DAR Sports: The NBA Free Agency & Offseason Report
By True God, Shokus Apollo and Jeff Axel
After a long, tumultuous and rather confusing 2022-2023 NBA season, the Denver Nuggets stood tall as champions. The homegrown duo of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic fulfilled their destiny, bringing Denver their first championship in the NBA. After a long title drought, this powerful team showed what chemistry, focus and togetherness can do for a team. As the NBA free agency gets underway, there are many teams who need to make the right moves to compete with Denver and challenge for their title. Today, we look at all these teams in the league and what they need to do to get a bit of success. We'll go down the line of every team and address their draft and free agency moves, but first, let's start with some thoughts on the defending champion Denver Nuggets and what they were able to accomplish.
NBA Champion Denver Nuggets
Denver is the best team in the league in my opinion and this postseason only bolsters that claim. The system runs through Jokic, he and Jamal Murray play a 2 man pick and roll game. This allows these two to play off of each other, with Jokic reading and reacting to the defense. They run a bunch of screens and slips that allows either Jokic to make an excellent read to pass or get a high percentage look. Jamal Murray is so crucial because he is Curry-like with his shooting ability when he is on. He is an excellent and creative finisher that perfectly complements Jokic. Michael Porter Jr. has a scoring prowess makes him an asset as well because he gives them another option that can score anywhere on the court. Aaron Gordon gives them size and more rim protection that was absent last year as they allowed 68% to opponents around the rim. KCP is a good 3 and D player with a title already and a vet presence. They have had success in making the playoffs these last few years but they sorely missed Murray and he had another breakout season this year, especially in his postseason play. Jokic is the rightful MVP in my opinion and he has taken his game to another level. He is much more aggressive and better at recognizing when he should and should not be that. The league could be Denver's for a while.
The Hawks made a bold yet productive move firing Nate McMillan in February and replacing him with Quinn Snyder. The Hawks played quality basketball to end the season and pushed the Celtics to 6 games in the first round of the playoffs. Snyder has his own coaching staff and it's rumored that John Collins is on the trade market. With the emergence of Jalen Johnson and Oneka Okwandu, Collins and maybe Clint Capela were rendered expendable. It’s always rumored that Dejounte Murray can be had for “the right price”, as his contract is only $18.4 million this season, byt I think that might be a smoke screen. Deandre Hunter and Bogdonovic will probably still be on the roster but I’m not certain the Hawks run this roster back. The Collins trade could be a step in the right direction, we shall see.
The Celtics had a disappointing end to the 2022-23 season falling 1 game short of back to back NBA Finals appearances. It’s widely reported that Jaylen Brown will sign a 5 year, $300 million supermax extension. The Celtics have other roster issues to address particularly in the front court. Al Horford is 37 years old and doesn’t really play back to backs in the regular season while Robert Williams has an extensive injury history playing 209 games in 5 years. Grant Williams is also a restricted free agent, so the Celtics depth could take a small hit but the Celtics trading Smart for Porzingis provides them with some front court help, which is ideal. We have to see how he fits in and how healthy he can stay as well. This trade could be the move the Celtics need.
Ax- With Lonzo Ball potentially missing the 2023-24 season with complications from a knee surgery from 2 years ago, the Bulls trajectory and where they stand in the Eastern Conference constantly changes. They’re reportedly gauging the trade interest of Zach Lavine and they just re-signed Nikola Vucevic for 3 more years. They don’t want to rebuild it seems, so it is likely they’re going to keep Demar Derozan. If Patrick Williams and Coby White take another step, that could make them better but as of now the Bulls seem like a treadmill team.
Apollo- The Chicago Bulls are in purgatory. They aren't a bad squad but as currently constructed their ceiling is maybe low seed or more likely, the play-in. They don't have many ways to bolster the team but have a bi-annual exception and a non taxpayer MLE but they can only use one of those. The albatross is the Lonzo Ball situation, as he will miss yet another season as he recovers from surgery. The front office eventually has to figure out what to do with his contract, as he has $41 million and 2 years left. There is also a $21 million player option for the 2024 season coming up and we can expect him to pick that up but if he's not able to get healthy that's a problem. The team has retained Vucevic as he is extremely efficient averaging a double double off of 52% shooting, despite his defensive issues from time to time. They may also sign Andre Drummond to a minimum deal but he has a player option so we shall see what his future looks like. Pat Bev is a hometown player so he will most likely be kept due to his defense and grit. Patrick Williams was very productive this year and needs to be in a larger role. He shot 41% from beyond the arc this past season and could be beneficial. They traded to get into this year's draft and selected Julian Phillips at pick 35 and that kid's calling card is his length and ability to defend multiple positions and let's be honest, the Bulls need all the defensive help they can get. There are rumors the Bulls may be scouting Mo Bamba and eyeing a return from Derrick Rose as he will very likely walk away from the Knicks. Rose would be for hometown love and fanfare but not solve their issues in the backcourt. Coby Jones and Ayo Dosunmu while solid backups are just that and only one of them will likely be retained. Derozan and Lavine are studs poised to build on their seasons and get this team to the playoffs, if they can maintain and stay healthy.
Ax- The Cavaliers had a disappointing playoff performance losing in the 1st round in 5 games to the New York Knicks. I don’t expect them to make any moves in free agency but I do expect them to put Jarrett Allen on the trade market potentially for a wing player with some size. Mitchell and Garland can work as a backcourt and I’m expecting Evan Mobley to take another step but the Cavaliers need to commit to playing faster and improve their small forward position. I do wonder how Max Strus helps their production, as his role will be a little different than in Miami.
Apollo- Cleveland made it back to the playoffs finally though their season ended in the first round. Still, they have a solid core of Mitchell, Mobley, Garland and Allen to build around. Mitchell's contract will expire in 2026 and will definitely get an extension ahead of time. Evan Mobley's contract will expire in 2025 and one would assume that he is extended as well. They have 8 potential free agents this year and the one they need to re-sign is Caris Levert. He was very productive for them last year and may command lots of attention elsewhere that Cleveland would have to match. He is best used off the bench bringing his playmaking ability. Issac Okoro is up for an extension but he may have to bet on himself in a make or break situation if he wants to be on the team long term. The team could use another scoring wing to keep up with the core starters. They drafted Emoni Bates this year but he is a polarizing prospect that needs to grow his game to contribute right away. The team has a MLE, bi-annual exception and a trade exception worth about $4 million that they can use to build the rotations around the core.
Ax- The Hornets took Brandon Miller with the number 2 pick in the draft and Miles Bridges is expected to come back to the Hornets after his suspension, while PJ Washington is a restricted free agent. There’s a new ownership group as well so we’ll see if they have a new approach. I would honestly move Rozier or Oubre for more frontcourt help, but we'll see Charlotte's approach to free agency soon.
Apollo- The Hornets had a rough year mostly due to injuries and inconsistent play. They also had the sale of the team hanging over their heads. Fortunately, they were awarded the 2nd pick in the draft and everyone knew the draft would essentially start there. They selected Brandon Miller who by most accounts is actually the better system fit. A wing who can play off LaMelo was a big team need. Miller has reliable three point shooting ability, can play off the ball and is great at catching and shooting. The new front office will have to build a contender around these 2 unique talents. The first order of business is for the team to offer a designated rookie extension for LaMelo Ball. He was hurt most of the year but he is a bonafide stud and deserves his money. The next step they should take is to keep PJ Washington, as he was very consistent this year averaging 15 PPG off of 44% from the floor. Gordon Hayward's deal runs out in 2024 so they might be thinking about trading him off, as his contributions haven't lived up to his deal. The team has a non-taxpayer mid level exception worth $12.4 million that can be used to upgrade their roster. Maybe they will target a player like Seth Curry or a veteran like Dillon Brooks. Kelly Oubre will most likely be a candidate to walk this offseason as he would command too much than the team would want to pay. Miles Bridges' situation will have to be addressed as he is a restricted free agent and they have to decide if they want to retain him or cut ties, while he serves a suspension early on.
The Mavericks had a disappointing end to the season missing the play in after the Kyrie Irving trade. Running it back for 3 years with Kyrie was a choice, but we might get to see exactly how him and Luka can play well together going forward. They reportedly won’t re-sign Christian Wood, so it’ll be interesting to see which direction they go into. This is a make or break year for coach Jason Kidd and they need to build correctly around Luka Doncic.
Ax- The Pistons hiring Monty Williams as head coach is a step in the right direction. Cade Cunningham had a great rookie season, putting up 17/6/6 but was limited due to injury last season. Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren had quality rookie seasons, but I think since they have such a loaded front court that they might need to trim in order to balance the roster better. I think having Bagley, Wiseman, Isaiah Stewart and Duren creates an issue of who plays what minutes and their roles. They have a weakness at the small forward position with depth so I expect more improvements there and probably some backcourt additions as well.
Apollo- The Pistons were the worst team in the East last year and didn't luck up with the top pick. However, things have seemed to be going in the right direction. They have a new coach in Monty Williams, who is widely respected and should bring out the best in this young team. Last year's 1st rounders, Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey are keepers and excellent complements to Cade Cunningham. Cade will look to return from his injury marred rookie campaign and this time he will have 2 new players joining the team in Ausar Thompson and Marcus Sasser. These are two very exciting prospects and will give Detroit added spacing, scoring and athleticism. As far as offseason issues to address, the team has about $25-30 million in cap space and a MLE for a little over $7 million available. As Ax stated, they also have 4 big men who all are valuable to the team albeit in different ways but will be hard to keep them all happy and with enough minutes. Bagley is locked up for another year and had a solid year although he was injured during pieces of it. They have 3 extension candidates in Isaiah Stewart, Killian Hayes and James Wiseman and it seems that Hayes is the least likely to be extended. His scoring was terrible this year and I think Sasser will supplant him for minutes this season, unless he bets on himself and balls out this year. The same can be said for Wiseman who has shown some of the promise that Golden State hoped to see from him when they took a few years ago. Alec Burks picked up his player option and will still provide solid contributions off the bench and Bogdanovic, who was honestly the team's best player is still under contract until 2025.
Ax- The emergence of Mikal Bridges gives them a solid player to build around. Restricted free agent Cam Johnson is likely to be re-signed but the Nets have a lot of decisions in which direction they want to go. Nic Claxton had a career season but they need another front court player with size to help him on the rebounds. Cam Thomas is a quality shot creator but coach Vaughn isn’t a fan of his defense so it’s interesting to see if he’ll be traded.
Apollo- The Nets have identified their leading man, Mikal Bridges and need to continue to build around him. The first order of business is to keep Cam Johnson as Bridges has expressed he wants Johnson to stay. The Nets also need to decide what they are going to do with veterans Patty Mills and Spencer Dinwiddie after this season. They have just traded Joe Harris away to Detroit, so it will be interesting to see the vets they have on the team this season. The other vets can either be re-signed or used as part of a trade package to upgrade the team. Ben Simmons has been showing workout videos of him looking in great shape, but the team is hoping he is mentally prepared to play this year and if he does, it’s a bonus. The team drafted Noah Clowney, Dariq Whitehead and Jalen Wilson in this year's draft. They project to be solid contributors as both Clowney and Whitehead are value picks because they slid a little further than expected. The theme for them this year is to build around the young core and take the next step forward.
Golden State Warriors
Ax-The new CBA will likely affect this team more than anyone, and they have a lot of questions that need to be answered especially since their GM Bob Myers stepped down. Draymond Green likely signs back with them long term, now that it seems that the organization chose him over Poole. The Jordan Poole for Chris Paul trade is confusing but Poole will flourish as a no. 1 option in Washington. They say Jonathan Kuminga is also on the trade market but I’m not sure his value is that high at the moment. Klay Thompson didn’t have a great end to his season but he’ll likely still have his starting role and Moses Moody had good moments in the playoffs. As long as they have Steph Curry, I believe they’re in contention but there was a disconnect between the young players and veterans that will continue to get rectified this summer. The Warriors should look for a front court player with range if they do make anymore trades.
Apollo- The Warriors have been on an impressive run since their first title in 2015. They have garnered 4 championships in almost a decade and their system allows them to retool around the core of Steph, Klay and Draymond. They led the league in pace and possessions this season. They led the league in 3 PT made and 2nd in 3PT% with 38.5%. Steph led the team with 29 PPG and 42% 3 PT and Klay led the league in 3 pointers made with his season over 300 threez while still scoring 21 PPG. The offensive rating was 116 which was good for 8th in the league. I think what makes the team work is their ability to cut and their backdoor screens. They are an offensive flow team in which the ball goes through Steph and Klay and them constantly causing movement and spacing. Wiggins' value is his defense and the value he creates when he's aggressively looking for his shot. Draymond's defense and Offensive IQ is still prevalent, he just needs to stop the distractions. They are an elite team that can still win a championship with a few pieces tweaked and added. With Bob Myers gone and Dunleavy Jr. in the fold, he's faced with the task of retooling this team. Kuminga may be shopped, but Draymond is locked in for 4 more years to retire next to Steph and Klay. Steph is at the peak of his powers, I've been very impressed with his play this postseason but he needs consistent scoring help. They drafted a few good young guys who fit what they need, but they still need some veterans who can get it done.
Ime Udoka is an improvement coaching wise but the biggest issue in Houston is if Kevin Porter Jr. will buy into consistently being a point guard.The talent is there on this young Rockets team, Sengun is a quality offensive player and rebounder with solid court vision and Jalen Green is improving despite having consistency issues. Jabari Smith Jr. got more comfortable as the season went on and is a quality defender, while Tari Eason and Kenyon Martin Jr. play with great energy. They should be a team that improves but KPJ has to keep his turnovers down and it might be better suited for a 6th man role. The addition of Fred Vanvleet helps with a veteran, despite the overpay by the front office. I wonder if the plan was to always make KPJ a 6th man with VanVleet starting.
The Pacers played quality efficient basketball last season with Tyrese Haliburton leading the way at 21 PPG and 10 APG. Benedict Mathurin had a quality rookie season averaging 17 PPG while Myles Turner had a career year averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds. Buddy Hield is one of the best 3 point shooters in the NBA and giving you 17 PPG, but he’s heading into a contract season and a few contending teams could call about his status. With solid play from young players Aaron Nembhard and Aaron Nesmith, the Pacers are my sleeper team to make the play in next season especially with the addition of Bruce Brown to their squad.
Los Angeles Clippers
There’s rumors that the Clippers are gauging the trade interest for Paul George and Norman Powell. The Clippers have quality depth but lack of first round picks over the next few years put them at a crossroads and if they aren’t able to re-sign Russell Westbrook then they’re in need of a point guard. They’re hoping Kawhi and Paul George stay healthy and play for more than 65 games and a complete playoff run but time is running out to see if this duo can win a championship.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have 2 guys in Austin Reaves and Rui who played high quality basketball in the playoffs. Rui deciding to sign back as well the signing of Cam Reddish and Gabe Vincent helps a lot for the Lakers, though their roles might not be as clear as they were in previous stops. D’Angelo Russell is a free agent but it’s unclear if he’s going to get re-signed. Malik Beasley and Mo Bamba are free agents and unlikely to be re-signed due to lack of minutes and production in limited opportunities. Jared Vanderbilt is a quality rebounder that got extended an offer but they might have to let Austin Reaves go depending on his market. Time is ticking.
Ja Morant being suspended for the first 25 games of the season changes the trajectory of the Grizzlies. Their most recent move giving up Tyus Jones in a 3 team trade for Marcus Smart should form a strong defensive pairing with Jaren Jackson Jr and should be an improvement over Dillon Brooks who they said they didn’t want to bring back under any circumstances. They extended Desmond Bane with a huge 200 million dollar contract after coming off a strong 21.5 PPG and he could possibly improve and take another leap next season but this team needs more scoring at the guard position. Maybe they go after OG Anunoby but Memphis will have to survive without Ja for the first 25 games, which means we’ll see what type of impact Marcus Smart has. Derrick Rose is also an interesting addition, we'll see what he adds to the team in vet presence.
Coming off a strong playoff run, the Miami Heat had a balanced effort but fell in 5 games to the Nuggets in the NBA finals. Losing both Gabe Vincent and Max Strus will be interesting to see how they retool. There’s rumors they checked the availability of Damian Lillard but they might have to pivot to another scorer. While Butler and Bam have had strong moments in the playoffs, neither player is comfortable being aggressive game in and game out. Tyler Herro, while being a 20 PPG scorer during the regular season has had injury issues in the playoffs 2 seasons in a row and you have to wonder if he’s a long term piece. Bam might need a legitimate center to play next to and slide down to the power forward position, it’s rumored they’re interested in Christian Wood. Since the Lillard rumors might have died down for the time being, maybe putting a package together for Zach Lavine could be the right trade.
Khris Middleton opting out of $40 million after back to back injury riddled seasons and being 30 years old is surprising, but he came back on a sort of team friendly deal, letting it be known he wants to remain a Buck as long as possible. Brook Lopez is an unrestricted free agent as well but the Bucks have a severe lack of young talent. First year head coach Adrian Griffin looks to implement a new style coming from the Raptors. Trading 5 second rounders for Jae Crowder was a panic move as their flexibility going forward is a bit shaky. Jrue Holiday and Bobby Portis are good complementary pieces but the Bucks have to get younger and quicker on the wing in order to keep Giannis happy and have a strong bounce back season after a disappointing 1st round exit. Keep an eye out for possible moves made there.
The Timberwolves made a quality move in re-signing Naz Reid for 3 years and $42 million. They have over $400 million invested between Reid, Gobert, and Karl Anthony Towns so that doesn’t leave room for much improvement throughout the roster. Anthony Edwards had a major leap in production averaging 24/6/4 and will likely improve with a summer stint upcoming with Team USA. Jaden Mcdaniels made a leap in production last season averaging 12ppg and becoming one of the better individual defenders in the league. Losing Taurean Prince will be interesting but they still have Mike Conley, Nickeil Alexander Walker and Kyle Anderson coming back next season. Their lack of depth last season cost them a few games so it’ll be interesting to see how the Wolves can improve. They need outside shooting badly, so we’ll see if they use KAT as a trade chip for depth or run it back.
New Orleans Pelicans
Drafting Jordan Hawkins was a strong pick for the Pelicans. Their success depends on the health of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. That duo has only played 93 games in 4 seasons together. They have an emerging young wing player in Trey Murphy the 3rd who averaged 15ppg last season, and an elite wing defender in Herbert Jones, who just got extended. CJ McCollum played through injury last season but is a good complimentary scoring piece, and Jose Alvarado plays with great pace and energy on both ends off the bench. Jonas Valanciunas is a quality double double threat that might not fit the timeline of that youthful team and could be used as a trade chip if they can get a young frontcourt player in return. We’ll see if Dyson Daniels gets more opportunity but the Pelicans have drafted well, I don’t see them being players in free agency.
New York Knicks
Ax- Jalen Brunson exceeded expectations last season with an elevated role averaging a career high 24 PPG and 6 APG. Julius Randle is coming off a career year as well, averaging 25 PPG and 10 PPG as they were a strong duo that got to the 2nd round of the playoffs. I don’t think the Knicks will be huge players in free agency because they have a solid blend of veterans and youth with RJ Barrett averaging 19 and 5, Immanuel Quickley finishing 2nd in sixth man of the year voting averaging 15 PPG. Quentin Grimes became a strong wing defender with Mitchell Robinson providing interior defense. There's also the presence of Josh Hart, Hartenstein and Obi Toppin providing quality bench production as well. A lot of the Knicks potential depends on if RJ Barrett takes another leap in production because they have solid depth and I don’t see the Knicks trading the young players for anyone at the moment.
Apollo- The Knicks by all accounts had a great season. The acquisition of Jalen Brunson proved to be a smart investment as he is the face of the franchise. That adds more value than just his play this year (24 PPG on 50% shooting) but he at least adds deodorant to the stink of Julius Randle's bad body language. They beat the slightly better Cavs in the first round and got punked by the Heat in the second round unfortunately. But there is definitely success to build off on for next season. The first order of business should be re-signing Josh Hart as he was a seamless fit in the system as a 3 and D wing. They also have to try and trade some of the guard depth to upgrade the team, they have no draft picks. Also, they need to decide who to extend between Quickley and Toppin which Quickley should be a no brainer. Evan Fournier may be dangled as trade bait but I doubt they get any takers. They have to build on the success of last season and continue to show stability. Coach Tibbs needs to play faster as they are 26th in pace per game. The Knicks need more scoring and to set up plays faster because they let the time clock run down until they find the right look. They are worst in the league in assist percentage so they have to do better with spacing and keeping the ball moved around. There is also too much ball stoppage when Randle gets the ball and wants to make a play. With nine guards on the roster, that's no excuse. The Knicks best option is to solidify their core, extend the young guys and stay patient.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Ax- The Oklahoma City Thunder surprised everyone last season winning 40 games. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had an All-NBA season last year averaging 31/6/5 and should continue to improve. His backcourt mate Josh Giddey averaged 17/8/6 and Jalen Williams had a strong rookie campaign averaging 14 PPG. They have quality role players with one of the better 3 and D players in Lu Dort, while Isaiah Joe showcased his shooting ability full fledged this year. They're also hoping to have quality seasons from Chet Holmgren and Cason Wallace. Due to their elite drafting and high quality and balanced offense I don’t expect the Thunder to make any moves in free agency but they definitely have one of the best young cores in the NBA.
Apollo- The Thunder are a very young team and I believe they will get better when Chet Holmgren plays this upcoming season. OKC runs a 5 out offense which runs beautifully through their star Shai Gilgeous Alexander. The team has lots of screens and delays, all made to confuse the defense. Josh Giddey and SGA are both long and have the ability to create plays. SGA can score from anywhere and Giddey displays excellent court vision. They both have the ability to create their own shots and put pressure on the defense when they attack the basket. Lu Dort is one of the best young defenders in the league and he can shoot. Jaylen Williams provides more scoring as well and he was a surprise quality player for them. The Thunder will be a team to watch when Holmgren gives them another scorer with size that puts defenders in a bad spot. The franchise is still rebuilding but I think they have their cornerstone star and have lots of top picks in their starting rotation. Next year they hope to make the playoffs and reach the next step, which I believe they can do.
Paolo Banchero came into the league and made an immediate impact averaging 20/7/4 his rookie season. The Magic surprised people by winning 34 games last season behind additional production of Franz Wagner (19 PPG), Wendell Carter Jr. (15 PPG/9 RPG) and Fultz (14 PPG/6 APG). Adding new draft additions Anthony Black and Jett Howard shows that they’re building a quality young team. I'm not sure what their draft picks mean for the future of Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs but they could use them as trade chips for veterans. I expect them to be a play in tournament team next season.
The Sixers are now up to their 3rd coach under the process so we’ll see how Embiid reacts under Nick Nurse. It looks as if Harden won't be there in Philly next year, so if he is gone, I expect another jump in production from Tyrese Maxey (20.3 PPG). Until Embiid stays healthy for an entire playoff run their ceiling is a second round exit.
The Suns made an impactful move this summer trading Chris Paul, Landry Shamet and future draft picks for Bradley Beal. While this move helps them out offensively, the Suns only have 6 solid players under contract and their lack of depth and cap space only give them room to sign veteran minimum players to fill out the roster. It’s been rumored they’ve worked out Stanley Johnson, Jabari Parker, Chasson Randle and other players. DeAndre Ayton is being brought back (for now) and a lot depends on him playing more aggressive but I’m not expecting them to be able to make free agent moves due to the money owed to Booker, Beal, KD and Ayton so it’s win now mode for the Suns.
The Blazers holding onto the 3rd pick and drafting Scoot Henderson shows that the Blazers management are trying to go fully into a youth movement. Shaedon Sharpe had a strong 2nd half of his rookie year and looked like a quality shot creator. Anfernee Simons is a quality offensive player with 3 point shooting and a strong finishing ability at the rim. Jerami Grant was re-signed for a huge amount, not sure how that works out for them long term but he got paid. I’m not sure if Nurkic is brought back but I expect Henderson to have an immediate impact so we’ll see if anyone gets moved or if they try to co-exist.
The Kings finally ended their playoff drought last season with balanced play led by De’Aaron Fox, Sabonis and Keegan Murray, who had a strong rookie season finishing with over 200 three pointers made. Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter also made quality plays and with Harrison Barnes extending his contract and possibly staying (could be a trade piece), it seems they are running it back. It is rumored they’re interested in trading for Pascal Siakam (Harrison's extension might change that). I think getting another front court player that can score would help balance the team out giving an additional scoring punch alongside Sabonis but I’m expecting a jump in production from Murray for sure.
San Antonio Spurs
Victor is going to have an immediate impact in my opinion. The fluidity, perimeter scoring and defense with the 8 foot wingspan playing the passing lanes and contesting shots should immediately translate. Keldon Johnson keeps improving every season as a 2 way player and strong rebounder for the wing position. Devin Vassell is a quality shooter and Tre Jones is a solid upcoming point guard. They have cap space and maybe they want to sign bridge players and veterans to speed up the rebuild process.
The Raptors have a new head coach and Fred Vanvleet has left the franchise that made him a big name. OG Anunoby is also a free agent, but I expect him to likely stay put. Jakob Poeltl signed back so he's still there for a few years but it has been rumored that teams have called about Pascal Siakam. Their front office is adamant they don’t want to rebuild but it would be in their best interest to avoid being a treadmill team. The Raptors have a lot of decisions to make this offseason, especially with Gary Trent Jr. opting in to stay. Is it rebuild time or are they just a player or two away?
The Jazz played quality balanced basketball lead by a career season from Lauri Markkanen averaging 26ppg and 9rpg. Walker Kessler also had an impressive rookie season averaging 9 PPG, 8 RPG and 2.3 BPG while Talen Horton Tucker, Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson and Kelly Olynyk all played solid basketball throughout last season. The John Collins trade and their rookie Hendricks adds an athleticism aspect to the frontcourt and I’m expecting the Jazz who intentionally tanked to end the season to make the play in tournament at minimum.
The Wizards are entering full rebuild mode and made a quality move acquiring Jordan Poole. In the 26 games that Steph Curry missed last season, Poole averaged 26 PPG and newly acquired Tyus Jones played quality basketball in Memphis whenever Ja Morant was absent. While they have a formidable backcourt, trading Porzingis but retaining Kyle Kuzma could play a factor in stabilizing them. The hope is Kispert and Deni Avdija take another leap in production but the Wizards are in full rebuild under new management and I don’t expect them to win more than 25 games. The rebuild is a smart route to go but I feel like they should have gotten better draft picks for Bradley Beal. Ultimately the Wizards will be a bottom tier team in the East in my opinion. Things have gotten crazy this offseason in the NBA, with more trades and contracts to be made at every moment. Stay tuned for more NBA coverage here at DAR.