The NBA offseason always seems to be the most dramatic of all professional sports. Could it be that it’s the only sport making moves in the summer? Maybe it’s due to the lack of football for people to watch. In my spare time I’ve decided to prepare for the upcoming NBA season by grading teams’ offseason moves. I’ll start with the Atlantic Division, find some team-appropriate GIFs, and predict which teams will make the playoffs in 2018. Last year the Atlantic had two strong playoff contenders in the Celtics and the Raptors, however they also gave us three of the most discombobulated franchises ever to grace the NBA due to key injuries that just keep happening, bad past trade decisions, or just an outdated GM trying to win now without many strong young assets to back up his veterans. See the mess that was the 2016-17 Knicks if you want more information on that last one. Anyways, lets get started.
Boston Celtics: B+
Free Agency: Signed SF Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $128 million contract, German F Daniel Theis to a 2-year deal, and C Aron Baynes to a one-year, $4.3 million deal.
Lost PF Amir Johnson to Philadelphia on a one-year, $11 million deal, and F Kelly Olynyk to Miami on a four-year, $50 million+ deal with a player option in the fourth year.
Trades: SG Avery Bradley to the Pistons for PF Marcus Morris and a 2019 2nd round pick.
Draft: In order, F Jayson Tatum, F Semi Ojeleye, G Kadeem Allen, and SG Jabari Bird
Analysis: GM Danny Ainge did it again. Somehow Boston landed offensive-star Gordon Hayward despite the Jazz making several moves in an attempt to entice him to stay. The Celtics drafted well too, picking up a lot of what I believe to be underrated prospects. Jayson Tatum had a fantastic Summer League performance and is pretty likely to make an impact off the bench right away. Boston didn’t need to make too many moves to bolster their roster due to the Tatum and the other young talent they picked up in the draft — not to mention the plethora of future first-round draft picks at their disposal. I personally am not a fan of the Bradley-Morris trade as he was a huge source of perimeter defense for them with 1.2 SPG, and although now-presumed starter G Marcus Smart is a decent, cheaper option, I thought keeping Bradley and dropping nearly anyone else would have given them the best chance to topple the Cavs without sacrificing their defensive identity. Either way, they are still the most likely candidates to come out on top in the Atlantic division.
Brooklyn Nets: C
Free Agency: Nothing. Nothing at all.
Trades: C Brook Lopez and the 27th overall draft pick for PG D’Angelo Russell and C Timofey Mozgov, and C Justin Hamilton for SF DeMarre Carroll and two 2018 draft picks.
Draft: In order, C Jarrett Allen, F Aleksander Vezenkov
Analysis: The poor, poor Nets. It seems this year they worked hard to put the disastrous 2013 trade that decimated their future for faulty win-now hopes, but it’s not going to improve overnight. Mozgov is slated as Brooklyn’s starting center while Allen will likely develop behind him. Russell will undoubtedly become their starting point guard and hopefully put his snitching days behind him. Carroll will take over the small forward starting spot, allowing second-year SF Caris Levert more time to develop. Vezenkov will add some front court depth. Overall, the Nets may win more games, but their long-term health is still in peril and they are almost certainly not making the playoffs. It’s almost smarter to look to next year, as they will have three draft picks, albeit once again will be unable to control their own destiny since two of them are the Raptors’ picks.
New York Knicks: C+
Free Agency: Re-signed G Ron Baker to a 1-year deal, and signed SG Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year, $71 million deal, and waived F Maurice Ndour in June. Lost SG Justin Holiday to the Bulls on a 2-year, $9 million deal.”Lost” PG Derrick Rose to Cleveland on a one-year, $2.1 million deal.
Trades: Nichts! (See what I did there, German speakers?) but lets be real — Carmelo’s days with the Knicks are numbered.
Draft: In order, PG Frank Ntilikina, SG Damyean Dotson, SG Ognjen Jaramaz
Other: Fired GM Phil Jackson, promoted Steve Mills to president, and named Scott Perry the new GM.
Analysis — Even if the they can somehow land PG Kyrie Irving in a trade, the Knicks are still a mess. It’s gotten to the point where I’m not sure if any of the Knicks actually enjoy playing for New York, other than, you know actually living in New York City. There’s reason for hope with the addition of Ntilikina, Dotson, Jaramaz, and a new GM not named Phil Jackson, but it’s still unclear what direction they are trying to go. Carmelo Anthony is likely to be traded before the offseason is over, and PF Kristaps Porzingis seems disappointed with his team. It didn’t inspire confidence when Hardaway Jr. was signed for a whopping, seemingly undeserved $71 million. Rose leaving for Cleveland was a good step, but there are several moves likely to be made by the Knicks before their roster is complete, and maybe years before they can make it back to the playoffs.
Philadelphia 76ers: A-
Free Agency: Signed SG J.J Reddick to a one-year, $23 million deal and PF Amir Johnson to a one-year $11 million deal.
Trades: Nada. C Jahlil Okafor continues to be a trade option for the 76ers if they want to make moves before the offseason is over.
Draft: In order, PG Markelle Fultz, C Anzejs Pasecniks, SF Jonah Bolden, F Matthias Lessort
Analysis: Drafting Fultz and trusting the process will only work if the 76ers can stop getting injured. Fultz was pulled from Summer League after spraining his ankle, but is expected to be okay. SF Ben Simmons (foot) has been cleared for contact, but was kept out of Summer League. C Joel Embiid (knee) played just 31 games in his debut season due to injury but was impressive and showed flashes of excellence. What would it look like if suddenly Philadelphia could put all of their pieces together? They now have a very solid deep threat that can stretch the floor in Reddick, and added to their power forward depth with veteran Amir Johnson. Their young talent is promising. As I said previously, a lot hinges on the 76ers getting their players healthy, but with the East weakening, they could have a shot at the playoffs with everyone intact. If they can’t? We very well could see another No. 1 pick by Philadelphia, for the third year in a row.
Toronto Raptors: B-
Free Agency: Re-signed PG Kyle Lowry to a three-year, $100 million deal and PF Serge Ibaka to a three-year, $65 million deal. Signed F Alfonzo McKinnie to a multi-year deal.
Trades: PG Cory Joseph for SF C.J. Miles in a sign and trade agreement and SF DeMarre Carroll and two 2018 draft picks for C Justin Hamilton, who was waived immediately.
Draft: SF OG Anunoby
Other: Promoted Bobby Webster to GM and Dan Tolzmann to Assistant GM.
Analysis: Toronto was able to keep both Lowry and Ibaka in free agency, which was big in keeping the team intact. The only change to their starting five is the addition of C.J. Miles in place of Carroll, who was traded in what was simply a salary dump. Drafting Anunoby was a bit of a risk due to his mid-season ACL tear with the Hoosiers, but he has high upside if he can get recover fully to his previous form, as he’s known for his extreme athleticism. G Delon Wright will now be backup point guard to Lowry, which will be interesting. The one thing I can’t get over is their trading away of two picks for a mediocre center they were just going to waive anyways. The real question is: Will Toronto have what it takes to make it past both Cleveland and Boston in the playoffs? Doubtful, but with much of their roster still there, they are definitely in the playoff mix.
Playoff prediction: As a recap, the Celtics and the Raptors are shoe-ins for playoff spots in the East. The only other team with a legitimate chance in the Atlantic Division is the 76ers, but hey if you #TrustTheProcess, anything is possible.