Grading Every NBA Contender's Offseason Moves

2019 NBA Finals - Game Six
2019 NBA Finals - Game Six / Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Now that the Kawhi Leonard domino has fallen, all of the big fish in the 2019 free agency class have signed. With the offseason ending almost as soon as it began, some contenders have upgraded in areas that were weak last year, some decided to run it back with almost the same squad as the prior year, and some whiffed in a big way. Let's start with the worst.

12. Houston Rockets: D+

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five
Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five / Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Rockets have flatlined, there's no other way to describe it. The James Harden/Chris Paul partnership isn't working out the way they thought it would, and Daryl Morey remains unable to upgrade the roster due to Harden and Paul's massive contracts. After failing to find a suitor for Clint Capela and his contract to shake some stuff around, the Rockets should be a playoff team once again, but their ceiling is capped at the conference finals -- if that.

11. Toronto Raptors: C-

Toronto Raptors Victory Parade & Rally
Toronto Raptors Victory Parade & Rally / Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Raptors were 17-5 when Kawhi didn't play last year, so the core of Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet with Nick Nurse coaching will be just fine. However, the Raptors championship window has slammed shut now that Board Man is in Southern California. Masai Ujiri swung for the fences and hit a grand slam in the Leonard trade, but the Raptors now face a future of retooling and tinkering to replace his prolific production on both ends.

10. Denver Nuggets: C

Portland Trail Blazers v Denver Nuggets - Game Seven
Portland Trail Blazers v Denver Nuggets - Game Seven / Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

There honestly wasn't much the Nuggets could do. They aren't a premier free-agent destination and they aren't exactly a scary team to face come playoff time. However, they managed to keep the band together and gave Jamal Murray a max contract while picking up Paul Millsap's option for next season. Throw in the potential impacts of Michael Porter Jr. and Bol Bol, and the Nugs might be even better next year.

9. Boston Celtics: C+

Portland Trail Blazers v Charlotte Hornets
Portland Trail Blazers v Charlotte Hornets / Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Celtics lost Kyrie Irving and Al Horford and replaced them with Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter. Those are lateral moves at best, but nonetheless Danny Ainge found a way to recover and hopefully keep the offense spreading the ball to help Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown thrive. Let's not forget they'll likely have Gordon Hayward fully healthy and with a clear head following his gruesome injury two seasons ago.

8. Milwaukee Bucks: B-

Milwaukee Bucks v Toronto Raptors - Game Six
Milwaukee Bucks v Toronto Raptors - Game Six / Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Bucks managed to keep some key members of the team that earned the No. 1 seed in the east. They re-signed Khris Middleton to a massive deal and their frontcourt is set with Brookie and Robn Lopez. The B- stems from the fact they lost some major pieces when Malcolm Brogdon left for the division-rival Pacers and Nikola Mirotic left for a different continent when he signed with Barcelona. Those losses could be enough to see the Bucks slide down the standings.

7. Philadelphia 76ers: B

Toronto Raptors v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Six
Toronto Raptors v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Six / Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

There's no doubt that Philly is building something nice by signing Tobias Harris and Al Horford to play alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. That foursome could rule the East following the Kawhi Leonard bombshell. However, they are as hard-capped as can be following these two deals, and a Sixers team that lacked shooting last year will go into 2019 with even less shooting after JJ Redick bolted for the Pelicans.

6. Portland Trail Blazers: B+

Portland Trail Blazers v Miami Heat
Portland Trail Blazers v Miami Heat / Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Portland became the fifth team to sign a player to the vaunted supermax deal, keeping point guard Damian Lillard in the Rose City for an addition four years. The acquisition of Hassan Whiteside remains equal parts exciting and confusing. Will Whiteside mesh with Jusuf Nurkic when he gets back? Still, it's hard to criticize the Trail Blazers' offseason when they locked up their superstar point guard and added a double-double machine to replace Enes Kanter.

5. Golden State Warriors: B+

Brooklyn Nets v Sacramento Kings
Brooklyn Nets v Sacramento Kings / Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

You know the Warriors are a well-run team when they can get a B+ in an offseason in which they lost Kevin Durant. While not anywhere close in terms of star power, the addition of All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell gives them a 23-year-old shooter who will score 20 points a night in his sleep. By re-signing Klay Thompson to a max contract and adding some size in the form of Willie Cauley-Stein, the Warriors should be near the top of the West without Durant.

4. Los Angeles Lakers: B+

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers
New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers / Harry How/Getty Images

It took a lot longer than was expected, but Anthony Davis is finally going to be a Los Angeles Laker, even at the cost of the LA's draft for the next half-decade. Losing out on Kawhi prevents them from anything higher than a B+, but the signings of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Danny Green, Quinn Cook and JaVale McGee have finally given LeBron James some shooters. After a brief hiatus, expect LeBron to be back in the playoffs.

3. Utah Jazz: A-

Memphis Grizzlies v Indiana Pacers
Memphis Grizzlies v Indiana Pacers / Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In the blink of an eye, Quin Snyder and the Utah Jazz have made the leap from scrappy playoff contender to playoff team. They had the scorer in Donovan Mitchell and the best rim protector in the game in Rudy Gobert, but needed a point guard to tie it all together. Bringing in an automatic 20 points every night in Mike Conley as well as sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic earns the Jazz exemplary marks for this offseason and has them set up to compete for championships.

2. Brooklyn Nets: A

2018 NBA All-Star - Media Day & Practice
2018 NBA All-Star - Media Day & Practice / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Kevin Durant's injury risk takes this down from an A+ to an A, but the Brooklyn Nets pulled off the free agent coup of the century by bringing in both KD and Kyrie Irving. While their lack of size killed them in the playoffs last year, the signing of human bulldozer and rebounding machine DeAndre Jordan should help in that department. After years of anonymity, the Nets are set to take New York by storm thanks to some masterful jobs by coach Kenny Atkinson and GM Sean Marks.

1. Los Angeles Clippers: A+

Portland Trail Blazers v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Three
Portland Trail Blazers v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Three / Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Clippers went from getting shut out in free agency to arguably being the favorites for the title with two overnight moves. Bringing in Kawhi Leonard on a max contract made them title contenders on that move alone, but the acquisition of Paul George, albeit at the cost of a ton of draft picks, has arguably catapulted the Clippers past the Lakers overnight. It's Michael Winger and Jerry West's world, and we're all just living in it.