SALT LAKE CITY — When the Utah Jazz traded to bring Mo Williams back into the fold, general manager Kevin O’Connor made a simple assessment about his team. "I think," he said, "we've gotten better." Since then, the Jazz traded for forward Marvin Williams -- arguably a step up from Josh Howard and C.J. Miles -- while sending Devin Harris to Atlanta. Though speedy and at times prolific offensively, Harris never quite fully clicked as far as being a consistent playmaker and scorer after replacing Deron Williams a year and a half ago. So, it is indeed possible that O'Connor is right -- that the Jazz have gotten better with those two moves of bringing in the familiar Mo Williams and a hungry Marvin Williams. Whether it's slightly better or significantly better is in the TBD file, of course. The Jazz aren't the only ones who've done some wheeling, dealing and drafting to change the makeup of their roster. The Western Conference didn't win the NBA Finals this past season, but so far it looks like it will still be loaded come next year. Here's a look at some of the comings and goings teams out West have made up to this point during the offseason (with credit going to HoopsHype.com for compiling the merry-go-round list of players):
In: Steve Nash
Out: Ramon Sessions
Limbo: Devin Ebanks, Matt Barnes, Jordan Hill, Troy Murphy
Outlook: The Lakers’ offseason move likely frustrated those Jazz fans who love to loathe L.A. but who also respect Nash. If the ageless and super fit veteran stays healthy, this could be the biggest free-agent snag of the summer. Now the West just has to hope that Dwight Howard deal doesn’t resurface.
In: Darren Collison, Elton Brand, Dahntay Jones, Chris Kaman, OJ Mayo
Out: Kelenna Azubuike, Brendan Haywood, Jason Kidd, Ian Mahinmi, Lamar Odom, Jason Terry.
Limbo: Brian Cardinal, Delonte West, Yi Jianlian
Outlook: They didn’t get Deron Williams. Or Dwight Howard. They also lost (or will lose) their Jasons. But the Mavs have assembled an interesting group to surround Dirk Nowitzki. If it works, don’t be surprised if Dallas challenges to get its title back.
In: Michael Beasley, Goran Dragic, Kendall Marshall, Luis Scola
Out: Grant Hill, Steve Nash, Ronnie Price
Limbo: Robin Lopez, Michael Redd
Outlook: Losing Nash will hurt, no doubt. But the Suns could be better off in the long run if Dragic continues to play like he did after stepping into the spotlight last season in Houston. Getting Scola from the scrap pile was another nice move for Phoenix, which battled the Jazz for that last playoff spot this past spring and should be in the mix again this year.
In: Will Barton, Victor Claver, Joel Freeland, Jared Jeffries, Meyers Leonard, Damian Lillard, Aleksandar Pavlovic, Ronnie Price
Out: Raymond Felton, Hasheem Thabeet, Kurt Thomas, Shawne Williams
Limbo: Jonny Flynn, Joel Przybilla, Craig Smith, Shawne Williams
Outlook: Jerry Sloan reportedly turned down a job offer by the Blazers, but Rip City — as many have jokingly pointed out — made sure to pluck up hoop talent with Utah ties in Weber State’s Lillard (a summer league star), ex-UVU standout Jazz guard Price and former Jazz guard Sasha Pavlovic. Lillard alone gives Portland good reason for high hopes — assuming the team has a coach next fall.
In: Mo Williams, Marvin Williams, Kevin Murphy
Out: Devin Harris, Raja Bell (likely)
Limbo: Blake Ahearn, Josh Howard, C.J. Miles
Outlook: The Williams’ population in Utah has skyrocketed so far this summer, and the Jazz still have a few months left to pick up more. Terrence, Shawne or Shelden Williams anyone? Both of the incoming Williamses seem legitimately happy to play for Utah and they both have talent, so their addition could help the Jazz move up the ranks a bit in the West.
To be a bona fide contender, however, Utah must have improvements from its returning players, and especially youngsters Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Enes Kanter. The big question going into camp: How will Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin divvy up minutes between his four big men? And did the team add enough perimeter firepower to open up the inside?
In: Chase Budinger
Out: Michael Beasley, Brad Miller
Limbo: Darko Milicic, Anthony Randolph, Anthony Tolliver, Martell Webster
Outlook: Getting rid of Beasley while landing a deep threat like Budinger could be a boost for the T-Wolves, who showed flashes of fun brilliance last season when Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love were on the court together.
In: Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Brad Miller, Austin Rivers
Out: Trevor Ariza, Gustavo Ayon, Jarrett Jack, Chris Kaman, Emeka Okafor
Limbo: Marco Belinelli, Carl Landry, Lance Thomas
Outlook: The Hornets had pretty good chemistry at the end of the season, but they’re losing several players who helped them sting the Jazz twice. The big get, though, was keeping the talented Eric Gordon.
In: Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Ryan Hollins, Lamar Odom
Out: Reggie Evans, Mo Williams, Nick Young
Limbo: Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Kenyon Martin, Bobby Simmons
Outlook: The Clippers got rid of Young and got, well, older with the acquisitions of thirtysomethings Hill (40 in October), Odom and Crawford.
In: Evan Fournier, Anthony Randolph
Out: Rudy Fernandez
Limbo: Chris Andersen
Outlook: The Nuggets added a sharpshooting French player, but their roster will mostly resemble the squad that surprised many around the league last season.
In: James Johnson, Thomas Robinson, Aaron Brooks
Out: Hassan Whiteside
Limbo: Donte Greene, Terrence Williams
Outlook: Not shockingly, the Jazz and Jimmer Fredette were linked in a Twitter rumor this week (by Fox Sports radio host Ben Maller). The Kings do have a plethora of points, though. Of course, so do the Jazz. Jimmer fans might not have liked it, but Brooks is a solid signing.
In: Perry Jones, Hasheem Thabeet, Hollis Thompson
Out: Nazr Mohammed
Limbo: Derek Fisher, Royal Ivey
Outlook: The Thunder haven’t done much this offseason, and the NBA finalists don’t really need to in order to maintain their spot atop the Western Conference. Jones could’ve been a steal at No. 28, too.
In: Jerryd Bayless, Tony Wroten
Out: OJ Mayo
Limbo: Gilbert Arenas, Hamed Haddadi
Outlook: The Grizzlies still have a solid core, but they haven’t done anything spectacular to bolster their bench.
In: Jon Brockman, Toney Douglas, Gary Forbes, Josh Harrellson, JaJuan Johnson, Jeremy Lin, Shaun Livingston, E’Twaun Moore, Donatas Motiejunas, Sean Williams
Out: Chase Budinger, Marcus Camby, Samuel Dalembert, Goran Dragic, Courtney Lee, Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola
Limbo: Earl Boykins
Outlook: GM Daryl Morey got a new deck of cards to shuffle during this insanely busy offseason for the Rockets, which should create buzz in Houston. But will Linsanity lead to Winsanity?
Grade: E for Effort
In: Nando De Colo
Outlook: Zut alors! Just what ze NBA needed — another overlooked Frenchman coming to play for ze Spurs. Other than signing their 2009 second-round pick, San Antonio has been quiet this offseason. Like a sleeping, ticked-off giant waiting to pounce again.
Grade: I (Either for Incomplete or, judging the Spurs’ luck, Incredible)
In: Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, Jarrett Jack
Out: Dorell Wright
Limbo: Mickell Gladness, Dominic McGuire, Mikki Moore, Nate Robinson
Outlook: The current rumor running rampant is that the Warriors are in the Andrei Kirilenko sweepstakes. Now the organization just has to decide if it’s going to continue in Tank Mode to keep the Jazz’s potential first-round pick in 2013.
Grade: T for Tanking