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What the Hell Just Happened in the Southwest Division?

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A completely informed, unbiased analysis of offseason changes for the Grizzlies, Mavericks, Pelicans, Spurs and Rockets

Houston Rockets v Miami Heat Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

Houston Rockets

Offseason in 5 words

Holy Crap Harden and Westbrook?

Big Changes

Russell Westbrook is in, Chris Paul is out. Rockets GM Daryl Morey pulled off the most surprising trade of the summer when he sent Paul to Oklahoma City for Westbrook. It’s yet to be seen whether Russ and James Harden will click but, considering their history with the Thunder, I think they’ll figure this out. It can’t be any worse than the your-turn-ok-now-my-turn style that Paul and Harden played.

Better or Worse?

Better. Adding in a player like Westbrook is obviously a big shakeup, but the rest of the roster remains the same. Eric Gordon is still ready to take all of the 3-pointers, Clint Capela still gives them a big, athletic defender/finisher and PJ Tucker remains one of the toughest mf’ers in the league. Westbrook, for all of his faults, is a significantly better player than Paul.

They’re better, don’t overthink this.

Playoff Contender?

Uh, yes.

Dallas Mavericks v LA Clippers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Dallas Mavericks

Offseason in 5 words

Hey, Welcome Back Seth Curry

Big Changes

The Mavericks’ offseason was quiet. They re-signed some role players and added another in Seth Curry. The latter should give another outlet for Luka Doncic, but Dallas started planning for this season when they acquired Kristaps Porzingis at the trade deadline last year.

However, they might end up being the best team in the league because they also added BOBAN MARJANOVIC!!!!

Better or Worse?

Better. A lot of what Dallas does this season is going to be a result of internal improvements. Curry is a great shooter and a nice addition, but he’s not really going to move the needle significantly. Doncic should be an All Star this season, and Porzingis should be better than ever. They’ve got a lot of guys – Jalen Brunson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dwight Powell – but the season is going to live or die with their young duo.

Playoff Contender?

Doncic is about to take a star leap, so yes.

Memphis Grizzlies v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

San Antonio Spurs

Offseason in 5 words

Still Pissed About Marcus Morris

Big Changes

Compared to recent years, the Spurs were relatively quiet this offseason. They tried adding the aforementioned Morris, who backed out of his deal to sign a bigger one with the Knicks… because money talks. They added Trey Lyles, who will probably finally figure it out… because Spurs. But the biggest addition is the return of point guard Dejounte Murray, who missed last season with a knee injury.

Better or Worse?

Uh, the same? San Antonio will be better because Murray, an All-NBA caliber defender, is back. They should see improvements from Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV and Bryn Forbes, too. But the stars, DeMar Derozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, aren’t getting any younger. And their biggest free agency acquisition was DeMarre Carroll. This is a solid team, but solid might not be enough in the West.

Playoff Contender?

Contender? For sure. But far from a sure thing.

Utah Jazz v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

New Orleans Pelicans

Offseason in 5 words

YO, WE GOT ZION WILLIAMSON

Big Changes

Well, the Anthony Davis era is over. After demanding a trade last season, Davis finally got his wish when he was sent to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and picks. It would have been interesting to see Davis and Zion on the same team, but the Pelicans’ young core is one of the most exciting in the NBA.

Better or Worse?

Better. It’s incredible that New Orleans lost one of the league’s best players and came out smelling like roses, but here we are. Jrue Holiday is a stud and he’s still around, too. Ball is going to be better, Ingram has to be better, and their other rookies are solid. But here’s the catch: Zion, for all his glimpses of greatness, will miss the first few weeks of the year with a knee injury. That. Is. Bad. But, assuming it’s nothing overly serious, he’ll return and put together a rookie season like Blake Griffin in 2010.

Playoff Contender?

Nah, not in the West. In the East? For sure.

Charlotte Hornets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Memphis Grizzlies

Offseason in 5 words

Thanks For Everything, Mike Conley

Big Changes

The Grit-and-Grind era officially ended when the Grizzlies sent Mike Conley to Utah. It’s a trade that had to happen, and Memphis got the rebuild off to a great start by falling into Ja Morant with the No. 2 overall pick. New coach Taylor Jenkins is a bit of an unknown, working under Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta and Milwaukee. But he’ll have the opportunity to grow with the franchise.

Better or Worse?

Worse. Morant is going to be a lot of fun, and there’s a chance Jaren Jackson Jr. takes a huge leap this season. But the rest of the roster leaves a lot to be desired. Jonas Valanciunas and Andre Igoudala are useful but won’t be around come April. Maybe the other rookie, Brandon Clarke, is more than a dirty-work guy and perhaps Dillon Brooks can take his game to another level, but this is a bad team.

Playoff Contender?

Hahahaha, no.