The NBA free agency merry-go-round is beginning to slow, and while several players are still weighing their options, most of the dust has settled. Taking a closer look at the big moves, here are the grades I am giving for teams that have made the most impactful off-season dealings.
Cleveland Cavaliers: A+
Signing the best player on the planet is a clear sign that your offseason is going well, even if you have to get on your knees and beg. The Cavaliers immediately offered the max deal to forward LeBron James, mending the collective heart of an entire city that was left feeling confused and helpless just four years ago. Not only are Clevelanders celebrating the return of the Akron, Ohio, native, but the Cavaliers front office put itself in prime position to land Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love.
San Antonio Spurs: A
While the rest of the league’s front offices are scrambling to put the best roster on the floor for the 2014-2015 season, the 2014 NBA Champion Spurs have calmly and quietly re-signed the best roster from last season. The machine that is the Spurs’ organization was able to keep several key pieces to their championship formula, including veteran power forward Tim Duncan and three-time Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich.
Washington Wizards: B+
Basketball in the capital area has been on the rise ever since the Washington Wizards picked up point guard John Wall in the 2010 NBA draft. The Wizards went from consistently missing the playoffs to putting together a team that was able to take advantage of a short-handed Bulls squad and advance to the second round of the 2014 playoffs. The Wizards picked up veteran forward Paul Pierce from the Brooklyn Nets and grabbed center DeJaun Blair in a sign-and-trade with the Dallas Mavericks.
Chicago Bulls: B-
The Chicago Bulls have been playing without their star point guard Derrick Rose for the better part of the last three seasons. The Bulls’ bench has held strong with passionate playoff runs in the past three seasons, but has yet to bring home the championship that Chicagoans have yearned for since the Michael Jordan years. The Bulls, who expect to have Rose back on the floor next season, added power forward Pau Gasol from the Los Angeles Lakers to fill in the paint and remain in the fight for Minnesota’s Kevin Love.
Miami Heat: C-
The Miami Heat are going to have a hard time convincing anyone that they had a successful off-season after watching the NBA’s best player take his two championship rings and go back home. Heat general manager Pat Riley still deserves a passing grade for convincing power forward Chris Bosh to resist an enticing offer from the Houston Rockets and replacing James with strong perimeter defender Luol Deng.
New York Knicks: D+
Signing small forward Carmelo Anthony to a max deal limited the amount of extra cap space for newly appointed general manager Phil Jackson to add any new pieces to his roster. While it is hard to question the decisions of a man who has more championship rings than he has fingers, it is difficult to imagine a roster that failed to make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference last season will contend this season.
Joe Mallette is a 26-year-old mass communication freshman from Lake Charles, La.