Free Agency Shakes Up the East!
With a free agency period that would make even Scrooge McDuck jealous, teams have shelled out an enormous amount of cash for everyone from proven All-Stars to D-League players. If you look at the outcome thus far, the make up of just about every team in the Eastern Conference is different. Most teams have a new starting 5, new coach or a horde of young guys at their core. So what happens now? We have seen the players shift, teams change and 2017 NBA Playoff seeds potentially altered. New year and new teams bring out new challenges. Look at how they may potentially land.
*Photo via Yahoo
With signing a clear upgrade in Al Horford, who can play the post, defend, shoot and pass, the Celtics should be a lot better. However, they did lose a key wing and glue guy in Evan Turner and low post presence in Jared Sullinger. The Celts are a young team who will surely benefit with the presence of Horford. They now have 2 potential All-Stars on their roster and a ton of young pieces. But I think they have too many pieces who all can do the same thing rather than different pieces with different skillsets. The Celtics will make the playoff,s but Horford is not enough to make a huge difference.
The Hawks made the playoffs last year. The Hawks gave away Jeff Teague. The Hawks let Horford walk. The Hawks signed Dwight Howard. The Atlanta Hawks often do the strangest moves and somehow have little recovery time. They are a regular face in the playoffs but that glass ceiling named LeBron James has always been in their way since the days of Josh Smith, Joe Johnson and Mike Woodson. I am one of those people in the minority that think they actually improved. Picking up Howard for less money than having to pay Horford, while being smart and not trading Paul Millsap and trading a regressing Teague allows them to take a risk but not put all their eggs into a basket that wasn’t working. They have the right pieces around Dwight Howard for them to succeed. Also, Jarrett Jack is a great backup for Schrooder. The Hawks may not obtain additional wins, but paint is now protected from LeBron James getting 700 dunks and layups on them in the playoffs.
*Photo via USA Today
Who knows what may come out of losing Jeremy Lin, Courtney Lee and Al Jefferson. Jefferson was always hurt and they did not make much effort to replace his presence. The team didn’t in free agency either as far as bringing in new faces. They did do what was needed to retain their bigger keys in Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams. The Hornets do things their way so we have to watch out and see. Remember they did have one of the best records after the all-star break and are very effective defensively.
Do the Nets seem like the land of second and third chances? We already know they have a history of making head scratching decisions, and often mortgage their future for the sake of doing a trade, but why ship off the consistent Thad Young for nothing. They signed Lin for a re-up on Linsanity, as well as a handful of role players with an Anthony Bennett sighting. I had no idea that Bennett was still in the NBA. The Nets can’t get any worse so let's hope these experiments work out in their favor and not so much in the favor of the Celtic’s.
New York Knicks
*Photo via AP
The team everyone loves to hate, even your NBA champion LeBron James could not avoid being petty in his victory, but on paper, the Knicks are formidable. If healthy, the Knicks are a contender, even if not this season for the future at least. Flipping Jose Calderon and Lopez for a one year rental on one time MVP Derrick Rose was a great move. They don’t lose anything if he does not perform well or gets hurt, and have all to gain if he has a great season. He had a strong second half of the season last year, where he was very smart on the court. Adding Joakim Noah brings a veteran presence to balance out Melo and Porzingis, who fits the mold for a triangle center anything the use elements of the offense. That will allow KP and Melo to roam around freely on offense and take chances on defense. Courtney is the perfect upgrade at the 2 and glue guy this team needs. Fortifying the bench with Brandon Jennings, Lance Thomas, Justin Holiday, Willy Hernangomez and Marshall Plumlee will buy Phil Jackson at least another year of headlines.
The Bulls were supposed to be in tank mode, working towards the future. Selling off Rose and then acquiring Calderon, the focus was to be rebuilding around Jimmy Butler for the future. Enter Jerian Grant and Denzel Valentine. Then the Bulls signed Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade in what I call, exit Jerian Grant and Denzel Valentine. It will be hard for the young guys to grow and build around Butler when you have 3 alpha dogs in the starting lineup. The future of the Bulls may be stifled for the moment.
*Photo via USA Today
After some stand out performances in the NBA Playoffs, it was expected for some team to overpay for Bismack Biyombo and pry him away from the Raptors. So in response Toronto got a quality player in Jared Sullinger. I think Sully would be a great fit for that team, who was not going to pay for Biyombo to sit on the bench. Sullinger can be a post or stretch 4 for them. He can relieve some of the pressure sitting on the cash filled shoulders of Demar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Lets see if they make any additional moves to help the offense.
To be 100 percent honest, I have no idea what the Orlando Magic are doing. I don’t think they even know what they are doing themselves. The may have fallen victim to the pressure of making some kind of moves, that the moves they made, make no sense for the roster. I am not a fan of the Oladipo/first round pick for Serge Ibaka trade, as the only benefit I see is being all in on Fournier and Hezonja, while sacrificing an athletic defensive wing. Signing Bismack Biyombo for a garbage truck load of money made no sense either and, signing Jeff Green does not seem like a fit. They have home grown big men in Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic and now there are an additional two maybe three guys to fill in those spots. I see the Magic in the lottery once again
*Photo via NBA.com
A young core who may have gotten better with their new coach Scott Brooks. Nothing too phenomenal was done via free agency, but, they locked up Bradley Beal for a record amount of cash and double that in the amount of hope that he stays healthy to see it through. An over the hill NeNe is gone and a mix of Andrew Nicholson and Ian Mahinmi are there to cycle minutes as quality role playing big men. We will have to see how many games this team can play together under the tutelage of Brooks.
Many don’t like the moves Indiana has made, but, I am on the side of optimism for the Pacers. They have gained a faster point guard in Jeff Teague, forward in Thad Young that can help Paul George in the frontcourt and works in a small ball lineup and Al Jefferson for balance in a half court game. Larry Bird has expressed that he wanted to be faster with the pace and the team has improved in that regard.
*Photo via USA Today
What can I say? Out with the old and in with the new? Youth movement? Who knows what direction Pat Riley is heading with the moves he made. Whiteside got the max and we understand what it means to retain a player like him. But, with striking out on KD and early reports that Chris Bosh may have to retire or never be able to play the same has everyone wondering why they let veterans Dwyane Wade and Joe Johnson go. If I remember correctly, in the playoffs when Miami didn’t have Bosh or Whiteside, it was Wade who put the team on his back and now he is on the Chicago Bulls. If this team reaches the playoffs, we will see who emerges as the alpha dog with strong vets on other teams. If injuries occur like last season, that may not even happen.
This is a case where not making a huge free agency splash may be a good thing. Sam Hinke’s influence is all over this squad full of high lottery assets. No need for a big free agent to come and take shots and opportunities from this young roster. The Sixers have the perfect chance to build around their young talent, grow them and potentially use them as trade bait, especially the jam at frontcourt. Picking up Jerryd Bayless and Gerald Henderson are not “win now” moves but they are moves that can help groom the future.
*Photo via USA Today
The Bucks dangled Greg Monroe out there for a potential trade because they need shooting badly. I think nobody bit because the Bucks have the potential to put some fear in their opponents. Being if all players realize their potential and with Coach Kidd they just might. So while they were unable to get a trade for some shooters, they went out and signed some in Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic. Delly, might be underrated here because he has the ability to lead the team at point, play tough defense and shoot an open 3, which fits this team like the last puzzle piece. Though, not a big name, he is the prototype of what Jason Kidd wants at point guard.