Houston lost Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin. The Rockets replaced Parsons with Trevor Ariza and the rest with a bunch of spare parts.
The Clippers lost Darren Collison and Danny Granger and replaced them with Jordan Farmar and Spencer Hawes.
Portland lost Mo Williams and brought in two players past their prime, Chris Kaman and Steve Blake.
Golden State added Shaun Livingston and Brandon Rush, Phoenix added Isaiah Thomas and Anthony Tolliver and the Lakers added Lin, Carlos Boozer, Ed Davis and No. 7 overall pick Julius Randle.
All of those teams finished behind the Thunder in the standings and, at least on paper, haven’t assembled a roster capable of surpassing OKC.
Minnesota is about to lose Kevin Love, which will soon drop the Wolves to the same rebuilding status as Utah.
Dallas might have had the most successful summer among West teams. The Mavs overhauled their roster, bringing back Tyson Chandler and adding Parsons, Jameer Nelson, Raymond Felton and Richard Jefferson. But the Mavs also lost Carter, Shawn Marion, DeJuan Blair, Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert, all key contributors to last season’s team that went 49-33.
New Orleans received a big upgrade in Asik, while the Pelicans also replaced Morrow on the perimeter with Jimmer Fredette and John Salmons. But the Pelicans finished 25 games behind OKC last season.
No team supplanted the Thunder as the conference’s most talented team this summer, which is why last week ESPN.com predicted Oklahoma City to secure the No. 1 seed in the West next season.
Championships, of course, aren’t won in the regular season.
But the Thunder didn’t do anything to take itself out of contention in the offseason.
And that’s the most important thing.