NBA Free Agency 2014 Report Card
Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks big free agent splash came early with the signing of former Bulls and Thunder defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha. Atlanta entered the free agent market with a lot of flexibility and a ton of cap space, but didn’t really manage to do much with it. Atlanta also traded away Lou Williams to the Raptors for veteran John Salmons (who they later released). After that transaction they had a lot of money to throw around to big free agents like LeBron, Melo, or Luol Deng, but only managed to sign Sefolosha.
Grade: GM Danny Ferry had a lot to play with this offseason but came up short in attracting big name free agents for a Hawks squad that lacks a proven star. Sefelosha is a solid pickup, but won’t propel you to an NBA Championship. C
Boston Celtics: The Celtics have been one of those teams that have been stock piling talent this offseason and getting a lot younger. They brought back athletic scoring combo guard Avery Bradley at a hefty cost of 4 years $32 million. But Boston now has one of the best defensive backcourts in the league with Rondo, Bradley, and rookie Marcus Smart. They were also part of the there team trade between the nets and Cavs that sent Jarrett Jack to Brooklyn, and Tyler Zeller and scoring threat Marcus Thornton to Bean Town. That adds to the already bolstered up paint for the Celtics and Thornton can easily put up 15 to 20 points starting or coming off the bench.
Grade: They brought back one of the best defensive guards in the league that can play both guard positions and give Boston great flexibility. Solid offseason so far. B+
Brooklyn Nets: The Nets were pretty much doomed from the start when free agency came rolling. They had to pay a record $90.5 million in league luxury taxes, mostly in part to the KG-Pierce-Terry trade last offseason. To make matters worse, their hall of fame point guard and former coach Jason Kidd created a fire storm by demanding to be traded to Milwaukee and of course later getting his wish (which might not be so bad for the Nets after hiring Lionel Hollins). The Nets did manage to work the trade market and pick up one of the best backup floor generals in the league, Jarrett Jack. They also re-signed Alan Anderson for two years 2.6 million. But key losses in Paul Pierce to Washington, Shaun Livingston to Golden State, Marcus Thorton in the Jack trade, and most likely Andre Blatche have Brooklyn in a bit of a down spiral heading to next season.
Grade: The Jack trade was beneficial, but too many big time losses for a team that needs to get younger and keep key players. Not s good offseason player wise for the Nets. D
Charlotte Hornets: The Hornets are back in North Carolina, and they had one of the best off seasons so far from any NBA franchise. Their big name signing was the infamous Lance Stephenson on three years, 27 million. They lost out on their max deal to Gordon Hayward who Utah matched on an offer sheet. But Stephenson isn’t a bad second option, especially when you didn’t have to pay max dollars for him. All of a sudden the Hornets jump up to one of the top 4 or 5 teams in the East, keep in mind they didn’t lose much besides Josh McRoberts. For the loss of McRoberts, the Hornets also signed what many consider a better forward in Marvin Williams.
Grade: Two great additions for a team that’s on the rise in the East. Does this propel them to title contenders? Lets not go that far. But they certainly got a lot better. Great job Michael Jordan, the excitement is back for the Hornets. A-
Chicago Bulls: The Bulls lost out in their pursuit of big name free agent Carmelo Anthony, but still had some leeway to work with in signing Pau Gasol to 3 years $22 million. Gasol is no scrub, as he stands as one of the most fundamentally sound forwards and best passing bigs in the league. He is certainly a huge boost over Carlos Boozer who they amnestied. The Bulls also locked up Kirk Hinrich to backup D. Rose is healthy. Quietly, the Bulls have snuck into many’s top pick in the Eastern Conference.
Grade: They got the next best thing after Melo in Pau, and they also added to their depth with drafting Doug McDermott and bringing back Hinrich. If they stay healthy, the Bulls are a legitimate contender to reach the Finals. A+
Cleveland Cavaliers: When you get back your hometown hero and the greatest player in the world right now, you can’t really argue that the Cavs have had one of the best off seasons ever. Not only that, but they were smart in the moves they made prior to resigning Lebron James. The looming blockbuster of Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and a first rounder is still out in the open, but the Cavaliers got what many considered would never happen.
Grade: Sure they lost Spencer Hawes and C.J. Miles in free agency, but they got LeBron James back and possibly Kevin Love. Bringing in Lebron’s sharpshooting friends in Mike Miller and James Jones on cheap contracts doesn’t hurt. Can they contend right away with or without Love? Still remains to be seen for me. But can’t argue with the results so far for the Cavs, their fans, and the city of Cleveland. A+
Dallas Mavericks: Mark Cuban has certainly had himself an offseason and the Mavericks are back in contention in the West. They got one of the biggest pieces in their championship run a couple years back in Tyson Chandler, and they also were able to resign Dirk and pickup Chandler Parsons.
Grade: The Mavs didn’t really lose much but an aging Vince Carter and Jose Calderon. If Raymond Felton stays out of trouble he could possibly fill the role at point guard. But bringing back Dirk cheap to pay for big name free agnets like Parsons is a huge plus. A
Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets made a big splash in the trade market before free agency even began by bringing back Aaron Afflalo for Evan Fourneir, who Nuggets fans were tired of waiting to progress as a player. They also drafted one of the best players in this years draft in Garry Harris and role players like Nate Robinson and Darrell Arthur agreed to come back to the Mile High City. They haven’t made any signings in free agency so far. The closest thing to an agreement they had was with Mike Miller, who took less money to go play with the king in Cleveland. But in all honestly, Denver really doesn’t need much more than what they have.
Grade: This team still lacks what they had before Melo left for the big apple and that’s a superstar. But Denver gained back what many call a future all-star in Afflalo, and have one of the deepest teams from top to bottom in the league. If this team stays healthy, watch out for them to create some havoc in the west next season. B
Detroit Pistons: The Pistons made a couple early moves in the market by bringing in Jodie Meeks, Cartier Martin, and Aaron Grey. Many thought Meeks was overpaid. But they also brought in solid backup point guard D.J. Augustin and tough swingman Caron Butler. Overall just a lot of solid role players were brought in for Stan Van Gundy in his first year at the helm. But will this propel them from their mediocre status in the East? They still have the Josh Smith dilemma to deal with. Do you keep him or trade him? Detroit also has to worry about bringing back a key piece in Greg Monroe. Can they do that and will Monroe want to come back is the big question
Grade: Some consider Detroit’s signings so far to be a little boring and expensive, but their additions are a lot better than what the team suited up to play last season. Nothing flashy so far, just a bunch of solid role player additions for a great new coach. But in the end, nothing that will earn them a great grade. C-
Golden State Warriors: The Warriors have a new head coach in Steve Kerr and have helped him out some in his transition from GM, to broadcaster, to now NBA coach. Golden State made two solid pickups in Shaun Livingston and brought back Brandon Rush for a cheap cost 2 years 2.5 million. These two moves are nothing ground breaking, but many are waiting on the decision of Kevin Love and the trade market he brings. If they can get Love thats a huge addition.
Grade: They got a lot better at the backup point spot and brought back a veteran defender in Rush. Just simply a quiet offseason but they didn’t regress in their losses and gained some solid additions. B-
Houston Rockets: The Rockets are the classic example of putting all of your chips in one basket. In efforts to sign big name free agents like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh, the Rockets not only drafted poorly but parted ways with the likes of Omar Asik, Jeremy Lin, and Chandler Parsons. Those moves would be great but there’s just one problem, they didn’t land any of those big names. That leaves the Rockets with a lot of holes to fill. They were able to bring in Trevor Ariza which certainly is not a bad acquisition, but is he a better option than Parson or Gordon Hayward could have been?
Grade: Many are calling for the Rockets to get a failing grade for missing out on pretty much every target they had this summer, but all is not lost after getting at least something in Ariza. D-
Indiana Pacers: Now comes the interesting case of the Pacers. To start, they really haven’t landed anyone on the market of value so far in only getting known players like Rodney Stuckey, Lavoy Allen, and C.J, Miles. They also lost Lance Stephenson which to me is a loss with his great defensive skills and offensive talent. Plus, they had no draft picks thanks to the Luis Scola trade and still have to deal with the ongoing dilemma of Roy Hibbert.
Grade: All in all, yeah the Pacers were able to bring in two veterans who certainly aren’t terrible, but they haven’t done anything to propel themselves to Eastern Conference Champions. Not a good offseason at all so far from Larry Bird. F
Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers have officially become the go to destination in Los Angeles (who ever thought they’d see the day). They got better this offseason by bringing in needed positional players like a backup at the point in Jordan Farmar and skilled big man Spencer Hawes to give DeAndre Jordan a break in the middle
Grade: They weren’t able to bring back Darren Collison, but two very solid additions that keep the Clippers in a competitive and contending position out West. B
Los Angles Lakers: Now to the declining team out in the city of angles. Kobe Bryant can’t be happy with what his Laker management has done this offseason. They missed out an all of the big time free agents, and they weren’t able to bring back Pau Gasol, who Kobe loved playing with.
Grade: They were able to get something in bringing back Mr. Swaggy P Nick Young, along with big men Jordan Hill and Ed Davis. But the Lakers got a lot worse this offseason and unless they can land Eric Bledsoe without giving up prized big man Julius Randle, the Lakers have had a sub par offseason at best in the free agent market. D-
Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies seem to be a team that will always put a competitive roster on the floor but will never reach the promise land out West. So far, they’ve brought back Zach Randolf which of course they had to do. The signing of Vince Carter was solid, but on 3 year deal? A little head scratching. Memphis also brought back veteran floor general Beno Udrich as well
Grade: Memphis certainly didn’t get worse, but the 3 year deal to a VC who will be ancient by the time that contract comes off the books is puzzling. C-
Miami Heat: For a team that just lost the best player in the league and oh yeah, the world, the Heat have really out done themselves following the King’s departure back home. The addition of Shabazz Napier was a great start and following Pat Riley has done a nice job of assembling pieces after a major exit of their most important player. Up and coming big Josh McRoberts and former all-star Danny Granger were the early signees in South Beach, followed by the return of Chris Bosh and Miami lifer Dwyane Wade. Don’t forget the re-ups of fellow Miami lifer Udonis Haslem and veteran Birdman Anderson and Mario Chalmers. But possibly the biggest steal of the offseason was the signing of Luol Deng who will certainly be a great fit for what he brings on offense.
Grade: After LeBron’s exit, all of a sudden the Heat have still managed to stay in playoff contention in the East. Who knows maybe they might be able to make some noise with that nice roster of talent they have. Pat Riley shows why he is one of the best in the business. B+
Milwaukee Bucks: The Milwaukee Bucks certainly do have something to be excited for in the future. Starting with the addition of number 2 pick in this years NBA Draft Jabari Parker and their new head coach Jason Kidd who already brings attention with his name (oh and his actions of course). They also still have the Greek Freak who will only get more athletic and freaky. But other than that, the Bucks haven’t really made any big moves. They tried to go after Eric Bledsoe who would be a huge addition over O.J. Mayo but lets face the facts, who wants to play in Milwaukee?
Grade: They’ve signed solid pieces who have promise like Kendall Marshall after he was surprisingly let go by the Lakers. But if one of your marquee signings before that is Jarred Bayless, your not really having that great of an offseason in the market. C-
Minnesota Timberwolves: The T-Wolves are another team that had much of their success in this years draft with their talented selections of athletic swingman Zach LeVine and Glenn Robinson III who absolutely tore it up in Summer League this year. Otherwise, they haven’t budged at all in the market. But who can blame them with the ongoing scenario of Kevin Love’s request to play else ware (can’t really blame him either).
Grade: I’ll say this, the Wolves and Flip Saunders have done a great job of staying firm on their demands for the superstar forward. I give them a lot of credit for that. If they can get what theu want in the number 1 picks and Andrew Wiggins, I’d say thats an A+ offseason for them, especially with a great basketball mind and signal caller in Flip Saunders. But we don’t know whats going to happen with that trade so they earn a B+.
New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans made some early noise in the market by trading for skilled big Omar Asik. That should be a nice pairing with Anthony Davis who will be a star in this league sooner than later. Not to mention, with Asik in the starting lineup that will give Davis the room to play at his natural position of power forward. But they haven’t done much following the trade. Losing key role players like sharp shooter Anthony Morrow, backup point Brian Roberts, and big Jason Smith will hurt more than help.
Grade: I liked the Asik trade, but that alone won’t make you a title contender, or a playoff contender at that, especially in the West. Not a good start to apease Davis to stick with New Orleans for the long terms. D+
New York Knicks: The power of Phil Jackson and a lot of green were enough for Carmelo Anthony to chose the less sexy option of the Knicks over teams that were ready to win now like Chicago, Houston, or even Miami at that. The Knicks are still stuck with the horrid contracts of Andrea Bargnani and Amare Stoudamire but after there gone, the Knickerbonkers will have a lot of cap space to work with to make Melo’s decision to stay home worth while.
Grade: Loved the Chandler/Felton trade for the team, they finally have a solid floor general in Jose Calderon, but thats not going to win a title next season. The big question is with this team Phil is ready to floor next season, can they even compete in the new Eastern Conference that got a lot better this offseason? The future is possibly looking bright if big names like Durant, Rondo, or Love are willing to take on the challenge of playing in New York. Because they were able to keep their superstar and the possibility of a bright future, the Knicks get a B.
Oklahoma City Thunder: They might have missed out on their big target this offseason in Pau Gasol, but with what they had to work with in terms of money to give out, ace shooter Anthony Marrow is a solid addition, especially for a team that is in desperate need of a shooter who can benefit off talent galore that can space the floor (nice rhymes). Sebastian Telfair is another solid role player who can fulfill the hole left by Derrek Fisher in terms of ability to score the basketball.
Grade: They didn’t get their goal player this summer, but got better in the shooting department for sure. Can these two make an impact on a team that has yet to reach their ultimate goal. Will see. C+
Orlando Magic: For many around the league, it’s been a strange offseason in Orlando. After his best offseason of his career, the magic decided to part ways with Arronn Afflalo. They also let go of their all-time assists leader in Jameer Nelson and let go of Jason Maxiell and Ronnie Price as well. Puzzling moves followed to replace those players like Ben Gordon, Willie Green, and Luke Ridnour. No offense to those guys, they’ve been able to make long careers in the NBA, but there also done making big impacts on teams. The one bright spot is the signing of three point specialist Channing Frye, but boy did they overpay for him at 4 years 32 million.
Grade: The Magic are flat out a team that has a lot of young talent who will be sure to make a change to their recent loosing ways in the future. But their offseason moves have been puzzling to say the least. D+
Philadelphia 76ers: Well, lets see here…. The Sixers haven’t signed anyone so far this summer… So any analysis of the subject would be pointless. But fear not Philly fans, because the future ahead is bright. Sure it will take a couple of years (maybe 3-5) to become relevant again in the East, but with what they did in the Draft in grabbing Joel Embiid to go along with Noel and Michael Carter-Williams, it’s not completely a fare fetched disappointment for the Philadelphia faithful
Grade: Thank the heavens it’s not the Eagles, but Philly’s losing mentality the next couple of years will pay off. They haven’t signed anybody yet so I have to give them an Incomplete
Phoenix Suns: The Suns came into free agency with a lot of cap room and were certainly a dark horse contender for big name players on the market. They weren’t able to land a superstar which is what they’re missing, but the signings of Isaiah Thomas, Anthony Tolliver, and the resigning of P.J. Tucker will be a good addition to a team on the rise. The big question is with the signing of the former Kings point guard in Thomas, will they be able to land back Eric Bledsoe for the money he wants. Both sides are stalling. Rumors of trying to trade for Greg Monroe are up in the air (the Suns would reportedly give up Bledsoe in a sign and trade along with Gerald Green) but those have yet to come to fruition
Grade: If they are able to bring back Bledsoe and Gerald Green I say thats a fantastic offseason. But we can’t predict the future. I love the Thomas signing and one thing is for sure, it’s guard heaven down their in Arizona. B
Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers have had a subpar offseason to say the least, but the addition of Chris Kaman does improve their bench depth at the big position, especially because Meyers Leonard and Joel Freeman weren’t exactly getting the job done.
Grade: Other than the Kaman addition, nothing too flashy or impactful. The Blazers have to work with what they have next season which isn’t too shabby with one of the best pairings in the league in budding superstars Damien Lillard and Lamarcus Aldridge. C-
Sacramento Kings: The Kings have just come off winning their first championship in their history, a Summer League championship that is. It figures with their top picks like Nick Stauskas and current players like Ben Maclemore and Derrick Williams. But their offseason has been one to laugh at. To replace Isaiah Thomas, Sac town through a lot of money to Darren Collison (3 years 16.6 million). Totally a bad move for a team that needs to save money and attract bigger and better players. Not to mention their also still pondering about trading for headache Josh Smith.
Grade: They gave a big pay day for a backup point who is unproven and reaching the veterans peak in the league. Other than the draft and Summer league title, the Kings have had a poor Summer so far in the market and have a long way ahead of them to reach a real NBA title, which their new owner said would be coming soon after this weeks Summer League championshi. Oh boy. I won’t fail them soley because of the draft. D-
San Antonio Spurs: As previously stated in my Draft Report Card, the rich continue to get richer after they drafted what many considered the steal of the draft in UCLA’s Kyle Anderson. The same statement holds true for the champs this offseason. They were able to bring back Boris Diaw who was a huge piece to this years title run, along with another key piece in Patty Mills. Mills will have to miss some time to start next season, but don’t worry Spurs fans because your management team pulled another classic Spurs move by bringing in an unproven but talented point guard in Bryce Cotten from Providence to help Corey Joseph off the bench if need be.
Grade: The Spurs continue to show why their the best organization in basketball and heck maybe even in all of sports. Bringing back their title winning players and more young unnoticed help makes them even better for next season if they stay healthy. Could we be seeing another back to back title run next season for Timmy, Tony, Manu and the crew? A-
Toronto Raptors: The Raptors were back in the postseason this past year thanks in part to the stellar play from Kyle Lowery, DeMar Dorozen, and key bench players like Grevis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, and James Johnson. Well GM Misiah Ujuri has put together another fabulous offseaosn by bringing all of these guys back (Derozen with the contract extension this past season). They also nabbed scoring threat Lou Williams who will give Toronto that added threat to put the ball in the hole that they really lacked last season and had a solid second rounder in DeAndre Daniels from National Champion UCONN
Grade: They brought back everyone who helped reach playoff success last year and with the additions of Williams and Daniels, another playoff year is in the midst for 2014-2015. B+
Utah Jazz: The Jazz had one of the bests drafts of anyone in June with the additions of Dante Exum and Rodney Hood to add to an already talented backcourt with Trey Burke. The biggest move of the Summer so far has of course been the matching off Gordon Hayward’s big 4 year 63 million dollar offer from Charlotte, which does seem very high and undeserving for a player like Hayward but keeping him certainly doesn’t make the Jazz any worse.
Grade: Along with Hayward, Utah was also able to bring in former Washington big Trevor Booker to add to a needed position. Not a bad summer for the Jazz thus far. B
Washington Wizards: The Wiz brought back a major piece in Marcin Gortat which was a huge win for both sides. A big surprise was gaining Paul Pierce to most likely finish off his career. Pierce will fill the scoring role lost by Trevor Ariza to Houston but is his defense still up to par? Ariza brought a lot of versatilely and defense at his spot. The sign and trade of DeJuan Blair is a great move, giving great toughness and defense down low. Low key signings of Melvin Ely and playoff contributor last season Drew Gooden were also made for Washington.
Grade: The Wizards brought in solid front court pieces that make them one of the deepest in the league. Not to mention they also cleared up cap space for a certain superstar that grew up in the DMV in Mr. Kevin Durant. Can Pierce and Otto Porter Jr. step up for the absence of Ariza? We shall see, but look for the Wizards to be even better next season. B
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