San Antonio Spurs
Key Additions: LaMarcus Aldridge, David West, Ray McCallum, Boban Marjonovic, Jimmer Fredette (Training Camp Deal)
Key Resignings: Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli
Key Subtractions: Tiago Splitter, Cory Joseph, Marco Bellinelli, Aron Baynes
The obvious standout winners of the offseason are the Spurs of San Antonio.
Not only did the Spurs win over the biggest free agent on the market this summer (LaMarcus Aldridge), but they also brought in amazing other talent without giving up much in return.
The Spurs gave up merely a second rounder for the talented young guard, Ray McCallum, from Sacramento, and got David West for a veteran’s minimum deal. West left $12 million on the table in Indiana to join the Spurs.
They also retained former Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard on a max extension, and brought back Danny Green on a bargain deal that saw him leave over $10 million on the table.
Also coming back on a bargain deal, future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan decided to return for two more seasons to chase more rings under a two year, $10 million deal.
Losing bench players like Cory Joseph, Tiago Splitter, Marco Bellinelli and Aron Baynes will hurt the Spurs’ depth, but Patrick Mills, Manu Ginobli, West, and newfound possible sensation Boban Marjonovic should hold their own off the bench.
The Spurs are going to be a powerhouse once again, and the West will be wild with the Spurs, Warriors, Clippers, and Rockets fighting for the top position.
Los Angeles Clippers
Key Additions: Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson, Wesley Johnson, Cole Aldrich, Josh Smith, (DeAndre Jordan!?)
Key Subtractions: Matt Barnes, Spencer Hawes
When the five key additions to your team could win maybe 20 games in an NBA season, you did something right.
The Clippers brought in 5 different players, many of whom could start on other NBA teams around the league, and all of them on ridiculously team friendly deals.
The addition of Paul Pierce is the veteran anchor and small forward the Clippers have needed since gaining their status as title contenders. His shooting and playoff clutch factor will give the team that next level edge in the postseason.
The trade for Lance Stephenson and signing of former Laker Wesley Johnson are both high reward moves. Stephenson, coming off a historically poor season with the Hornets, needed a change of scenery to revive his career. He will likely be used as the primary ball handler off the bench behind Chris Paul and alongside Austin Rivers. He poses some risk as a locker room ego problem, and the relationship between fellow hothead Josh Smith and Stephenson could be a problem if they do indeed clash.
The Johnson signing is one of my favorite moves of the offseason by any team. Johnson was wildly productive in his time with the Lakers, and his versatility and ability to guard 3 or 4 positions make him an X factor. He will be a big factor off the bench as a shooter and defensive presence.
Josh Smith used to be a wild card, but after a very healthy stint with the Houston Rockets, Smith looks like a former star who has accepted his role as a energy guy off the bench. (Him, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul and Lance Stephenson will make the Clippers by far the most fun team on 2K.)
Cole Aldrich is an underrated player, as his rim protection last year as a Knick was amongst the best ratings in the league. He will be a serviceable defensive backup behind DeAndre Jordan.
Speaking of Jordan, wow. The “DeCommitment” was perhaps the most entertaining clip of the NBA offseason. His return to the Clippers took the team from a fringe playoff team without him to a top three contender with him. That is quite the swing.
Overall, the Clippers are probably the deepest team in the NBA, and if they don’t get to the Finals this year, I don’t see it happening ever.
Key Additions: Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Ty Lawson
Key Resignings: Corey Brewer, Patrick Beverley
Key Subtractions: Josh Smith, Pablo Prigioni
The Rockets actually had a pretty quiet offseason. They didn’t make any key free agent signings, and they went with two unspectacular draft picks that would help with depth, but that’s it. The team that looked like a playoff killer in the postseason were sliding down power rankings as their competition all got better (Clippers, Spurs, Warriors.)
Then comes the news; The Houston Rockets have traded for the Nuggets’ Ty Lawson.
A crazy trade that saw the Rockets trade everyone that wasn’t essential to the team’s success for the player that was most essential to the Nuggets’ success went down and the Western Conference was put on edge.
Lawson, who was arrested for his second DUI in 6 months in July, is headed to rehab and is a wild card to ever be the same player again.
However, if this trade, involving a troubled point guard that has more issues off the court than desired for a starting point guard, works out for the Rockets, then Houston could leapfrog both the Clippers and Warriors in the West.
But all of that depends on Ty Lawson pounding out his issues, going through rehab, and turning out A-ok.
The Rockets now, with an All Star caliber starting PG, are also one of the deepest teams in the league. Lawson, Harden, Ariza, Jones, and Howard make up a scary starting lineup, with Beverley, Brewer, Dekker, Donatas Motiejunas, and Clint Capela as the second unit. Jason Terry, Montrezl Harrell, and Chuck Hayes are also quality reserves.
Key Additions: Justise Winslow, Gerald Green, A’Mare Stoudemire, Healthy Chris Bosh, Healthy Josh McRoberts
Key Resignings: Goran Dragic, Luol Deng (Player Option picked up)
Key Subtractions: Shabazz Napier
The signings of Gerald Green and A’Mare Stoudemire remain to be seen as good or not, as their fits will take some time to settle in to. The same is to be said for the drafting of Justise Winslow. All three are talented players and will be useful for the Heat, but they aren’t going to get this Heat team to the playoffs.
However, the key resignings of Goran Dragic and Luol Deng, as well as key forwards Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts returning from scary injuries, make this team a threat in the East.
The Heat join the Rockets and Clippers as one of the deepest teams in the league. Despite not making the playoffs last year, the Heat are well on their way to a top 4 seeding this season thanks to another genius summer by mastermind Pat Riley.
Key Additions: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos, Marco Bellinelli, Rajon Rondo, Quincy Acy, Caron Butler, Seth Curry
Key Subtractions: Jason Thompson, Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Andre Miller
While people love to mock the Kings as illegitimate, they had a very mature offseason.
Instead of drafting some high risk, high reward scorer, or trading their franchise cornerstone in DeMarcus Cousins for draft picks, the Kings went with the fastest way to win games now route.
So what did they do?
They drafted a unique talent who can send shots flying and guard every position on the court in Willie Trill Cauley Stein. Then they used their massive cap space on a floor general, Rajon Rondo, who was willing to take a discount to prove himself. Then they used the rest of their cap space on players that would make them a deep team who could compete in the playoffs, by paying guys like Kosta Koufos, Marco Bellinelli, and Caron Butler. On top of that, they got some bargain signings in Quincy Acy and high-upside shooter Seth Curry.
The team showed that they want to win now, and they likely will this season. With the back 3 spots in the West open, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Kings occupt the seventh or eighth spot. They have depth with Darren Collison, Bellinelli, Curry, and David Stockton in the backcourt behind Rondo and shooter Ben McLemore, and the forward position is also quite deep, with Rudy Gay, Butler, Acy, Omri Casspi, James Anderson, and Cauley Stein all available.
DeMarcus Cousins is still the main man down low, and the addition of Kosta Koufos behind him will give him some breathing room.
Overall, the Kings are tired of losing, and they tried their hardest to reverse their seasons past. They did a pretty solid job in their attempt.
Los Angeles Lakers
Key Additions: Roy Hibbert, Louis Williams, D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Bass, healthy Julius Randle
Key Subtractions: Wesley Johnson, Jordan Hill, Ed Davis, Jeremy Lin
Another team often mocked for their odd front office ways that finds themselves on our winners list, the Lakers of Los Angeles actually got a lot better this summer.
As they gear up for what is sure to be Kobe Bryant’s home stretch, the Lakers looked to address their lack of star power this offseason. But, after missing out on LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, Greg Monroe, and the rest of the league’s A class free agents, the Lakers got crafty.
They drafted the highest upside player there is in D’Angelo Russell, who is sure to be a key cog in the offense. Also, former second round pick and late season star Jordan Clarkson looks ready to take over the offense as well.
But we knew the Lakers were going to land a big name in the draft. What they did that I like so much is the other signings and trade.
The Roy Hibbert trade was a genius one. Hibbert, who was once a league wide phenomenon and game changing rim presence, had grown complacent in Indiana and was wasting away his time. Now, on a team that needed a big man more than any other franchise in the league, Hibbert is in a position to shine.
He will be utilized not only in the defense, but as an offensive beast. His height allows him a mismatch on nearly every opposing center. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Roy Hibbert put up big offensive numbers in an offense that will need him.
The signings of Brandon Bass and Louis Williams weren’t common signings for teams in rebuilding. Both are veterans, and both are players that will help the team win games off the bench, especially Williams, the reigning sixth man of the year.
Both guys are going to kickstart a season where the Lakers aim for the playoffs, not a high draft pick. That is refreshing news for the league. After this offseason, the team doesn’t look all that bad, especially with a healthy Julius Randle coming back. Randle is still a wild card, and still somewhat of a rookie, so he could be a huge game changer for this Lakers team.
Overall, the Lakers could compete for the eighth spot in the West if all their newbies mix well. Wouldn’t that be something?
Key Additions: Bobby Portis
Key Resignings: Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy
Key Subtractions: None
The Bulls are one of the league’s most polarizing teams.
They have one of the best collections of talent in the league, but they can never make it work. Whether it be injuries, coaching mistakes, or other, the Bulls are not good in the postseason.
What they should have done this offseason is addressed that in some form or another. However, all they did is draft a very talented forward that will further crowd their already most-crowded frontcourt in the league. As Bobby Portis’ talents waste away on the Bulls bench, it will be hard to see where the Bulls are going.
Derrick Rose cannot be trusted to play a whole season. Nor can big men Pau Gasol or Joakim Noah. But European star Nikola Mirotic flashed massive potential in his rookie season. Did the Bulls open up minutes for him? No, they did just the opposite and drafted a player also with upside at the same position as him.
There just isn’t that X factor, that playoff killer vibe with this team. I don’t see them making noise in the playoffs with the same roster as last season. Honestly, I don’t see them making the playoffs if they keep this team and don’t make some trades.
Key Additions: R.J. Hunter, Terry Rozier, Amir Johnson, David Lee, Jordan Mickey, Perry Jones
Key Subtractions: Brandon Bass, Gerald Wallace
After drafting two players that further crowd their backcourt, grossly overpaying for a mediocre power forward, and trading for a power forward who is also overpaid, the Celtics are sitting here, twiddling their thumbs.
The Celtics had all the assets in the world to make a giant splash this summer before the draft, but they failed to find a taker, and found themselves stashing the bench with more players on rookie contracts and overpaying veterans that won’t make this team much better.
In a frontcourt with young talent like Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller, where in the world do David Lee and Amir Johnson fit in?
Or in a backcourt with Isiaah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Marcus Smart, where does speedster Terry Rozier fit in? Or sharp shooter R.J. Hunter fit in?
This team has loads of potential, but that is all it is right now. These guys would be so much more valuable to a team like the 76ers or Knicks, teams on a long road back to relavance. Why would the Celtics spend draft picks on positions where they are already stacked?
This team needs to do some shifting around, or I don’t see them getting back to the postseason.
Key Additions: Wesley Matthews, Zaza Pachulia, Samuel Dalembert, Deron Willams, John Jenkins, Justin Anderson
Key Subtractions: Rajon Rondo, DeAndre Jordan (LOL), Monta Ellis, Tyson Chandler, Al Farouq Aminu, A’Mare Stoudemire
The Mavericks. The poor poor Mavericks.
This offseason was heartbreaking for Mark Cuban and the Mavs, as they watched their prize free agent acquisition, DeAndre Jordan, join the team, only to back out of his commitment and sign back with the Clippers. The epic “DeCommitment” saga saw the Clippers regain title contender status, and saw the Mavericks lose title contender status (a status they enjoyed for a matter of days).
The signing of Wesley Matthews was a good one, but one that was a horrible overpay (4 year, $70 million) for someone coming off of a possibly career derailing achilles injury. Matthews alone won’t turn the Mavs into a contender.
The consolation prizes of Deron Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Samuel Dalembert, and John Jenkins won’t hurt the team, but they are unspectacular, and they are really just band aids to cover up the gash opened by Jordan’s departure.
The team saw several high caliber players leave, with Tyson Chandler, Rajon Rondo, and Al Farouq Aminu all bolting to other Western conference teams, and Monta Ellis declining his player option to sign with the Indiana Pacers.
The Mavs won’t be a bad team, as Chandler Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki still stand strong, but they aren’t worth opponents stressing over.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Key Additions: Cameron Payne
Key Resignings: Enes Kanter’s megacontract
Key Subtractions: Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones
The Thunder are an amazing example of how to build a contender through the draft. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka – all taken in the draft.
But what they have continuosly failed in is keeping a contender afloat by trades and free agency.
The Thunder lack any sort of depth or talent beyond their big three. Kyle Singler, D.J. Augustin, Dion Waiters and Enes Kanter don’t make up a title winning supporting cast.
The front office has repeatedly showed itself to be incapable of making the right call. The dumbfounded trade for Dion Waiters was a sham, the Enes Kanter contract extension was stupid, and the team is still suffering from letting Kevin Martin and Thabo Sefolosha, among others, walking in free agency.
The team doesn’t have enough weapons, and Cameron Payne isn’t going to change that.
Portland Trail Blazers
Key Additions: Al Farouq Aminu, Moe Harkless, Gerald Henderson, Noah Vonleh, Ed Davis, Mason Plumlee
Key Resignings: Damian Lillard
Key Subtractions: LaMarcus Aldridge, Arron Afflalo, Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, Nicolas Batum
No team can lose 4 starters and their sixth man and come out as winners of an offseason.
The Blazers saw their beloved star LaMarcus Aldridge bolt to the Spurs, crushing any hope at a good offseason for them. They went on to see Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez sign with the lowly Knicks and Wesley Matthews sign with Dallas. They also shipped off french small forward Nicolas Batum to Charlotte for Gerald Henderson and the high potential forward Noah Vonleh.
After deconstructing their whole team, the Blazers scrambled to compile young talent. They traded for Mason Plumlee on draft night, before free agency even began, and they built on to that acquisition with the signings of Ed Davis and Al Farouq Aminu.
They went on to trade for Mo Harkless, putting their roster at Damian Lillard and a random bunch of reckless talent.
The team isn’t completely talentless, as C.J. McCollum, Chris Kaman, and Meyers Leonard remain on the team. They also have second round pick Pat Connaughton and newly signed undrafted Cliff Alexander on the squad.
This team may not be as bad as I think they will be, but they still are not going to be competing for any top seeds in the West any time soon.
Key Additions: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Wayne Ellington, Thomas Robinson
Key Resignings: Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young
Key Subtractions: Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, Mason Plumlee, Mirza Teletovic, Alan Anderson
Despite getting Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young back on good deals, the Nets are still a talent deficient team with no real plan.
The subtraction of Deron Williams will help the Nets rebuild, but they still have the same nostalgic roster, with guys like Joe Johnson still being key members.
The only exciting addition is Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, but his offensive limitations will likely keep him as a role player in his NBA career. The Nets will fall out of the playoffs this season for sure, and may be one of the worst teams in the East.
Brook Lopez and Thad Young will regret re-upping with Brooklyn.
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