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Can New York Knicks forward quiet the naysayers? (Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

2022 NBA Offseason Grades: Atlantic Division

Can New York Knicks forward quiet the naysayers? (Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

NBA Offseason Grades: Atlantic Division

This NBA offseason has been a stop-start affair.

There was a flurry of early moves before everything ground to a halt as the league waited with bated breath for Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell to be moved. In the end, Durant performed a most dramatic U-turn (how he’ll fair rebuilding bridges with his teammates and coach will be a fascinating watch) and Mitchell was moved to a team that never appeared on the trade radar.

Now that those last few offseason dominoes have finally fallen, it’s time we take stock of how each and every NBA team has fared in its roster building efforts.

Today we’ll examine the Atlantic Division.

Boston Celtics: A-

The top of the Celtics roster was already stacked but their lack of depth was exposed later in the playoffs.

With minimal assets up their sleeves, general manager Brad Stevens did a sterling job adding much needed depth to this roster. He turned a 2023 first-round pick and assorted flotsam and jetsam into Malcolm Brogdon, who complements the existing stars on this Celtics team perfectly. He’s an ace off-ball threat who can run the point when needed, without sacrificing any size in the back court. Sure, he’s an injury risk, but Brogdon won’t be burdened with the workload that he endured as a Pacer and Buck.

Speaking of injury risks, this writer isn’t going to penalize the Celtics for Danilo Gallinari’s season-ending ACL tear — it’s just straightforward bad luck. The veteran forward was signed with the taxpayer mid-level exception. Whilst he’s a defensive liability at this point of his career, Gallo would have provided Boston with another outstanding shooter and an upgrade on Daniel Theis as the backup to Al Horford.

Boston have filled out their roster various minimum salary signings, including one-time draft day upside darlings Mfiondu Kabengele, Noah Vonleh and Bruno Caboclo. They’re nothing more than ‘break glass in case of emergency’ types. If they’re seeing significant minutes come playoff time, the Celtics injury list will make for terrifying reading.

Assuming Jaylen Brown isn’t unsettled by those Kevin Durant trade rumours (they do lose half a mark for that) the Celtics have had an excellent offseason.

Brooklyn Nets: D

In theory.

In theory, the Nets had a great offseason. They retained Durant and Kyrie Irving. They made some excellent moves around them with the additions of Royce O’Neal and a low-risk flyer in TJ Warren. They kept all of their key free agents, bar Bruce Brown. In theory, they’ll even get Ben Simmons back on to the court.


They also had Durant request demand that both his coach and general manager be fired. They low-balled Kyrie Irving and will likely lose him at the end of the season. They overpaid for O’Neal. They lost a key structural piece in Brown.

How this all turns out for Brooklyn is anyone’s guess.

All of this turmoil could galvanise Durant and Kyrie who, alongside a resurgent Simmons, a healthy Joe Harris and a motivated supporting cast, lead the Nets to a conference finals or more.

Alternatively, Kyrie could play out the string. Durant could emotionally check out. Simmons may not take to the court. Harris may have peaked as age and injury take their toll. Patty Mills may fall away. O’Neal’s defense has already slipped, and his shooting may plummet outside of Utah’s pristine offensive ecosystem. Losing the connective ability of Brown could make for a disjointed on-court product. And that’s before we mention that the superstars have already thrown their coach under the bus.

There are just so many ways that all of this can go poorly for Brooklyn. There is simply no way to say that they’ve had a successful offseason.

New York Knicks: B

How you judge the Knicks’ offseason likely depends on where you lie on the aborted Mitchell trade.

If you think Mitchell is the man that could have put the Knicks back into quasi-contention in the east, then the haul Utah wanted is worth it and Knicks key decision maker Leon Rose missed a trick.

If you believe Mitchell is a good but not great lead option who can’t take a team beyond the second round of the playoffs, then you probably believe that Utah’s demands were extravagant, and the Knicks were right to keep their powder dry.

Whilst they ultimately didn’t swing for the fences, the Knicks did make a series of solid moved. Jalen Brunson is probably a little overpaid but is a solid guard both on and off ball. Isaiah Hartenstein is one of the better young role-playing centres in the NBA, his play making especially will surprise people. They also, through a series of transactions, turned the 11th overall pick in this draft into three future firsts and managed to simultaneously dump Kemba Walker’s contract and clarify their centre rotation in a single trade with Detroit.

The sliding doors of this offseason for New York is how the young players that could/would have been involved in the Mitchell trade develop. RJ Barrett has been re-signed long term and might be a solid second option at worst. Microwave scorer Immanuel Quickly has the look of a potential Sixth Man of the Year winner at some point in his future. Quentin Grimes – apparently the sticking point in trade negotiations – could be a two-way gem. Obi Toppin might be another Kyle Kuzma.

On the flip side, Barrett could fail to develop beyond the inefficient scorer that he is right now; Quickley could become the sort of dime-a-dozen low efficiency shooter that a contender simply can’t carry; Grimes could be nothing more than a solid reserve guard; Toppin might never hone his jumper to the point where he becomes a genuine three level threat.

All in all, solid summer’s work from the oft maligned New York front office, though watching the development of their youngsters will be fascinating.

Philadelphia 76ers: A

This writer thought for all the world that James Harden would opt in to his $47 million player option. Instead, Harden chose to take a payout, allowing longtime collaborator Daryl Morey to rebuild the Sixers roster. If you give Morey a little wiggle room, he’ll make things happen.

Philly kicked off their retooling by acquiring De’Anthony Melton from Memphis, who brings shooting and excellent defense to the Sixers guard rotation. Then Morey went all Joliet Jake and decided to put the band back together.

So far Morey’s Mission from God has brought in former Rockets and Harden lieutenants in PJ Tucker and Danuel House (quietly pretty good amongst the tyre that was Utah’s playoffs last season). Frankly, it’s astonishing that Eric Gordon is yet to find his way to the Sixers.

The common theme to the Sixers offseason so far is 3-and-D role players. Whether it’s fitting in around Harden’s drive and kick game or Joel Embiid’s post dominance, the Sixers finally look to have a group of supporting players that will complement their stars.

If there was ever a year for the Sixers to at long last leave their mark on the NBA, this might be it.

Toronto Raptors: B-

Not one to shy away from a splashy move, Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri instead kept it low key this offseason, choosing to let his impressive young core get another season under their belts. That said, at the height of the Durant drama Toronto was mentioned from time to time as a potential trade partner. The last time the Raptors went in for a disgruntled superstar it turned out pretty well, so the logic was understandable.

Toronto did make a solid move around the edges in bringing in veteran forward Otto Porter Jr., fresh of helping the Golden State Warriors to the title. Porter’s defensive intelligence and 6-foot-8 frame will fit in perfectly with the Raptors interchangeable phalanx of switchable defenders. Still just 29 years old, despite it feeling like he’s been around forever, the career 40% three-point shooter also brings some much-needed marksmanship to the Raptors.

The Raptors also fleshed out their big man rotation with the additions of budding movie star Juancho Hernangomez as a free agent and the raw but uber athletic Christian Koloko through the draft.


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