Offseason Report Cards: West #1

Timberwolves - C- Assuming the Wolves will eventually reach a deal with Nikola Pekovic, a restricted free agent, since there isn't a team with cap room left that has interest, and the Wolves want to retain him. Minnesota has been looking for an answer at the 2 for years, and Martin gives them a veteran who can make an impact right away. But $27 million over four years is crazy for a player whose game is slowly starting to wane. Add in $15 million for three years of Budinger and $14 million for three years of Brewer, and the Wolves spent $56 million on role players. Maybe the team didn't fire Kahn after all. Their other big addition was Muhammad, a player many scouts felt would be one of the top three players in the draft last July. However, an uneven year at UCLA exposed many of his flaws and his draft stock plummeted. Did the Wolves get a steal when they drafted him with the last pick of the lottery? If his Summer League performance gives any indication (and many times it doesn't), the answer is no. Dieng, meanwhile, gives them a big man who can block shots and really pass it. But he's still raw, especially for a 23-year-old. Kirilenko was terrific last season, and losing him to the Nets, especially given the huge pay cut he took to do so, was painful. Overall, the Wolves have the pieces in place to compete for a seventh or eighth seed in the West if everyone stays healthy. But with this team still treading in the waters of mediocrity, Kevin Love's free-agent decision in the summer of 2015 begins to loom large. Grizzlies - C The Grizzlies made most of their major moves at the trade deadline and appear content to take another swing at a Western Conference title with their team largely intact. Their biggest move was replacing Hollins with Joerger. Much has been written about the divergent worldviews of the Grizzlies' new front office and their now-former head coach. Hollins was a good coach, but clearly the team felt they needed a coach more aligned with their new philosophy. Joerger doesn't have much of a track record by which to judge him, but sources all around the league are confident he has the makings of a very good head coach. Memphis' big move, roster-wise, was to re-sign Allen, their defensive stopper, at a bargain price (four year, $20 million dollar). Otherwise, the Grizzlies focused on upgrading their bench. Koufos provides some much-needed depth behind Marc Gasol. Miller, if healthy, is still a lethal shooter and should provide a big boost coming off the bench behind Tayshaun Prince. Franklin, an uber-athletic wing who led San Diego State in points, rebounds, assists and steals as a junior, is the type of junkyard player who could earn minutes next season. And they might not be done yet. Sources say they continue to explore trades scenarios involving Zach Randolph, and they have shown interest in free-agent point guard Mo Williams. Lakers - C It was the best of times and the worst of times in Los Angeles this summer. And for once, it was the Clippers who were celebrating. While Donald Sterling's crew was landing Doc Rivers and re-signing Chris Paul, the Lakers stood by and watched their dynasty crumble. Dwight Howard bolted and, with him, went any sense of future security for the Lakers. This upcoming season might not be a total disaster. Perhaps Kobe Bryant (if he can recover from his Achilles tear), Steve Nash and Pau Gasol will rally for one last postseason push. Kaman, Young and Farmar are three veterans who might be able to help them creak by the younger, more energetic upstarts in the West. Unlikely, but perhaps. But after this season? The Lakers are facing the cleanest slate they've had in over a decade. Next season they figure to have just one significant contract on the books (Nash) and roughly $40 to $45 million in cap space. In 2014, the Lakers are going to look much, much different. Kobe will be back if he wants to be and is physically able to be, but the rest of the team is up for grabs. The Lakers are confident that they'll be at the front of the line for top talent like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh. If they can land any of those guys, this summer will be a one-time setback in an otherwise super-bright future. Clippers - A+ Much has been made of the Rockets landing Howard, but you could argue that the Clippers made the two biggest moves of the summer. First they somehow convinced Rivers to leave Boston. Say what you will about Rivers, bitter Celtics fans, but he can coach and knows how to fit alpha dogs into a cohesive whole. The Clippers needed a coaching upgrade if they were going to take the next leap, and the team landed the best one available. Rivers' arrival also went a long way in convincing Paul to re-sign. The All-Star point guard was the best free agent on the market, and the Clippers found a way to keep him in L.A. They weren't done there, though. The Clippers added Redick to shore up their shooting, Dudley to serve as an all-around glue guy, Collison to back-up Paul for just $1.9 million a year and a bouncy, face-the-basket big man in Byron Mullens. They did all of this without going over the luxury tax (for now) and lost just one first-round pick (in 2015). Rockets - A You have to hand it to Les Alexander. Virtually every other owner in the league would've fired Darryl Morey and given up on his Celtics-inspired plan to stockpile middling assets in an effort to land a couple of star players via free agency or trade. For too many years, the Rockets looked like they would tread water forever. The Rockets first landed James Harden in a trade last October and then followed it up this summer by scoring Howard's signature. In about nine months, the Rockets went from milquetoast to one of the most dangerous teams in the NBA. Some of the Rockets' success had to do with luck. Had the Thunder not panicked about their looming luxury tax bill or had the Lakers hired Phil Jackson instead of Mike D'Antoni, Morey is probably looking for a job this summer. They easily could've been in the same predicament as the Mavericks. Warriors - A- The Warriors continue to show what a difference smart ownership and management can make for a team. Golden State has been on a roll ever since owner Joe Lacob took over and revamped the team's front office, and this summer was no different. Through a series of creative cap maneuvers -- primarily via getting the Jazz to swallow the final years of Biedrins, Jefferson and Rush in exchange for draft picks -- the Warriors were able to address their biggest weakness with the addition of Iguodala. With two gunners in the backcourt and talented scoring options in the frontcourt, Iguodala is the perfect glue guy to hold this team together. The move also strengthened their bench, as Harrison Barnes can now move to a sixth-man role. The move came at a price, though. The Warriors couldn't afford to keep Jack and Landry, and they gave away two future first-rounders. But they're right in the title conversation now -- a remarkable feat for a team that was still stuck in the lottery last summer. Nuggets - D+ A quick first-round exit in the playoffs was just the opening salvo in the Nuggets' horrific summer. Ujiri, fresh off winning Executive of the Year, left for the Raptors after the Nuggets refused to match an offer. His right-hand man, Pete D'Alessandro, left a few weeks later to take the Kings' GM job. Head coach George Karl was fired. And their key summer acquisition of last season, Andre Iguodala, bolted for the Warriors. So in the space of a few weeks, the Nuggets lost their key architect, their Hall of Fame head coach and their best player. Ugh. New GM Tim Connelly has since tried to right the ship, but Denver's books have kept his hands relatively tied. So instead of trying to replace Iguodala's leadership, passing and defense, Connelly acquired talented backups in Arthur, Hickson and Robinson to take his minutes. The Nuggets' best move came on the coaching front with the hiring of Shaw, who figures to become one of the top young coaches in the league. He has huge shoes to fill, but he has the talent to pull together this diverse, starless squad and keep them in the hunt for a playoff seed in the five to eight range. For second group of teams:

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