Warriors

Warriors, Nets win NBA offseason as 76ers, Blazers flop

Warriors
Steph Curry, Kevin Durant

The champagne hasn't even dried on the Bucks' locker room floor in Milwaukee, and it's already time to turn our attention to the 2021-22 NBA season.

The NBA draft has come and gone. Free agency is all but finished. The three star players thought to be on the move are all, for now, staying put.

With 48 days until training camp, let's take a look at who won the offseason and who has to head back to the drawing board next summer.

Winner: Lakers

Yeah, the Russell Westbrook fit won't be perfect, but the Lakers desperately needed another playmaker who can create for himself and others when LeBron James is off the floor. LA really missed Rajon Rondo last season as its offense got stuck in the mud when No. 23 wasn't there to direct traffic.

Westbrook is a putrid floor-spacer, but the Lakers did well to add shooting around him, James and Anthony Davis by signing Wayne Ellington, Malik Monk and Carmelo Anthony in the offseason. The Lakers' defense likely will dip this season, but the offensive boost should more than make up for it.

The roster construction points to James playing more power forward and Davis slotting in at center more than in past years. If that's the case, the Lakers are well-equipped to return to the NBA Finals if James, Davis and Westbrook can stay healthy.

Loser: 76ers

As long as Ben Simmons remains on the roster, the 76ers are going to be on this list.

 

It was clear Simmons' time in Philly was over after both Joel Embiid and Doc Rivers dragged Simmons through the mud following Philadelphia's playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Simmons reportedly has cut off all communication with the franchise and it appears unlikely that he will return.

The only problem is that the 76ers have yet to find a team willing to give them a ransom for a talented player with a glaring offensive deficiency. Daryl Morey called around the league and asked for the moon from just about everyone. And he was told "No thanks" each time.

The 76ers are looking for a star in return for Simmons. But the longer Simmons stays on the roster, the less leverage Philly has, meaning either the price will have to come down or Morey, Embiid and Rivers are going to have to try and mend some fences that are irreparably damaged.

Winner: Nets

The Nets were a Kevin Durant toe from beating the Milwaukee Bucks and probably winning the NBA title.

So, they went out and added veteran guard Patty Mills, who will be a perfect bench guard capable of stepping and starting should Kyrie Irving miss any time next season. The Nets also made out like bandits in the draft, selecting LSU's Cameron Thomas and North Carolina's Day'Ron Sharpe.

Brooklyn also re-signed Blake Griffin and Bruce Brown. Losing Jeff Green stings, but the Nets were able to fill his slot with James Johnson. With another year of continuity under their belt, the Nets should enter the season as the title favorites.

Loser: Mavericks

The Mavericks' goal in the offseason was to add another ball-handler who could take some of the pressure off Luka Doncic. Kyle Lowry was the target. He ended up in South Beach. Lonzo Ball was an option. He is now a Bull. Goran Dragic remains a possibility, but the Toronto Raptors appear content to hang onto the veteran guard for now.

Dallas did re-sign Tim Hardaway Jr. and added Sterling Brown and Reggie Bullock. But neither of those acquisitions elevate the Mavericks into the top-four in the West or take pressure off Doncic.

Mark Cuban entered free agency hungry for a game-changing acquisition. He and the Mavericks move toward the season with still empty bellies.

Winner: Bulls

In moves that showed the new front office was serious about trying to win now, the Bulls added Ball, DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso this offseason. Ball and Caruso will help fix Chicago's leaky perimeter defense, and DeRozan gives them a veteran playmaker who fits nicely in the frontcourt with Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic. Yes, DeRozan is a little long in the tooth and minus defensively, but he gives Chicago another player who the Bulls can run the offense through and is capable of getting his own shot.

DeRozan's addition also could open up doors for the Bulls to perhaps shop LaVine in a deal for another star.

 

The offseason additions should help the Bulls get back into the postseason for the first time since 2017.

Loser: Pelicans

Much like the Mavericks, New Orleans had big eyes entering free agency. The Pelicans also eyed Kyle Lowry in order to give Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram an experienced veteran point guard who can play both on and off the ball.

Instead, New Orleans lost out on Lowry, watched Ball go to the Bulls while making Devonte Graham, Tomas Satoransky and Trey Murphy their big offseason moves. Oof.

Winner: Warriors

No, there was no blockbuster trade for a star. At least, not yet.

But the Warriors did a good job of focusing on the future in the draft, while adding key veterans in Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica in free agency. Early returns from Summer League suggest that Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga might be able to help out more than initially thought this season.

The Warriors will continue to monitor the trade waters and perhaps swing a deal for Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard or Simmons. But with Klay Thompson set to return, the Warriors have a much more well-rounded roster than one Steph Curry tried to drag to the playoffs a year ago.

RELATED: Warriors must consider SImmons trade

Loser: Trail Blazers

Neil Olshey has more or less received an edict from Damian Lillard that he needs to upgrade the roster to one that can contend for titles, or the star guard might ask for a one-way ticket out of PDX.

So, Olshey, like any smart general manager, went out and signed Ben McLemore, Tony Snell and Cody Zeller. Don't rub your eyes, you read that right. The Blazers also re-signed Normal Powell to a five-year, $90 million contract. The Blazers also lost Anthony and Zach Collins.

The roster is no better than the one that has been jettisoned from the playoffs in the first round in each of the past two seasons, putting Portland one step closer to losing its franchise star.

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