Al-Farouq Aminu
2015 NBA offseason grades
Al-Farouq Aminu

2015 NBA offseason grades

Published Jul. 16, 2015 8:30 a.m. ET

Our staff of NBA correspondents — D.J. Foster, Fred Katz, Andrew Lynch, Michael Pina, Jordan White and John Wilmes —” reviews each team's offseason.

Players added: Tiago Splitter (from SAS), Tim Hardaway Jr. (from NYK), Justin Holiday, Walter Tavares

Players lost: DeMarre Carroll, Pero Antic, Austin Daye


Offseason review: Although coach Mike Budenholzer has been hesitant to label it as such, the offseason came down to Millsap versus Carroll — and Atlanta picked the big man. The addition of Splitter creates a bit of a logjam in the frontcourt, and Carroll's departure puts a lot of pressure on Thabo Sefolosha to be healthy and provide the defense and 3-point shooting that Carroll brought in 2014-15.

2015-16 season outlook: The Hawks won't sneak up on anyone next season, and with the Miami Heat better and Carroll in Toronto, Atlanta's probably not going to be as goodas it was in 2014-15. The ceiling on the season is contention for the Eastern Conference crown, but an NBA Finals win would be borderline miraculous — and a second-round exit seems likely.

— Andrew Lynch

Players added: David Lee (from GSW), Amir Johnson, Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, Jordan Mickey, Perry Jones III (from OKC)

Players lost: Brandon Bass, Gerald Wallace

Offseason review: Armed with cap space for the first time in 20 years, the Celtics fell on their face chasing stars this summer. That burns. On draft night, they reportedly threw six first-round picks on the table to try to pry the No. 9 pick from the Hornets. With it they would've selected Justise Winslow, the type of franchise centerpiece they've been chasing for two years. That also stinks. But GM Danny Ainge countered with sensible decisions that made his team better in the short term without harming its financial flexibility moving forward.

2015-16 season outlook: Coming off a surprising playoff run last season, the Celtics kept most of their core together (most notably Jae Crowder and Jonas Jerebko), added Johnson, Mickey and Lee to their frontcourt and Hunter and Rozier to their backcourt. The Eastern Conference improved but remains wide open, for the most part, behind the Cleveland Cavaliers. Boston may not have a star, but it'll still fight for one of the playoff spots that don't come with home-court advantage.

— Michael Pina

Players added: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris McCullough, Andrea Bargnani, Wayne Ellington, Quincy Miller, Shane Larkin, Thomas Robinson, Ryan Boatright 

Players lost: Mason Plumlee, Alan Anderson, Deron Williams, Jerome Jordan, Mirza Teletovic, Darius Morris, Cory Jefferson

Offseason review: The Nets are in a sticky spot. Without any financial flexibility and possibly without any of their own draft picks looking into the near future, their priority became shedding money. They bought out Williams, which sent them under the luxury tax for the first time in years. They'll still compete in the weak East because they brought back Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez, but because of their offseason strategy, they could be in for a worse year than the one they had in 2014-15.

2014-15 season outlook: This all depends on the health of Lopez, who has had foot issues in the past. If he can play anywhere close to 82 games at the level he finished last year, Brooklyn has a shot to get into the playoffs again. If he gets hurt, as he's done during two of the past four seasons, then the Nets don't really have anywhere else to turn and could plummet to the bottom of the conference.

— Fred Katz

Players added: Nicolas Batum (from POR), Frank Kaminsky, Jeremy Lin, Spencer Hawes (from LAC), Jeremy Lamb (from OKC)

Players lost: Gerald Henderson, Noah Vonleh, Mo Williams

Offseason review: The Hornets were a train wreck on offense last year, bereft of scoring far too often. They fixed that with the addition of Batum, who can also create for others and defend multiple positions. Sacrificing Vonleh and Henderson for one year of Batum (if he doesn't re-sign) is a risk, but one they needed to take. 

2015-16 season outlook: If everything breaks right for the Hornets — Al Jefferson returns to form, Kemba Walker stays healthy and Batum bounces back and plays the way he's capable of playing — the Hornets should have enough offense to complement their suffocating defense, leading them back into the playoffs as a bottom seed.

— Jordan White

Players added: Fred Hoiberg (coach), Bobby Portis

Players lost: Tom Thibodeau (coach)

Offseason review: Underwhelming. The Bulls' cap situation didn't afford them a lot of flexibility, so all they were able to do was re-sign Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy Jr.. They still should be among the best teams in the East, but they didn't do that extra thing they'll likely need to do if they want to tackle the Cavs.

2015-16 season outlook: Same Bulls, different season. New coach Fred Hoiberg may make some big changes, but his guidance can take his roster only as far as its health and talent will allow. With Cleveland still sitting pretty, the Bulls probably will remain relegated to runner-up status.

— John Wilmes

Players added: Mo Williams

Players lost: Shawn Marion

Offseason review: It's hard to argue with bringing the boys back when you made the Finals and your free agents include Kevin Love and LeBron James. The Cavs are running their same squad out these this fall, and surely the rest of the league will continue to envy their staggering level of talent.

2015-16 season outlook: Title contender. With health, there's every indication that they could be defending a crown next season. Instead, James did everything he could with a glut of role players after Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love missed the Finals, and now the goal in Cleveland should be keeping everyone healthy enough for a finish-line sprint.

— Wilmes

Players added: Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Zaza Pachulia (from MIL), Justin Anderson, Jeremy Evans

Players lost: Tyson Chandler, Monta Ellis, Rajon Rondo, Al-Farouq Aminu, Amar'e Stoudemire

Offseason review: Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Mavericks were in position to land a big fish in free agency but didn't land him. Of course, the DeAndre Jordan saga was much more complicated, but the end result was the same. Fortunately, the Mavericks recovered well by acquiring Zaza Pachulia and Deron Williams, and Wesley Matthews should produce if he fully recovers from injury. 

2015-16 season outlook: The Mavs added talent, but the injury concerns throughout the roster are very real. Can they hold up over 82 games? Rick Carlisle is a great coach, and Dirk Nowitzki still can get the job done, but this team still can't defend and likely will be destined to battle for the No. 8 seed.

— D.J. Foster

Players added: Michael Malone (coach), Emmanuel Mudiay, Nikola Jokic

Players lost: Melvin Hunt (coach)

Offseason review: A fairly ho-hum offseason for the Nuggets, save for the addition of Emmanuel Mudiay, their point guard of the future (and perhaps even present, given Ty Lawson's situation). This is troubling. Last season should have signaled the beginning of a rebuild, yet instead the Nuggets seem to think, for whatever reason, the exact same roster can compete for a playoff spot in the stacked Western Conference. 

— White

Players added: Stanley Johnson, Marcus Morris (from PHX), Ersan Ilyasova (from MIL), Aron Baynes, Steve Blake, Reggie Bullock (from PHX), Danny Granger (from PHX)

Players lost: Greg Monroe, Caron Butler, Quincy Miller, Shawne Williams

Offseason review: Stan Van Gundy is very confident in his ability to mold. That's why he drafted Stanley Johnson over Justise Winslow — ”he took the most explosively talented player available, over the more proven prospect. It's also why he signed Reggie Jackson to a big contract many thought was worth too much. We'll see if Van Gundy's confidence in his system pays off in Detroit.

2014-15 season outlook: The Pistons certainly can crack the playoffs at the bottom of the Eastern Conference bracket. They showed glimpses of competitive brilliance last year, but injuries and Van Gundy hitting the reset button too many times stole their momentum. This new squad should be .500 or better.

— Wilmes

Players added: Kevon Looney, Gerald Wallace (from BOS)

Players lost: David Lee, Justin Holiday

Offseason review: Why mess with success? The defending champs didn't do much this offseason, and they didn't need to. Retaining Draymond Green long-term was a win, and Kevon Looney has a lot of potential for being such a late pick. Moving Lee for a more manageable contract in Wallace was also wise.

2015-16 season outlook: They are the title favorites, and for good reason. With a young core that's going to improve and a lack of decline elsewhere, the Warriors and their elite combination of three-point shooting and defense are poised to defend the title. A Spurs-Warriors showdown in the Western Conference finals feels imminent. 

— Foster

Players added: Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Marcus Thornton, Christian Wood

Players lost: Josh Smith

Offseason review: GM Daryl Morey wasn't able to add a third star to complement James Harden and Dwight Howard, but it's not anywhere near the end of the world. It may not even be necessary. Instead, Houston stayed above the cap and wisely brought back key pieces from last year's squad, including Patrick Beverley and Corey Brewer. As of this writing, they still have access to their mid-level exception, too.

2015-16 season outlook: When healthy, the Rockets are as good as any team in the entire league. Last year, they admirably competed in the conference finals before falling in five games to the Warriors, all without their starting point guard and power forward. Those two (Beverley and Donatas Motiejunas) enter next season at full strength, giving Houston the depth it needs to make an even stronger run through the playoffs. Thornton should provide a little spark off the bench, and Terrence Jones should have a more productive season as he heads into a contract year. The Rockets are in great shape.

— Pina

Players added: Monta Ellis, Myles Turner, Chase Budinger (from MIN), Jordan Hill, Joseph Young

Players lost: Roy Hibbert, David West, C.J. Watson, Luis Scola, Damjan Rudez

Offseason review: It was a rapid descent from consecutive Eastern Conference finals appearances to the lottery for the Pacers, and this offseason was a time to reset and move past the Roy Hibbert era. He's off to the Los Angeles Lakers, and this is Paul George's team now. Indiana wants him to play power forward, and Monta Ellis will help pick up the pace. With just a couple moves, Indiana remade its team.

2015-16 season outlook: A healthy George could help the Pacers to a better record than last year's team, but rim protection will be a question for Indiana with Hibbert gone. Once again, this team will be on the outside looking in for the Eastern playoff race, with a lottery berth as likely as sneaking into the No. 7 or No. 8 seed.

— Lynch

Players added: Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson (from CHA), Wesley Johnson, Cole Aldrich, Branden Dawson, Josh Smith

Players lost: Matt Barnes, Spencer Hawes

Offseason review: Is there any way to sum up the offseason that was the Clippers' without mentioning emojis, banana boats or fake hostage situations? If Jordan had left, this would've been an epic failure. But with him back, the Clippers retain arguably the league's best starting lineup from 2014-15 (minus Barnes) and add Pierce, Smith, Stephenson and Johnson to the mix. If the Stephenson trade works out and Pierce and Smith both perform as they did in the playoffs, things could get even sweeter.

2014-15 season outlook: The Clippers won 56 games a year ago and were one win away from making it to the Western Conference finals. With a deeper roster and better bench, you'd have to imagine they could be even better next year. Consider them a top-five contender along with the Spurs, Warriors, Thunder and Cavaliers.

— Katz

Players added: D'Angelo Russell, Roy Hibbert (from IND), Lou Williams, Brandon Bass, Larry Nance Jr., Anthony Brown, Robert Upshaw

Players lost: Jordan Hill, Ed Davis, Jeremy Lin, Wesley Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Ronnie Price

Offseason review: The draft was the thing for the Lakers, and they got the player they wanted in Russell. But when free agency rolled around, Los Angeles missed out on all of the big names, including an attempt to trade for DeMarcus Cousins. Despite that failure, the Lakers had a solid offseason by adding Hibbert as a one-year rental in the middle and Williams as scoring punch off the bench.

2015-16 season outlook: There will be talent on the floor for Los Angeles next season, but the system isn't there, and the Western Conference remains daunting. The only real question for the Lakers will be where they end up falling in the lottery, with next year's draft pick owed to the Philadelphia 76ers with a top-three protection.

— Lynch

Players added: Brandan Wright (from PHX), Matt Barnes, Jarell Martin

Players lost: Kosta Koufos, Jon Leuer

Offseason review: The Grizzlies stayed the Grizzlies. By replacing the outgoing Kostas Koufos with Brandan Wright, they remained deep in the front court, and they doubled down on their well-known grit by bringing in Matt Barnes. They didn't get the extra dose of shooting they needed, but they treaded water, at the very least.

2015-16 season outlook: Memphis was looked at as a title contender last year. After not picking up more offensive firepower, most experts won't see it that way this fall. They'll still be one of the playoffs' toughest outs, but the Grizzlies still have another move left to propel themselves into the championship conversation.

— Wilmes

Players added: Justise Winslow, Amar'e Stoudemire, Gerald Green, Josh Richardson

Players lost: TBD

Offseason review: While it wasn't all in Miami's control, the Heat hardly could have had a better offseason. Pat Riley checked all the boxes in Miami's shopping list, bringing back Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Goran Dragic, and adding a big man off the bench in Stoudemire and a potential scorer in Green. And Winslow falling to Miami in the draft was a perfect fit — not to mention great value.

2015-16 season outlook: You can forgive the Heat for being bullish on their title prospects. On paper, this team is stocked at all five positions and has talent in reserve, too. If everything goes right for Miami in 2015-16, a spot in the NBA Finals isn't out of the question.

— Lynch

Players added: Greg Monroe, Rashad Vaughn, Greivis Vasquez

Players lost: Jared Dudley, Ersan Ilyasvoa, Zaza Pachulia

Offseason review: The Bucks shocked the world by landing Greg Monroe, who will add an offensive post threat to a team that needed to find ways to score. With Khris Middleton locked in as well, the Bucks once again will have a talented young team for Jason Kidd to continue to mold. 

2015-16 season outlook: Spacing and three-point shooting will be a pretty big issue once again, but the Bucks should be a playoff team thanks to their defense. If someone makes the leap, like Giannis Antetokounmpo, it's not all that hard to see the Bucks advancing past the first round for the first time in a long time. That's probably the ceiling, though, unless the Bucks find more shooting in the starting lineup. 

— Foster

Players added: Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Nemanja Bjelica, Damjan Rudez

Players lost: Chase Budinger, Gary Neal

Offseason review: Winning the lottery is always a great way to kick off your summer, and it's especially wonderful when the top pick is a near lock to alter your franchise. The Timberwolves took Towns, then traded back into the bottom half of the first-round to grab Duke's Jones — the Most Outstanding Player at last year's Final Four.

2015-16 season outlook: If everything (ev-er-ee-thing) goes right, the Timberwolves can Cinderella storm the Western Conference and punch their way toward the No. 8 seed. But in reality this team is still rebuilding, and their best players are too young to lead. No young core is brighter, though. Andrew Wiggins, Towns, and Ricky Rubio are complemented by crafty veterans like Kevin Martin and Kevin Garnett. This team could be the league's very best in a few years, but they aren't ready to contend just yet.

— Pina

Players added: Alvin Gentry (coach), Alonzo Gee

Players lost: Monty Williams (coach)

Offseason review: The Pelicans had two priorities this summer: Find a coach who can help Anthony Davis on his quest for a title, and offering Davis a max extension. Mission accomplished on both fronts for New Orleans. Beyond that, the Pelicans chose continuity, bringing back the team's own free agents instead of shopping around the league.

2015-16 season outlook: New Orleans better hope that continuity leads to improvement across the board, because this team is essentially the same as it was last season. But Gentry should be a significant improvement on Monty Williams, leading the Pelicans from the pressure of vying for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference to a comfortable five- or six-seed.

— Lynch

Players added: Kristaps Porzingis, Arron Afflalo, Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, Kyle O'Quinn (from ORL), Derrick Williams

Players lost: Tim Hardaway, Jr., Shane Larkin, Cole Aldrich, Jason Smith, Andrea Bargnani

Offseason review: Wait, what is this? The Knicks are acting like an intelligent, calculating organization? Actually? No way. This can't be. New York gave out reasonable contracts to Lopez and Afflalo. It stole O'Quinn, who will become one of the best bargains of this offseason if and when he starts shooting threes consistently. It took a risk on Porzingis, who has looked good in summer league. And it pulled off a heist with the Hardaway-for-Grant draft-night trade. You go, Phil.

2014-15 season outlook: The Knicks aren't going to be good, but they're building a foundation. Big-name free agents didn't want to go to New York this offseason because of the lack of role players on the roster. Come 2016, when the Knicks will have max space, that won't be the case. A win total in the low-to-mid 30s is probably the best case scenario, but that's a heck of an improvement on 17 victories.

— Katz

Players added: Billy Donovan (coach), Cameron Payne

Players lost: Scott Brooks (coach), Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones III

Offseason review: The Thunder mostly kept the team intact, adding only rookie Cameron Payne to bolster their backcourt depth. Re-signing Enes Kanter was puzzling, seeing as how he won't get all the touches he did when the Thunder were at less-than-full health, not to mention the fact that he's an atrocious defender. 

2015-16 season outlook: The Thunder, back at full strength, should reclaim their rightful spot as one of the elite teams in the NBA and contend for the title. 

— White

Players added: Scott Skiles (coach), Mario Hezonja, Jason Smith, C.J. Watson, Tyler Harvey

Players lost: James Borrego (coach), Kyle O'Quinn, Maurice Harkless, Luke Ridnour, Ben Gordon

Offseason review: The biggest acquisition for a young Magic team actually came on the sidelines. Orlando coasted through last season with Jacque Vaughn, who struggled on the bench, at the start and James Borrego for the end. Skiles brings a new, more intense mentality to the Magic. A team with the defenders of this one along with Skiles, one of the NBA's smarter defensive minds, could end up better than people expect.

2014-15 season outlook: How much better? Why couldn't the Magic be a surprise playoff team in the weak East, where it seems like the Nos. 7 through 13 seeds could be separated by only a few games? With the way Aaron Gordon looked in summer league (yes, I know it's summer league), it feels like Orlando is getting ready to take a next step. The Magic hardly will be dominant — they still have a backward roster that lacks shooting on the wings — €”but 38 to 40 wins would be a major improvement on the past few years and could be good enough to sneak into the postseason.

— Katz

Players added: Jahlil Okafor, Nik Stauskas (from SAC), Carl Landry (from SAC), Jason Thompson (from SAC), J.P. Tokoto, Richaun Holmes

Players lost: Luc Mbah a Moute, Thomas Robinson

Offseason review: Well, Philadelphia's offseason had good, great and downright terrible moments. First, they drafted Okafor as their potential franchise center. Then they humbled Sacramento by orchestrating one of the most lopsided trades in recent NBA history. Relatively speaking, things looked great for a team not interested in, you know, signing free agents or winning basketball games. Then it was announced that Joel Embiid (a crucial puzzle piece) will miss the entire 2015-16 season thanks to yet another surgery. That's a tough pill to swallow.

2015-16 season outlook: The Sixers once again will be one of the worst teams in the league. They sat out free agency, instead using their cap space as a dumping ground to take unwanted contracts from other teams. For their trouble, Philly picked up Stauskas, a top-10 protected first-round pick and draft swap rights down the line, but none of those assets will help them win games next season.

Players added: Tyson Chandler, Devin Booker, Mirza Teletovic, Sonny Weems, Ronnie Price

Players lost: Marcus Morris, Gerald Green, Brandan Wright, Danny Granger, Reggie Bullock, Marcus Thornton

Offseason review: The Suns came out of nowhere to nearly sign LaMarcus Aldridge, and even though they missed out, their addition of Chandler still makes them a winner for the offseason. He'll add the rim protection they've needed. 

2015-16 season outlook: The West is as stacked as ever, but don't be surprised if the Suns sneak into the playoffs as a bottom-two seed now that the Blazers and Mavericks likely will fall out of the playoff picture. 

— White

Players added: Noah Vonleh (from CHA), Mason Plumlee (from BKN), Ed Davis, Al-Farouq Aminu, Gerald Henderson (from CHA), Maurice Harkless (from ORL), Pat Connaughton

Players lost: LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, Nicolas Batum, Arron Afflalo, Steve Blake, Alonzo Gee, Joel Freeland

Offseason review: The Blazers went through a complete offseason overhaul after losing Aldridge in free agency, and it was the right move to tear it down and get high-upside free agents on reasonable deals before the cap jumps. While the Blazers undoubtedly downgraded, there's a youth movement clearly in place with Damian Lillard leading the way. 

2015-16 season outlook: In a tough Western Conference, the Blazers appear destined to head to the lottery next season given their youth and lack of cohesion. This isn't a full-blown tank job by any means, but it's pretty hard to imagine the Blazers being an above-average team on either side of the ball next year. 

— Foster

Players added: Willie Cauley-Stein, Rajon Rondo, Kosta Koufos, Marco Belinelli

Players lost: Ray McCallum, Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, Derrick Williams

Offseason review: The Kings cleared cap space thinking they could bring in some big names with it. Unfortunately, the draft picks they gave up to create that room weren't worth it. Sacramento saw Andrea Bargnani, Monta Ellis, Wesley Matthews, Corey Brewer, Tobias Harris and Patrick Beverley all reportedly turn down offers from the Kings to take less money from other teams. 

2014-15 season outlook: The Kings probably will be better than they were last year, but it would be an upset to see them in the postseason. Bringing in floor-scrunchers to surround DeMarcus Cousins, who needs space to operate in the middle of the floor, isn't the way to go when you have the best post scorer in the league, and the tension between him and coach George Karl is an awkward way to start the year.

— Katz

Players added: LaMarcus Aldridge, David West, Ray McCallum (from SAC), Boban Marjanovic, Jonathan Simmons

Players lost: Tiago Splitter, Marco Belinelli, Cory Joseph, Aron Baynes

Offseason review: Arguably the most impressive offseason in the league, San Antonio maintained the integral pieces of their core (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and, most impressively, Danny Green), added Aldridge — €”one of the best power forwards in the NBA — and convinced West to take an $11 million pay cut. Not too shabby.

2015-16 season outlook: Is San Antonio the best team in basketball? That's more than a fair question worth asking after all they accomplished this summer. Aldridge is a monster. West adds fantastic frontcourt depth and the sort of toughness the Spurs could use. Leonard is only getting better, Duncan is Duncan and, oh yeah, they still have Tony Parker running the show (talk of the French point guard's demise may be a bit premature). This team will be an absolute monster on both sides of the ball next season. Something very strange will have happened if they don't at least make it to the Western Conference finals.

— Pina

Players added: DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph, Luis Scola, Delon Wright

Players lost: Amir Johnson, Greivis Vasquez, Lou Williams

Offseason review: A strong offseason for the Raptors saw them add one of the most versatile wings in the NBA (Carroll) and a back-up point guard (Joseph) who fits their scheme better than Williams or Vasquez ever did (and, as a plus, is a native of Toronto). The Raptors wanted to rediscover their gritty identity, and both of those players will help. 

2015-16 season outlook: Expect the Raptors to once again contend for the Atlantic Division crown and homecourt advantage in the East.

— White

Players added: Trey Lyles, Tibor Pleiss, Raul Neto

Players lost: Jeremy Evans

Offseason review: The Jazz deserve credit for a job unnoticed. They looked at a so-so batch of mid-career talent on the market, the rising cap, and their own budding young nucleus and decided that standing still for a minute was their very best option. It was. Their internal improvement was massive last season, and it projects to be even greater in 2015-16.

2015-16 season outlook: The Jazz are beyond their rebuilding phase and are looking to crack the playoffs in the daunting Western Conference. They should be right in the thick of the conference's lower seeds, as they had the league's best defense after last year's All-Star break. Rudy Gobert will soon be a star, and Utah will be a real threat.

— Wilmes

Players added: Kelly Oubre Jr., Jared Dudley (from MIL), Alan Anderson, Gary Neal, Aaron White

Players lost: Paul Pierce

Offseason review: The Wizards will miss Pierce's scoring, but Otto Porter Jr. appears ready to fulfill a bigger role and the Wizards did well to add three-point shooters at multiple spots in free agency. Ultimately, the moves are probably a wash, especially with Pierce likely declining a bit. 

2015-16 season outlook: Don't discount the continued improvement of John Wall and Bradley Beal. So long as the stars stay healthy, it's easy to see the Wizards in the 45-to-50-win range once again with a good chance at earning homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Still, a lot would need to break their way for the Wizards to overcome the Cavs out East. 

— Foster


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