2015 NBA Offseason Grades

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Atlanta Hawks

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Grade: B

Best signing: PF Paul Millsap

Biggest loss: SF DeMarre Carroll

With Mike Budenholzer as the head coach, the Hawks will be competitive. They had to choose between Paul Millsap or DeMarre Carroll, and the franchise is now in Millsap’s hands. To replace Carroll, they added Tim Hardaway Jr. from the New York Knicks for a 1st-round draft pick. To improve down low, they added Tiago Splitter who is a rim protector with championship experience. The Hawks had a decent offseason, but they will miss DeMarre Carroll as the two-way wing to matchup against the best scorers in the Eastern Conference.

Boston Celtics

Celtics

Grade: B-

Biggest addition: PF David Lee 

Biggest loss: SF Gerald Wallace

The Celtics entered the offseason looking for a star. They tried signing one in free agency and move up in the draft, but they failed to do both. They went a cheaper, low commitment contracts with Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko, whose deals are not guaranteed in 2016. They traded for David Lee who has an expiring contract and will be a free agent next season. What Johnson, Jerebko, and Lee have in common is that they are all hard workers and Brad Stevens is all about effort. The best thing the Celtics did this offseason was locking up Jae Crowder for the next five years. Danny Ainge still needs to find a way to trim a roster that has 16 guaranteed contracts, and Terry Rozier is still unsigned.

Brooklyn Nets

Nets

Grade: C

Best signing: C Brook Lopez

Biggest loss: PG Deron Williams

The Brooklyn Nets are going no where. They are now without a point guard after waiving Deron Williams, and they gave Brook Lopez way too much money. The Nets were the eight seed in the East last season, and they are worse then they were last season. They did nothing this offseason to improve their roster while a majority of teams in the East got better. Teams get better through the draft, but they don’t have a first round pick next season because it went to Boston in the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett deal. The Nets need help, and they are far away from finding it.

Charlotte Hornets

Hornets

Grade: B

Biggest addition: SF Nicolas Batum

Biggest loss: PG Mo Williams

What a sneeky move to acquire Nicolas Batum. Batum had an off season last year, but they only gave up Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh to bring him to Charlotte. Great move. With Al Jefferson opting in, the Hornets have some talent. Along with this, they can say good bye to disastrous Lance Stephenson, who made the Hornets worse ever since he arrived. To add a bench that needed help after Mo Williams left, the Hornets signed Jeremy Lin and Jeremy Lamb. But the one HUGE mistake the Hornets made this offseason was drafting Frank Kaminsky over Justise Winslow. C’mon Charlotte, how do you miss that. Michael Jordan will be watching competitive basketball next season in Charlotte.

Chicago Bulls

Bulls

Grade: B+

Best signing: SG Jimmy Butler 

Biggest loss: HC Tom Thibodeau

The Bulls were looking for a major franchise to change to get them over the LeBron James hump, but their team is practically the same as last season. They re-signed Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy, but haven’t found trade partner for Taj Gibson. Their major change is at head coach. They brought in a young, college standout in Fred Hoiberg. He is expected to bring in the winning mentality he brought to Iowa State. The Bulls still lack a true point guard to play behind Derrick Rose, who seems to get injured every season. Keeping Butler was key, or the Bulls offseason would’ve been disastrous.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Cavaliers

Grade: A

Best signing: SF LeBron James

Biggest loss: SG J.R. Smith

The team that signs LeBron James in the offseason will always be big winners. The Cavaliers also managed to keep Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert, then brought in old friend Mo Williams who went on a tear last season in Charlotte. Tristan Thompson is still a restricted free agent, but with LeBron’s faith in him in last seasons playoffs convinces me he is coming back. Rumors swirled around at the end of the finals on the future of David Blatt, but no news is good news. LeBron is hungry to bring a championship to Cleveland, but has failed on both of his finals appearances. This team has the talent, they just need to stay healthy.

Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks

Grade: F

Best signing: SG Wesley Matthews

Biggest loss: C DeAndre Jordan

The Dallas Mavericks got screwed in free agency, and it wasn’t even their fault. They were the biggest losers in the 2015 offseason, without a close second. Assuming they had DeAndre Jordan on a 5 yr contract, he went back to the Los Angeles Clippers on a 4 yr deal before the signing period. The Mavericks didn’t pursue any other big man because they thought they had their guy, and now they are weak down low. In a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Mavericks acquired Zaza Pachulia, who is a major drop-off from DeAndre Jordan. Luckily, they signed Deron Williams to play alongside Wesley Matthews, but both have injury issues. In a tough Western Conference, the Mavericks are going to have a tough season.

Denver Nuggets

Nuggets

Grade: B-

Biggest addition: PG Emmanuel Mudiay

Biggest loss: PG Ty Lawson

Welcome to the Emmanuel Mudiay era for the Denver Nuggets. I originally had Denver at a C, but finally getting rid of Ty Lawson got them up to a B-. The Nuggets have a lot of work to do, but stealing Mudiay in the draft helps the rebuilding process. To not be completely irrelevant in the Western Conference, the Nuggets extended both Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, then re-signed Jameer Nelson as a mentor for Emmanuel Mudiay. Most importantly, they resisted the temptation to trade Kenneth Faried, who I believe is the perfect compliment to Emmanuel Mudiay. The Nuggets have talent, they just need to slow down what is the fastest offense in the NBA.

Detroit Pistons

Pistons

Grade: C

Best signing: PG Reggie Jackson

Biggest loss: C Greg Monroe

Stan Van Gundy is trying to build the Detroit Pistons like the 2009 Orlando Magic who appeared in the NBA Finals. Build a team around a dominant big man and surround him with three point shooters. Andre Drummond is their dominant big man, so Van Gundy acquired Marcus Morris and Ersan Ilyasova to improve their 34.4% three point shooting last season. To stabilize their future at point guard, the Pistons signed Reggie Jackson to a mammoth 5yr/$80 million contract. These are all good players, but they don’t have a true scorer. They will need to find a new home for Brandon Jennings which is there only chance to find their scorer.

Golden State Warriors

Warriors

Grade: A

Best signing: PF Draymond Green

Biggest loss: PF David Lee

The two offseason goals for the Warriors were re-signing Draymond Green and losing David Lee’s contract. They accomplished both which is why I gave them an A. The defending champions now have the team to repeat. Golden State managed to grab Kevon Looney at the end of the first round which is a perfect small-ball system fit. He is a ravenous rebounder, long defender, and can cover multiple positions. The Warriors are becoming the next generation San Antonio Spurs.

Houston Rockets

Rockets

Grade: B+

Biggest addition: PG Ty Lawson

Biggest loss: PF Josh Smith

James Harden wanted the Rockets to add a playmaker this offseason, and now they have Ty Lawson. If he can get his act together, Houston is the perfect home for him coming off a season averaging 9.6 assists per game, a career high. Lawson plays well when he is happy, and he is friends with James Harden and Dwight Howard. In the meantime, the Rockets were able to bring back Patrick Beverley and Corey Brewer, then drafted Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell. Depth is needed to win a championship, and the Rockets now have depth.

Indiana Pacers

Pacers

Grade: B+

Best signing: SG Monta Ellis

Biggest loss: PF David West

The Indiana Pacers are going to be a complete different basketball team next season. David West opted out of his Pacers contract and Roy Hibbert was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. All-Star Paul George is returning from a scary leg injury, and Monta Ellis arrived in free agency. They got smaller, but are much faster. To stay strong down low, the Pacers signed an improving Jordan Hill and drafted Myles Turner who thrived in the summer league. The Pacers made nice moves this off-season and will be a much better team in 2015/2016

Los Angeles Clippers

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Grade: A++++++++

Best signing: C DeAndre Jordan

Biggest loss: Not having a 2015 draft pick

The Los Angeles Clippers are the luckiest team this offseason. They signed Paul Pierce who has championship experience with Doc Rivers. They traded for Lance Stephenson to play a 6th man role, which suites him best. Fearing the loss of DeAndre Jordan, the team went to his house to convince him to re-sign in LA over Dallas. That is highway robbery. To top it off, Josh Smith decided to sign in LA making them true contenders in the Western Conference. Chris Paul has no more excuses. It is time for LA to take over the Western Conference.

Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers

Grade: C

Biggest addition: PG D’Angelo Russell

Biggest loss: PF Ed Davis

With the luck of the lottery, the Los Angeles Lakers were granted the second pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. With that pick, they drafted potential superstar D’Angelo Russell. Other then that, the Lakers didn’t make a big splash. They traded with the Indiana Pacers to acquire big man Roy Hibbert, then added two consistent bench players in Brandon Bass and Lou Williams. The Lakers are transitioning into a new generation, but it is still Kobe Bryant’s team. The Lakers did nothing this offseason to help win him a 6th ring.

Memphis Grizzlies

Grizzlies

Grade: B

Best signing: C Marc Gasol

Biggest loss: C Kosta Koufus

The Grizzlies needed to keep their core, and their core is kept with Marc Gasol. Jeff Green opted into his final year of his contract, so the Grizzlies tough minded defense is still together. The Grizzlies then went on to sign one of the most underrated players in the NBA, Brandon Wright. He is efficient on the offensive end and can eat up minutes on a nightly basis. The Grizzlies, though, failed to improve their team to the level of the other powerhouses in the Western Conference. There is no scoring star on the Grizzlies, so there will be a lot of pressure on Jeff Green. But, the best defense (in my opinion) can still compete on a nightly basis.

Miami Heat

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Grade: A

Best signing: SG Dwyane Wade

Biggest loss: SF Michael Beasley

Did you ever think Dwyane Wade would leave the Miami Heat? I wasn’t buying it. Wade was one of many fantastic moves by Pat Riley. Other than Wade, the Heat kept Goran Dragic, stole Justise Winslow with the 10th pick in the 2015 Draft, and built a bench including Gerald Green and Amare Stoudemire. With all of these moves, Chris Bosh will be medically cleared for next season. The Heat now have a complete team. After not making the playoffs last season, I have no doubt the Heat will be back in the playoffs in 2015/2016.

Milwaukee Bucks

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Grade: A-

Best signing: C Greg Monroe

Biggest loss: SF Jared Dudley

After stealing Greg Monroe off of the free agent market, the Milwaukee Bucks have the best young core in the NBA. Other then Monroe, the Bucks were able to sign Khris Middleton until 2020 who had a breakout season in 2015 after Jabari Parker tore his ACL. Thankfully, Jabari Parker had a successful rehab this offseason to be ready for the 2015/2016 season. Jason Kidd can now configure any lineup to matchup against any team in the NBA. If you add Greg Monroe and your biggest loss was Jared Dudley, consider the offseason a success.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Timberwolves

Grade: B+

Biggest addition: C Karl-Anthony Towns

Biggest loss: SG Gary Neal

Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, watch out for the Timberwolves, in a few years. Minnesota has been lucky to have the first pick in the draft the last two seasons. They also added Minnesota native Tyus Jones to play a backup point guard role as Ricky Rubio insurance. The best move this offseason was keeping Kevin Garnett. Garnett isn’t the same player he used to be, but he has the intensity and basketball knowledge to help Towns and Wiggins grow in the NBA. Minnesota is heading in the right direction.

New Orleans Pelicans

Pelicans

Grade: B

Best signing: C Anthony Davis 

Biggest loss: PG Norris Cole (RFA)

As long as Anthony Davis is a Pelican, they will be competitive. They are big winners strictly because of his massive extension. To dominate in the paint, the Pelicans re-signed Omer Asik to let Davis play a stretch 4 role which is where I think he will dominate for years to come. Eric Gordon decided to opt in to his final year of his contract because his salary will never be higher. But, the Pelicans failed to add Jrue Holiday insurance who seems to get injured every season. Tyreke Evans is the backup point guard and is more effective at small forward. But new head coach Alvin Gentry wants the ball in Anthony Davis’ hands more which should scare the rest of the NBA.

New York Knicks

Knicks

Grade: B-

Best signing: SG Aaron Afflalo

Biggest loss: SG Tim Hardaway Jr. 

The Knicks are a work in progress, just be patient. They added Jerian Grant, Aaron Afflalo, and Robin Lopez to play next to Carmelo Anthony which is a huge improvement from the pathetic roster they displayed last season. I say patience because of two names, Kristaps Porzingis and Guillermo Hernanogomez. These two played together professionally in Europe and were dominant. Both of them have a lot of potential and their potential is greater because of their chemistry. The Knicks aren’t going to be dominant next season, but Porzingis is hope for the future.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Thunder

Grade: C

Best signing: C Enes Kanter

Biggest loss: SG Jeremy Lamb

Why did the Thunder match Enes Kanter’s offer sheet? They have to sign Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka in the future and they gave Kanter $70 million. That is mind boggling. Kanter thrived in Oklahoma City with 18.7 points and 11 rebounds per game, but I believe they gave him too much money. His touches will be less next season with the return of Kevin Durant. With Kanter re-signed, the Thunder have the exact same team as last season, but with a healthy Kevin Durant. The best news the Thunder received this offseason was Durant expected to be ready in August.

Orlando Magic

Magic

Grade: B-

Best signing: SF Tobias Harris

Biggest loss: C Kyle O’Quinn

Of all the coaches on the market, the Magic sign Scott Skiles, the coach who had issues with Tobias Harris back in Milwaukee. Needing him to re-sign, I had no faith he was going to return. The Magic used loyalty, and Harris is back. That is HUGE for the Magic. He broke out as a cornerstone player and gives the Magic hope for the future. In the draft, the Magic selected Mario Hezonja who brings a consistent three point shot the Magic desperately need. The Magic are slowly getting better. Aaron  Gordon, who broke his jaw earlier this week, needs to stop getting hurt.

Philadelphia 76ers

76ers

Grade: C

Biggest addition: C Jahlil Okafor

Biggest loss: C Joel Embiid

One franchise center in and another franchise center out. Joel Embiid is a huge blow to the Philadelphia 76ers. Now the Jahlil Okafor draft pick looks like a solid move, but I am sure the 76ers would’ve loved to see D’Angelo Russell drop to three. In a trade with the Sacramento Kings, the 76ers absorbed Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, and Nik Stauskas’ contracts which did nothing to improve their immediate roster. The 76ers are in no mans land. It looks like another tanking season in the City of Brotherly Love.

Phoenix Suns

Suns

Grade: C+

Best signing: C Tyson Chandler

Biggest loss: SF Gerald Green

In the pursuit on LaMarcus Aldridge, the Phoenix Suns signed Tyson Chandler, but that wasn’t enough to convince the All-Star power forward to come to Phoenix as he signed in San Antonio. Chandler is the rim protector they have failed to draft. Then Brandon Knight was given a 5 year extension. Knight found his offensive game last season and vastly improved the Suns three point shooting. Where the Suns will find an improvement in their three point shooting is rookie sniper Devin Booker. He is a solid spot up shooter off of the bench. The Suns revolve around teamwork, and they will need to be solid on a nightly basis to make it into the playoffs.

Portland Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers

Grade: D

Biggest addition: C Mason Plumlee

Biggest loss: PF LaMarcus Aldridge

In one offseason, the Trail Blazers lost four starters, including LaMarcus Aldridge, the best power forward in the NBA. What a huge blow to an organization. They brought in a bunch of average role players, but average role players won’t win in a loaded Western Conference. They only reason they didn’t receive an F was because they were able to keep Damian Lillard on a max level contract. I don’t expect the Trail Blazers to make the playoffs, but what helps their organization is their first round pick owed to Denver in the Aaron Afflalo deal is lottery protected. Tough times await Portland.

Sacramento Kings

Kings

Grade: B

Best signing: PG Rajon Rondo

Biggest loss: SG Nik Stauskas

I like what the Kings are doing. They added former All-Star point guard in Rajon Rondo who is friendly with Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins. Then draft Willy Cauley-Stein to have the scariest 4-5 paint presence in the NBA. Then add Marco Belinelli and Kosta Koufus to a bench that was in need of a boost. The one major mistake they made was passing on Emmanuel Mudiay. Now it is all up to George Karl. Karl has the pieces to make a playoff team, but they will be far from it if his rift with DeMarcus Cousins continues.

San Antonio Spurs

Spurs

Grade: A+

Best signing: PF LaMarcus Aldridge

Biggest loss: C Tiago Splitter

On paper, the San Antonio Spurs are the best team in the NBA. They have the best organization in the NBA. They inked All-Star’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard to long term contracts, and convinced Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and David West to play taking major pay cuts. They also re-signed Danny Green to a much larger contract then the Spurs wanted, but the Spurs starting five can win on every level. As I mentioned earlier, depth is needed to win an NBA championship. The Spurs have the team to win one more championship before Tim Duncan officially retires. In San Antonio, it is all about winning.

Toronto Raptors

Raptors

Grade: B+

Best signing: SF DeMarre Carroll

Biggest loss: SG Lou Williams

The Raptors will be a playoff team next season, but the one problem they have had with advancing in the playoffs is defense. With DeMarre Carroll, they have the two-way wing they have been looking for. Their offense is still going to be lethal with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, so Carroll in the starting lineup balances out the talent on both ends of the court. The quietest move made this offseason was the Raptors signing Bismack Biyombo. Toronto had one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA last season and Biyombo specializes in rebounding. The Raptors managed to stay atop the East in an improving conference.

Utah Jazz

Jazz

Grade: B

Biggest Addition: PF Trey Lyles

Biggest loss: SF Jeremy Evans

It is time to give the Utah Jazz some credit. They have been building through the draft and it is now paying off. The Jazz are young, skilled team whose players play a specific role. They needed a shooting big man off the bench, so they draft Trey Lyles. Their offseason was more of what they didn’t do over what they did. They resisted trading Derrick Favors whose trade value will never be higher and continued with what has been working, building through the draft. The Jazz have another season of working together with perfectionist Quinn Snyder, and chemistry is where Jazz fans will see improvement. No big signings isn’t an issue.

Washington Wizards

Wizards

Grade: C

Best signing: SF Jared Dudley

Biggest loss: SF Paul Pierce

Welcome to the revolving door at small forward, the Washington Wizards. The Wizards want to find consistency, so they loaded up at the small forward position this offseason. They traded up to draft Kelly Oubre out of Kansas who has a ton of potential. After the Otto Porter disaster, Oubre is likely to go to the D-League. The Wizards then signed Alan Anderson and Gary Neal to one year contracts, then acquired Jared Dudley from the Milwaukee Bucks. In an improving conference, the Wizards got worse. They added no championship experience and now all of the pressure is on John Wall and Bradley Beal. Not impressed by the Wizards.

All statistics courtesy of ESPN.com

@AlecWalt

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