NBA Offseason Grades – Pacific Division

Several teams were very busy in the West’s Pacific Division while others just made smaller moves.  The Clippers and Golden State didn’t make any huge splashes, but both teams added some depth off the bench.  Despite the Suns’ heavy activity, their dealings with talented guard Eric Bledsoe are still unresolved.  The Lakers are building toward the 2016 free agent class.  They’ve added some quality players for the time being, however.  And finally, who knows what the Kings are doing.  Let’s take a closer look:

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Several teams were very busy in the West’s Pacific Division while others just made smaller moves.  The Clippers and Golden State didn’t make any huge splashes, but both teams added some depth off the bench.  Despite the Suns’ heavy activity, their dealings with talented guard Eric Bledsoe are still unresolved.  The Lakers are building toward the 2016 free agent class.  They’ve added some quality players for the time being, however.  And finally, who knows what the Kings are doing.  Let’s take a closer look:

Golden State Warriors

Golden State’s first and most important offseason acquisition was the hiring of Steve Kerr to be head coach.  Kerr was highly sought after and is seen as a young star in the coaching profession.  The second storyline was the trade talks with Minnesota over Kevin Love.  Golden State was unwilling to part with Klay Thompson in any deal for Love, which ultimately doomed the trade.  There were real questions about whether a core of Love and Stephen Curry could lead this team to the promise land.  Golden State had no picks in the draft but made a couple of notable acquisitions during free agency.  Shaun Livingston comes in from Brooklyn and provides much needed help behind Curry.  A solid defender, Livingston will be the third guard and can play both positions.  Brandon Rush returns to Golden State as well.  Rush has dealt with injuries, but if he can stay healthy, he brings more shooting.  This team failed to make any big leaps however, and could find itself struggling to make the playoffs in the West.

Grade: B-

Los Angeles Clippers

With the Donald Sterling debacle mostly behind them, the Clippers can now relax a bit and focus themselves on the court.  Roster-wise, the Clippers’ biggest weakness was their lack of depth inside.  For this reason, Doc Rivers signed Spencer Hawes to be the team’s third big behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.  Re-signing Glen Davis also helps, but he’s undersized to be the team’s back-up center, which made the Hawes signing all the more necessary.  The Clippers did lose back-up point guard Darren Collison, who was coming off a strong season.  Danny Granger is also gone.  Rivers signed Jordan Farmar to take Collison’s place.  Time will tell if back-up point guard becomes an issue.  The Clippers also drafted guard C.J. Wilcox (Washington).  Wilcox is a sharpshooter, but drafting him raises questions about the development of Reggie Bullock, another guard with the same skillset who was drafted just last year.  As it is, the Clippers will be a contender in the West again.  They have the talent, but can they take that next step?

Grade: B-

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are officially rebuilding.  Although the team pursued Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and even its own free agent Pau Gasol, GM Mitch Kupchak was unsuccessful.  The Lakers set their sights on 2016, when Kevin Durant becomes a free agent.  For the time being, the Lakers actually had a decent offseason, starting by drafting Julius Randle (Kentucky) with the seventh pick.  Randle could develop into a more athletic Zach Randolph.  They also acquired guard Jordan Clarkson (Missouri) in the second round.  Kupchak was extremely busy in free agency.  The team parted ways with Gasol, Jordan Farmar, Jodie Meeks, Chris Kaman, Kent Bazemore and Kendall Marshall.  The Marshall situation was particularly strange because the Lakers waived him despite his solid play last season.  They re-signed Jordan Hill, Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Ryan Kelly and Wesley Johnson and also signed Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis.  Boozer and Davis come on the cheap.  Boozer remains a good offensive player but a defensive liability.  Davis is an underrated interior presence.  Finally, Kupchak acquired Jeremy Lin and a first-round pick from Houston as the Rockets were looking to dump salary.  If Bryant returns to form, this team may surprise people this season while they wait for 2016.

Grade: B+

Phoenix Suns

Phoenix’s offseason has been busy but remains incomplete until the Eric Bledsoe situation gets resolved.  The two sides are far apart in contract negotiations, which raises questions about whether Phoenix is willing to trade Bledsoe, a restricted free agent.  Aside from that, Phoenix continues to accumulate quality talent.  This was especially true in the draft, where the Suns added T.J. Warren (N.C. State), Tyler Ennis (Syracuse) and Bogdan Bogdanovic in the first round and Alec Brown (Green Bay) in the second.  Warren is an elite scorer who could make an instant impact.  Ennis is young and still needs to grow, but the point guard is a great leader and has tremendous intangibles.  Bogdanovic is a draft-and-stash.  The Suns lost Channing Frye in free agency, but they re-signed P.J. Tucker and signed Anthony Tolliver.  Phoenix’s biggest move thus far has been the acquisition of explosive guard Isaiah Thomas in a sign-and-trade with Sacramento.  Thomas figures to be the third guard behind Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, providing a huge spark off the bench.  This team continues to be on the rise and should make the playoffs this year.

Grade: B (this changes depending on what happens with Bledsoe)

Sacramento Kings

The Kings had a curious summer.  They didn’t make much effort to bring back Isaiah Thomas, who was a restricted free agent.  In his place, Sacramento signed Darren Collison.  Collison will take over the point guard duties but hasn’t been an effective starter thus far in his career.  Rudy Gay expectedly opted-in on his monstrous contract.  The Kings also traded away Quincy Acy and Travis Outlaw to the Knicks for Wayne Ellington and Jeremy Tyler.  Both Tyler and Ellington are capable bench players, so it wasn’t a bad deal.  Sacramento drafted sharpshooting guard Nik Stauskas (Michigan) with the eighth pick.  Stauskas can help spread the floor for DeMarcus Cousins and Gay, but he’s somewhat of an overlap pick with 2013 lottery pick Ben McLemore, who has a similar skillset.  Many other talented players were available at that point in the draft.  It’ll be interesting to see the distribution of playing time between McLemore and Stauskas.  Sacramento is not expected to make much noise this season, and the team’s offseason raised more questions than answers.

Grade: C-