The dust is beginning to settle after all of the NBA moves this offseason. Here are the winners, losers and bystanders in the Western Conference from the NBA Offseason.
Dallas Mavericks: Bystanders
Notable additions: DeAndre Jordan, Luka Doncic
Notable departures: Yogi Ferrell, Seth Curry, Doug McDermott, Nerlens Noel
The Dallas Mavericks resigned Dirk Nowitzki to what may be his final year in the NBA and DeAndre Jordan to $22M contract for one year. After the 2018-19 season concludes, the only players that may be left on the Mavericks could be Luka Doncic, Jalen Brunson, Ryan Broekhoff, and Ray Spalding. This means that the Mavericks will be in full rebuild mode after this season. They are most likely trying to be as competitive as possible for Dirk’s final season before almost $85M becomes available in the 2019 offseason and the Mavericks can seriously consider their options on whether or not to try to sign any big names or play for future draft picks.
Denver Nuggets: Winners
Notable additions: Nikola Nurkic, Michael Porter Jr., Isaiah Thomas
Notable departures: Wilson Chandler
The Denver Nuggets may not have much to play for this season, but they do have their main core still in tact for the next few years. By drafting Michael Porter Jr. and resigning Nikola Nurkic, the Nuggets are demonstrating that they are playing the long game by trying to keep enough young talent to stay relevant in the West while not breaking the bank chasing a title that is impossible to win for them. The Nuggets are clearly hoping for the Western Conference to open up for them in the next four years when guys like Nurkic, Harris, and Murray are all in their mid to late 20s and in the primes of their careers.
Golden State Warriors: Winners
Notable additions: DeMarcus Cousins, Jonas Jerebko
Notable departures: JaVale McGee, Nick Young (still an UFA), David West (still an UFA)
The freaking Golden State Warriors. First, they re-signed Kevin Durant. Then, they received a call from a heartbroken DeMarcus Cousins and signed him to a minimum contract. What did they have to give up? Two guys known for being screw-ups and a bully all off their bench. The Warriors are making the right moves by getting rid of veteran ring chasers before father time claims them and are bringing in young talent such as Kevin Looney and Jordan Bell. The Warriors don’t need Cousins for the title given the youth they can develop in the regular season, but even if Cousins is only 70% of his former self, he will be a huge asset to all but secure the title for the Warriors in 2018- 19.
Houston Rockets: Losers
Notable additions: Carmelo Anthony, James Ennis III
Notable departures: Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute, Joe Johnson (still an UFA)
The Rockets ALMOST beat the Warriors in the 2018 playoffs, but were a Chris Paul injury from the Finals. The Rockets, ideally, should have tried to run it back with the same team, but lost significant players in free agency. Sure, they re-signed Chris Paul, but they signed Carmelo Anthony, who clearly can’t help a team win a title. The Rockets re-signed Capela to a 5-year, $90M contract, which is great, but now the Rockets have too much money locked up in Paul, Harden, Capela and Anthony to surround the team with much more depth. The Rockets gave us a highly entertaining NBA Conference Finals, but the fact that they lost some very valuable depth players at the same time as adding simply a free agent, whose best attribute is his name, makes them losers in free agency.
Los Angeles Clippers: Bystanders
Notable additions: Avery Bradley, Luc Mbah a Moute, Montrezl Harrell, Marcin Gortat
Notable departures: DeAndre Jordan, Austin Rivers
The Clippers are another one of those teams that has been stuck in NBA purgatory for many years now. Don’t expect that to change. The Clippers basically re-signed their free agents, outside of DeAndre Jordan. They replaced Jordan with Marcin Gortat in a trade that sent Doc’s son Austin to the furthest team away from Los Angeles; Washington DC. Avery Bradley, Mbah a Moute and Harrell are all fine players, but the Western Conference demands star power, which is something Clippers are out of at the moment.
Los Angeles Lakers: Bystanders
Notable additions: LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Beasley
Notable departures: Julius Randle, Isaiah Thomas, Brook Lopez, Channing Frye
The Lakers may have won the LeBron James sweepstakes, but after that, they failed this offseason. At one point, the Lakers had a chance to add Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to their mix of young talent. Instead, the Lakers’ most talented free agent signing outside of LBJ is Rajon Rondo. Outside of Rondo, the rest of the cast seems to resemble the likes of Nick Young and JR Smith more than actual championship caliber talent. The Lakers have a talented and young core, but this team could have been so much more this offseason.
Memphis Grizzlies: Bystanders
Notable additions: Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr.
Notable departures: Tyreke Evans
The Grizzlies got the most talented player available with their pick in the 2018 Draft. The loss of Tyreke Evans and the signing of Kyle Anderson from San Antonio is basically a wash for this team. Look for them to have another high lottery pick next season as well.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Losers
Notable additions: None
Notable departures: Nemanja Bjelica, Jamal Crawford (still an UFA)
The Timberwolves were unable to net any big free agents, which is not why they are considered losers this offseason. Rather than sign free agents, the Timberwolves attempted to extend to contract of Jimmy Butler with a 4-year, $100M extension. However, due to reported internal drama with both Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, Butler declined the extension. The Timberwolves seem to be collapsing, which will make them sellers at the trade deadline and, in the Western Conference, a lottery team.
New Orleans Pelicans: Losers
Notable additions: Julius Randle, Elfrid Payton, Ian Clark
Notable departures: Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins
The Pelicans may have re-signed Ian Clark, but they lost in every other aspect of the offseason. First, they allowed Demarcus Cousins to go. Granted, it remains to be seen if this was smart of their part or not, but they replaced him with Julius Randle who is still a bit raw at the NBA level. Next, they let Rajon Rondo go and replaced him with Elfrid Payton. Going from DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo to Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton is a step in the wrong direction, which may cost the Pelicans in the regular season, earning them an early playoff exit.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Winners
Notable additions: Paul George, Dennis Schroder, Nerlens Noel, Jerami Grant
Notable departures: Carmelo Anthony
At one point, the Thunder payroll exceeded $300 million! By getting rid of Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder were able to clear cap space AND bring in Dennis Schroder. It will be interesting to see how Schroder plays alongside Russell Westbrook given he will not be the primary ball handler for the offense. In another stunning move, the Thunder also re-signed Paul George for 4 years, $137M. OKC will be a ‘disruptor’ this season, in that they can compete with anyone on any given night, but they don’t have the consistency and depth to make a deep playoff run.
Phoenix Suns: Winners
Notable additions: DeAndre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Trevor Ariza
Notable departures: Elfrid Payton, Alex Len
The Phoenix Suns may have been the greatest winner all offseason. They had the number one overall pick and took DeAndre Ayton, but also maneuvered a trade that also brought in Mikal Bridges, another top-10 talent from the draft. The Suns also signed Trevor Ariza, who played a big part for Houston this year and will be very serviceable for the Suns. They may have a much-improved season this year, but will probably miss the playoffs since they still have plenty of other areas to improve.
Portland Trail Blazers: Bystanders
Notable Additions: Seth Curry
Notable departures: Ed Davis, Shabazz Napier
The Trail Blazers ultimately come out even this offseason. They re-signed Nurkic and signed Seth Curry at the cost of Shabazz Napier and Ed Davis. Expect the Trail Blazers to test the waters this regular season and decide whether or not to buy or sell at the trade deadline. My guess is that CJ McCollum may be on the move before the regular season ends.
Sacramento Kings: Bystanders
Notable additions: Nemanja Bjelica, Yogi Ferrell, Marvin Bagley III
Notable departures: Vince Carter
The Sacramento Kings had a relatively quiet offseason that clearly revolved around drafting Marvin Bagley III and then replacing any free agent departures. Bjelica will essentially be the sub for Bagley III off the bench and Yogi Ferrell will be a high-energy bench player that can start in a pinch.
San Antonio Spurs: Losers
Notable additions: DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Davis Bertans, Dante Cunningham
Notable departures: Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Anderson, Danny Green
While the Suns were the biggest winners of the offseason, the Spurs may be the biggest losers. If I had told you eight years ago that Manu Ginobili would be the lone remaining Spur and Tony Parker would be playing for the Hornets, you would have slapped me. Especially since the Hornets were the Bobcats, yet here we are. The winner of the DeRozan-Leonard trade is yet to be determined, but the trade may very well end up being that DeRozan solely focuses on how butt-hurt he is by the trade and has a down year. Overall, the Spurs shouldn’t miss the playoffs, but don’t be too surprised if they do or see an early exit.
Utah Jazz: Bystanders
Notable additions: Dante Exum, Derrick Favors, Grayson Allen
Notable departures: none
The Utah Jazz were bystanders this offseason, as they just re-signed Exum and Favors and are basically running it back with the same roster plus draft pick Grayson Allen. To some, this makes the Jazz winners which is certainly agreeable. They are bystanders by the criteria used for the sake of this article as they didn’t go out of their way to make any dramatic improvements other than to steady the ship. The Jazz will be a much better team now that Donovan Mitchell has a full season under his belt.