The 2019 NBA offseason and free agency period has been among the most memorable in years, as over the course of just a couple of weeks the landscape of the entire NBA changed. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George went to the Los Angeles Clippers. Anthony Davis landed in town with the Lakers. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant set up shop with the Brooklyn Nets, and Kemba Walker went to Boston. Many stars have switched NBA teams and balanced out the league, but other franchises were left in the dust.
With all the franchises who won free agency garnering the most headlines, some NBA teams are starting at the bottom of the barrel when training camp starts. These are the six teams most likely to be doing so.
Phoenix has been one of the league’s bottom-feeding teams for many years, and after failing to attract anything of interest in free agency past Ricky Rubio and Frank Kaminsky, it is not unfair to expect another season at the bottom barring something unforeseen. Devin Booker has not yet proven that he can take a team to the promised land on his own, and the team may have taken a chance on Cam Reddish too high. In a Western Conference that is getting better nearly across the board, the Suns appear to be an outlier. Every other team in the division made moves to improve, but the Suns were one of the quietest NBA teams during free agency, and they seemed destined for another last-place finish.
Cleveland went from being one of the best NBA teams to one of the worst with the departure of LeBron James. Perhaps the best thing that the Cavaliers have going for them is Kevin Love. However, his injuries and constant presence in trade rumors may make him another short-term piece for the team. Darius Garland should get his time to shine with the Cavaliers, but the team is notoriously sparse on valuable young pieces. LeBron has been gone a year, and the Cavaliers are yet to fully commit to the next chapter of their team’s history.
The Washington Wizards have a pair of All-Stars in their backcourt, but that’s not helping the cause. John Wall’s contract looks worse with every injury, and Bradley Beal, who was offered an extension that he still hasn’t accepted, may soon be elsewhere. Rui Hachimura is an intriguing young player out of Japan, but he may not be the piece to put them over the top. Free agents like Isaiah Thomas also bring major questions, and Thomas Bryant, who will be returning, is an effective role player who will not help much,
The Charlotte Hornets added Terry Rozier, an unproven young point guard, as their lone immediate acquisition from the Celtics in the sign-and-trade deal that sent Kemba Walker to Boston. That’s not a great move for a squad that was already one of the worst NBA teams out there. Already a team who struggled to get wins with an All-Star guard, Charlotte has clearly regressed, and it is far more likely to be checking their lottery odds more often than they are the playoff standings.
The Timberwolves had a borderline-disastrous season after finally ending a long playoff drought the year before. After losing Jimmy Butler in dramatic fashion, the team struggled to find any consistency, and found itself in the draft lottery once again. Young talent like Karl Anthony Towns could propel them, but the Timberwolves did little of note during the offseason, even letting young role player Tyus Jones go in the process.
New York Knicks
The Knicks offseason has been a borderline disaster when weighed against their superstar expectations in both the draft and free agency. After losing out on both the draft lottery and on their top free-agent targets, they quickly became the subjects of mockery and dissent. However, while this cannot be ignored, the team recovered slightly with signings such as Julius Randle and Reggie Bullock to go along with the drafting of RJ Barrett. Still, when put against their expectations, it is hard to see the Knicks make many waves.