2016 NBA offseason grades: How each team did in free agency and the draft

It was just a month ago that the Cleveland Cavaliers made NBA history with their 2016 championship. In that brief time, the entire landscape of the league shifted.

Most of the chaos was courtesy of free agency, naturally. Kevin Durant’s on his way to the Warriors, with a potential dynasty in the works. Al Horford packed his bags for Boston, and the Hawks turned around and found something resembling a replacement in Dwight Howard. On and on the carousel went, with dollars flying in every direction. In reality, however, you can’t separate what went down in July from the rest of this offseason. What happened in the draft set the stage for free agency — as did a number of head coaching changes.

Pictured: An artist’s rendering of the NBA’s impending doom. (Getty Images/Dan Carson)

So rather than do you the disservice of judging teams solely by how they did with this summer’s free agents, we’re pulling back to grade all 30 squads on their entire offseasons. Spoiler: Golden State did pretty well. Oklahoma City? Not so much. (Note: Each team has a "Net Wins Above Replacement (WAR)" listed as a very rough estimate of how the various transactions will affect wins and losses next season. The concept is easy: Take the WAR for the players a team added and subtract the WAR for the departing players. Numbers are courtesy of HoopsNerd.com)

Players in: Dwight Howard

Players out: Al Horford, Jeff Teague (trade)

Draft picks: Taurean Prince (12), DeAndre’ Bembry (21), Isaia Cordinier (44)

Net WAR: -10.53

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: C-

The Hawks are running in place. Adding Dwight Howard should keep them in the push for home-court advantage in the playoffs, but they didn’t make up any ground on Cleveland. If anything, they lost ground — which isn’t a good look when LeBron James already has you 100 percent figured out.

Players in: Al Horford

Players out: Evan Turner, Jared Sullinger

Draft picks: Jaylen Brown (3), Guerschon Yabusele (16), Ante Zizic (23), Demetrius Jackson (45), Ben Bentil (51), Abdel Nader (58)

Net WAR: 8.91

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: A

The Celtics landed a top-flight free agent but didn’t do much else. That’s fine. The loss of Turner could hurt, although Brown should surprise a lot of people, and this team is in a perfect position to add another max-contract player moving forward. 

Players in: Trevor Booker, Jeremy Lin

Players out: Wayne Elllington, Thaddeus Young (trade), Jarrett Jack

Draft picks: Caris LeVert (20), Isaiah Whitehead (42)

Net WAR: 1.64

Other notable changes: Hired new general manager Sean Marks

Grade: C

The Nets were in line for a "B" before the Blazers and Heat matched offer sheets to Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson, respectively. Adding Lin and Booker is still a good indication of how much better Brooklyn will be under GM Marks, who made solid moves throughout the offseason.

Players in: Marco Belinelli, Roy Hibbert, Brian Roberts, Ramon Sessions

Players out: Al Jefferson, Courtney Lee, Jeremy Lin

Draft picks: N/A

Net WAR: -5.13

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: B

Charlotte needed to re-sign Nicolas Batum, and the Hornets did that pretty quickly. Managing to keep Marvin Williams as well is icing on the cake for Michael Jordan’s squad. Losing Jeremy Lin hurts, though.

Players in: Jerian Grant, Robin Lopez, Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade

Players out: Cameron Bairstow, Mike Dunleavy (trade), Pau Gasol, Justin Holiday, Joakim Noah, E’Twaun Moore, Derrick Rose (trade)

Draft picks: Denzel Valentine (14), Paul Zipser (48)

Net WAR: 3.24

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: D

The Bulls were looking to get "younger" and "more athletic" this offseason. Rajon Rondo fits Fred Hoiberg’s pace-and-space system, and Robin Lopez is a marginal schematic upgrade from Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah, but Dwyane Wade, he of 7 made 3-pointers, 34 years old, and a new $47 million contract, makes little sense for the short or long term. 

Players in: Chris Andersen, Mike Dunleavy

Players out: Matthew Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov

Draft picks: Kay Felder (54)

Net WAR: -0.54

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: C

The Cavs refused to pay big money to point guard Matthew Dellavedova and center Timofey Mozgov. Those decisions are justified, but the Cavs didn’t replace the backup point guard with a viable NBA-proven player. You could argue it doesn’t matter as long as you have LeBron — until you look at the Warriors’ roster. James will need help next season.

Players in: Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Seth Curry

Players out: Jeremy Evans (trade), JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Chandler Parsons

Draft picks: A.J. Hammons (46)

Net WAR: 0.0

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: C

A lot of moves, but ultimately a wash in net WAR. The Mavs are betting big on Harrison Barnes to reach his potential in Dallas. For Dirk’s sake, we hope they cash in on that wager.

Players in: N/A

Players out: D.J. Augustin

Draft picks: Jamal Murray (7), Juan Hernangomez (15), Malik Beasley (19), Petr Cornelie (53)

Net WAR: -0.27

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: B

The Nuggets drafted tremendously, but didn’t do much with their prolific cap space. But hey, at least Dwyane Wade said he enjoyed the meeting! That’s a big moment for Denver.

Players in: Cameron Bairstow, Jon Leuer, Boban Marjanovic, Ish Smith

Players out: Spencer Dinwiddie, Jodie Meeks, Anthony Tolliver

Draft picks: Henry Ellenson (18), Michael Gbinije (49)

Net WAR: 1.08

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: A-

The Pistons added backup big men and a top-flight backup point guard. Ellenson was a top-5 prospect heading into the final month of the draft, so landing him, as well, is a coup for Stan Van Gundy.  

Players in: Kevin Durant, Zaza Pachulia, David West

Players out: Leandro Barbosa, Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut (trade), Festus Ezeli, Marreese Speights, Brandon Rush

Draft picks: Damian Jones (30), Patrick McCaw (38)

Net WAR: 17.55

Other notable changes: Lost assistant coach Luke Walton; hired assistant coach Mike Brown

Grade: A

The Warriors added one of the best players in the NBA for the same price as Harrison Barnes. Pachulia for Bogut is something close to a straight swap. The Warriors did lose something on the bench, but as free agents, they were free to leave regardless of the Durant deal, which makes the Warriors an even more attractive option for minimum-value free agents. The truth is in the net WAR gains. 

Players in: Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Nene Hilario

Players out: Dwight Howard

Draft picks: Chinanu Onuaku (37), Zhou Qi (43)

Net WAR: -1.89

Other notable changes: Hired coach Mike D’Antoni

Grade: B

The Rockets were always going to lose Howard, but they added two free agents that fit the team’s new run-and-gun style. Anderson and Gordon will help the Rockets go for 150 points per game, which is their best chance to win given the lack of defense they’ve seemed to embrace. Nene has a chance to start on a super-value contract. 

Players in: Jeremy Evans (trade), Al Jefferson, Jeff Teague (trade), Thaddeus Young (trade)

Players out: George Hill (trade), Solomon Hill, Ian Mahinmi

Draft picks: Georges Niang (50)

Net WAR: -4.86

Other notable changes: Fired coach Frank Vogel; hired coach Nate McMillan

Grade: B+

The Pacers churned through a number of transactions this offseason, and they put together a pretty solid roster with that approach. Teague will need to prove he’s an All-Star outside of Atlanta for Indiana to take a step back toward title contention, however.

Players in: Marreese Speights

Players out: Cole Aldrich, Jeff Green

Draft picks: Brice Johnson (25), David Michineau (39), Diamond Stone (40)

Net WAR: -5.13

Other notable changes: Promoted Lawrence Frank to executive vice president of basketball operations

Grade: C-

Los Angeles was one of the also-rans that fancied itself a contender in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes. The Clippers lost on that bet, but bringing back Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers, Luc Mbah a Moute and Wesley Johnson at least gives this team some consistency moving forward. 

Players in: Jose Calderon, Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov

Players out: Kobe Bryant, Roy Hibbert

Draft picks: Brandon Ingram (2), Ivica Zubac (32)

Net WAR: 3.95

Other notable changes: Fired coach Byron Scott; hired coach Luke Walton

Grade: C-

The Mozgov deal will be derided for the next half decade. The Lakers not only set the free-agent market, they did it in the first hour of the window being open. Adding Deng is a strong move that will bring quality play and locker-room leadership. Ingram is the real gain. 

Players in: James Ennis, Chandler Parsons

Players out: Matt Barnes

Draft picks: Wade Baldwin (17), Deyonta Davis (31), Rade Zagorac (35), Wang Zhelin (57)

Net WAR: 2.43

Other notable changes: Fired coach Dave Joerger; hired coach David Fizdale

Grade: A

The Grizzlies needed to get more versatile, and they did just that by getting Parsons, perhaps the biggest free agent ever to sign in Memphis. He’s the 3-and-D wing the Grizzlies have needed for at least two years. 

Players in: Luke Babbitt, Wayne Ellington, James Johnson, Derrick Williams

Players out: Luol Deng, Joe Johnson, Dwyane Wade

Draft picks: N/A

Net WAR: -11.01

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: D

The Heat re-signed Hassan Whiteside, which was a positive, even on a max contract, but lost their three other top free agents and did little to replace them. 

Players in: Matthew Dellavedova, Mirza Teletovic

Players out: Jerryd Bayless, Joe Inglis, O.J. Mayo, Johnny O’Bryant

Draft picks: Thon Maker (10), Malcolm Brogdon (36)

Net WAR: 5.40

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: B-

Dellavedova and Teletovic are advanced-statistic darlings, and they both fit a style that suits the Bucks’ desire to play pace-and-space. Maker is a project from the draft, but he’s a talent worth the risk. 

Players in: Cole Aldrich, Brandon Rush

Players out: Greg Smith

Draft picks: Kris Dunn (5)

Net WAR: 4.59

Other notable changes: Hired coach Tom Thibodeau

Grade: A-

Aldrich and Rush provide veteran leadership and quality bench minutes for good value. Dunn was a rock-solid pickup that gives the Wolves a chance to be creative on the trade market with Ricky Rubio. 

Players in: Langston Galloway, Solomon Hill, E’Twaun Moore

Players out: Ryan Anderson, Luke Babbitt, James Ennis, Eric Gordon

Draft picks: Buddy Hield (6), Cheick Diallo (33)

Net WAR: 0.54

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: A-

The Pelicans added three solid bench players at great values. They didn’t address depth at center, but with Moore, Galloway and Hield, they’re younger, more athletic, and can hit more outside shots. 

Players in: Brandon Jennings, Justin Holliday, Courtney Lee, Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose (trade)

Players out: Arron Afflalo, Jose Calderon, Langston Galloway, Jerian Grant, Robin Lopez

Draft picks: N/A 

Net WAR: -5.94

Other notable changes: Hired coach Jeff Hornacek

Grade: C

Other possible grades for the Knicks: "?"; a series of squiggly lines that form a triangle if you stare hard enough; a crocodile; your favorite song by New York owner James Dolan’s band; an exasperated sigh — look, we’re saying that the Knicks got better on paper, but that their moves were also confusing. You get the picture.

Players in: Ersan Ilyasova (trade), Victor Oladipo (trade)

Players out: Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka (trade)

Draft picks: Domantas Sabonis (11), Daniel Hamilton (56)

Net WAR: -10.80

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: D

The trade of Serge Ibaka, who is on the last year of his contract, for Oladipo, Sabonis, and Ilyasova, is a positive move long-term, but it may have driven Durant from OKC.

Players in: D.J. Augustin, Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka (trade), Jodie Meeks

Players out: Dewayne Dedmon, Ersan Ilyasova (trade), Brandon Jennings, Shabazz Napier (trade), Andrew Nicholson, Victor Oladipo (trade), Jason Smith

Draft picks: Stephen Zimmerman (41)

Net WAR: 2.43

Other notable changes: Coach Scott Skiles resigned; hired coach Frank Vogel

Grade: D

What was the plan here? The Magic look conflicted, adding Biyombo, despite having a starting center, Ibaka, despite him being on the last year of his contract, and Meeks, despite his injury history. 

Players in: Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson

Players out: Ish Smith

Draft picks: Ben Simmons (1), Timothe Luwawu (24), Furkan Korkmaz (26)

Net WAR: -0.27

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: B+

Hard to fault the Sixers’ adding of Bayless and Henderson, though they had the cash to put in some major RFA offers. Simmons was a no-brainer decision, but he looks like the real deal early into his career.  

Players in: Leandro Barbosa, Jared Dudley

Players out: Jon Leuer, Mirza Teletovic

Draft picks: Dragan Bender (4), Marquese Chriss (8), Tyler Ulis (34)

Net WAR: 1.62

Other notable changes: Retained Earl Watson as full-time head coach

Grade: B

It’s hard to envision a better offseason for the Suns. Adding two lottery picks with upside gives Phoenix hope for the future; meanwhile, the Suns reached back to their past to bring home veterans Barbosa and Dudley, who will serve as great mentors for the young players.

Players in: Festus Ezeli, Shabazz Napier (trade), Evan Turner

Players out: Cliff Alexander, Gerald Henderson, Brian Roberts

Draft picks: Jake Layman (47)

Net WAR: 4.86

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: C

The Blazers had a ton of money to spend and didn’t exactly make a splash with it. Turner is a good player, but probably not worth $70 million. Ezeli comes in at value though. 

Players in: Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes, Garrett Temple, Anthony Tolliver

Players out: Marco Belinelli, Caron Butler, Seth Curry, Duje Dukan, Rajon Rondo

Draft picks: Georgios Papagiannis (13), Malachi Richardson (22), Skal Labissiere (28), Isaiah Cousins (59)

Net WAR: 3.24

Other notable changes: Hired coach Dave Joerger

Grade: F

What? Can anyone explain what the Kings did this offseason, other than hiring Joerger? Seriously, anyone?

Players in: Dewayne Dedmon, Pau Gasol

Players out: Tim Duncan (retirement), Boris Diaw (trade), Boban Marjanovic, David West

Draft picks: Dejounte Murray (29)

Net WAR: -0.27

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: C-

Gasol is a 1-for-1 swap for Tim Duncan. The Spurs didn’t do anything to improve their chances against the Warriors, making this offseason a waste. 

Players in: N/A

Players out: Bismack Biyombo, James Johnson

Draft picks: Jakob Poeltl (9), Pascal Siakam (27)

Net WAR: -2.43

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: C+

Treading water in an Eastern Conference where treading is acceptable, the Raptors kept DeMar DeRozan and replaced Biyombo with Poeltl. Toronto didn’t do much to help take on the Cavs, though.  

Players in: Boris Diaw (trade), Joe Johnson, George Hill (trade)

Players out: Trevor Booker, Trey Burke (trade)

Draft picks: Joel Bolomboy (52), Marcus Paige (55), Ty Wallace (60)

Net WAR: 6.21

Other notable changes: N/A

Grade: A

The Jazz won the offseason in many ways. Hill is a dramatic upgrade at point guard, while Johnson is the second deadeye shooter the team needed to land. Diaw is a solid upgrade off the bench. 

Players in: Trey Burke (trade), Ian Mahinmi, Andrew Nicholson, Jason Smith

Players out: Jared Dudley, Nene Hilario, Garrett Temple, Ramon Sessions

Draft picks: N/A

Net WAR: -1.89

Other notable changes: Fired coach Randy Wittman; hired coach Scott Brooks

Grade: B+

The Wizards went all-in on Kevin Durant, struck out, and then made some strong depth moves to improve their playoff chances in 2016-17. Burke and Nicholson were value pickups, and Mahinmi gives the Wiz flexibility in the front court.