NBA offseason grades: Which teams won the summer?

Now that the majority of the NBA offseason is in the books and the basketball world begins to count the days until the 2017-18 campaign tips off, USA TODAY Sports' Sam Amick, Jeff Zillgitt, Michael Singer and AJ Neuharth-Keusch give their summer grades for each team.

Eastern Conference

Atlanta Hawks: B

New Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk managed to preserve cap space without resorting to a full tank-like rebuild. They weren’t going to commit to forward Paul Millsap at $30 million a year, and it was prudent not to match the Knicks’ offer sheet for guard Tim Hardaway Jr. Trading center Dwight Howard was also a smart move. The Hawks signed center Dewayne Dedmon, re-signed forwards Ersan Ilyasova and Mike Muscala, and drafted big man John Collins, who had a solid performance at Summer League. The Hawks are young but should be competitive with an eye on the future — even if they take a step back to eventually move forward. - Zillgitt

Boston Celtics: A-

The Celtics signed forward Gordon Hayward, one of top free agents available, and drafted forward Jayson Tatum after trading the No. 1 pick to the Sixers – a deal that also netted Boston another future first-round pick. The Celtics also acquired forward Marcus Morris in a trade with the Pistons. While this team will trot out some versatile lineups, they lost depth with the departures of guard Avery Bradley, center-forward Kelly Olynyk and forward Amir Johnson. - Zillgitt

Brooklyn Nets: B+

Yes, the Nets took on some salaries when they acquired center Timofey Mozgov, forward DeMarre Carroll and guard Allen Crabbe, but it was necessary to obtain a 2018 first-round pick from the Raptors and guard D’Angelo Russell from the Lakers. Russell is like getting a first-round pick for a team short on assets. General manager Sean Marks also preserved cap space for a team that has the chance to be competitive this season. - Zillgitt

Charlotte Hornets: C

The Hornets acquired defense/rim protection (center Dwight Howard), gave up three-point shooting (guard Marco Belinelli), and signed guard Michael Carter-Williams. Coach Steve Clifford is focused on defense, and with changes in the East, the Hornets believe they can get back into the playoffs by playing better on that end of the floor. - Zillgitt

Chicago Bulls: C

On one hand, the Bulls deserve credit for choosing a direction. The blockbuster Jimmy Butler trade means there’s no more waffling in the middle of the Eastern Conference with no hope of a serious playoff run. On the other hand, you can debate whether the return from Minnesota (Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and No. 7 pick Lauri Markkanen) warranted dealing the three-time All-Star. LaVine is recovering from injury, Dunn had a disappointing rookie year and Markkanen’s Summer League debut was underwhelming. - Singer

Cleveland Cavaliers: Incomplete

With limited salary cap flexibility, the Cavaliers managed to add depth. They re-signed guard Kyle Korver and signed forward Jeff Green and guards Jose Calderon and Derrick Rose, a former MVP, to veteran’s minimum deals. They also signed Turkey’s Cedi Osman, a 22-year-old forward who the Cavs drafted in 2015. However, that’s unlikely to close the gap on the Warriors. And Cleveland needs to figure out what to do with guard Kyrie Irving, who wants a trade. The Cavs’ offseason can’t be accurately graded until that is resolved. - Zillgitt

Detroit Pistons: B-

The Pistons traded for guard Avery Bradley, but had to give up forward Marcus Morris, and lost guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in free agency. Bradley, who can contribute more than Caldwell-Pope, is also a free agent after the 2017-18 season, and there’s no guarantee the Pistons retain him. Guard Langston Galloway, forward Anthony Tolliver and forward-center Eric Moreland were value signings, and first-round draft pick Luke Kennard should give the Pistons outside shooting. - Zillgitt

Indiana Pacers: C-

Was Cavs owner Dan Gilbert right? Could the Pacers have done better in the franchise-altering Paul George deal? We’ll likely never know, but the return – Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis – was by no means overwhelming. George was transparent, but the Pacers were left to negotiate from a position of little leverage. Their other headline moves included trading for point guard Cory Joseph and signing Bojan Bogdanovic in an effort to re-tool their roster. - Singer

Miami Heat: C

Another year, another miss on the summer’s big fish. Was Gordon Hayward actually ever going to end up in Miami? Probably not. But making up for it by throwing ridiculous amounts of money at Dion Waiters (four years, $52 million), Kelly Olynyk (four years, $50 million) and James Johnson (four years, $60 million) might not be the way to go. Consider them a fringe playoff team heading into 2017-18, but nothing more. - Neuharth-Keusch

Milwaukee Bucks: B

The Bucks weren’t significant players this offseason, hamstrung by the threat of dipping into the luxury tax. But they did well to re-sign Tony Snell, who was embraced by the Bucks last season and fit well with their team culture. The bigger, more pressing question looming for Milwaukee is what to do with Jabari Parker, who’s recovering from his second ACL tear. Is he worth an extension without knowing what type of player he’ll be upon his return? The Bucks are likely asking themselves that very question. - Singer

New York Knicks: C-

The timing of former team president Phil Jackson’s unceremonious departure, sandwiched between the draft and the start of free agency, ensured a chaotic offseason in New York, but at least that albatross is gone. Their lottery pick was guard Frank Ntilikina, a supposed fit for the triangle offense, and they landed former Knick Tim Hardaway Jr. with a four-year, $71 million offer sheet. The Knicks haven't yet resolved the Carmelo Anthony dilemma, but they have heard from Kristaps Porzingis, who reaffirmed his commitment to New York. - Singer

Orlando Magic: B-

With new front office execs at the top (president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond), the Magic took a measured approach to the offseason. They didn’t commit big money to players. Jonathon Simmons signed a three-year, $20 million contract, and guard Shelvin Mack agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal. Orlando also added Arron Afflalo and Marreese Speights on veteran’s minimum deals. - Zillgitt

Philadelphia 76ers: A

The Sixers drafted their guy, Markelle Fultz, with the No. 1 pick and then signed veterans J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson. They also signed last year's 26th overall pick, Turkish guard-forward Furkan Korkmaz. Philadelphia will be a team with plenty of salary cap space following the 2017-18 season, giving president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo plenty of options for a young team with talent. - Zillgitt

Toronto Raptors: C+

Ah, the Raptors: Talented enough to win 50 games for the third straight year, weak enough to be sent home in the first round of the playoffs. We get it: Toronto brass may have made the right move by not uprooting a team that’s coming off the best four-year stretch in franchise history, especially with the questions looming in Cleveland, so the Kyle Lowry (three years, $100 million) and Serge Ibaka (three years, $65 million) signings make sense. What's more, the addition of C.J. Miles will help spread the floor, and it's nice to have the oft-injured DeMarre Carroll off the books. But haven't we already seen this team's ceiling? - Neuharth-Keusch

Washington Wizards: B

Now that the contract questions are in the rearview and John Wall (four-year, $170 million extension) and Otto Porter (four-year, $106.5 million contract) are locked in for the long term, the next question is: Does this group have enough to take another step forward, or is a 49-win season and a conference semifinals trip their ceiling? The Wizards didn't have much flexibility heading into the summer, so the fact that Jodie Meeks, Tim Frazier and Mike Scott were the only additions should come as no surprise. Meeks and Frazier figure to be solid backups to Wall and Bradley Beal, while Scott's one-year, $1.7 million deal comes with little risk. - Neuharth-Keusch

Western Conference

Dallas Mavericks: B+

Assuming they come to terms with restricted free agent Nerlens Noel, the Mavericks — who made out like bandits by signing franchise legend Dirk Nowitzki to a two-year, $10 million deal — can consider themselves winners this offseason. They’re not going to compete with the best of the West, let alone fight for a playoff spot, so owner Mark Cuban is investing in the future – a future which Dennis Smith Jr., this year’s No. 9 overall pick, figures to be a big part of. The rookie point guard was one of Summer League’s top performers, and he should fit nicely in a backcourt of fan-favorite guards like Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry.  - Neuharth-Keusch

Denver Nuggets: A-

The Nuggets made up for the loss of Danilo Gallinari to the Clippers by landing one of the preeminent free agents on the market in Paul Millsap on a three-year deal. The Nuggets were terrible defensively last season, and Millsap is an immediate frontcourt upgrade for a team trying to reach the postseason for the first time since 2013. It’s hard to not get excited about a core built around blossoming star Nikola Jokic and guard Gary Harris, both just 22. - Singer

Golden State Warriors: A+

The Warriors won the offseason – again. Not only did Golden State secure their core by re-signing Steph Curry (five years, $201 million) and Kevin Durant (two-year deal with a player option next summer), but they returned to their “Strength in Numbers” roots by bringing back Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia, and David West. But wait, there’s more.

Their bench got even deeper with the additions of scorers Nick Young and Omri Casspi and they drafted a rookie in Oregon forward Jordan Bell (by way of a second-round draft pick purchased from Chicago for $3.5 million) who could make their elite defense even better. - Amick

Houston Rockets: A

The Chris Paul trade doesn’t put the Rockets on the Warriors’ level, but it’s as loud a statement as they could have made that there will be no white flags waved. Even at 32, Paul – who spent his past six seasons with the Clippers before his decision to leave for Houston in free agency sparked this deal in late June – remains one of the most impactful players in the game. And while Paul can be a free agent next summer, James Harden’s decision to sign a massive extension through 2023 should only up the odds of his new co-star re-signing. The loss of point guard Pat Beverley in the Paul trade hurts the Rockets’ defensive identity, but they bounced back nicely in free agency by landing veteran forward P.J. Tucker to help on that front. - Amick

Los Angeles Clippers: C+

Nothing – not even locking up Blake Griffin with a five-year, $173 million deal – can make up for the loss of a generational talent like Chris Paul. Not Danilo Gallinari. Not Lou Williams. Not Pat Beverley. Not even European sensation Milos Teodosic. But after another injury-riddled season and early postseason exit, the Clippers were long overdue for some changes. And while they're no longer part of the Western Conference elite sans Paul, JJ Redick, Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, and Luc Mbah a Moute – don’t expect this team to disappear completely. - Neuharth-Keusch

Los Angeles Lakers: B

If we’re grading on a curve here, this Lakers ‘B’ is actually closer to an ‘A.’ After so many years of mismanagement, new executives Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka put together the kind of deliberate, pragmatic summer that we haven’t seen in Laker Land for quite some time.

They dumped the allegedly un-tradeable Timofey Mozgov contract (three years, $48 million remaining) on Brooklyn in mid-June, sending the big man who never should have been signed in the previous summer away with D’Angelo Russell in exchange for veteran center Brook Lopez and the 27th pick. Their draft was strong, too, with the Lakers landing their targeted man in point guard Lonzo Ball at No. 2 while getting a promising prospect in forward Kyle Kuzma. The league-wide optics on the Lakers seems to have changed as well, with the notion of a superstar like LeBron James or someone like him coming their way next summer seeming entirely plausible because of the uptick in their image. - Amick

Memphis Grizzlies: C+

Memphis lost two key players and influencers – forward Zach Randolph and guard-forward Vince Carter. But at their ages, it’s not the worst thing that could’ve happened to the Grizzlies. Memphis, which is getting younger, didn’t have a first-round pick, but forward Ivan Rabb (No. 35 pick) could bring some value. In free agency, they signed guards Tyreke Evans, Ben McLemore and Mario Chalmers, and the McLemore signing at two years, $10.7 million could be a steal. - Zillgitt

Minnesota Timberwolves: A

By adding star forward Jimmy Butler and veterans Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford and Taj Gibson to the young core of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, the Tom Thibodeau-led T'Wolves are destined to not only put an end to the franchise's 13-year playoff drought, but fight for a top-four spot in the Western Conference. Sure, Crawford's 37, Teague's probably not worth $57 million over three years, and it may take some time to work out the kinks — but as far as improving a roster goes, the T'Wolves hit the jackpot. - Neuharth-Keusch

New Orleans Pelicans: C+

The DeMarcus Cousins experiment, Part II, continues.

After trading for the former Kings big man in February, Pelicans general manager Dell Demps has clearly gone all in on trying to convince the three-time All-Star to stay in free agency next summer and star alongside franchise centerpiece Anthony Davis. New Orleans gave incumbent point guard Jrue Holiday a whopping $125 million over five years to stay, then added a Cousins favorite/former teammate in veteran point guard Rajon Rondo (one year, $3.3 million). The addition of young Ian Clark was a very nice pickup, but they needed more roster upgrades than this to keep up in this West arms race. - Amick

Oklahoma City Thunder: A+

Take a bow, Sam Presti.

One year after losing a former MVP in Durant to the Warriors, the Thunder general manager had as good a summer as anyone in the NBA. He orchestrated a trade with the Indiana Pacers for an MVP-caliber player in Paul George for pennies on the dollar (Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis) while giving MVP Russell Westbrook a worthy co-star again. He responded to the free agency loss of veteran forward Taj Gibson to Minnesota by landing the very-capable Patrick Patterson on an efficient contract. The re-signing of defensive standout guard Andre Roberson was crucial to maintain their top-tier defense. Now if only Presti could compel Westbrook to sign that five-year, $217 million extension offer that expires at the start of the regular season. If not, Westbrook and George will be free agents next summer and the Thunder’s season will be as compelling as they come. - Amick

Phoenix Suns: B

Perhaps no team this offseason has been more tangentially involved in potential deals while doing little to actually enact significant changes. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing given the impressive core (along with valuable draft assets) the Suns have assembled around budding star Devin Booker. Their biggest offseason move may have been using their No. 4 pick on Josh Jackson, a strong, versatile, NBA-ready defender who showed a good motor in Summer League. The Suns should be reticent to include him in any potential deals, including one for Kyrie Irving, though that deal may ultimately hinge on his availability. - Singer

Portland Trail Blazers: C

At a time when Blazers stars Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum could use some roster upgrades to help them return to contention in the West, cash-strapped Portland has been forced to heal some of its self-inflicted wounds. They traded guard Allen Crabbe to Brooklyn a year after inexplicably matching the four-year, $75 million deal given to him by the Nets, then waived the player they received in return, forward Andrew Nicholson, for salary cap purposes. In another necessary cap move, they waived big man Festus Ezeli and stretched his salary ($7.5 million remaining) after knee problems kept him out for the entire season. And at a time when one would think rookie contracts were preferred, they traded the No. 15 and No. 20 picks to Sacramento for No. 10 in order to land Gonzaga center Zach Collins. - Amick

Sacramento Kings: B+

Much like the Lakers, you could grade on a curve in Sacramento. Yet after operating as one of the league’s most dysfunctional franchises for so many years now, the Vlade Divac-led group had a prudent offseason by way of the draft, landing Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox and nabbing Justin Jackson and Harry Giles. In free agency they added senior leadership in veterans George Hill, Vince Carter, and Zach Randolph. The Kings are ecstatic about adding 24-year-old Serbian shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, whose rights Divac acquired in a draft day trade with the Phoenix Suns in 2016.

The loss of vice president of basketball operations Scott Perry to the Knicks after just three months in Sacramento was unfortunate for the Kings’ purposes, but they bounced back nicely by adding respected executive Brandon Williams as assistant general manager from the Philadelphia 76ers. - Amick

San Antonio Spurs: C

It's not that the Spurs have taken a significant step back this summer, it's that the West — most notably Golden State, Oklahoma City and Houston — has taken another step forward. The past 20 years are telling us to bite our tongue, but we’re going to say it anyway: As of right now, the Spurs don’t have a roster that can win a championship. They overpaid an over-the-hill Pau Gasol (three years, $48 million), let defensive-minded swingman Jonathon Simmons walk, and haven’t solved the LaMarcus Aldridge problem. The positives of the offseason? They took a gamble on a proven scorer in Rudy Gay, which could pay dividends if he makes a full recovery from his torn Achilles, and locked in point guard Patty Mills for four more years. - Neuharth-Keusch

Utah Jazz: B-

The loss of Gordon Hayward hurts. There’s no way around it. So does the departure of George Hill. But the summer hasn’t been all bad for Utah. They landed Summer League standout Donovan Mitchell with the 13th overall pick, which could prove to be a steal, and added a defensive-minded, pass-first point guard in Ricky Rubio, who fits the Jazz mold. Adding veterans Thabo Sefolosha and Jonas Jerebko to the mix on reasonable two-year deals doesn't hurt, either. - Neuharth-Keusch

Follow USA TODAY Sports' NBA team on Twitter: @Sam_Amick@JeffZillgitt@MSinger@tweetAJNK

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