Day 4 of the offseason grades and we are now into the Western Conference. In this division we see a couple young teams make some nice additions to their core, and we see a marquee player leave the only team he’s ever known (can you taste the salt in that sentence, I’m still slightly bitter). We also have a new coach to the Western Conference, and a couple of these teams will be trying to prove themselves; both now and for the future.
Key Additions: Darrell Arthur (re-signed), Jamal Murray (Rookie)
Key Losses: None
The Nugget’s are building a very nice young core, and while they failed to sign Dwyane Wade it was probably for the best. They didn’t lose anyone, drafted a great young guard in Jamal Murray (plus he’s Canadian!), and have tons of trade assets to build for the future. Not signing any bad deals and staying young makes this a positive offseason for Denver.
Key Additions: Kris Dunn (Rookie), Cole Aldrich, Brandon Rush, Jordan Hill, Tom Thibodeau (Coach)
Key Losses: Kevin Martin, Tayshaun Prince
Following Denver’s young core, we come to the best young core in the entire league; the Minnesota Timberwolves. Their only losses were two fossils in Kevin Martin and Tayshaun Prince, so if they hadn’t made any other moves this would’ve been a positive offseason. But then they signed solid bench players in Aldrich, Rush, and Hill, drafted an absolute stud in Kris Dunn, oh, and they signed the best free agent coach in Tom Thibodeau. Thibs is well known for his defensive coaching prowess and I can’t wait to see how he molds Wiggins and Towns. Finding their coach of the future and getting younger by ridding themselves of the old boys makes this an amazing offseason.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Key Additions: Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis (Rookie)
Key Losses: Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Dion Waiters (maybe)
Let me just take a minute to cry, as a Thunder fan this was a tough summer. First off, before Durant abandoned ship, the Thunder were winning the offseason. They absolutely ripped off Orlando when they traded Serge Ibaka for Oladipo, Ilyasova, and the draft rights to Sabonis from Gonzaga. There was a good chance that Ibaka was going to walk next summer after becoming tired of his role, so to get that big of a return was absolutely amazing. Oladipo is a beast, and is still very young, Ilyasova is slightly over the hill, but he can still hit from outside, and Sabonis looked NBA-ready during his time in college. If their offseason ended here, it would be an A, maybe even A+ summer. Except, we all know what happened next. Losing the best player the franchise has ever had takes Oklahoma City out of playoff contention. I can’t wait to see what Westbrook does running the show alone, but they are worse. They had great additions, but the worst departure in the entire league.
Grade: F+ (at least they swindled the Magic…)
Portland Trail Blazers
Key Additions: Evan Turner, Festus Ezeli, Allen Crabbe (re-signed), Myers Leonard (re-signed)
Key Losses: Gerald Henderson
Getting Festus Ezeli was a nice pickup for this young Blazers team, but I still don’t understand giving Evan Turner 70 million over 4 years when you have Lillard, McCollum, Crabbe, and Harkless. If they had gotten him cheaper than okay, but while he was solid in Boston it’s not like he’s the guy to push them into championship contention. Re-signing Crabbe was key, he has a lot of potential to be a great 3-and-D player, and Myers Leonard stretches the floor really well. Losing Henderson doesn’t change anything; this was an average offseason for Portland.
Key Additions: Joe Johnson, George Hill, Boris Diaw
Key Losses: Trevor Booker
Now it’s time for the Utah Jazz to push into the upper tier out West. With the Thunder taking a step back, the Jazz should be able to step up and potentially snag home court in the playoffs if everything breaks right. I do like Trevor Booker, and losing him is tough, but bringing in three solid veterans with Johnson, Hill, and Diaw adds a lot of depth to this roster; especially with their injury history. George Hill especially will take the pressure off of Dante Exum who will be returning from an ACL injury, Hill will give him time to be fully ready to go. Look for this Jazz squad to make a big jump up the Western Conference standings.