Sure, the NBA offseason isn’t over yet, but with the passing of Summer League and most of the key free agents signed, let’s grade each of the NBA teams’ progress this summer. Next up is the Central Division.
Cleveland Cavaliers (61-21, Lost Eastern Conference Semifinals): D-
Any team that loses LeBron James has had a bad offseason. Any team that loses LeBron James and doesn’t make a move to account for it has had a terrible offseason. The only reason to hold out hope? They’ve hired Byron Scott, and he has a plan to implement an up-tempo system and make the requisite changes to make it work.
Milwaukee Bucks (46-36, Lost First Round): B
It was upsetting to see rising star Andrew Bogut crash to the floor at the end of the regular season and his arm splinter all over the floor as a result. It was even more upsetting to see the virtually zombified Atlanta Hawks top the Bucks in the first round before bowing out disgracefully to the Orlando Magic. Next year, though, figures to be kind to the Bucks. They managed to retain John Salmons, who was a key cog in their offensive scheme, and they signed journeyman Drew Gooden. Although his contract was a little steep, he’s a plus rebounder and a decent inside scorer that will provide valuable minutes for the Deer. Factor in Brandon Jennings in his second season and Bogut’s return, and they’re a team I’d like to watch.
Chicago Bulls (41-41, Lost First Round): A
The Bulls might not have snagged LeBron, Dwyane Wade, or Chris Bosh, but they did just about everything else right. First of all, they secured Tom Thibodeau to be their head coach, a defensive mastermind who should do wonders for the development of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and others. Then they signed the next best thing on the market (except maybe Amar’e Stoudemire) in Carlos Boozer to anchor their post play and provide a solid companion for Rose on the pick and roll. The icing on the cake was adding Kyle Korver, possibly the best shooter in the NBA, and the defensive stopper Ronnie Brewer, who can keep most 2-guards in check. J.J. Redick would have been a nice nab, but as it stands, they did basically the best they could.
Indiana Pacers (32-50, Missed Playoffs): D+
The Pacers’ main priority this summer was to sign a serviceable point guard, and they’ve yet to do that. While selecting Paul George should be a solid player, they already have Danny Granger entrenched at the position. It probably would have been best for them to trade down in the draft and take Eric Bledsoe as the second-best 1 in the draft. Jim O’Brien’s going to have a tough time winning with this team next season.
Detroit Pistons (27-55, Missed Playoffs): C
The current roster for the Pistons probably isn’t destined for greatness, but they succeeded in re-signing Ben Wallace for two more years, and he’s still a force to be reckoned with on defense in the post. They also got Greg Monroe, who can provide quality offense in the post right off the bat. They’re not going to make the playoffs next year, but they’ll probably win more than 27 games.