By Court Zierk @courtzierk on July 25, 2014
NBA free agency is wrapping up, and it turned out to be one of the most interesting few months of basketball news that I can remember. Many teams got better, some got worse and others chose to stay the course. Here are the grades for each team's performance during free agency.
The Hawks had a solid, yet unspectacular free agency period, acquiring Thabo Sefolosha to bolster their backcourt and Kent Bazemore for depth on the wing. Both Sefolosha and Bazemore will add some defensive toughness and athleticism on the perimeter. There were rumors that they were involved in Lance Stephenson and Luol Deng discussions, but those fell through. Overall, it was a solid free-agency period.
The Celtics retained the services of a steadily improving Avery Bradley, brought in one of my picks for biggest surprise player in Tyler Zeller and added more guard depth with Marcus Thornton. The Celtics appear to be building some good depth on the wing, but they are still a bit thin in the paint.
Ouch. The Nets have not had a good offseason. From the departure of Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston to the loss of their head coach in Jason Kidd, it has been ugly. The Nets have gotten tangibly worse and did nothing to improve their team in free agency.
The Hornets had one of the best free agency periods of any team. They started by adding Brian Roberts to give Kemba Walker some much-needed relief. Then they brought in a serviceable veteran in Marvin Williams to fill the void left by Josh McRoberts' departure. And to top it off, they brought in a star on the rise in Lance Stephenson. This team will be scary and should be one of the favorites in the east.
Bulls fans should have mixed emotions about what the Bulls have done. After failing to land Carmelo Anthony, they managed to nab an aging, but solid Pau Gasol to add a scoring punch to their potent frontcourt. They added speedy veteran Aaron Brooks as a backup PG, which provides them some insurance in the event of another Derrick Rose injury, but failed to fully address their backcourt needs.
What else can be said that hasn’t been said before? Adding the best player on the planet is a good thing last time I checked. Adding another veteran presence in Mike Miller and retaining James Jones are quality moves as well.
The Mavericks were certainly aggressive making plays at nearly all of the big-name free agents on the market. At the end of the day, they obtained a rising star in Chandler Parsons and added some quality veterans in Jameer Nelson and Richard Jefferson. This Mavericks team could be a sleeper to contend with the Spurs out west.
The Nuggets chose to avoid having to deal with the pesky task of improving their team through the means made available to them. They retained the services of Nate Robinson and Darrell Arthur for one more season, as both decided to opt in to their final year. I guess that’s good. Right?
Grade: Did Not Participate
The Pistons addressed their primary need by adding an abundance of perimeter depth to their roster. Jodie Meeks, Cartier Martin, D.J. Augustin and Caron Butler are all now Pistons. The Greg Monroe situation remains uncertain, and they should be dinged for not resolving it with more urgency; but other than that, the Pistons were solid.
The Warriors had an unspectacular free agency period, but that’s only because they didn’t need to address any major needs. They added some versatility by signing guard Shaun Livingston and some more perimeter depth in Brandon Rush. Oh, and I’m not sure if you heard, but they added a new coach too.
The Rockets were a team on the rise in the western conference, but frankly they missed the mark in free agency. They missed out on LeBron and Carmelo, lost Chandler Parsons and failed to land their backup plan in Chris Bosh. They did sign Trevor Ariza to replace some of Parsons’ contribution, but as a whole, this team got worse.
The Pacers lost one of their best young players in Lance Stephenson, but I actually think they did a decent job replacing his productivity by adding Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles. I may be in the minority, but I doubt they will miss Stephenson that much. They may even become more versatile and tougher to defend.
The Clippers were fairly quiet in free agency, but they did land Jordan Farmar and Spencer Hawes, both quality and relatively inexpensive veterans. The Clippers remain thin in terms of frontcourt depth, and it sure feels like they should have done more to address that. But when you have to pay your best three players the majority of the team’s payroll, that’s what happens.
Yikes. The Lakers had a rough offseason. They lost out on LeBron and Carmelo first and then resorted to filling out their roster with a group of relatively washed up players. Anytime Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin are your headline additions, it isn’t a good thing. They did re-sign Nick Young, which is good, but I think they probably overpaid for him. It is clear this franchise is focused on next year’s free agent class.
The Grizzlies were relatively quiet this offseason, with their only marquee addition being Vince Carter. The aging, yet solid veteran should give them some additional offensive firepower, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Carter struggle inside this painfully deliberate system.
This is a tough one. Obviously, losing LeBron is devastating to a franchise, and you will see that play out next season. They did manage to retain the services of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, and they also added some decent talent in their frontcourt by signing Josh McRoberts, Luol Deng and Danny Granger. Given what they had to work with, they did the best they could to keep this franchise relevant.
Nothing to see here. Move on. The Bucks had one of the most uneventful free agency periods of any team.
Grade: Did not participate
Like the Bucks, the Timberwolves were all quiet on the free agency front. Surely that has nothing to do with the size and visibility of the markets these teams play in, does it?
Grade: Did not participate
The Pelicans were able to nab Jimmer Fredette to a veteran minimum deal, and I actually believe he may be able to revitalize his career in New Orleans. He will certainly help boost their three-point efficiency, but that doesn’t solve their well established defensive woes. Overall it was unimpressive.
Priority No. 1 was re-signing their offensive superstar, Carmelo Anthony. Mission accomplished. Without any additional cap space to make more moves, the Knicks worked with what they had and got the job done. Now their eyes will be focused on the multitude of expiring contracts coming off the books after the season.
The Thunder’s limited offensive options became apparent in their Western Conference Finals series against the Spurs. They added Anthony Morrow to help add some more firepower beyond KD and Westbrook, but beyond that, they really didn’t get any better. Sebastian Telfair clearly isn’t the answer either. The Thunder didn’t get tangibly worse, but they failed to improve by any meaningful measures.
The Magic added some intriguing pieces to an increasingly intriguing team. Channing Frye should fit in nicely with this team’s offense, and they added a wildcard in Ben Gordon, who struggled in Charlotte last season but could very well rebound and approach his former production.
The 76ers clearly aren't on focused on rebuilding through free agency and have their future fully invested in their recent draft picks.
Grade: Did not participate
I love what the Suns are doing. They already boasted one of the league's best backcourts, yet they added a budding star in Isaiah Thomas. I have always been a proponent of adding the most amount of talent to a roster and figuring out how to split the minutes later. That is a solvable problem. Despite losing Channing Frye, they replaced him with a very productive reserve in Anthony Tolliver.
The Blazers did a good job improving their team within the means available to them. Adding solid veterans in Steve Blake and Chris Kaman will help provide some leadership for a relatively young team. They didn’t exactly set the world on fire with these signings, but they certainly didn’t get any worse.
It sure doesn’t feel like the Kings have any sort of vision coming down from their leadership. In what world is replacing Isaiah Thomas with Darren Collison an improvement? Certainly not this one.
The Spurs stayed entirely intact. Look out, league. You should all be scared.
The Raptors' biggest move was clearly re-signing Kyle Lowry to a long-term deal. Outside of that, they really didn’t get any better. While they were a good team last season, other teams in the east drastically improved while they merely stayed the course. Not bad, but not great either.
Utah locked up Gordon Haywood long-term, and that should be viewed as a win. Anytime you can keep a player on the rise on your roster in a small market you deserve some praise.
The Wizards were already a team on the rise, as evidenced by their playoff run, and they only got better. Replacing Ariza was tough, but they brought in Paul Pierce who I still believe has something left in the tank. They re-signed Marcin Gortat, added DeJuan Blair and Kris Humphries and are now one of the deepest teams in the east.
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