Offseason grades: Blazers keep busy, Thunder tear down in Northwest Division
Between a flurry of draft-day trades and a breakneck free-agency period, it's no easy task to remember where everyone landed. Not only does theScore have each team's moves listed in one place, but our news editors have also graded every organization's offseason so far.
Change was a popular theme in the Northwest Division. Contenders replenished their arsenal for 2020-21, while teams looking further down the road stocked up on pieces that will, hopefully, develop into the stars needed to make a future championship possible.
That said, the Larry O'Brien Trophy hasn't landed in the Northwest since the '70s, and all five franchises still have plenty of work to do if they want to end that drought.
Last season: 46-27 (.630)
Departed: Jerami Grant (DET), Mason Plumlee (DET), Torrey Craig (MIL), Noah Vonleh (CHI), Keita Bates-Diop (SAS), Troy Daniels (FA)
Drafted: Zeke Nnaji (No. 22), R.J. Hampton (No. 24 via MIL)
Re-signed: Paul Millsap, Bol Bol
Added: JaMychal Green (LAC), Isaiah Hartenstein (HOU), Facundo Campazzo (Real Madrid), Markus Howard (Marquette), Greg Whittington (Georgetown)
After becoming the first NBA team to complete multiple 3-1 series comebacks in the same postseason, the Nuggets knew they might only be a couple of pieces away from a potential Finals appearance. It's tough to argue they found them.
Grabbing Nnaji and Hampton late in the first round is a solid draft outcome, especially considering the latter was once regarded as a potential top-five pick. However, Grant's exit is a massive loss for Denver, as the forward's defensive prowess was crucial to its playoff resiliency. Green is a nice pickup with experience, but he isn't a replacement for Grant.
Keeping Millsap was necessary, but the veteran will turn 36 years old this season. The Nuggets are likely banking on Bol Bol and Michael Porter Jr. taking massive steps forward this year, but, as a whole, this offseason feels like a step back for Denver.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Last season: 44-28 (.611)
Departed: Chris Paul (PHO), Abdel Nader (PHO), Danilo Gallinari (ATL), Steven Adams (NOP), Dennis Schroder (LAL)
Drafted: Aleksej Pokusevski (No. 17 via MIN), Theo Maledon (No. 34 via PHI), Vit Krejci (No. 37 via WAS)
Re-signed: Mike Muscala, Hamidou Diallo
Added: Al Horford (PHI), Trevor Ariza (DET), Admiral Schofield (WAS), Vincent Poirier (BOS), Justin Jackson (DAL), T.J. Leaf (IND), Darius Miller (NOP), Kenrich Williams (NOP), Ty Jerome (PHO), George Hill (MIL), Moses Brown (POR)
Arguably, no general manager was busier over the last few months than Sam Presti.
The Thunder undoubtedly overperformed last season. Presti recognized a championship wasn't in the team's immediate future and stockpiled first-round pick after pick - up to 17 of them - through 2026. Considering Oklahoma City doesn't tend to attract star free agents, and the organization's best players have come through the draft, the fire sale was a necessary bit of business.
Of course, accruing draft capital means an inferior on-court product in the meantime. The Thunder likely won't rack up wins in 2020-21, but there's still a chance they could be in the playoff race thanks to their mix of young talent and seasoned veterans - assuming Presti is done making moves.
Last season: 44-28 (.611)
Departed: Emmanuel Mudiay (FA), Tony Bradley (DET), Ed Davis (MIN), Rayjon Tucker (CLE)
Drafted: Udoka Azubuike (No. 27 via NYK), Elijah Hughes (39 via NO)
Re-signed: Jordan Clarkson, Jarrell Brantley
Added: Derrick Favors (NOP), Trent Forrest (Florida State)
The Jazz's most important bit of business this offseason was securing Donovan Mitchell's long-term future, and they did just that with a five-year, $195 million extension. But, what's going to happen with Rudy Gobert? The two-time Defensive Player of the Year is set to hit a loaded free-agency class in 2021 since he still hasn't agreed to an extension.
That context provides a different perspective when looking at Utah's offseason. The team re-acquired Favors from the Pelicans and drafted Azubuike out of Kansas, adding two incredibly defensive-minded big men to their squad. So, while the Jazz didn't really overhaul the roster or make any big signings, they're staying competitive and safeguarding themselves against losing Gobert.
Portland Trail Blazers
Last season: 35-39 (.473)
Departed: Mario Hezonja (MEM), Trevor Ariza (OKC), Hassan Whiteside (SAC), Wenyen Gabriel (NOP), Jaylen Adams (MIL), Moses Brown (OKC)
Drafted: CJ Elleby (No. 46)
Re-signed: Rodney Hood, Carmelo Anthony
Added: Robert Covington (HOU), Harry Giles (SAC), Derrick Jones Jr. (MIA), Keljin Blevins (PHO), Enes Kanter (BOS)
The Trail Blazers sneakily had one of the best offseasons among all contenders. They capitalized on the Rockets ditching their center-less tactic by poaching away Covington. The trade provides Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum with exactly what they needed last season: an incredible perimeter defender.
Covington isn't the only notable move on the wing. Jones is a shrewd free-agent signing thanks to his athleticism, and bringing back Anthony ensures the side has a daunting number of scoring options to take more pressure off Lillard.
Giles and Kanter, meanwhile, are perfect depth pieces for Portland's frontcourt. Giles, 22, is a great, inexpensive option with plenty of room to grow. Kanter, returning to the Blazers after a season away, is a reliable backup to Jusuf Nurkic, who will start the year at full health after coming back late last season from a leg fracture suffered in March 2019.
Last season: 19-45 (.297)
Departed: Jacob Evans (NYK), Omari Spellman (NYK), James Johnson (OKC), Kelan Martin (IND), Evan Turner (FA), Jordan McLaughlin (FA)
Drafted: Anthony Edwards (No. 1), Leandro Bolmaro (No. 23 via NYK), Jaden McDaniels (No. 28 via LAL)
Re-signed: Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez
Added: Ricky Rubio (OKC), Ed Davis (UTA), Ashton Hagans (Kentucky)
The Timberwolves undoubtedly took the best fit for their team with the No. 1 pick in the draft, but the jury's still out on if Edwards was the overall best player available. Regardless, the former Georgia standout is an explosive scorer whose athleticism and skill set should seamlessly complement D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Aside from Edwards, Minnesota didn't really make any other major additions. Bringing back noted fan-favorite Rubio is a great story, and retaining Hernangomez and Beasley is fine, but the trio doesn't really elevate the Timberwolves to a legitimate playoff threat.
Still, they've assembled a solid, young core in Russell, Towns, and Edwards that can eventually bring postseason success back to Minnesota with a couple more pieces - provided Edwards lives up to his potential.
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