In the offseason, every NBA team believes they have found sleepers in the draft, made shrewd free agent signings and maybe even pulled off a great trade.
The offseason is a time of great optimism in the NBA, with every franchise feeling like it got exactly what it wanted.
The harsh lens of time, however, reveals such notions to be folly for some teams. Fans may hope for wins, either now or in the years to come, but a team’s decisions during the summer will inevitably make those wins less likely for fans of some franchises.
While some fans are destined to rejoice at their fortune, others will be stuck ruing the day their front office signed an overrated player to an albatross contract or traded away a player who became a breakout star.
Who are this summer’s worst culprits? In order to fairly evaluate which franchises truly had the most regrettable offseasons, it is important to consider where each team started. Most of the teams that had losing records last year did not sign a superstar free agent that will make them instant contenders, so it would be easy to pick on those teams.
In reality, however, some losing teams (Memphis, Atlanta) were wise to continue their multi-year rebuilds instead of splurging on a free agent now. It makes no sense to claim that such a team had a poor offseason simply because we expect them to have a losing record next year.
On the flip side, teams in contention for playoff spots should be making moves that either improve their title odds now or add depth and youth to hedge against attrition, injury or declining performance from cogs of their current roster.
A team might well return to the playoffs this season, but still have made missteps this summer which will not crop up until two or three years from now.
In fact, this issue is precisely what makes offseason grades difficult to begin with: determining how well a franchise does during the summer involves predicting where cracks will appear in the franchise’s foundation years down the road.
Still, with the information currently at our disposal, it is possible to get a good idea of which teams had bad ideas this summer.