the pitfalls of restricted free agency. Nobody could have foreseen the strange circumstances that nixed a sign-and-trade with the Bucks, but that was still a facepalm-worthy mishandling. At least the blown deal hurts the Kings less than the Bucks.
Relatedly, had Sacramento moved the disgruntled Buddy Hield last season, it would have been easier to justify matching the Hawks' $72 million offer sheet for Bogdanovic. With Haliburton around, though, it was defensible to let Bogi walk.
The Fox extension was a no-brainer. He's the Kings' best player and should be worth the $163 million he'll collect over the life of his new deal. Hassan Whiteside's numbers overstate his impact, but he's a perfectly fine signing at the minimum.
On balance, the Kings aced the draft and locked down a cornerstone. Even with whatever happened in the Bogdanovic fiasco, that's enough for a solid grade.
San Antonio Spurs: C+
Notable Additions: Devin Vassell, Tre Jones
Notable Subtractions: Bryn Forbes, Marco Belinelli
Notable Re-signings: Jakob Poeltl, Drew Eubanks
The San Antonio Spurs' options were limited by DeMar DeRozan's unsurprising decision to exercise his player option, and any chance of major change evaporated when they spent $27 million on a three-year deal to retain Jakob Poeltl.
The Poeltl signing was a solid market-value move, though getting Drew Eubanks to stick around for three years at the minimum might be an even better value. He showed flashes of being a quality backup late last season.
San Antonio should be a little younger, bigger and more athletic than it was a year ago with rookie Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson eating up many of the minutes vacated by Bryn Forbes and Marco Belinelli. There's still something of a logjam in the backcourt with Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV and Patty Mills all deserving minutes, but it wouldn't be a surprise if the Spurs eventually moved the veteran Mills to a team where he'd have a bigger role and a better chance to compete for a ring.
As is customary for the Spurs, the 2020 offseason was quiet, careful and shrewd. Given the constraints imposed by DeRozan's and LaMarcus Aldridge's salaries, that's not so bad.
Toronto Raptors: B
Notable Additions: Aron Baynes, Alex Len, DeAndre' Bembry, Malachi Flynn
Notable Subtractions: Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol
Notable Re-signings: Fred VanVleet, Chris Boucher
The Toronto Raptors eased into the first phase of post-championship roster turnover by parting ways with Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. The Raps had the ability to pay both bigs more than they received from their respective L.A. landing spots, but the decision to instead prioritize Fred VanVleet (and the ever important preservation of 2021 cap space) signals Toronto's revised goals.
Once Kyle Lowry's contract expires after this season, the Raps will be fully committed to VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby as the new core.
The four years and $85 million it took to retain FVV were lower than I would have expected, particularly with the few teams that possessed max-level room all having a use for his two-way play at the point.
Aron Baynes and Chris Boucher both signed two-year deals, which Toronto can clear from the ledger via a team option and a nonguarantee, respectively, in the second year of both agreements.
The Raptors took a step back, but they're positioned to strike in 2021 free agency and should still be a playoff team in the interim.
Utah Jazz: C-
Notable Additions: Derrick Favors, Udoka Azubuike
Notable Subtractions: Tony Bradley, Ed Davis,
Notable Re-signings: Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson
The Utah Jazz kept the band together by extending Donovan Mitchell at the max (no problem there) and re-signing Jordan Clarkson for $52 million over four years (a little rich). Then, they brought back an old member of the outfit, handing the full MLE over three years to Derrick Favors.
If the Favors signing was a contingency plan for a possible post-Rudy Gobert era, it's defensible. Gobert is eligible for a supermax extension right now, and he'll be an unrestricted free agent in 2021 if he doesn't agree on a new deal with Utah. But if the Jazz believed an injury-plagued backup center who won't see the floor in the closing moments of playoff games was worth almost $10 million per year, that's a mistake.
Ensuring Mitchell will be around as an anchor for the next half-decade made total sense. The Jazz's other moves, including drafting another hulking, no-stretch big in Udoka Azubuike, were far less logical.
Washington Wizards: C+
Notable Additions: Robin Lopez, Raul Neto, Deni Avdija, Anthony Gill
Notable Subtractions: None
Notable Re-signings: Davis Bertans
Davis Bertans' five-year, $80 million contract includes a partial guarantee on the fifth year, but that's still a shocking number for a player who might not even start for the Washington Wizards.
Practice those jumpers, kids. Bertans is proof it'll pay off.
Washington drafted over the top of Rui Hachimura by selecting Deni Avdija at No. 9. That's a great value, and Hachimura was nowhere near good enough as a rookie to dissuade the Wizards from selecting another combo forward who's best with the ball in his hands. Drafting for fit never works anyway.
Robin Lopez will help the Wizards on the defensive boards, and he'll generally be in the right place on defense. Maybe that's not worth $7.3 million on a one-year deal, but this team needs every ounce of defensive capability it can get from the 5.
Short on roster spots, the Wizards did about as well as they could here. The above-average grade says the Avdija selection helps more than the overpay for Bertans hurts.