Training camp time in NBA-land has rolled around, which means the season is barely a month away and most rosters are set with their rotation players. For an offseason that was supposed to end when D-Will signed with the Nets, a lot more happened to change the NBA landscape, especially a certain trade that affected three playoff-bound teams and made Hollywood the center of the basketball universe once again. The offseason saw a number of teams making marginal improvements, apart from the Lakers’ big splash. In a four-part series, SK breaks down the offseason and grades each team, starting with the Eastern Conference lottery teams:
The primary question here: how many wins is Michael Kidd Gilchrist worth by himself? Because that’s what the Cats’ offseason boils down to. They also added Ramon Sessions and flipped Corey Maggette into Ben Gordon, but those are hardly overwhelming moves in the wake of the worst season in NBA history in terms of win percentage. If the Bobcats are so cash strapped that they can’t spend for a half-decent team, then just sell the team, MJ.
They added two solid veterans in Okafor and Ariza who should help immediately. Bradley Beal was the right pick at #3 and will provide some much needed three-point bombing ability. John Wall’s injury is a real blow for this team as they seemed poised for playoff contention with their offseason moves. Instead the Wiz season will once again morph into the Vesely Girlfriend Watch (she’s disappeared!)
Once they landed Kyrie, conventional wisdom suggested that smart drafting was all it would take for the Cavs to be an EC force once again. For the second straight draft, the Cavs have taken a flier on the #4 pick. The jury’s still out on Tristan Thompson and the new guy, Dion Waiters, seems like he could turn out to be anything ranging from a poor man’s Dwyane Wade to a poor man’s Jamaal Crawford (wait, what?). As for the rest of the Cavs’ offseason, it doesn’t exist.
The Raps got off on the right foot, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Nash. Unfortunately for them, the Gods don’t like Toronto, and the Guy Up There put it into Bryan Colangelo’s head that signing Landry Fields to 3 years, 20 million would be a sneaky-good way of getting the Knicks off the Nash sweepstakes. We all know how that turned out. The Raps managed to salvage their offseason by adding Kyle Lowry from Houston, a big physical scoring point guard whom the Rockets basically just gifted away in the pursuit of Dwight. Digression: who has more cause to hate on Dwight – Magic fans or Rockets fans? The Rockets basically turned Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic into cap space they didn’t need.
So the Pistons drafted Darko Milicic #2 in 2003. That needed to be said, just to refresh memories. It’s important, because the Pistons drafted Andre Drummond #9 in 2012. There is a correlation there. Wait for season’s end. Detroit also shipped long distance sniper Ben Gordon for Corey Maggette, which really was the ultimate NBA trade for a young team – turn an old guy who can’t do anything but shoot into an old guy who can only get to the rim plus acts as if the ball is glued to his palms.
The Nets have basically constructed a team from scratch this offseason, re-signing or adding their entire starting five: D-Will/Joe Johnson/Gerald Wallace/Kris Humphries/Brook Lopez. The Mirza Teletovic signing at the mid-level can be the X-factor that possibly makes these Nets a team worthy of eventually losing to the Heat in playoff competition (that’s basically the ceiling for any EC team this season – the Heat are simply that good). The Nets also somewhat astonishingly will have the two most overpaid players in the NBA on their roster: Humphries ($12 mil) and JJ ($19.7 mil). The Nets also have a somewhat motley assortment off the bench, including veterans Stackhouse, Childress and Andray Blatche – to top it all off, they’re going to be under public scrutiny as part of NBA’s The Association. This should be fun.
The Bucks had a quiet offseason, re-signing Ilyasova and adding Sam Dalembert in a pre-draft trade with Houston. Not a fan of Dalembert, but the Bucks seem to believe that finishing as a eighth-seed in the East is like finding the Holy Grail, so the trade definitely helps. Ilyasova is underrated a big part of the Bucks’ future plans, so locking him up long term was a solid move.
Watch this space for offseason grades for last year’s EC playoff teams in the next installment.