How have teams done so far in the NBA offseason?
Household free-agent names are off the market, the Draft has concluded, and GMs have probably put the phone and checkbook down as we've mostly pumped the brakes on the 2021 NBA offseason. Let's step off the court and take a look at some of the winners, losers, and in-betweeners around the league.
New York Knicks
The Knicks finished 4th in last year's Eastern Conference standings, and let me remind you, the East was not a joke. The team finished 41-31 and have essentially only added to their roster with former Celtics' Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier. RJ Barrett and Julius Randle receive two good-to-great upgrades, especially if Kemba can return to form. Fournier will certainly help the Knicks spread the floor even better.
This young roster pulled into the play-in game at the 10-seed but let the flood doors open against Indiana. Clearly, there were some holes in the lineup that needed to be addressed. Enter Kelly Oubre (length on the wing), Mason Plumlee (size and defense), Ish Smith (scoring), and draftee James Bouknight (potential scoring threat). LaMelo has proven himself to be a legitimate NBA PG and he and Gordon Hayward should both be healthy and ready to roll. Charlotte will turn heads this season.
The Bulls have been a trainwreck for the last 4 seasons. Zach LaVine was solid as a rookie and has grown into a stud, but, the poor guy has not had anyone around him...until now. An improving Lonzo Ball and scoring machine DeMar DeRozan are now part of the roster. We're looking at a dynamic PG and a proven scorer/playmaker joining forces with LaVine and Vucevic. This team is pretty damn athletic and can basically roll the ball out and score buckets. Next season, they end the playoff drought.
A lot of NBA analysts are saying the Lakers won in the offseason. Allow me to play Devil's Avocado for a minute. The Lakers received Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Kent Bazemore, and Trevor Ariza. SICK pickups in 2012! I know Westbrook is still ballin' out, Carmelo changed his game around, and Dwight is still a unit, but these guys are getting old. Father Time DNGAF. Mix that in with LeBron, who is showing some signs of wear and tear, and AD, who is made of glass. Basketball is a young man's game; don't be surprised if the 82-game grind claims a few hamstrings in LA....they also shipped out some of their young players. I'm calling it. Offseason loser, eventually.
We will never hear the end of the Disney Bubble heroics or fluke - whatever you want to call it. But, the Heat clearly have a talented core with Butler and Bam...and sometimes Tyler Herro. With Kyle Lowry throwing out his winter coats and flying to South Beach, the Heat have a future HOF PG running the show. He may be slow and short, but his IQ more than makes up for it. Miami also added PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris - two tough sons of bitches who will help on both defense and offense, respectively. I'll call this one a dub.
Prayers for Goran Dragic up in Toronto - the man is entering the end of his career and got stuck with a fading organization.
Ouch. You have the best young player in the league and you're not getting another stud around him? What? The Mavs need to take some of the load off of Luka and find another good guard. Unfortunately, they missed on Lowry and Ball. Goran, that guy higher up on the page. They should do everything they can to obtain him. While the Mavs still have a talented group of guys, they need to add another big-time player. KP is an enigma; nasty one night, Patrick Swayze in Ghost the next.
New Orleans Pelicans
For a team on the rise, you'd think they'd be able to acquire some talent. Instead, they let it go, losing Ball to Chicago. Zion and Ingram are two supremely talented scorers, but they can't carry this team into and through the playoffs. They need that third banana to do damage and it should have come in the form of a PG. The Pelicans swung and missed and added Devonte' Graham, Trey Murphy III, and Tomas Satoransky to the roster. Google them if you're not sure who they are.
The Blazers Front Office has been tremendous over the years with some of the guys they've drafted. If it weren't for some injuries, I truly believe Portland would have been an absolute beast in the West. But that is neither here nor there. Portland barfed in the offseason. Two seasons in a row with first-round exits does not look good on the rezzy. Lilliard will not stay if they don't make a change or a dent in the playoffs this coming year.
The starting lineup is good but the bench is weak, The Front Office needs to find some strong bench guys. I get it, the T-Blaze did not have much room to make moves. But maybe they could have done better than Cody Zeller and Tony Snell. I see a trade for Larry Nance Jr or Daniel Theis in the future. If that bench and frontcourt isn't bolstered, Dame is packing his bags.
With Brad Stevens moving into his role as President of Basketball Ops, he's already made a number of moves. Some good, some bad. He got rid of Kemba's expensive contract and signed Dennis Schroder for basically nothing (sidenote: what was Schroder thinking? Is playing with LeBron that bad?). The C's traded Tristan Thompson to SAC in a 3-team deal to receive Kris Dunn and Bruno Fernando - both additions have done basically nothing the past two seasons in terms of offense. Kris Dunn is one hell of a defender, though. Josh Richardson is a decent addition and can provide some physicality and tough-nosed defense.
What they need is a scoring big man, something they've lacked since Horford...who is now back on the Celts two years older, which is like six in NBA years. He is still a good all-around player and will likely be good for Rob Williams, who needs to learn to score from more than three feet from the rim. The Celtics made a lot of moves this offseason, but none will propel this team in the playoffs, if they make it there. Keep an eye out for a midseason move on Kyle Anderson, especially if Schroder doesn't get it done.