San Antonio. The defending champs lost David Robinson and Steve Kerr to retirement, adding Robert Horry, Hedo Turkoglu, and Ron Mercer. In other words, the Spurs are much, much better -- especially when you're talking about the bench. Offseason grade: A-plus.
L.A. Lakers. GM Mitch Kupchak is being hailed as a genius, even if the only thing he really did was light holy candles and pray while waiting to see if Karl Malone and Gary Payton would take pay cuts. Malone and Payton did, and with or without Kobe Bryant, this team will win at least 60 games. It might win 70. By the way, I also think first-round pick Brian Cook was an absolute steal. Grade: A-plus.
Sacramento. All the Kings did was trade for one of the league's most underrated centers in Brad Miller, a tough hombre who possesses a soft shooting touch. And all they had to give up was Scot Pollard, a tough hombre who possesses no shooting touch. Sacramento GM Geoff Petrie also just signed free-agent guard and defensive whiz Anthony Peeler. Nice work, kids. Grade: A-plus.
Dallas: Losing Nick Van Exel to Golden State might hurt more than you think, as now the point guard position consists of Steve Nash and ... well, no one. But when you consider the Mavericks received the younger and much more versatile Antawn Jamison in return, you have to think they can live with some CBA lifer -- or worse, Jiri Welsh -- backing up Nash. I especially like how the Mavs talked Golden State into throwing in rebounding machine Danny Fortson, who has to be ready for a banner year after being forgotten with the Warriors. Grade: A.
Washington: When I wrote about the Wizards last summer, I was mentioning names such as Michael Jordan, Charles Oakley, and Byron Russell. They were the kind of names that made you want to read on. This summer, I write about the Wizards at the risk of putting you to sleep. But how does this sound for a lineup: free-agent signee Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes at guard, Jerry Stackhouse and Christian Laettner at forward, and Brendan Haywood at center. Off the bench come the ever-improving Kwame Brown, talented second-year players such as Juan Dixon and Jared Jeffries, and rookie Jarvis Hayes. Granted, Arenas and Hayes are the only newcomers -- but those two are enough to make me think the Wizards will be very athletic and an absolute joy to watch. And whoever thought we would say that about a team that just lost Michael Jordan? Grade: A.
New Jersey: The Nets re-signed Jason Kidd and took a gamble on Alonzo Mourning. Even if the Mourning experiment doesn't pay off, they'll be as good as last season. And can you imagine what will happen if Mourning DOES rebound from his year lost to a kidney ailment? Wow! Grade: A.
Minnesota: Lost virtually no one, landed Latrell Sprewell, Sam Cassell and Michael Olowokandi. But just to show you how remarkable of a summer this has been, the Timberwolves still haven't assured themselves of a spot in the second round of the playoffs. No fault of their own, though. Grade: A.
Golden State: Gone are Gilbert Arenas, Earl Boykins, Antawn Jamison and Danny Fortson. Replacing them are Nick Van Exel, Speedy Claxton, and ... well, Evan Eschmeyer. Also traded Bob Sura for Uncle "Cliffy" Robinson, which was a steal. That's certainly an upgrade, since the Warriors had too many people who played the same style last season, and the only thing the overabundance of swingmen did was create mass confusion. You're really gonna think I'm nuts here, but these guys are gonna be better -- and will replace Utah as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Grade: A.
Golden State: Gone are Gilbert Arenas, Earl Boykins, Antawn Jamison and Danny Fortson. Replacing them are Nick Van Exel, Speedy Claxton, and ... well, Evan Eschmeyer. Sounds like a bad offseason, right? But let's face it, the Warriors had too many people who played the same style last season, and the only thing the overabundance of swingmen did was create mass confusion. You're really gonna think I'm nuts here, but these guys are gonna be better -- and will replace Utah as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Grade: A-minus.
Denver: The Nuggets were desperate for help in the backcourt, so GM Kiki Vandeweghe went out and got some. Actually, Vandeweghe got a lot, as signing Andre Miller, Earl Boykins, and Jon Barry gives Denver a little of everything -- great passing, quickness, and shooting, respectively. Throw in my rookie of the year pick, Carmelo Anthony, and second-year stud Nene Hilario, and the Nuggets should win about 10 more games. Can't ask for much more than that. Grade: A-minus.
Orlando: Signed Juwan Howard and Tyronn Lue, and kept Tracy McGrady, Drew Gooden, and Gordon Giricek. Can you say Eastern Conference darkhorse? Grade: A-minus.
Cleveland: Besides using the No. 1 overall draft pick on obvious choice LeBron James, GM Jim Paxson made some extremely underrated moves by obtaining guards Kevin Ollie and J.R. Bremer, and forward Ira Newble. All three are the type of ultimate role players who won't mind making sure youngsters such as James and Ricky Davis succeed. Grade: A-minus.
Philadelphia: Glenn Robinson will do what Keith Van Horn was supposed to -- stand 15 feet from the basket and hit five straight shots after Allen Iverson slips into one of those seven-of-29 shooting funks. As far as this Iverson fan is concerned, that's all the 76ers need. Grade: A-minus.
Yay! The Lakers got an A+!!! Does that mean they get an A++ if they signed Jimmy Jackson?
P.S. They forgot to mention Horace Grant. C'mon, my ol' man's not bad at all.
P.P.S. Love what they said about B. Cook there.
P.P.P.S. How the hell did the Queens get an A+? Trash, dude. Scot Pollard HAS a shooting touch, Amico.