It’s the time to put together NBA free agency grades for every team in 2022. We are covering all NBA free agent signings from veteran minimum pacts to contracts that immediately looked like an overpay.
It’s natural to look for NBA free agency scores once the majority of deals have been concluded. We have been analyzing each trade and signing of this fascinating offseason. This time we are taking a different angle, looking at all NBA free agency moves and giving each team a mark for their work rather than reacting to individual deals.
NBA free agency grades for every team 2022
This is where the best front offices make their money. It’s where others will come under pressure. There is more to the NBA than roster building, yet a poor offseason can take years to recover from, particularly for small-market franchises.
All NBA free agency moves come with an element of risk, and deserve time before they are properly judged, but it’s still worth casting an eye over this offseason’s trades and signings before our attention turns to Summer League and preseason.
So, let’s dive into our NBA free agency grades so far, starting out with the Atlantic Division and last season’s Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics.
Celtics – A
An unspectacular offseason was expected but the Celtics have been aggressive. Links to Kevin Durant are no more than that at this point, but more shooting and contributors off the bench was a priority, and they’ve checked that box with Danilo Gallinari for $6.5 million per year.
Malcolm Brogdon was the big move, however, and Boston got the deal done without giving up Grant Williams or any of their playoff rotation. Brogdon, a known injury risk, isn’t an 82-game player, but he brings shooting, solid defense and plus-playmaking. He’s an ideal player to help their turnover issues without upsetting the apple cart. What a steal — the Cs are a force to be reckoned with.
Nets – F
An early rating before we know how the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving situations play out, but this has obviously been a disaster for Brooklyn. They don’t control their draft capital for the coming years, and they even gave up a first-round pick to trade for Royce O’Neale.
It doesn’t get much bleaker than this. Naturally, NBA free agency ratings for the Nets could improve markedly depending on their return for Durant and Irving.
Knicks – C-
The Knicks moved off Nerlens Noel, Kemba Walker and Alec Burks to open up the space for Jalen Brunson. Isaiah Hartenstein was acquired to backup Mitchell Robinson. Robinson’s contract is a bit larger than expected — the Knicks are banking on further development from the former second round pick.
New York achieved most of what they wanted to, and even have some extra first-round picks to show for it.
There are still legitimate doubts about where this actually takes them. Brunson, RJ Barrett and Julius Randle isn’t a core that’s going anywhere special – they are probably only a Play-In team without other major moves.
Sixers – A-
James Harden did the Sixers a massive favor by cutting down his annual salary to free up the midlevel and bi-annual exceptions. Old friends P.J. Tucker and Danuel House filled those spots, providing Philly with more defense and three-point shooting.
Daryl Morey also flipped their 2022 first to acquire De’Anthony Melton, checking the same boxes. There could be more to come with Matisse Thybulle and Tobias Harris among the top trade candidates, but this has clearly been a stellar offseason for the Sixers so far.
Raptors – C+
Toronto has re-upped Chris Boucher and Thaddeus Young, and a contract extension for Fred VanVleet seems to be in the pipeline. Lots of options to provide scoring/shooting off the bench have gone elsewhere. Otto Porter Jr is a useful addition and fits everything about the current identity with length and rebounding.
Still primed for a trade of some sort, there’s still some work to do on this Raptors roster if they are to rival the Bucks and Celtics in 2023.
Bulls – B-
Chicago has been associated with multiple offseason trade candidates, yet it’s been a quiet summer to date. Perhaps that’s okay. The Bulls can put some blame on injuries for their demise last season, and they have limited flexibility.
The Zach LaVine extension was finally confirmed, and Andre Drummond is a useful add to backup Nikola Vucevic. Derrick Jones Jr is okay depth at either forward spot, but he’s not going to be changing the Bulls’ playoff ceiling. Goran Dragic can help if he’s healthy.
Cavaliers – C
Cleveland missed out on Ousmane Dieng in the draft, instead settling for Ochai Agbaji. Collin Sexton’s name has barely appeared in the rumor mill, maybe suggesting he could return as a restricted free agent.
Like Chicago, injuries disrupted the Cavs’ season. Running it back is the best option, so a quiet free agency period might be for the best. Bringing back Ricky Rubio is a nice boost to the backcourt behind Darius Garland, the same goes for Raul Neto as depth.
Pistons – A
It was fortune rather than genius to land Jaden Ivey in the draft, but it’s the end result that matters. Detroit also used their pick from the Jerami Grant trade to get back into the lottery and select Jalen Duren.
Kemba Walker, Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel have been taken off the Knicks for further draft capital, while Marvin Bagley’s deal has been extended after a decent stay in Motor City last season. Kevin Knox is a worthwhile low-cost deal.
There’s a lot to like about what the Pistons have done. The future is bright around Cade Cunningham.
Pacers – C
Indiana is still in flux. Bennedict Mathurin was a fun add alongside Tyrese Haliburton long-term. Brogdon has gone to Boston, and Pacers fans will naturally be underwhelmed by the return. A first-round pick and a flyer on Nesmith is not much to be excited about. There can be some optimism about Jalen Smith long-term.
Bucks – B
Milwaukee isn’t positioned to do anything grand, nor should they be considering it. They may well have won the title if Khris Middleton was healthy, and they are set to be the East’s favorites against in 2022-23.
Hawks – A-
Clint Capela and John Collins are still on the team (for now). Danilo Gallinari is not, and Atlanta is three first-round picks lighter after swinging the biggest NBA offseason move to date in the Dejounte Murray trade.
Murray and Trae Young is a fun, if potentially imperfect, fit. This deal brings important perimeter defense, and some useful playmaking. Watch for the Hawks to be active over the next few days.
Hornets – C
Gordon Hayward’s salary could yet be used in a big trade, potentially helping to match salary for Durant or Irving to go elsewhere. Keeping Cody Martin was important on a reasonable salary as one of their few decent defenders.
Heat – C-
Maybe this is harsh. The Heat kept Victor Oladipo after a strong playoff showing and paid Dewayne Dedmon to back up Bam Adebayo. I’m not convinced by the Dedmon deal considering the other centers that are available.
For all the bluster about chasing stars, though, Miami has waved goodbye to P.J. Tucker and could have difficult constructing a desirable package around Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson for any available All Stars.
Magic – B-
Surprisingly, the Magic then made the choice to run it back with Gary Harris and Mo Bamba. Both deals are curious in isolation, but they are good value contracts for two players who can easily be flipped at the deadline or next offseason as Orlando continues to hoard assets.
Wizards – D
Whether that will be enough to be a top 10 team in the Eastern Conference is another question. Washington has been active, and got two decent players for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but I can’t help but wonder where this is heading. This is still a franchise in need of a rebuild.
Nuggets – B
Unfairly criticized for dodging the tax with the Kentavious Caldwell-Pope trade, the Nuggets then made the bizarre decision to sign DeAndre Jordan. Sure, he won’t play many minutes behind Nikola Jokic, but why Jordan?
Caldwell-Pope is a great fit with their starting five. Ish Smith is a useful guard to have off the bench. Bruce Brown further bolsters the defense, and as a smart cutter, should thrive alongside Nikola Jokic.
Timberwolves – C-
More wings is always a good thing. Karl-Anthony Towns’ supermax feels like an overpay, even if they didn’t have much of a choice.
The Rudy Gobert trade. Wow. Minnesota has gone all-in on fixing its defense, but this is a jaw-dropping draft cost for Gobert and his enormous contract. They are banking on Towns and Gobert working as a frontcourt — is this really the win-now move to make?
Thunder – B+
This was never going to be a particularly eventful summer after taking on JaMychal Green. I like what Sam Presti did to move around in the draft.
Blazers – A-
There’s a clear plan for the Blazers: Build defense around the Anfernee Simons and Damian Lillard backcourt. The Jerami Grant trade was just the start. Gary Payton II has arrived since, and Jusuf Nurkic is expected to stay.
It was a bit of a surprise to see Portland keep the pick and go with Shaedon Sharpe, but going for upside is worth the gamble. Sharpe could be exactly what they need on the wing in the medium term.
Portland is giving it a go, and that warrants a strong mark in our NBA Free Agency grades for every team 2022.
Jazz – C+
Royce O’Neale has gone. So has Rudy Gobert. No one seemed willing to budge on the sky high price for the Frenchman, but that all changed when the Timberwolves send four firsts and a pick swap on Friday night.
Utah is stacking up assets for a big-time rebuild. At least they’ve got a direction here.
Warriors – B-
Losing Gary Payton II hurts. Kevon Looney is staying, but Otto Porter Jr is on his way out with the Raptors outbidding the Dubs. Donte DiVincenzo‘s perimeter defense can compensate for Payton’s departure, and Golden State is bound to find a role for him on offense. The former Buck is one of the value deals this summer.
Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins extensions are yet to be confirmed. Golden State went with pedigree in Patrick Baldwin Jr in the first round – nothing drastic is required this summer, and keeping Looney was vital.
Clippers – B+
Steve Ballmer continues to increase the payroll, demonstrating a commitment to winning that isn’t mirrored at many other franchises. This is the deepest roster in the NBA as it stands.
Lakers – C
The Lakers are the frontrunners to trade for Kyrie Irving. Alongside those aspirations, they have restocked the supporting cast with a younger group, led by Klutch clients in Juan Toscano-Anderson, Lonnie Walker and Troy Brown.
Los Angeles hasn’t addressed three-point shooting. Ultimately, though, this offseason will be defined by what happens with Russell Westbrook.
Suns – C
Well, the Deandre Ayton saga hasn’t reached a conclusion. Jae Crowder trade rumors have been no more than that. Cam Johnson’s free agency is yet to be solved either. The arrivals of Damion Lee, Josh Okogie and Jock Landale aren’t changing the world.
There’s not much to grade here at the moment, but we know this is a preferred landing spot of Kevin Durant. Watch this space.
Kings – B+
Sacramento seemingly went fit over talent with Keegan Murray. Murray can help them right away, but they might regret passing on Jaden Ivey. Harrison Barnes is still on the team for now, which aids their playoff ambitions.
Malik Monk is reunited with former Kentucky teammate De’Aaron Fox, providing Sacramento with much-needed shooting around their star duo of Fox of Domantas Sabonis. I love the Kevin Huerter trade — it’s a low price with Justin Holiday, Maurice Harkless and a heavily protect first-round pick going the other way. There’s a clear plan in Sac Town for the first time in years.
Mavericks – E
Seeing Jalen Brunson leave for nothing hurts. The Mavericks then committed $20.1 million to JaVale McGee, pushing Christian Wood to the four. This move in isolation isn’t the worst of NBA offseason moves necessarily, but it raises eyebrows considering how much success Dallas had playing smaller line ups.
A further trade to acquire wing and playmaking depth would make a lot of sense.
Rockets – B+
Buying out John Wall allows them to put that issue in the past, while Jae’Sean Tate extension secures a useful supporting player for Jalen Green and Smith. Houston has one of the best marks in our NBA Free Agency grades for every team 2022.
Grizzlies – B
News of Jaren Jackson Jr’s foot injury is a massive shame, but that’s not going to count towards our grading here. Memphis have earned the benefit of doubt with all of their draft picks.
Pelicans – C
Dyson Daniels has the potential be a great pick. The Pelicans don’t need to do too much this summer. Having a healthy Zion Williamson is the real key next season, and that will give a better chance to evaluate this core together before making any significant roster alterations. It was a no brainer to offer Williamson the max.
Spurs – D
Yet to make any notable free-agent additions, though, the Spurs are a far worse team now than they were last season. Tanking for the 2023 draft isn’t the worst decision, but it isn’t as well-rewarded since the odds were flattened.
NBA Free Agency grades for every team 2022 will be updated as the offseason progresses in the coming days…