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The NBA Finals have come to a close, but nonetheless, the offseason is part of the excitement. With stunning trades and signings taking place this summer, here is where each team stands:
Most didn’t expect the Atlanta Hawks to make a lot of moves in free agency, but three trades showed that cap space was not an issue for this front office. As a result, Evan Turner (one-year, $18.6M), Chandler Parsons (one-year, $25.1M), and Damian Jones (one-year, $2.3M) found their way onto the roster via trades. The Hawks are refusing to commit to their trade assets long-term, but that’s the business of the NBA.
The Boston Celtics played it rather conservative in the offseason, with the signings of Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter highlighting their free agency period. However, this roster won’t resemble 2018 in the slightest. Via free agency, Boston lost out on re-signing Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Terry Rozier, and Marcus Morris. While Walker and Kanter are solid additions, the losses outweigh the additions.
Despite small losses such as Ed Davis, Jared Dudley, and DeMarre Carroll, the Brooklyn Nets went all-in on free agent studs in Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan. To round out the roster, the front office also pulled in Garrett Temple and Wilson Chandler. Although most will miss the presence of D’Angelo Russell, this free agency period is a dream come true for Nets fans.
There was an expectation that Kemba Walker was going to depart from the Charlotte Hornets after eight seasons, but the front office didn’t do much to re-load. Despite adding Terry Rozier, the Hornets still lost role players in Frank Kaminsky and Jeremy Lamb. With a depleted Eastern conference, it’s apparent that Charlotte will not be in the mix of contenders.
The Chicago Bulls were minor players in free agency this summer, with additions in Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky accounting for a combined $71M over the next three years. Their options were limited, but failing to advance in trade talks involving Kris Dunn hurts a bit.
Cleveland must not have known when free agency was going to begin, because there were virtually no talks with moderate free agents throughout the period. When dealing with their own roster, they have waived a veteran in J.R. Smith after failing to find a trade partner. In addition, the Cavaliers failed to move Kevin Love (along with the $120M+ he is owed) in a trade.
Most expected the Dallas Mavericks to stay conservative and focus on re-signing their assets, and that’s exactly what they did. In result, the front office assigned new contracts to Kristaps Porzingis (five-year, $158M), Dwight Powell (three-year, $33M), Maxi Kleber (four-year, $35M), and Dorian Finney-Smith (three-year, $12M). The Mavericks went above and beyond expectations when they brought in Delon Wright via trade and Seth Curry in free agency.
After finishing as the #2 seed in the Western Conference, it’s no surprise that the Denver Nuggets remained content in the postseason. They predictably picked up their option on Paul Millsap for $30M in 2019, and even extended Jamal Murray to a five-year, $170M deal. After trading a 2020 first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Jerami Grant, the Nuggets clearly hold title aspirations.
With talents disappearing from the Eastern Conference, the Detroit Pistons made a few adjustments to their roster. By adding names in Derrick Rose, Markieff Morris, and Tim Frazier, the Pistons are looking for their first playoff win since the 2007-08 season. The front office did the most they could, as Detroit should be in the hunt to make the playoffs once again.
Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors were a centerpiece in free agency this summer, adding D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets, as well as role players in Glenn Robinson and Willie Cauley-Stain. While the front office retained Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney, they also lost key pieces in Kevin Durant, Quinn Cook, and Jordan Bell.
Houston felt the need to alter their roster, and did so when they traded away Chris Paul and multiple draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Russell Westbrook. Both James Harden and Westbrook are score-first players, so it will be interesting to see whether their chemistry can remain intact. For the record, Westbrook is an immediate upgrade from Chris Paul, who hasn’t averaged more points than Westbrook since 2009.
Los Angeles Clippers
Was there a bigger player than the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency? Outside of re-signing Patrick Beverley, they also added superstars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. With most writing off Golden State in the upcoming season, the Clippers could easily become the superior Los Angeles franchise.
Los Angeles Lakers
As soon as the Los Angeles Lakers lost out on Kawhi Leonard, they utilized their cap space the most they could. Re-signing names in Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, they also brought in talents in Danny Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Jared Dudley, Quinn Cook, and Troy Daniels. We have to fault the Lakers for missing out on top-tier free agents, but their free agency isn’t considered a failure whatsoever.
On paper, the Memphis Grizzlies made some important transactions during free agency. The front office was able to dump the contract of Chandler Parsons, which was long overdue. However, their additions haven’t been outstanding. The Grizzlies traded for Andre Iguodala in hopes of moving him in a trade, but nothing has cemented as a result. In addition, it’s unlikely that Memphis will find a trade partner for the newly-acquired Dwight Howard.
In one of the largest acquisitions of the summer, the Miami Heat proceeded to add Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade deal. As a result, the front office dumped an expiring contract in Hassan Whiteside, as he was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Mo Harkless and Myers Leonard. However, not everything has been sunny in Miami. The team lost out on the opportunity to add Russell Westbrook when they were a favorite to do so. In addition, they have yet to strike a deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder in regards to Chris Paul, due to disagreements involving draft picks.
The Milwaukee Bucks knew they were close to an NBA Finals appearance in 2018, and as a result, they kept a large portion of their roster intact. The front office re-signed Khris Middleton, George Hill, and Brook Lopez. Speaking of Lopez, the Bucks also added his brother, Robin Lopez, via free agency. If Giannis Antetokounmpo is right about his potential only being at 60%, the league should be on high alert.
As the Western Conference continues to gain power, the Minnesota Timberwolves signed…Noah Vonleh? The front office was adamant about placing Karl Anthony-Townes and Andrew Wiggins on the trade block, but didn’t get an offer that matched their requests. The noise could bring destruction into the locker room, but the Timberwolves aren’t known for high expectations at the moment.
New Orleans Pelicans
In one of the most lucrative deals in NBA history, the New Orleans Pelicans gained five first-round picks and three young assets in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart from the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Anthony Davis. In addition to gaining Zion Williamson through the NBA Draft, the Pelicans couldn’t be sitting prettier. Oh, did we mention JJ Redick was added to the roster?
New York Knicks
At one point in time, the New York Knicks were expected to take over the NBA with the potential recruitment of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. A few months later, the front office settled with Julius Randle, Reggie Bullock, Bobby Portis, and a few others. While they’ve done enough to float above the surface for now, this can’t be measured as a success.
Oklahoma City Thunder
In one of the most unexpected moves this summer, the Oklahoma City Thunder hit the self-destruct roster and dumped Paul George and Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets respectively. With 15 first-round picks between the 2020-26 seasons, it’s difficult to assess the future of this franchise.
The Orlando Magic played it rather conservative this summer, spending roughly $156M over the next four years in order to re-sign Nikola Vucevic, Terrance Ross, and Michael Carter-Williams. When you’re ranked 23rd in available cap space, it’s difficult to overplay the hand you’re dealt.
In regards to the NBA offseason, the Phildelphia 76ers were among the busiest of franchises. Re-signing Tobias Harris and Mike Scott was only the beginning for the front office, as they departed from Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade deal. To wrap matters up, the 76ers granted Ben Simmons a five-year, $170M extension. Although losing assets in JJ Redick and TJ McConnell hurts, Philadelphia made out just fine+.
The Phoenix Suns weren’t a must-watch team in the offseason, as their largest highlight involved signing Ricky Rubio to a three-year, $51M deal. With five consecutive seasons below 40 regular season wins, there is no justification that shows year six will be any different.
Portland Trail Blazers
No one can deny that the Portland Trail Blazers were competitive in 2018, meriting their first Western Conference Finals appearance since the 1999-2000 season. By trading for a name in Hassan Whiteside to play in the paint, the Trail Blazers are vastly underrated to represent the West this upcoming season.
Sacramento made retaining Harrison Barnes their top priority, and did so after inking a four-year, $85M extension. To add to it, the Kings brought in Trevor Ariza on a two-year, $25M deal. Despite missing the playoffs in 2018, the front office has done enough to remain in the hunt in the West.
San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs aren’t known for reeling in “big name” talent during free agency, but managed to sign Boston Celtics’ Marcus Morris and Brooklyn Nets’ DeMarre Carroll on two-year deals. With Rudy Gay remaining with the franchise on a two-year extension of his own, the Spurs have a minimal window to make an impact in a playoff setting. As the West grows, San Antonio may fall behind.
Even after getting Marc Gasol to opt in for the upcoming season, the Toronto Raptors lost their biggest piece in Kawhi Leonard. As a result, they also missed out on re-signing Danny Green. Despite having a competitive roster in the weakest conference in the NBA, the Raptors can’t consider this a success.
Through the offseason, the Utah Jazz essentially re-designed their bench. With the additions of Bojan Bogdanovic, Ed Davis, Jeff Green, and Emmanuel Mudiay, the Jazz should be another competitive team in the hunt within the Western conference. The front office made the right move by letting Ricky Rubio walk, as he signed a three-year, $51M deal with the Phoenix Suns.
Despite staying out of the spotlight, the Washington Wizards were surprisingly active in free agency. By letting Trevor Ariza, Bobby Portis, Tomas Satoransky, and Jeff Green walk, the front office remained conservative by bringing in Isaiah Thomas and Ish Smith. The changes allow for the Wizards to open up their cap space a bit, but won’t assist in any short-term success.
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