NBA offseason grades: Where the Nets, Bulls and every East team check in

  • Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus series
  • Formerly a consultant with the Indiana Pacers
  • Developed WARP rating and SCHOENE system

Which NBA Eastern Conference teams did best and worst during the offseason?

With all the major free agents having found homes and teams now busy preparing for the start of training camp next month, it’s time to hand out grades for how teams managed to reshape their rosters. I’ll start with the Eastern Conference, which featured both straight A’s I handed out but also one of two D grades. (Western Conference grades will be unveiled Tuesday.)

East teams were busy, handing out six of the eight biggest contracts signed in free agency. However, it’s worth remembering John Wooden’s maxim to never mistake activity for achievement. Not all of those deals look like good values.

These grades are on a curve with B as the most common outcome and reflect the opportunities teams had to improve their rosters via the draft and cap space to use in free agency. We’re interested not only in which teams have helped their chances for 2021-22 but how well they took advantage of their flexibility to do so.

Keeping that framework in mind, let’s get to the grades, which are in alphabetical order.

Atlanta Hawks: A

Although it was a relatively quiet offseason for the Hawks, I liked the way they tweaked their bench after last season’s unexpected run to the Eastern Conference finals. Atlanta swapped little-used Kris Dunn and Bruno Fernando for top-tier backup point guard Delon Wright and added Gorgui Dieng on a one-year, $4 million deal to fill in at backup center while Onyeka Okongwu recovers from shoulder surgery.

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The Hawks also ensured their core stays together by re-signing restricted free agent John Collins to a five-year, $125 million deal without much drama and extending Trae Young as a designated player. Add in a long-term contract for coach Nate McMillan, removing his interim tag, and Atlanta wisely rewarded key contributors to the playoff run.

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