- The NBA offseason, including the draft and free agency, was compressed into about two weeks.
- With training camps and the regular season on the way and the big moves mostly finished, we broke down the winners and losers of the offseason.
- Our winners include improved teams like the Lakers, Suns, and Blazers, while we labelled big free-agency spenders like the Pistons and Hawks losers.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
After a flurry of activity, the NBA offseason is essentially over, and training camps are on the way.
The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported that one agent described this shortened offseason as three months crammed into 10 days.
With the draft and free agency in the rearview, and the regular season tipping off in less than a month, here is our look at the biggest winners and losers of the NBA offseason.
WINNER: Phoenix Suns
Big additions: Chris Paul, Jae Crowder, Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore
Big departures: Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Aron Baynes
Why they’re winners: The Suns surprised the NBA world by going 8-0 in the bubble and just missing the playoffs. A team that was already expected to make a leap added solid veterans to their rotation and now looks like a sure-fire playoff squad. There may be some growing pains incorporating Paul next to Devin Booker, but the addition should especially benefit Deandre Ayton.
LOSER: Detroit Pistons
Big additions: Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Jahlil Okafor, Delon Wright, Zhaire Smith, Josh Jackson, Killian Hayes (rookie), Saddiq Bey (rookie)
Big departures: Christian Wood, Luke Kennard
Why they’re losers: The Pistons’ roster shake-up left many shaking their heads. They are paying 3-and-D forward Jerami Grant (3 years, $US60 million) like a borderline star. They let breakout centre Christian Wood leave in a sign-and-trade, then immediately signed two lesser centres in Mason Plumlee and Jahlil Okafor when free agency opened. They traded their best three-point shooter in Luke Kennard in a multiplayer, three-team trade and didn’t get the best player involved (Landry Shamet) in return. The Pistons did acquire several wings who could be useful rotation players, and experts liked their draft, but it is going to be a long time before the Pistons’ future takes shape.
WINNER: Los Angeles Lakers
Big additions: Dennis Schroeder, Montrezl Harrell, Marc Gasol, Wesley Matthews
Big departures: Danny Green, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, JaVale McGee, Avery Bradley
Why they’re winners: The Lakers made big talent upgrades while re-signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Markieff Morris. They’re still waiting for a commitment from Anthony Davis (though it is reportedly a matter of when not if). Will all of these new pieces fit as snugly as last year’s roster? It’s possible that they don’t, but the reigning champions got younger (important in a shortened offseason) and better on paper with limited resources.
LOSER: Atlanta Hawks
Biggest additions: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo, Kris Dunn, Onyeka Okungwu (rookie)
Biggest departures: none
Why they’re losers: The Hawks committed $US158 million to Bogdanovic, Gallinari, Rondo, and Dunn in a clear push for a playoff spot. They will be better than last season, but to what end?
There are reasonable concerns about the fits. Gallinari played 98% of his minutes at power forward last season but will be shoe-horned into small forward next to John Collins and Clint Capela (is a Collins trade on the horizon?). Dunn is an excellent defender but can’t spread the floor for Trae Young. Rondo brings veteran savvy and playmaking but hasn’t been an effective regular-season player in years. The veterans will block playing time for young players like Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter, last year’s lottery picks. It’s important to try to win, but will the Hawks be more than a 6th seed?
WINNER: Portland Trail Blazers
Big additions: Robert Covington Jr., Derrick Jones Jr., Enes Kanter, Harry Giles
Big departures: Trevor Ariza, Hassan Whiteside
Why they’re winners: The Blazers finally have some wing depth to surround Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Covington Jr. is a perfect 3-and-D fit, while Jones is a hyper-athletic slasher. The Blazers also re-signed Carmelo Anthony, a key pickup last season, and Rodney Hood, another promising wing addition if he is healthy. Giles hasn’t been very good but is a low-cost talent play at an athletic former lottery pick. If the Blazers’ front-court of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins can stay healthy, they look like a top-four seed in the West.
LOSER: Toronto Raptors frontcourt
Why they’re losers: The Raptors lost 40% of their starting lineup with Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol both leaving for LA in free agency. The Raptors signed Aron Baynes and Alex Len in their places, but Toronto will miss Ibaka and Gasol’s institutional knowledge of their system. The Raptors were one of the most cohesive teams in the NBA last year; players simply knew where to be on both ends. The Raptors are preserving cap space for 2021, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them take a step back this season.
WINNER: Gordon Hayward
Why he’s a winner: Hayward opted out of his $US34 million player option with the Celtics and signed a four-year, $US120 million with the Charlotte Hornets. According to reports, he had other offers in the $US100 million range – the Hornets trumped those. Hayward has played well when healthy but will turn 31 in March and has played just 125 regular-season games over the past three seasons. He’ll be paid over $US30 million in 2023-24.
LOSER: Charlotte Hornets’ future payroll
Why they’re losers: Hayward is a nice addition to a young team that desperately needs to win some games. It’s an overpay now, but an understandable one. The problems will come in the second half of the deal when Hayward is making nearly $US30 million per year as the Hornets need to sign young players like Devonte Graham, Miles Bridges, P.J. Washington, and LaMelo Ball to new contracts. The Hornets will likely have to decide whether to move some of those young players or pay a team to take the remainder of Hayward’s contract. At the moment, it seems as if the Hornets will top out as a low playoff seed that could become wildly expensive in 2-3 years.
Why they’re winners: Davis Bertans got paid $US80 million. Joe Harris got paid $US75 million. Bogdan Bogdanovic got $US72 million. There’s never been a better time to be a shooter in the NBA.
LOSER: Hassan Whiteside
Why he’s a loser: Whiteside is perhaps the best free agent available. Unfortunately, for Whiteside, nearly all of the available cap space has dried up. The Athletic’s John Hollinger calculated Whiteside to be worth about $US17 million per year. Whiteside is likely to get a salary worth less than $US9 million, given the limited money available.
WINNER: Philadelphia 76ers
Biggest additions: Danny Green, Seth Curry, Dwight Howard, Tyrese Maxey (rookie), Doc Rivers (head coach), Daryl Morey (GM)
Biggest departures: Josh Richardson, Al Horford
Why they’re winners: It didn’t take long for new GM Daryl Morey to make sense of the Sixers roster. The Sixers paid little to trade away Richardson and Horford, and they got good shooters in Green and Curry in their place. Maxey is a late first-round pick who teams were hoping will follow in the footsteps of recent star Kentucky guards like Devin Booker, Jamal Murray, and Tyler Herro. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are still an awkward fit, but the supporting cast around them will defend and hit threes.
LOSER: Milwaukee Bucks (kinda)
Biggest additions: Jrue Holiday, Bobby Portis, D.J. Augustin, Bryn Forbes, Torrey Craig
Biggest departures: Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, Robin Lopez, Ersan Ilyasova, Wesley Matthews
Why they’re losers: The Bucks’ deal for Bogdanovic fell through, meaning they gave up three future first-round picks and two pick swaps for just Jrue Holiday. (This would have been true if the Bogdanovic deal had gone through, but Milwaukee could have justified Holiday’s price as an all-in move). They responded with some iffy contracts for a backup point guard in D.J. Augustin and backup big in Bobby Portis. This is all in the shadow of trying to convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to sign a long-term deal (which he has until December 21 to sign). The Bucks are probably better on paper this year, but it was a bumpy offseason that didn’t reflect well on a team that came up way short last year.
WINNER: The 2017 draft class
Why they’re winners: Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell agreed to five-year, $US195 million extensions; Bam Adebayo signed a five-year max extension that could be worth up to $US195 million; De’Aaron Fox agreed to a five-year, $US163 million extension, with incentives. Other 2017 draft class members have until December 21 to sign extensions, and it seems as though some might get them.
SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN: New York Knicks
Biggest additions: Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, Austin Rivers, Obi Toppin (rookie), Tom Thibodeau (coach)
Biggest departures: Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Damyean Dotson
Why they’re in-between: The Knicks were conservative with their considerable cap space, signing one-year deals, except for Austin Rivers, whose 3-year, $US10 million contract will be a trade chip this year. The Knicks preserved future cap space and are clearly going to give their young players room to grow.
Whether they put those young players in a position to succeed is another question. The Knicks have a logjam of guards and small wings who overlap and may even detract from one another. The Knicks’ three-point shooting is still lacking, which cramps the space around R.J. Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, their two centrepiece players.
WINNER: Dallas Mavericks
Biggest additions: Josh Richardson, Trevor Ariza, James Johnson
Biggest departures: Seth Curry, Delon Wright, Justin Jackson
Why they’re winners: The Mavs added some desperately needed toughness and size on the wing. Richardson, in particular, should thrive as a third option while Luka Doncic runs the show. Kristaps Porzingis and Dwight Powell will miss the start of the season while recovering from injuries, but if Dallas can get healthy at once down the line, they have a big, long, deep team that should scare the West.
Now, see where the players in a key NBA trade are today…
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