A lot of the big NBA free agents are off the board. We can now start evaluating whose having the best off-season thus far and start looking at rosters and where they shape up. Let’s look at the five best NBA off-seasons a less than three weeks into it.
5. Charlotte Hornets
ADDITIONS: SG Lance Stephenson, PG Brian Roberts, SF Marvin Williams, SG P.J. Hairston
The return of the Hornets has revitalized Charlotte. The Bobcats never had a true identity. Now they do, and it’s not just because of the name change. The organization surprised people making the playoffs last season, and are having an impressive off-season so far. They just signed Lance Stephenson to a three-year, $27 million deal. While Stephenson has been a bit of a distraction, he continues to get better every year, and was a much-needed addition to the backcourt, which now features him and Kemba Walker. They added Marvin Williams, who should fill in nicely for Josh McRoberts. Brian Roberts is another overlooked addition and should be a good guy off the bench. Charlotte also traded for P.J. Hairston in the draft to come off the bench. The Hornets got better and could be working their way up in an improved East.
4. New York Knicks
ADDITIONS: PG Jose Calderon, PG/SG Shane Larkin, SG Wayne Ellington, SF Cleanthony Early, PF/C Sam Dalembert, C Jason Smith
The biggest move the Knicks had to make was bringing back Carmelo Anthony, which they did for five years at $124 million. Phil Jackson started off the off-season with a bang upgrading dramatically at point guard, acquiring Jose Calderon. They also got some bench pieces in Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington, Sam Dalembert, and draft picks, which include Cleanthony Early. Jackson also just signed center Jason Smith to a one-year deal. The Knicks have improved dramatically from last year’s disaster, and should definitely be back in the playoffs next season. They are also well positioned to make their move next summer with $40 million-plus coming off the books.
3. Dallas Mavericks
ADDITIONS: SF Chandler Parsons, C Tyson Chandler, SF/PF Rashard Lewis, SF Richard Jefferson, PG Raymond Felton
The Mavericks started the off-season with a blockbuster deal with the Knicks. They brought back Tyson Chandler and also got Raymond Felton. They gave up a ton in return for the two, but have recovered since the trade that most would say the Knicks got the better end of. They just agreed to a three-year, $46 million deal with Chandler Parsons. He will join Chandler as well as Dirk Nowitzki, who showed a ton of loyalty by agreeing to a three-year, $25 million deal. The Mavs also added pieces to come off the bench in Rashard Lewis and Richard Jefferson. The team has had the best off-season so far in the Western Conference.
2. Washington Wizards
ADDITIONS: SF Paul Pierce, PF Kris Humphries, PF/C DeJuan Blair
The league should be on notice. The Washington Wizards are having a tremendous off-season and are putting the pieces together to become a title contender. A young, talented Wizards team needed a couple of veterans to complement John Wall and Bradley Beal. They added the perfect piece to the puzzle in Paul Pierce. They signed Pierce to a two-year, $11 million deal to give them a guy with a championship pedigree. They resigned their double-double machine Marcin Gortat to a long-term deal. They also acquired Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair, giving them a ton of front court depth. The Wizards are 10 players deep and should be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
ADDITIONS: SF LeBron James, SG Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF Mike Miller, SG/SF James Jones
Adding LeBron James to your roster automatically puts you atop the list. King James gives the Cavaliers relevance and turns them from pretenders to major contenders. It’s a homecoming for LeBron, who tries to rewrite the script where his career started. King James will unite with Kyrie Irving, who signed a five-year, $90 million extension to remain in Cleveland. They also drafted Andrew Wiggins to make a formidable trio that should light up the scoreboard. LeBron’s old teammates Mike Miller and James Jones followed him to Cleveland in hopes of winning another title with the best player in the sport.