This offseason had the potential to be the busiest 7-day period in the history of the league and it did not disappoint. Despite all the stories saying this would be a weak draft and free agency, there was an enormous amount of player movement that is set to shake up the league come next season (which is less than a month away!). The grades that I am assigning to each team are based around expectations. For example, if a team only had exceptions and one or two roster spots to fill then there are fewer expectations then those surrounding a team with lottery picks and large cap space. These grades will also ultimately change when we find out what the draft picks look like in the NBA and we see how these new rosters fit together.
So, which teams impressed, and which teams regressed as we look back on an exciting and truncated 2020 offseason:
Atlanta Hawks: A-
The Atlanta Hawks had one of the most active offseasons in the NBA. The Hawks added some quality players to their rotation in Gallinari, Okongwu, Bogdanovic, Dunn and Rondo without losing any key pieces. It is clear that the Hawks will boast a much-improved roster going into next season, but they will not be a contender. So why isn’t this an A+? The Hawks definitely overpaid for Gallinari, especially moving forward as he enters the later years of his career. The team also now has an issue with their big man rotation. They will face some difficult negotiations with John Collins in the coming year because of the moves they have made. Ultimately, it is difficult to criticize this offseason too harshly as they have certainly been the most dominant team over this period.
Boston Celtics: C-
The Boston Celtics have now managed to lost Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward for no return in consecutive seasons and while they have not necessarily been a worse team because of it, you still have to wonder what is going on in the front office. Their main issue was lacking size in the frontcourt and bringing in Tristan Thompson should help to some degree. It also confused a lot of people when the Celtics decided not to draft any centers with their multiple picks in the first round. Overall, the Celtics roster may have taken a small hit this offseason, but they will still be a threat to challenge in the Eastern Conference this season.
Brooklyn Nets: B+
The Brooklyn Nets have the potential to change their grading dramatically should a James Harden trade take place, but for now they remain one of the quieter teams this offseason. They made the smart decision to bring back Joe Harris despite the high price tag, giving them valuable spacing. Bringing in Jeff Green was also a smart move to allow them to play small ball and give them insurance if they choose to trade Jarrett Allen down the line. It is also easy to forget the numerous coaching changes that took place months ago. Steve Nash and Mike D’Antoni should be an interesting pairing and if they can manage the egos within the team, then it should be a really positive season for the Nets.
Charlotte Hornets: C+
The Charlotte Hornets were winners on draft night, getting LaMelo Ball at the third pick. Now they have a potential star player to build their franchise around. Paying Hayward $30 million a year has been criticized by many but when you are a small market and have the chance to bring in a fringe all-star, you take it. While they may regret it in the latter half of the contract, the Hornets still have spending power and a respectable roster that can plausibly compete for the play-in tournament in the Eastern Conference.
Chicago Bulls: C-
The Chicago Bulls were another extremely quiet team in the offseason. Most of their moves happened off the court, bringing in a new general manager and completely new coaching staff led by Billy Donovan. Drafting Patrick Williams at pick four was a surprising move for the Bulls, but there is some considerable upside to Williams, and he can fill a need for the team on the wing. The Bulls will miss Kris Dunn significantly on the defensive end and could have brought in another playmaker, but they have not made their team worse and therefore slip through with a passing grade.
Cleveland Cavaliers: C+
The Cleveland Cavaliers had a solid offseason. Okoro was likely the right pick for them in the draft and letting Tristan Thompson walk was also likely a smart decision. They brought in some solid depth in JaVale Magee and Damyean Dotson however the Cavs likely did not raise their ceiling significantly and will be back in the lottery again next year.
Dallas Mavericks: B
Dallas were relatively quiet throughout the free agency period, most likely keeping their options open for next year’s heavy free agency class. They were able to bring in Josh Richardson and Pick 36 (Tyler Bey) for Seth Curry which sees their perimeter defense improve. James Johnson also improves their overall strength on the defensive end, although they might have been better off bringing in Ariza. Overall, they have made enough improvements to see them potentially rise slightly in the Western Conference.
Denver Nuggets: C
The Nuggets made a lot of moves for little gain this offseason, losing some of their backcourt strength just to bring in some more in JaMychal Green. The Jerami Grant deal was a sign and trade which gives them a $9.5 million trade exception which they are yet to use and could prove helpful. They drafted well at their picks with RJ Hampton and Zeke Nnaji. These two could develop into starters or could become fringe bench players but time will tell. Ultimately, they handled the offseason relatively well but did not necessarily improve or regress their roster for next season.
Detroit Pistons: F+
The Detroit Pistons went down a confusing path this offseason, spending all their cap space on big players that likely will not raise their ceiling. Letting Christian Wood walk just to bring in Plumlee and Grant was a really poor decision and ultimately hurts the future of this team. They made some good draft picks that can add to their existing youth but in the end, their unwillingness to enter a full rebuild has locked in Detroit as an inflexible lottery team for the years to come.
Golden State Warriors: A-
If you do not count the bad luck of losing Klay Thompson to injury for a second straight year, the Warriors had quite an impressive offseason. They were able to acquire Kelly Oubre Jr, Brad Wanamaker and Kent Bazemore while only losing Ky Bowman. They also drafted James Wiseman which should finally give them a defensive anchor in the paint which they have been missing out in the past seasons. The Warriors owners should also be commended for being so willing to pay the tax to remain relevant even once a star player is ruled out for the season. The Warriors may not be a title contender but will certainly be feared in the Western Conference.
Houston Rockets: B-
It is extremely difficult to evaluate the offseason for the Rockets without knowing the fate of James Harden. The Rockets get good grades for their roster moves so far, bringing in Christian Wood and DeMarcus Cousins who should take some of the offensive load off Harden. However, they have significantly downgraded at the coaching position and with their front office. The Westbrook for Wall trade may have been necessary as Westbrook made it clear he wanted to be moved but it does not improve their roster. Wall is a very similar player to Westbrook and may not look as good coming off his injury. As currently constructed, they are still a playoff team, but they have not necessarily improved from where they were.
Indiana Pacers: C
The Indiana Pacers will be struggling with losing out on Gordon Hayward to Charlotte, settling for retaining Justin Holiday instead. They have also brought in a brand-new coach which is difficult to evaluate given his lack of previous record. Ultimately, Indiana were another one of those teams that did not do a whole lot this offseason and will get the grade to reflect that.
LA Clippers: B
The Clippers surprisingly lost Montrezl Harrell to their cross-town rivals but ultimately, Serge Ibaka could end up becoming a better team fit alongside Kawhi Leonard and company. Ibaka provides some significant stretching on the perimeter while adding some quality interior defense that Harrell did not have. The team also now has plenty of depth in their frontcourt and while they did not make any significant changes after their shock playoff exit, they may well be in a better position to contend for a championship next season. However, they may have downgraded at coach but that is yet to be seen and Tyronn Lue may be a better chemistry fit for the team.
Los Angeles Lakers: A-
The Lakers will go into the next season looking significantly different but somehow, they may have managed to improve their roster, at least in the regular season which matters for homecourt advantage. Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell will be important pieces in the frontcourt but may cause some tension regarding playing time. Bringing in Schroder helps them significantly on the offensive end, especially when LeBron is off the floor as he is more than capable of filling in the true point guard role. Bringing in Matthews also helps them defensively as he can easily slot into the starting lineup or be a key piece off the bench. Losing Rondo certainly hurts the team, especially when it comes to playoffs and they could use a guy like that off the bench but ultimately, they should enter the next season as favourites to go back to back in 2021.
Memphis Grizzlies: B
The Memphis Grizzlies did not do a whole lot this offseason, however signing De’Anthony Melton to a long-term deal at a good price will help firm up their backcourt with Ja Morant. They also made a good draft pick in Desmond Bane at the end of the first round who was seen by many to be one of the top 20 players in the draft and could become a solid rotational piece for the team. Overall, while the Grizzlies did not make many changes, they made relatively good use of the offseason and are graded based on that.
Miami Heat: A-
The Miami Heat had a rather good offseason after making it to the 2020 Finals. They retained Goran Dragic while also signing Avery Bradley and Mo Harkless. The Heat also drafted Precious Achiuwa who may become a perfect replacement at the four. Locking up Bam Adebayo on a long-term deal is also a big win for the franchise. Losing Jae Crowder will definitely hurt the team, but they made the right moves to remain a serious contender in the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee Bucks: C+
The Milwaukee Bucks had a wild offseason with all eyes on them and whether Giannis Antetokounmpo will sign a max extension. The extension is yet to happen, but the Bucks are clearly doing their best to improve the roster around their star player. They brought in Jrue Holiday but had to trade a serious amount of unprotected first round picks which could become extremely valuable. They faced a difficult blow, missing out on Bogdan Bogdanovic due to tampering allegations. DJ Augustin and Torrey Craig are good signings as well that can contribute offensively. Overall, they Bucks have had a lot of player turnover and I do not think they have improved significantly. Depending on Giannis’ contract decision, this will have either been an amazing offseason or a terrible one when you look at the future of this team.
Minnesota Timberwolves: C+
The Minnesota Timberwolves had a somewhat disappointing offseason despite the amount of roster moves they made. They drafted Anthony Edwards with the first overall pick which was seen as a very emotionally based pick. They chose Edwards purely as a fit for Russell when they could have drafted a player with higher change of becoming a star. They did bring back Ricky Rubio and Malik Beasley who should prove useful as well as Ed Davis and Juancho Hernangomez but overall, compared to expectation, I feel a bit let down by the Timberwolves this offseason and I do not expect them to improve significantly.
New Orleans Pelicans: B+
The New Orleans Pelicans had a good offseason, significantly increasing the size of their asset stash. They managed to get several potentially valuable first round picks from Milwaukee along with Eric Bledsoe in the Holiday trade. The also managed to bring in Steven Adams although I do not agree with his immediate extension as he may not fit next to Zion. Losing Derrick Favors was a difficult pill to swallow but I do not expect their floor to drop at all as a result. Signing Brandon Ingram to a 5-year max deal was merely a formality and the Pelicans will be glad to have locked him up for the future. Drafting Kira Lewis Jr at 13 was also a solid pick and he has the potential to become a starting point guard in the future should he develop properly.
New York Knicks: C
The New York Knicks had a good offseason by their standards. They did not pay overpay to bring in mid-tier free agents and decided to keep their cap space and focus on development while maintaining flexibility. They brought in Alec Burks, Austin Rivers and Nerlens Noel who will give some stability and experience to the team. Drafting Obi Toppin was a smart decision, and he projects to be impressive in a large role on this team. Overall, the Knicks get a positive grade for not making any major mistakes which is a win for this franchise.
Oklahoma City Thunder: A+
The Oklahoma City Thunder have committed fully to their rebuild in spectacular fashion with Sam Presti gaining 17 first round picks until 2026. I will not mention every move they made but they regularly traded players for players and picks then flipped those players for even more picks. They also managed to build the treasure chest of picks while maintaining their core of youth including SGA. The Thunder are now in a position where you can be confident that they will bounce back to a strong franchise with a scary movement of youth in the coming years.
Orlando Magic: C
The Orlando Magic were really quiet this offseason. I thought that with the injury to Isaac, the front office would finally make some moves to either rebuild or contend but once again, the Magic have chosen to remain a mediocre team that barely makes the playoffs in the east and gets smashed in the first round. Cole Anthony may end up being a good pick and retaining Michael Carter-Williams likely offsets the loss of DJ Augustin. They also managed to keep Evan Fournier, although that decision was out of their hands.
Philadelphia 76ers: A
The Philadelphia 76ers had an eventful offseason and will boast a vastly different roster and front office going into next season. Daryl Morey has gotten straight to work in Philadelphia, adding a number of pieces to help the 76ers on the perimeter which has been their key area of weakness over the last couple of seasons, bringing in Danny Green and Seth Curry. They managed to offload Al Horford massive contract without having to send too many assets with it and added some depth to their frontcourt in Dwight Howard and Tony Bradley. They also looked good on draft night, bringing in Tyrese Maxey and others to add to their youth. Doc Rivers looks to be the right man for the head coaching job as he can bring the right culture and strategy to help them be the serious contenders that they have threatened to be for years.
Phoenix Suns: A-
The Phoenix Suns had an exciting offseason and boast a much-improved starting lineup heading into next season. The Chris Paul trade is obviously the headline of their offseason and while they may have overpaid slightly to get him, it was still the right move to put a star point guard next to Booker. They also managed to bring in Jae Crowder who can stretch the floor next to DeAndre Ayton. The Suns puzzled a lot of people when they drafted a backup center in Jalen Smith at the 10th pick but if he turns into a quality player then it becomes a good pick in the end. Overall, the Suns had a quality season and look to enter the playoff picture in the west for the first time in Booker’s career.
Portland Trail Blazers: A-
The Portland Trail Blazers needed to make some serious improvements around Damien Lillard in order to contend for a championship and they rose to the occasion. They have improved the depth surrounding their injury-prone frontcourt significantly, bringing in Robert Covington, Enes Kanter and Derrick Jones Jr. They did miss an opportunity to bring in another guard to support Dame and CJ, but they look like a much-improved roster and may contend for homecourt advantage in the Western Conference next season.
Sacramento Kings: B-
The Sacramento Kings made a significant improvement in the front office, bringing in a new general manager and he made his motives clear. They decided not to match for Bogdanovic which was a confusing decision as it may have been more worthwhile to sign and trade him in order to get something in return. Extending De’Aaron Fox was a formality as he is clearly a key part of their future plans. Hassan Whiteside is a good signing and should bring some depth to their frontcourt. The Kings also may have had the steal of the draft, bringing in an impressive young guard in Tyrese Haliburton who fell to the 12th overall pick in the draft. Overall, the Kings did not have too bad an offseason but will likely remain in a similar position in the west.
San Antonio Spurs: C
There is not too much to talk about with the San Antonio Spurs as per usual in the offseason. Losing Bryn Forbes was their most notable move and drafting Devin Vassell was a smart decision as he looks to fit the culture of the Spurs well and can provide some relief on the wing next to their two young guards. It may have made sense to move on from some of their veterans and enter a full rebuild but overall, there were no bad moves made by the Spurs this offseason and they will, as always, rely on internal development and improvement.
Toronto Raptors: C-
The Toronto Raptors achieved their main goal this offseason in retaining Fred VanVleet but unfortunately, the Raptors look to boast a weaker roster in the new season. They lost almost their full center rotation in Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol and replaced them with Aron Baynes and Chris Boucher. They did make the right decision in keeping their cap space options open for next year’s free agency period where they may be targeting a certain Greek freak. Overall, the Raptors were not able to keep a lot of important players on their roster and will look like a worse team following this offseason.
Utah Jazz: B
The Utah Jazz remain a fringe contender after this offseason but made some questionable signings which make them a difficult team to grade. Signing Donovan Mitchell was a reasonable decision, but they may have overpaid given his lack of proven experience as a star. They also paid a lot of money to two aging players in Clarkson and Favors which may limit them financially in the future and pulls into question if Rudy Gobert will be able to stay with the franchise long-term. While they did overpay for players, they improved the talent on their roster and improved their bench which was a key weakness for them last season, so they ultimately get a positive grade.
Washington Wizards: C+
The Washington Wizards had a mediocre and relatively quiet offseason until recently when they traded John Wall and a heavily protected pick for Russell Westbrook which had been rumoured for some time. While the trade itself was not bad, the move does not do a whole lot to improve their roster. Wall and Westbrook are similar players and while the Wizards’ offense looks to be amazing and exciting to watch, their defense projects to be awful and thus they will continue to be a middle-tier team moving forward. Avdija was a solid pick at number 9 and Robin Lopez will help the team defensively although they may have overpaid for him at $5 million. The Wizards did manage to bring back Davis Bertans who is an important player to them but again, they overpaid heavily for him.