It’s getting close to the start of the season, which means it is time to go over the off-season that truly set some major short-term and long-term storylines which will have a major impact on the NBA as we know it. As is tradition for me, I go from the worst team off-season to the best, taking everything into account (draft, free agency, coaching changes, etc).
Denver Nuggets– Let’s see: How about we take the worst defensive team in the NBA and remove their best defensive player and only reliable big man? That’s the ticket! A fun game to play is to guess how many players who ended last season in Denver will be there at the beginning of the 2010/2011 season. My guess? Two (Nene and K-Mart). I can’t wait to watch this team in action- they’re like the Kansas City Chiefs with a ton more offensive talent and less effort.
Golden State Warriors– I have written a ton on the Dubs, and much of it going into this offseason centered on the idea that they needed to choose to be a serious contender either in the next 2-3 years or a little further off in the future. Unfortunately, they chose the ubiquitous “Neither” option out of the bin, choosing to shoot their cap flexibility on Corey Maggette. Yeah Mullie, an up-tempo system really needs to spend that kind of money on a swingman, especially with SJax on roster. Don’t get me wrong- Corey will put up good fantasy numbers for Golden State in the next few years, but that will not translate well into wins, and it is incredibly hard for this team as presently constituted to swing assets into pieces that can make this franchise a legit contender at some point. Well, I guess we have to deal with another Bay Area team clawing to make the playoffs for the next 5 years…
Memphis Grizzlies– Has any team ever had a bigger discrepancy between their perimeter talent and their big man talent? [Yes, I’m the one who asked this in the Thorpe chat last week] They have a slew of guys I like, but OJ Mayo’s defensive abilities are much more limited when he is guarding SG’s instead of PG’s, and I doubt he’ll spend a ton of time on them when the Grizz have Conley and Kyle Lowry manning that spot. Still love Rudy Homosexual and Marc Gasol could be a helpful player on a good/great team, which sadly his Memphis squad will not be for some time, if at all. I will never understand why they made Mike Miller a throw-away in the T-Wolves deal and the trade makes me consider how Adriana Lima will like Memphis, a thought I didn’t want to entertain.
Sacramento Kings– I have used the term the “76ers Zone” with my friends for years now. It refers to a team that is just good enough to not be able to get the resources to make their team dramatically better so they linger in the late lottery/low seed playoff range. Ironically, it transferred from Philly to Sacto this offseason with the insane contract they gave to Beno Urdih (who I like fine, but it’s too much). Between Kevin Martin, Beno, Spencer Hawes, Francisco Garcia, and John Salmons, the Kings have over $30m committed through the 2010/2011 season, and while they are all decent players with upside, it just good enough to be in 76ers Zone for those years.
Charlotte Bobcats– Surprise, surprise: The Bobcats mess up another offseason. Just like last year could have been Spencer Hawes and a ton of cap space (avoiding the J-Rich trade and not signing Matt Carroll to that insane contract), this year had the Bobcats passing on Brook Lopez (the second or third best player in the 2008 Draft) for DJ Augustin, who needs a ton of work and does not have the PG abilities to justify his insanely high draft spot. The other side effect of the Augustin trade was that it changed the market for Raymond Felton both in terms of Charlotte’s bargaining position and the fact that it made personnel guys re-evaluate Felton and realize that he is not doing as well in terms of development. To make matter even worse, they drafted Alexis Ajinca, who will be a good player but is a long, long way off of getting there. On the plus side, I like Okafor’s extension and Larry Brown on the sidelines should work wonders with this roster- they are a sleeper playoff team this year. They just could be so much better.
Boston Celtics– It was a tough offseason for Boston. Basking in the much-deserved glow of their championship, Ainge made some very good moves in the form of the downright theft of Bill Walker and Mr. Giddens could end up being a solid addition down the line, probably a rotation player on a good team. What will define Boston’s chances to repeat is whether any of their non-KG bigs can step up. If one of Perkins, Powe, Big Baby, or O’Bryant can be a reliable starter and one of the others becomes a strong #1 big off the bench, they may have enough to make up for losing Posey. I understand why they didn’t re-sign the king of the man-hug, but they have to come to grips with the fact that they are now wholly at risk of a big collapse record-wise if any of their core players goes down for a period of time. In this year’s East, a two-week injury to Pierce or Allen could mean the 2 or 3-seed, and Boston’s path to the Finals gets harder as they play more games outside of the Garden.
Dallas Mavericks– Sarah Palin’s favorite team is a hard one to grade since they did not have any flexibility to change their roster around after the Jason Kidd trade. Their biggest problem is that lack of ability to change their roster even after Kidd expires, and while I love our blog mascot DeSagana Diop to death, Cuban overpaid to bring him back. As a side note, has any NBA team since the advent of the salary cap had more mediocre swingmen? It’s like the Boulevard of Broken Dreams on their bench. Continue reading