Western Conference offseason report card

Western Conference offseason report card

Published Jul. 26, 2012 3:28 a.m. ET

During the NBA lockout, deputy commissioner Adam Silver stressed that well-managed teams, regardless of market size and tradition, would have a chance to compete.

Seems like nearly everyone in the Western Conference got the message – as almost all 15 teams have already made a savvy offseason move or two.

Here's a team-by-team glance:

Lakers: Trading for Steve Nash was quite a coup, especially when you consider the Lakers were screaming for an All-Star-caliber point guard who plays selflessly and can score when needed. Nash is all those things and more. On the down side (if you can really call it that), they've been unable to land Dwight Howard … yet. But they did obtain Antawn Jamison, who adds instant offense to a team that's already stacked. Hard to complain when you'll be competing for a title again. Grade: A+

Hornets: Winning the NBA Draft lottery for the rights to Anthony Davis automatically gives you high marks. And really, the Hornets didn't have to do anything but sit back and get lucky. But they deserve credit for matching Phoenix's offer for Eric Gordon, as well as swiping Austin Rivers out of Duke with the No. 10 overall pick. Dealing for the NBA's reigning Most Improved Player, Ryan Anderson, only adds to the buzz. Also, energy man Robin Lopez, obtained from Phoenix, should offer underrated help in reserve. Grade: A

Clippers: For starters, the Clippers brought Lamar Odom back to L.A., meaning he might actually play with some urgency again. If he does, Odom, along with Jamal Crawford and the ageless Grant Hill, will mean very good things for the bench – which lost Mo Williams, Nick Young and Reggie Evans (as well as sometimes-starter Randy Foye). Throw in the recovered Chauncey Billups, and it's hard to envision this team being anything but improved. And that's the goal, isn't it? Grade: A-

Suns: We all knew that at some point, the Suns would have to move on from ancient mainstays Steve Nash and Grant Hill. That time has arrived – but rather than rest on their laurels (or assets they obtained in the Nash trade), the Suns aimed to remain relevant. And after obtaining Michael Beasley, Goran Dragic and Luis Scola, and drafting Kendall Marshall, they could be even better. Who woulda thunk it? Grade: B+

Mavericks: Just when it seemed like the window was closing on the 2011 champs, the Mavs went out and made themselves a real threat again. Losing Jason Kidd (to New York) and especially Jason Terry (to Boston) hurts, but things no longer seem so dire. Along with adding the always-professional and still-talented Elton Brand, the Mavs nabbed underrated additions O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison to improve the backcourt. Oh, and let's not forget center Chris Kaman – on a one-year deal. Not often can a team lose an asset like Terry and say it's as least as good. Grade: B+

Warriors: Some people had Harrison Barnes as the potential second or third overall pick in the draft, and his strong play in summer league showed why. The fact the Warriors got him No. 7 is an “A” in itself. On top of that, they landed a starting-caliber point guard in Jarret Jack as a backup to Stephen Curry. Nothing fancy, but pretty doggone effective. Grade: B+

Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard was so good in summer league, one opposing scout was left uttering the name of Isiah Thomas. It's only summer league, but hey, it sure beats having a guy looking like a bust. The Blazers also retained Nicolas Batum, signed to a huge offer sheet by Minnesota, and drafted Meyers Leonard, a big man in the Joel Przybilla mold (only younger and healthier). It's not the stuff from which championships are born, but it's reason to think the playoffs are realistic. Grade: B

Spurs: Finished with the best regular-season record in the West as an aging squad that plays together. So re-signing Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw and young gun Danny Green were the best moves the Spurs could make. Meanwhile, the lone additions were French combo guard Nando De Colo and (maybe) former Missouri guard Marcus Denmon, whom the Spurs selected with the second-to-last pick in the entire draft. Basically, it's been just another summer in the life of a small-market contender. Grade: B

Nuggets: There's a lot to be said for keeping your team together, staying the course and improving from within. The Nuggets may not be much better this season with the re-signings of JaVale McGee and Andre Miller, but they shouldn't be worse, either. And they deserve a thumbs up for late first-round pick Evan Fournier and early-second rounder Quincy Miller. Grade: B

Timberwolves: There's been a whole lotta shakin' going on, with the Timberwolves suddenly becoming a franchise that's drawing interest from B-level free agents. The result was gambling on Brandon Roy's scrambled eggs for knees, and unproven Eurpoean prospect Alexey Shved. Along with those moves, new acquisition Chase Budinger should help ease the loss of Michael Beasley, who was really never a good fit. In other words, it's safe to say the Wolves remain up-and-comers. Grade: B-

Jazz: Lost Devin Harris, Josh Howard and possibly C.J. Miles (an unrestricted free agent). Added Mo Williams, Marvin Williams and Randy Foye. In summary, the Jazz's low-profile gains may exceed their low-profile losses. That's a start, but certainly not reason for anything more than a low-profile celebration. Grade: C

Rockets: This, folks, is what you call reconstructive surgery. Gone are Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry, Samuel Dalembert and Chase Budinger. In are Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik (via free agency) and first-round draft picks Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Jones and Royce White. Basically, the Rockets seem to given themselves hope for the future – but probably not for the upcoming season. Grade: C

Thunder: A lower-level move or two may await, but even if not, the conference champs still deserve some credit. After all, they were fortunate enough to draft a potential top-10 rookie in Perry Jones late in the first round. He's seen as somewhat as a risk, simply because of his laid-back approach. Of course, the Thunder are banking on the idea that guys such as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will change that. If they're right, it'll be a home run. Too early to know for sure, though. Grade: C

Grizzlies: Lost O.J. Mayo (to Dallas) and picked up Jerryd Bayless. In other words, the Grizzlies surrendered a scoring threat off the bench for a backup point guard. It could be worse. And it could be better – provided first-round draft pick Tony Wroten is able to make an immediate contribution. But at best, the Grizzlies stay the same. Grade: C-

Kings: Quietly signed Aaron Brooks, adding a point man to a guard-heavy roster. Makes you wonder what their plans are for Jimmer Fredette, or even Isaiah Thomas. Other than that, all the Kings did was watch Thomas Robinson fall into their laps with the fifth overall draft pick. Are they any better? Maybe. But maybes don't really get you anywhere in this league. Grade: D

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