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Deseret News - ESPN NBA Eastern Conference grades: Did teams make mistakes adding former Utah Jazzmen?


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Ryan McDonald

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Utah Jazz guard Joe Ingles (2) and Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale (23) talk during a free throw as the Utah Jazz and the Cleveland Cavaliers play an NBA basketball game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, March 29, 2021. Utah won 114-75.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

On Thursday, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton doled out offseason grades for the NBA’s Western Conference teams, which saw the Utah Jazz be the only squad to receive an “A.”

On Friday, Pelton handed out grades for the Eastern Conference, which saw four Jazz players from last season join it (the other two who are no longer on the roster, Rudy Gobert and Eric Paschall, are both now with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who got a C- from Pelton).

Just as Pelton didn’t love Minnesota’s trade for Gobert, he wasn’t a huge fan of the Brooklyn Nets’ trade for Royce O’Neale or the Milwaukee Bucks’ signing of Joe Ingles, although he did like the Philadelphia 76ers’ signing of Danuel House Jr (he didn’t mention the Toronto Raptors’ signing of Juancho Hernangomez).

Pelton gave the Nets a “D+” for their summer so far, although there are still major questions about if the roster will include Kevin Durant and/or Kyrie Irving next season.

Of the O’Neale acquisition specifically, Pelton wrote, “In terms of the moves the Nets did make, sending the Utah Jazz a first-round pick for Royce O’Neale feels like an overpay given how O’Neale’s defense has declined the past two seasons.

“He now leans much more toward the “3” half of the 3-and-D equation, same as incumbent Brooklyn perimeter players Seth Curry, Joe Harris and Patty Mills.”

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The Bucks got a “B” from Pelton, as he praised their re-signing of Bobby Portis and gave Pat Connaughton a contract extension. Of the Ingles acquisition, however, Pelton wrote, “The big question for the Bucks is whether signing Joe Ingles was the right move with the team’s taxpayer midlevel exception.

“Coming off an ACL tear, Ingles should be back somewhere around the All-Star break. Milwaukee will have to hope he can get up to speed on defense quickly enough to take advantage of his playmaking and shooting in the postseason.”

Pelton gave the 76ers an “A,” mostly for getting James Harden to sign at a lower dollar figure than he could have and also for the addition of P.J. Tucker, but the additions of House and De’Anthony Melton (via trade with the Memphis Grizzlies) were also praised.

“The result is a deeper Philadelphia option with more two-way contributors to put around the stars,” Pelton wrote.

While no trade of Donovan Mitchell to the New York Knicks or anywhere else seems to be imminent, Pelton did praise the Knicks for putting themselves in good position to try to acquire Mitchell, as well as their signing of point guard Jalen Brunson, giving them a “B+.”

“It’s unclear how good New York will be with Brunson, or with a hypothetical Brunson-Mitchell backcourt, but the Knicks are certainly aiming higher than they have in the recent past,” Pelton wrote.

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