In no specific order here are the ten BEST off-seasons so far.
The best player in the WORLD is on his way back home. LeBron James makes any teams off-season instantly great but that’s not the only thing we should zero in on. Cleveland landed the first pick in the lotto and took Andrew Wiggins, who has been compared to LeBron himself in the past. Dan Gilbert and management did a wonderful job dealing Jarrett Jack along with a few others in a trade to clear enough space for LBJ’s max contract. They gave their point guard of the future a big extension hoping he and LeBron can help bring a championship to the city of Cleveland. I can’t forget Cleveland went outside the states to bring in there new head coach, David Blatt, who was considered the best coach outside of the states.
The Bulls have had a good draft and a good free agency thus far. They traded there two first round picks (16 & 19) for McDermott who was selected 11th overall. He’s played two straight dominant offensive games for the Chicago summer league team scoring 30 and than 20 points in consecutive games. But the draft isn’t the only thing Chicago can hang there hats about. They’ve attacked the free agent market, such a non-Bullsy thing to do. They made a serious play at Carmelo Anthony, ultimately falling short, but went straight to plan b when they scooped Pau Gasol right up on a three year deal. Not only did they acquire Pau, but they brought over the best overseas player in the game in Nikola Mirotic. A 6’10 stretch PF, Mirotic has a very polished offensive game and adds to the depth the Bulls have in the front-court.
The formally known Bobcats have had a wonderful off-season. Michael Jordan has been criticized for some of the previous moves he’s made in the draft or free agency but he’s nailed it on the head this season. Newly acquiring Lance Stephenson today really gives Charlotte a nice core with he, Kemba, and Big Al Jefferson. It allows Kemba to play off the ball more, which is only going to help them late in games, having two potent ball-handlers. They had a solid draft taking Noah Vonleh who A LOT of people were high on during the draft and sharp shooter P.J Hairston. Charlotte addressed needs that were imminent headed into the off-season and Jordan has pushed all the right buttons so far.
New York Knicks
Phil Jackson has started off his tenure very, very well. He even got Melo to take a five million dollar pay-cut! But in all seriousness, Phil has done well. Replacing Raymond Felton with Jose Calderon, huge upgrade, Sam Dalembert for Tyson Chandler who were VERY similar players based on offensive and defensive ratings last year and Dalembert is a lot cheaper! Cleanthony Early slipped to the second round and the Knicks didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on what I think, was the steal of the draft at pick number 32. Phil has Melo buying in to the future. Maybe it was for the money, Melo will never admit that, but resigning him and making these positive moves is a very good sign going forward for the Knickerbockers.
San Antonio Spurs
How can you even deny how masterful a job every single person in this organization does any longer? San Antonio has made zero major splashes but they’ve quietly kept there championship winning team together. Tim Duncan opted into his deal, Boris Diaw re-signed, Patty Mills who could have probably gone somewhere and possibly started re-signed as well. They drafted talented prospect from UCLA Kyle Anderson and scoring machine Bryce Cotton. There is no denying that guys that could leave to go get more money elsewhere, don’t care because how well they’re treated and how much desire the Spurs have to just flat out win.
Dallas got a borderline top ten player of all-time, still an elite scorer in the NBA, to take a paycut at eight million dollars per so he gets a final run at a championship. Kudos, Mark Cuban. But alas, that’s not all! They brought back Tyson Chandler, as I previously mentioned because Dirk simply needs support at the rim behind him. They put out an offer sheet, that wasn’t matched by Houston, on Chandler Parsons coming off a career year and a guy who can do anything and everything on the court in order to win games. The biggest asset Dallas lost is Jose Calderon but the re-signing of former All-Star Devin Harris will quickly fill that void left at the point guard position. What moves does Cuban have in store for the rest of Free Agency?
Utah has so much young talent. After getting combo guard Dante Exum in the draft along with combo guard forward out of Duke, Rodney Hood, the Jazz keep loading up on the young talent. After Charlotte offered Gordon Hayward a healthy contract, Utah decided it was in there best interest going forward to match the offer sheet to bring Gordon back. They brought in veteran three-point specialist Steve Novak who adds to the multitude of shooters Utah has, as well. A young core of Burke, Exum, Hayward, and Favors is very promising going forward. They may not thrive right this season, but in a couple of years I wouldn’t doubt Utah being a playoff team in a tough Western Conference.
I know it’s hard to consider the Heat as one of the ten best offseasons to date losing the best player in the world, but every other move has been very productive. Up until this point, the Heat have signed eight players, and drafted one. The new Miami Heat core has two familiar faces, and one ex-Bull in Luol Deng. Although Shabazz Napier hasn’t performed well at all during summer league, the Heat got who they wanted in the draft and they haven’t shy’d away from it just because he’s struggled a bit. Adding two veterans in Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger are two very good pieces now that they’re not in any limelight type role, especially Granger. I don’t think Pat Riley and the Heat are done in free agency just yet, but he’s put together a very formidable team down in Miami.
Like the Spurs, Toronto kept a lot of there own. They re-signed breakout point guard Kyle Lowry, backup point guard and one time starter Greivis Vasquez, and the always reliable Patrick Patterson. An underrated move by Masai Uriji who may be the best general manager in the sport, the Raptors acquired Lou Williams who a few years back was one of the best sixth men across the entire NBA. They moved him for John Salmons showing you how much of an upgrade off the bench that makes. Is Toronto content with their roster in place? Can they build on being the third seed in the eastern conference just a season ago?
The Boston Celtics have had another one of those quiet, but solid off-seasons. They haven’t lost anyone other than Kris Humphries via sign and trade but they’ve gained-a-plenty! Getting guards Marcus Smart and Jon Young in the first round of the draft were both solid picks by Danny Ainge and the C’s organization. Re-signing one of the better on ball defenders, who’s offensive game continues to get better in Avery Bradley was a solid move too go along with two nice pieces acquired in the trade variety: Marcus Thornton and Tyler Zeller. This team will go with Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, but all the pieces whether they are used as trade bait or for the future are nicely put together.