The Utah Jazz spent the last week working to beef up on the defensive side while retaining the firepower they gained last season.
In a nutshell the Jazz re-signed Jordan Clarkson, brought Derrick Favors back, signed rookies Udoka Azubuike and Elijah Hughes, parted ways with Ed Davis and Tony Bradley and then gave Donovan Mitchell a five-year max extension.
The hope is that by running the team back from last season, while increasing the interior defense and depth of the bench, the Jazz will be positioned to be better than they were for the 2020-21 campaign, which kicks off in less than a month.
So what have all the other NBA teams done?
Now that the dust has for the most part settled on the NBA’s condensed free agency frenzy it seems as good a time as any to take a look around the league and see where each team stands.
Consider this a brief overview of the most impactful moves across the league.
We’ll start with the rest of the teams in the Jazz’s division.
The Nuggets re-signed Paul Millsap and brought on JaMychal Green and Real Madrid’s Facundo Campazzo along with rookies Zeke Nnaji and R.J. Hampton.
Probably most interesting is who the Nuggets lost in free agency, which was Mason Plumlee, Jerami Grant and Torrey Craig.
The biggest question for the Nuggets this season will be whether or not they’ll have a competent defense after losing a significant portion of the length and depth on that end of the floor that served them very well in last season’s playoffs.
Oklahoma City Thunder
There was a lot of movement by the Thunder over the last week as general manager Sam Presti continued to stockpile draft picks via trades.
The Thunder picked up rookies Aleksej Pokusevski, Theo Maledon and Vit Krejci, and brought in Al Horford, Trevor Ariza, Justin Jackson, George Hill, TJ Leaf and a handful of other fringe players.
They sent away Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, Terrance Ferguson, Abdel Nader, Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari, Nerlens Noel, Deonte Burton, Devon Hall, Kevin Hervey and Andre Roberson.
OKC has been ramping up to a rebuild for a while and they went all in on planning for the future with their offseason moves.
After taking Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 overall draft pick, the Timberwolves also picked up some projects with Leandro Bolmaro and Jaden McDaniels. Then they welcomed back Ricky Rubio and added Ed Davis while saying goodbye to James Johnson, Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner.
The Wolves are hoping that Rubio and Edwards will be able to stabilize the starting unit but don’t expect for Minnesota to make any real waves this season. Their offseason moves will lead to a season of developing young players while figuring out what rotations actually work and where they still need help.
Trevor Ariza, Mario Hezonja, Hassan Whiteside, Jaylen Adams and Wenyen Gabriel are out. Robert Covington, Enes Kanter, and Derrick Jones Jr. are in.
The Trailblazers were not worried about offense. With one of the best backcourts in the league and with Jusef Nurkic coming back from injury, Portland went into the offseason with defense on the mind. That seems to be their plan every offseason but they might have struck the right balance this time around.
Los Angeles Lakers
The reigning champs didn’t hold back and with the moves they made this week most have them as the favorites to win it all again next year.
Montrezl Harrell came over from the other LA team while the Lakers also added Marc Gasol, Wes Matthews and Dennis Schroder. They lost Danny Green, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard, but it feels like for every player they lost they made an upgrade.
Los Angeles Clippers
Not only did Montrezl Harrell leave, but the Clippers also lost or got rid of Landry Shamet, JaMychal Green and Reggie Jackson. What do they have to show for it? Serge Ibaka and Luke Kennard.
After adding Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last season, it makes this offseason look really lackluster. Even more so, after a disappointing exit from the playoffs it doesn’t really seem like the Clippers were able to get any better. I guess they’re hoping for better performances from their stars in 2021.
The Kings drafted Tyrese Haliburton and Robert Woodard, two players I think will have nice NBA careers, but I worry about their overall success with this team.
Sacramento lost Bogdan Bogdanovic, Harry Giles, Kent Bazemore, and Alex Len and what do they have to show for it? Hassan Whiteside.
I guess there are some who would make the argument that the Kings are making plans for the future, but they’ve been doing that for over a decade. We’ll see.
An incredible, undefeated run in the NBA bubble wasn’t enough to get the Suns a spot in the playoffs, but the addition of Chris Paul, Jae Crowder, E’Twaun Moore, and rookie center Jalen Smith could very well make the Suns a Western Conference playoff team.
They did lose Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes but they’ve upgraded at point guard and are putting faith in Smith being able to backup Deandre Ayton. It’s not a bad plan and the Suns are going to be an interesting team to watch.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors got the center they wanted in the draft with No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman and were looking to surge back into relevance after injuries ravaged the 2019-20 season for this Western Conference powerhouse.
But, just before the draft kicked off the Warriors were dealt a huge blow when Klay Thompson, who was just coming back from a season-long absence after an ACL tear in his left knee, suffered a torn right Achilles tendon.
Another year without Thompson is not great news, but the Warriors still have one of the best in Stephen Curry and have brought in Kelly Oubre, Brad Wanamaker and Kent Bazemore, but it won’t be the resurgence we were hoping to see.
The Grizzlies are one of the youngest teams and are on the rise. There’s not a lot of movement out of Memphis over the last few days, which is good for a team that’s naturally developing into something nice.
They added some more youth with rookies Desmond Bane and Xavier Tillman and will bring in Mario Hezonja from Portland while letting go of Josh Jackson. The Grizzlies were right on the cusp of playoff contention in 2019-20 and they’ll probably be right around the same place again, but they’re playing the long game right now.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs were pretty silent during free agency, letting Bryn Forbes and Marco Belinelli leave, and seemingly happy with their lottery draft pick Devin Vassel. Longtime coach Gregg Popovich was clear in his preference last season for development and improvement over wins.
It was strange not to see the Spurs in the playoffs after decades of them being a mainstay in postseason contention, but it’s also fascinating to see the Spurs as a rebuilding and developing team which is what they’ll probably be this season.
Shooting and perimeter defense. Those were the priorities and it seems like the Mavericks were able to find the necessary pieces through the draft and free agency.
They lost Seth Curry, Delon Wright and Justin Jackson, but the Mavs drafted basically all the players that Jazz fans were coveting. Rookies Josh Green, Tyrell Terry and Tyler Bey will join Josh Richardson, James Johnson and Wes Iwundu as the newest members of a Mavs team that was already rising through the Western Conference ranks.
The question now is, will these young players be able to make an immediate impact alongside Luka Doncic?
There seems to be in trouble in paradise with rumors swirling both Russell Westbrook and James Harden wanting out of Houston. The Rockets are also under new leadership and new coaching, so they’ve got a lot going on.
They traded away Robert Covington and are bringing in big men Christian Woods and DeMarcus Cousins, but there’s little that can be determined about where the Rockets are headed until they figure out what’s going on with their star players.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Big Easy is obviously going to be without Derrick Favors now that he’s back with the Jazz but they brought in Steven Adams to cover their center worries. The Pelicans also parted with Jrue Holiday and a handful of fringe players while bringing in Eric Bledsoe, Willy Hernangomez, Wenyen Gabriel and rookie Kira Lewis. Then they inked Brandon Ingram to a max extension and put their eyes to the future.
Will Zion Williamson become the star he was promised under the tutelage of Stan Van Gundy? New Orleans is certainly hoping so.
The Sixers finally got the shooting that they’ve needed for years while getting off of the Al Horford contract. That’s the immediate impact of having Daryl Morey in charge of things.
The Sixers are adding Danny Green, Seth Curry, Terrance Ferguson, Dwight Howard and Tony Bradley and the biggest things that they got rid of were Horford and Josh Richardson.
The Sixers certainly have the talent to be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference so now it’s about how new head coach Doc Rivers chooses to use Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Jayson Tatum, like Donovan Mitchell, was the recipient of a shiny new max extension and former Jazz man Gordon Hayward left in free agency.
The Celtics also brought in Jeff Teague, Tristan Thompson and lottery pick Aaron Nesmith, so it’s probably fair to assume that they’ll be roughly the same team with a little bit better shooting and some offensive rebounding. Does that make for a better season? Probably not by much.
New York Knicks
Rookie Obi Toppin along with Omari Spellman, Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel and Austin Rivers are perfectly fine offseason signings, but they won’t make the Knicks a relevant team. It’s going to take a whole lot more than that for the New York team to turn things around. I’m sure they’ll have some fun games and some drama that will be enjoyable to follow along with, so there’s that.
It’s much less about what the Nets did in free agency and more about what they’ll have this year that they didn’t last year. It’s Kevin Durant. They’re also rumored to be in on the James Harden talks so there’s a chance that the two former Thunder stars could be reunited.
The Nets also added Landry Shamet to add to an already pretty good shooting lineup. If it all works out as planned, the Nets could shoot up to the top of the rankings in the East.
Our friends to the North will be playing in the South. Because of coronavirus craziness the Raptors will be based in Tampa, Florida, for now.
They gave a lot of money to Fred VanVleet to keep him around and replaced Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol with Aron Baynes and Alex Len. They also brought back Chris Boucher, which I think is a sneaky good choice.
It’ll be interesting to see if their interior still maintains its power now that Gasol and Ibaka are gone but no matter what the Raptors are likely to be a good team.
The Bucks did exactly what they were supposed to this offseason. They tried to get as many pieces on the team that would look good next to Giannis Antetokounmpo so that he’ll be happy and willing to stay in Milwaukee after this season concludes.
They started off a little rocky in their efforts, bungling a deal to get Bogdan Bogdanovic, who ending up with the Hawks, but they rebounded nicely and added Jrue Holiday, D.J. Augustin, Torrey Craig and Bobby Portis.
It feels like there’s probably another move that will be made after they said goodbye to a handful of players, so don’t count out the Bucks between now and the trade deadline.
They got Patrick Williams at No. 4 in the draft…
There’s not much more to say about the Bulls’ offseason moves. They’re young and hopefully new coach Billy Donovan can turn that into something.
The Bulls and the Cavs seem like they might have had the same offseason blueprint. The Cavaliers took Isaac Okoro with the No. 5 overall pick, picked up JaVale McGee and are hoping J.B. Bickerstaff can coach this young team into something resembling an NBA team.
The Pacers reportedly wanted Gordon Hayward but when they didn’t get what they wanted, they stayed relatively quiet.
T.J. Warren elevated his game in the bubble and Myles Turner and Victor Oladipo seem to be staying put and that makes the Pacers happy. So long as staying put in the Eastern Conference standings is OK with the Pacers then we could call this a success for Indy.
Definitely the most wheeling and dealing team of the Central Division the Pistons made a lot of moves. They drafted Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey, then went out and added Delon Wright, Dewayne Dedmon, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee and Josh Jackson.
Leaving Detroit are Christian Woods, Luke Kennard and Bruce Brown.
None of this is going to make the Pistons look good this season. They’re very likely to be a bad team, again. But, it looks like they’re clearing the way to make some moves in 2021 or beyond. That’s something to look forward to.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Hawks were one of the teams to shoot up in the Eastern ranks next season. They never got a chance to see what Clint Capela was going to look like and then this offseason they added draft pick Onyeka Okongwu, along with Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo, Kris Dunn, and Solomon Hill and each one of those signings seems very deliberate.
They let Jeff Teague, DeAndre Bemby, and Dewayne Dedmon go, but none of those players were going to be the difference between good and great for the Hawks so it’s not of much consequence.
As Trae Young continues to improve, the Hawks seem pretty dedicated to making his life easier.
Bam Adebayo is enjoying his max extension while the Heat try to build off their success. They had breakout performances from multiple players and made it to the NBA Finals, the first trip to the championship round for Jimmy Butler.
The most notable losses for the Heat are that of Jae Crowder and Derrick Jones Jr. But the Heat added rookie Precious Achiuwa, Maurice Harkless and Avery Bradley.
Not a lot of moves, but you know the saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The Hornets seem pretty happy about having No. 3 overall pick LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward being the big splashy moves that are supposed to bring them into relevance. If it ends up working out for them I’ll gladly eat crow, but it doesn’t seem like they did enough or that they have enough to be excited about.
I’m starting to feel bad looking at some of these lower tier Eastern Conference teams. Sure, the Magic have been in the playoffs the last couple seasons but they were pretty unceremoniously knocked out in the first round and it was never expected that they’d be anything but a first-round exit team.
The Magic come away from this offseason having drafted Cole Anthony and added Dwayne Bacon. That’s it.
Who knows what the Wizards are going to do with John Wall and Bradley Beal. At this point I just expect for them to be a part of trade rumors every year, all year long.
I like that the Wizards locked up things with Davis Bertans and added Deni Avdija in the draft.
If Wall can stay healthy they might actually be able to put together a decent season, but decent by Wizards and bottom of the East standards is not a high bar.