Geek’s Guide to the 2018 NBA Offseason (Pt. III): Reigning Champs, Rebuilders, and Rotating Bigs
The final 15 teams from our mock offseason are revealed
(Simon Cherin-Gordon): With LeBron James in Los Angeles and Paul George in Philadelphia, the major chips have fallen. But what about DeMarcus Cousins? Jabari Parker? DeAndre Jordan? DeMar DeRozan? Kemba Walker? Hassan Whiteside? Many names on the Summer 2018 Hot Stove are still sizzling.
In Part III of the Geek’s Guide, you will find out these players’ fate, along with how the defending champs retooled, who rose in the Eastern Conference power vacuum created by LeBron’s move, and much more.
Remember, a few quick notes for navigating these team recaps:
- The participant who ran that team is indicated by their initials
- Team options (T.O.) and player options (P.O.) exercised where noted
- Total contract values listed (not annual value, assume cap hit is $ divided by years except on max deals)
- $1 = $1 million
- New contracts with player options attached are listed as “x+1,” whereas team options are listed as “x-1” (x=No. of years before option year)
- Minimum contract values not listed, since they are assumed to be applied last and thus work as salary cap exceptions
New Orleans Pelicans (LG)
Notable additions: Isaiah Thomas, Jamal Crawford, Corey Brewer, Paul Zipser, Channing Frye, Malcolm Delaney
Notable departures: DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Ian Clark
PG: Isaiah Thomas (2 yrs, $18), Frank Jackson
SG: Jrue Holiday, Jamal Crawford (1 yr, $3.5), Malcom Delaney (1 yr, min)
SF: E’Twaun Moore, Solomon Hill, Corey Brewer (1 yr, min), Paul Zipser (1 yr, min)
PF: Nikola Mirotic, Cheick Diallo, Channing Frye (non-guar)
C: Anthony Davis, Emeka Okafor, Alexis Ajinca
(Lucas Gaynor): Free agency started off pretty poorly for New Orleans, when DeMarcus Cousins left for Dallas. The Pelicans were willing to give Cousins $24 million a year as opposed to the max, and for only a short term two-year deal. They tried to explain to Cousins that this slight pay cut could help this team astronomically, because with this extra money they could have signed a wing player which they desperately needed. But all Boogie could hear was Ben Franklin.
The Pelicans recovered nicely by taking a low-risk chance on a player just one season removed from being top-five in MVP voting. Isaiah Thomas never got into a groove following hip surgery, a midseason return, Cavs’ turmoil and a trade to LA, but showed flashes that he could still be the player he once was. The expectation in New Orleans is not that he will return to the 28 points per game scorer he was in Boston, but rather that he will become the 20 ppg and 6 apg spark plug he was in Sacramento and Phoenix. The biggest knock on Thomas is his inability to defend, but there may not be two better players to offset his liabilities than Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis.
Although they lost a great talent in Cousins, there could be a net gain with Davis moving to the 5, the addition of Thomas’ offense and the loss of Cousins’ defense.
Dallas Mavericks (LG)
Notable additions: DeMarcus Cousins, Mo Bamba, Nick Young, Melvin Frazier, Josh Huestis
Notable departures: Nerlens Noel, Salah Mejri, Seth Curry, Yogi Ferrell, Dorian Finney-Smith
PG: Dennis Smith Jr., J.J. Barea, Wade Baldwin (non-guar)
SG: Wesley Matthews, Nick Young (1 yr, min), Melvin Frazier (№33)
SF: Harrison Barnes, Doug McDermott ($4.5 qual. offer), Josh Huestis (1 yr, min)
PF: Dirk Nowitzki (T.O.), Dwight Powell
C: Demarcus Cousins, Mo Bamba (№5), Maxi Kleber (T.O.)
(LG): The Mavericks were finally able to cash in and sign a top flight big man after a few years of striking out. They capitalized on a low ball offer from New Orleans, signing DeMarcus Cousins to a max deal of three years. They were otherwise quiet in free agency, with the exception of the Swaggy Champ Nick Young signing. His shooting should help open up the offense for Dennis Smith Jr.
While most will focus on the big name signing of Cousins, the draft could have been equally as important for the Mavs, bringing in Mo Bamba at pick five and Melvin Frazier at pick 33.While some may consider signing a big man after drafting one redundant, Dallas firmly believes Bamba and Cousins can coexist. Bamba brings the largest wingspan ever recorded at the combine, which coupled with his agility could really work while playing the inverse 4 next to Cousins (think Porzingis next to Kanter). As the youngster covers for some of Cousins defensive weaknesses, the veteran will do the same for Bamba on the other end.
Unlike most 2nd round picks, Melvin Frazier may be able to have an immediate impact in the NBA. He is 6'6" with almost a 7'2" wingspan, an explosive athlete, and a multi-position defender. Showing an improved stroke and offensive game over the last couple of years at Tulane, he could also develop into a solid two way player.
Sacramento Kings (SCG)
Notable additions: Luka Doncic, Jeremy Lin, Mario Hezonja
Notable departures: Iman Shumpert, Vince Carter
PG: De’Aaron Fox, Jeremy Lin, Frank Mason
SG: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Mario Hezonja (2–1, $10)
SF: Luka Doncic (№2), Justin Jackson, Garrett Temple (P.O.)
PF: Skal Labissiere, Zach Randolph, Kenrich Williams (№37)
C: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos, Harry Giles, Zaza Pachulia (1 yr, min)
(SCG): In Luka Doncic, Sacramento has its most tantalizing prospect ever (sorry, Billy Owens). And while playing him alongside De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein may be ugly for now, there is enough shooting, athleticism, passing and defense in that group for it to grow as a unit. Add in Buddy Hield and reclamation project Mario Hezonja, and there’s a lot to like.
By trading Iman Shumpert’s expiring contract for Jeremy Lin, adding Zaza Pachulia and bringing back Zach Randolph and Garrett Temple, this team has the proper leadership behind its young core.
Charlotte Hornets (CF)
Notable additions: Dennis Schröder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Glenn Robinson Jr, Gary Trent Jr.
Notable departures: Kemba Walker, Michael Carter-Williams
PG: Dennis Schröder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (№11)
SG: Jeremy Lamb, Malik Monk, Gary Trent Jr (№34)
SF: Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Glenn Robinson III (1 yr, min)
PF: Marvin Williams, Frank Kaminsky
C: Dwight Howard, Cody Zeller, Willy Hernangomez
(Corban Ford): Under the new administration of GM Mitch Kupchak and head coach James Borrego, the Charlotte Hornets have decided to go on a rebuild by letting go of their captain, Kemba Walker. The Hornets all-time leading scorer was sent to Atlanta in exchange for Dennis Schröder and the 34th pick, Gary Trent Jr. Schröder will step right into the starting point guard spot and the team will sink and swim with his play there. He has the youth to be able to continue to grow alongside young prospect Malik Monk, who will see a drastic increase in minutes. With the 11th pick in the draft, Charlotte selected 6’6" combo guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has potential to grow with this young core will get all the minutes he can handle in his first season.
Gary Trent Jr. is the 19-year-old son of the longtime Timberwolves forward, and at 6’6" possesses good size for a wing to go with a very good shot from deep (40% from three for Duke this past year). He will get a shot as a backup wing alongside another NBA offspring in Glenn Robinson III, who is still working back from injury but brings athleticism and 3-point shooting range.
With several players still on long term contracts, Charlotte will look to play out this upcoming season while hopefully being able to offload some salary in trades when available. With Schroder, Monk, Alexander, Trent, and Robinson, Charlotte can at least look to the future and see what these young ones will bring.
Atlanta Hawks (LG)
Notable additions: Kemba Walker, Jaren Jackson Jr., Shane Larkin, Dante Exum, Kevin Huerter, Jonas Jerebko
Notable departures: Dennis Schroder, Malcolm Delaney, Mike Muscala
PG: Kemba Walker, Shane Larkin (1 yr, min), Isaiah Taylor
SG: Dante Exum (2–1, $45), Tyler Dorsey, Kevin Huerter (№19)
SF: Taurean Prince, DeAndre Bembry, Kent Bazemore
PF: John Collins, Jonas Jerebko (1 yr, $2)
C: Jaren Jackson Jr. (№3), Dewayne Dedmon (P.O.), Miles Plumlee, Jahlil Okafor (non-guar)
(LG): The Hawks main offseason goal was to get better without unloading any future assets. While some may have considered Dennis Schroeder the latter, an opportunity arose to replace the disgruntled and arguably underperforming point guard with Kemba Walker. All Atlanta needed to do was attach the №34 pick. The Hawks then signed Dante Exum, who began to show flashes of why scouts had him so high in the 2014 draft — albeit in just 14 games. The 23 year old posted promising per-36 averages of 17.5 points, 6.6 assists, 4 rebounds and 1.5 steals, and while the contract he signed may be high for a player who has proved so little, a highball was necessary to get him out of Utah.
First-round pick Jaren Jackson has the potential to be a franchise building block with his defensive ability, both protecting the rim and ability to laterally move and stay with guards on the perimeter. He also showed flashes of ability on the offensive end, combining his elite athleticism with an impressive ability to go off the dribble for a player his size. Pair this with his shooting stroke (39.6 percent on 96 attempts), and he has a real chance to be a unicorn type player. Adding 6'7" wing Kevin Huerter at 19 gave Atlanta an immediate impact shooter running off screens. Next to Walker, there should be plenty of open spot up threes, where Huerter ranked in the 88th percentile in the NCAA.
With a projected starting lineup of Walker, Exum or Huerter, Taurean Prince, John Collins and Jackson, the Hawks should be able to switch everything two through five without sacrificing rim protection. Surrounding Walker with shooters and lob threats should also make for an entertaining offensive team. With new head coach Lloyd Pierce and all the new talent in town, this could be the start of a new era in Atlanta.
Indiana Pacers (CF)
Notable additions: Nerlens Noel, Troy Brown, Gary Clark, Yogi Ferrell
Notable departures: Al Jefferson, Glenn Robinson III, Joe Young
PG: Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, Yogi Ferrell (1 yr, $3)
SG: Victor Oladipo, Lance Stephenson (T.O.)
SF: Bojan Bogdanovic, Troy Brown (№23)
PF: Thaddeus Young (3 yrs, $28), TJ Leaf, Gary Clark (№50)
C: Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, Nerlens Noel (1–1, $9)
(CF): After a surprising season led by most improved player Victor Oladipo, the Pacers had a chance to go swinging for the fences but opted to stay conservative and stick with what worked. In the draft, Indiana selected Troy Brown Jr., a 6’7", 215 pound wing who excels in the pick-and-roll a la Evan Turner/Tyreke Evans. Gary Clark was selected later in the draft and is a banger at 6’7" with a set of low post moves and an improving jump shot.
In free agency, with the exception of Glenn Robinson III, Joe Young, and Trevor Booker, everyone was brought back. Lance Stephenson will continue to do what Lance does for another season, while Bojan Bogdanović had his $10.5 million guaranteed. Thaddeus Young sought security and the Pacers obliged him with a three-year deal. They also gave Nerlens Noel a shot to reclaim his career with a two-year deal featuring a team option on the second year.
The Pacers are aware that Oladipo is their leader and franchise piece moving forward; they go as far as he does. By bringing the band back together, Indiana is to be competitive for the upcoming season while also bringing some continuity. It will be a scrappy, competitive team that no one will want to tangle with in the east.
Golden State Warriors (SCG)
Notable additions: Tyreke Evans, Amir Johnson, Jacob Evans
Notable departures: Zaza Pachulia, Kevon Looney, Nick Young
PG: Stephen Curry, Shaun Livingston, Quinn Cook
SG: Klay Thompson, Tyreke Evans (1 yr, $6), Patrick McCaw (2–1, $2.5)
SF: Kevin Durant (2+1, $116), Andre Iguodala, Jacob Evans (№28)
PF: Draymond Green
C: Jordan Bell, JaVale McGee (1 yr, min), Damian Jones, Amir Johnson (1 yr, min), David West (1 yr, min)
(SCG): Golden State’s number one offseason goal was to upgrade its wing depth, and it did just that with a pair of Evans’. First Jacob, who fell to №28, and then Tyreke, who took a slight paycut at the taxpayer MLE in exchange for a significant role on a title team. His health is a concern, but the return of Patrick McCaw slightly softens the risk. So does the return of Kevin Durant.
Up front, the Warriors are confident that they have enough defense (Jordan Bell, Amir Johnson), offense (Bell, JaVale McGee, David West) and rebounding (Bell, Johnson, West) to get through the season. With improved wing depth, the hope is that Draymond Green can play much more center come playoff time than he did this past year.
Miami Heat (LG)
Notable additions: Jabari Parker, Brandan Wright, Joe Johnson
Notable departures: Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade
PG: Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Derrick Walton Jr.
SG: Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington (2 yrs, $15), Rodney McGruder
SF: Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow
PF: James Johnson, Jabari Parker, Joe Johnson (1 yr, min)
C: Bam Adebayo, Kelly Olynyk, Brandan Wright (1 yr, min)
(LG): Although there may have been a stroke of luck involved, the Heat managed to get rid of Hassan Whiteside and his behemoth of a contract. It was not even they that had to initiate the trade involving Whiteside, as the Bucks offered a sign-and-trade involving Jabari Parker in exchange for the big man. Swapping a big who was been consistently played off the floor due to his very limited offensive skill and very limited defensive awareness for a player with the ceiling of Parker was a no brainer. The Heat took back a similar salary, trading for Parker after he signed a four-year, 88 million dollar deal, the fourth year being non-guaranteed due to injury concerns. The coaching and conditioning of the Heat’s organization gives Jabari all the tools he could ask for in order to get healthy and improve on the defensive end.
The move opens up a chain reaction of potential improvement across the roster. Allowing Bam Adebayo to step into the starting center spot immediately makes the defense more switchable. Pair him with defensive studs Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow at the wings? This suddenly becomes very versatile defensive lineup that has more than adequate floor spacing on offense. One move can radically change a team, and the front office believes the trade for Jabari did just that.
Milwaukee Bucks (SCG)
Notable additions: Hassan Whiteside, Kyle O’Quinn, Avery Bradley, Zhaire Smith
Notable departures: Jabari Parker, Tyler Zeller, Shabazz Muhammad
PG: Eric Bledsoe, Matthew Dellavedova, Brandon Jennings
SG: Malcolm Brogdon, Avery Bradley (1+1, $12), Tony Snell, Sterling Brown
SF: Khris Middleton, Zhaire Smith (№17)
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo, DJ Wilson
C: Hassan Whiteside, Kyle O’Quinn, John Henson, Thon Maker
(SCG): The league’s longest team got longer. It started when Zhaire Smith fell to №17, and continued when Avery Bradley languished on the open market late into the offseason. Both are better off-ball and defensive options than Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon or Jabari Parker, and give the Bucks myriad small-ball options with Giannis at the 5.
That being said, the Bucks may not need to go that route all that often. By moving Parker in a sign-and-trade for Hassan Whiteside and adding Kyle O’Quinn at the MLE, rebounding, shot blocking and big-man offense has flipped from a weakness to a strength. The Bucks are deeper, more versatile and better-fitting than last year, a scary thought considering that the upgrade to Mike Budenholzer alone would have signified a strong offseason.
Chicago Bulls (CF)
Notable Additions: Michael Porter Jr., Shake Milton
Notable Departures: No one of note
PG: Kris Dunn, Cam Payne, Jerian Grant
SG: Zach LaVine (5 yrs, $90), Shake Milton (№22), David Nwaba ($1.7, qual. offer), Sean Kilpatrick
SF: Michael Porter Jr. (№7), Justin Holiday, Denzel Valentine
PF: Lauri Markkanen, Bobby Portis, Noah Vonleh (1 yr, $2)
C: Robin Lopez, Cristiano Felicio, Omer Asik
(CF): Chicago started Year 2 of its rebuild by bringing Zach LaVine back on a major deal, assuring him that he is the franchise centerpiece moving forward. If the 23-year-old high flying guard is completely back from his ACL tear then the Bulls can feel pretty good about the money. With two picks in the first round Chicago selected two promising players who can make immediate impacts in the starting lineup in Michael Porter Jr. and Shake Milton. Porter has injury concerns, however if the forward can bounce back then Chicago will have gained a player who can create his own offense, a real boon to a team that is in desperate need of that quality. Milton brings great size, ball handling and passing ability as a combo guard to go along with very solid 3-point shooting and a nice floater off the bounce.
In free agency Chicago decided to fill out the roster by picking up David Nwaba’s qualifying offer and giving Noah Vonleh another chance to prove that he belongs. Chicago will roll this unit out next season and continue to grow and develop, as management decides how best to move forward as they find the players that will hopefully form the next great Bulls team.
Los Angeles Clippers (SCG)
Notable additions: Wendell Carter, Lonnie Walker
Notable departures: Avery Bradley
PG: Patrick Beverley (T.O.), Austin Rivers (P.O.), Milos Teodosic, Jawun Evans
SG: Lou Williams, Lonnie Walker (№13), Sindarius Thornwell
SF: Tobias Harris, Sam Dekker, Wesley Johnson
PF: Danilo Gallinari
C: DeAndre Jordan (P.O.), Wendell Carter (№12), Boban Marjanovic, Montrezl Harrell ($2, qual. offer)
(SCG): The Clippers could not ask for a better duo at №12 and 13 than Wendell Carter and Lonnie Walker. The former gives them a high-floor 5 who will be a rotation fixture at worst and super-modern starter at best, while the latter gives them the type of potential go-to scorer that is extremely hard to find in the late lottery.
DeAndre Jordan opting in made it difficult to bring back Beverly and Harrell (LA will be above the tax line entering the season), but they are confident they can flip Jordan at the trade deadline.
Washington Wizards (CF)
Notable additions: Joe Harris, Rajon Rondo, Elie Okobo, Robert Williams
Notable departures: Ramon Sessions, Ty Lawson?
PG: John Wall, Rajon Rondo (1 yr, min), Elie Okobo (№44)
SG: Bradley Beal, Tomas Satoransky, Jodie Meeks
SF: Otto Porter, Joe Harris (2 yrs, $10)
PF: Markieff Morris, Kelly Oubre, Mike Scott (1 yr, $3)
C: Marcin Gortat, Ian Mahinmi, Robert Williams (№15), Jason Smith
(CF): The Wizards decided to stay par the course and bring the same roster back for another crack at it, deciding not to rock the boat under John Wall and Bradley Beal. Mike Scott was brought back to help the frontcourt depth with Kelly Oubre Jr. after his strong season, and Rajon Rondo was brought in on a minimum contract to take the backup point guard role. In the draft, Robert Williams was selected, and the young big will not only help the Wizards now, but also in the long term as an eventual successor to the aging Marcin Gortat. Washington was also able to grab a steal in Joe Harris, the 6’6" swingman from Brooklyn with the smooth shot. Harris brings that extra shooting to go along with a build that will help him swing between multiple positions at the guard and forward spots.
With the departure of LeBron from the east, Washington has the talent to be able to stay relevant and in the fight to be in the upper echelon of the conference.
Minnesota Timberwolves (LG)
Notable additions: Keita Bates-Diop, Darius Miller, Marco Belinelli
Notable departures: Jamal Crawford, Derrick Rose
PG: Jeff Teague, Tyus Jones, Aaron Brooks (1 yr, min)
SG: Jimmy Butler, Marco Belinelli, Pat Connaughton (non-guar)
SF: Andrew Wiggins, Darius Miller (2 yrs, $7 mil)
PF: Taj Gibson, Nemanja Bjelica ($3.9, qual. offer), Keita Bates-Diop (№20)
C: Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng, Cole Aldrich, Justin Patton
(LG): Believing that if Jimmy Butler had been healthy all year the team would have finished with a better record and deeper playoff run, the Timberwolves used their MLE and Bi Annual Exception to make slight tweaks instead of wholesale changes. The clear priority was shooting, and the three players brought in were Darius Miller, Marco Bellinelli and Pat Connaughton, each of whom shot better than 35% from 3-point land this past season. While they may have lost scoring off the bench with Jamal Crawford, they more than replaced it with more practical options given the creation exploits of Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and, to a lesser extent, Andrew Wiggins.
Although the team may look similar to last year’s, chances are the results will be much different (and better) due to roster tweaks and the health of Jimmy Butler.
Memphis Grizzlies (CF)
Notable additions: Marvin Bagley, Arron Afflalo, Shabazz Muhammad, Ty Lawson, Justin Jackson, Anfernee Simons
Notable departures: Tyreke Evans, Mario Chalmers, Brandan Wright
PG: Mike Conley, Ty Lawson (1 yr, min)
SG: Ben McLemore, Wayne Selden, Arron Afflalo (1 yr, min), Anfernee Simons (№38)
SF: Chandler Parsons, Shabazz Muhammad (1 yr, min), Justin Jackson (№39)
PF: Marvin Bagley (№4), JaMychal Green, Jarell Martin
C: Marc Gasol, Deyonta Davis, Ivan Rabb
(CF): The Memphis front office sees the writing on the wall and knows that it is time for a full rebuild; the problem is convincing the team and the fans. In the draft Marvin Bagley was selected with the 4th overall pick in the hopes that he will learn the tricks of the defensive trade by Marc Gasol while getting plenty of opportunities to show his impressive offensive repertoire. Memphis attempted to keep Tyreke Evans on a longer deal on the midlevel, but Evans decided to forgo security in favor of an opportunity to win a ring with decent minutes on the Golden State Warriors. Memphis in turn grabbed both Shabazz Muhammad and Arron Afflalo to attempt to replicate what Evans provided from a ball handling/scoring perspective between two different players.
With Chandler Parson, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol on the books for many more years, the Grizzlies have decided to roll out their squad with some ancillary pieces for as long as they can until the old guard moves on, either by trade or expiring contracts, as they begin to hunker down and prepare for a long, possibly painful rebuild that they’ve held off for as long as they could.
Toronto Raptors (LG)
Notable additions: Mike Muscala
Notable departures: Lucas Nogueira
PG: Kyle Lowry, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet
SG: DeMar DeRozan, CJ Miles, Malachi Richardson
SF: OG Anunoby, Norman Powell, Alfonzo McKinnie
PF: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl, Mike Muscala (1 yr, $3)
(LG): The focus of the Raptors’ offseason was to give their group a fresh start with new coach Nick Nurse. The front office did attempt to part ways with any of Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas and Norman Powell, but there was no market for Valanciunas, and the return value for Ibaka and Powell was not there this summer. Waiting for the upcoming trade deadline was determined to be the smarter, safer move. While the roster remained nearly the same, the coaching change will make this look like more of a cohesive team and still are contenders for a top seed in the east.