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[ESPN] Offseason Report Cards: East

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by J.R., Jul 31, 2013.

  1. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    Offseason grades for the East

    Grading a team's offseason has, increasingly, become a difficult exercise. Once upon a time, you just counted up who acquired (or kept) the best players and that was that.

    But the new collective bargaining agreement has changed the financial realities for most teams in the league. Now, acquiring cap flexibility has proved to be equally valuable to teams. Just ask the Houston Rockets.

    This year, another complication has arisen. The 2014 NBA draft is shaping up to be the best since 2003. In other words, it's a once-in-a-decade occurrence.

    That reality has dramatically altered the strategy of a number of teams this summer. A handful of general managers are deliberately gutting their rosters to get a chance at Andrew Wiggins and a host of other elite prospects next summer.

    So these grades take into account how each team in the league has performed so far in remaking itself while considering both the opportunities it had and the moves it has made. Each team's grade considers the draft, free agency, trades, front office and coaching moves as well as positioning for future drafts and free-agent opportunities.



    ATLANTA HAWKS | GRADE: C+

    Additions: Paul Millsap (free agent), Jeff Teague (re-sign), Kyle Korver (re-sign), Dennis Schroeder (draft), Elton Brand (FA), DeMarre Carroll (FA), Gustavo Ayon (waiver claim), Lucas Nogueira (draft), Jared Cunningham (trade), Pero Antic (FA), Mike Muscala (draft), Mike Budenholzer (coach)

    Key subtractions: Josh Smith (Pistons), Larry Drew (Bucks), Zaza Pachulia (Bucks)

    The Hawks, with their loads of cap room, were poised to make a big splash this summer. Instead, it was a fairly quiet affair.

    They lost their second-best player, Smith, via free agency but made up for the loss in large part with the signing of Millsap, whose two-year, $19 million deal was widely regarded as one of the better values of the summer. While Millsap doesn't provide the athletic sizzle of Smith, he plays a mistake-free game that Hawks fans will appreciate.

    The situation at point guard may be the most interesting this season. The team drafted Schroeder, a super quick German who reminds scouts of a young Rajon Rondo. Schroeder isn't ready to take the reins right away though, and the Hawks reluctantly matched the Bucks' offer sheet for Teague. Atlanta tried to work a sign-and-trade with the Bucks for about week, but the Hawks' demands were high. If Schroeder is the player the Hawks believe he is, Teague could be moving on as soon as next summer.

    The hiring of Budenholzer was regarded as a steal. While Drew did an admirable job in Atlanta the past few years, Budenholzer is a Spur and GM Danny Ferry is trying to re-create the San Antonio culture in Atlanta.

    Overall the Hawks didn't do a lot to move the needle in either direction. I doubt they crack the top five in the East next season, but they should still be in the playoff hunt. Atlanta should have cap room again next year to make a substantial offer to another free agent, and if Schroeder progresses, they'll have a trade chip in Teague. So while the future is not incredibly bright, there are still opportunities to get better.

    BOSTON CELTICS | GRADE: B-

    Additions: Gerald Wallace (trade), Kelly Olynyk (draft), Kris Humphries (trade), MarShon Brooks (trade), Keith Bogans (trade), Phil Pressey (FA), Vitor Faverani (FA), Brad Stevens (coach), Nets' first-round draft picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018, and the right to swap first-round picks in 2017

    Subtractions: Kevin Garnett (Nets), Paul Pierce (Nets), Jason Terry (Nets), Doc Rivers (Clippers), D.J. White, Kris Joseph, Terrence Williams

    While it may be painful for fans to lose the heart and soul of the franchise, it was clear that the Celtics had to begin rebuilding sooner or later. And with an exceptional draft coming next summer, now was the time to do it.

    Danny Ainge didn't get a lot in return for Garnett and Pierce. In fact, he had to swallow the remaining $30 million on Wallace's deal to make the trade work. But he did get three future first-round picks from the Nets. The pick in 2014 will be marginal, but with the Nets mortgaging their future to win now, the hope in Boston is the picks in 2016, 2017 and 2018 will be much higher.

    With Rivers now in Los Angeles, the Celtics brought on Stevens, who was the brightest young mind in college hoops and is the perfect fit for a rebuilding team. I met him in Maui last November at a tournament and I don't think I've ever been as impressed with a young coach. College coaches often struggle to make the transition to the NBA, but I think Stevens is going to be great.

    Olynyk was one of the sharpest players in the Orlando Summer League in July and may become a fixture on the new-look Celtics. The 22-year-old is one of the most skilled big guys you'll come across, but don't blow all your money on his rookie card just yet. Olynyk still lacks both elite athletic abilities and length. I'm skeptical he produces at the level he showed this summer as a rookie in the NBA.

    The Celtics' real future will likely be determined by how bad they are this season. While Ainge might insist that his teams don't tank, it's in Boston's best interest to lose a lot of games this season. The 2014 draft is stacked, and if the Celtics can land a top-five pick, they'll likely get their hands on a franchise cornerstone to jump-start the rebuilding process.

    BROOKLYN NETS | GRADE: B+

    Additions: Kevin Garnett (trade), Paul Pierce (trade), Andrei Kirilenko (FA), Andray Blatche (re-sign), Jason Terry (trade), Shaun Livingston (FA), Alan Anderson (FA), Mason Plumlee (draft), Jason Kidd (coach)

    Subtractions: Gerald Wallace (Celtics), Kris Humphries (Celtics), MarShon Brooks (Celtics), Keith Bogans (Celtics), C.J. Watson (Pacers), P.J. Carlesimo (coach)

    The Nets are clearly going for it. And they went all-in to get there.

    Adding Garnett, Pierce and Kirilenko gives Brooklyn huge upgrades at critical positions. Should KG's and Pierce's health hold up, the Nets will sport one of the most devastating and experienced starting fives in the league. This team can compete with anyone in the East or West.

    But two big questions remain: Will the chemistry come together, and how long they can keep the title window open?

    Having this many alpha dogs could cause problems. The Celtics' vaunted chemistry was overrated, as anyone with a Rajon Rondo versus Ray Allen story can tell you. In Brooklyn, it's going to take some selflessness on the part of everyone for this to work. Will a rookie head coach like Kidd be able to keep everyone together at the first sign of trouble?

    They won't have long to figure it out. Garnett is 37. Pierce and Terry are 35. Joe Johnson and Kirilenko are 32. They have depth and will use it to keep Garnett's and Pierce's minutes down, but clearly this isn't a roster that's been put together for the long haul. In fact, some doubt it can last through next season.

    If the Nets can get two great title runs out of this team, it was probably worth the risk. If they don't, the Nets are stuck in salary-cap hell for a while with very little wiggle room to fix it.

    CHARLOTTE BOBCATS | GRADE: C-

    Additions: Al Jefferson (FA), Cody Zeller (draft), Gerald Henderson (re-sign), Josh McRoberts (re-sign), Steve Clifford (coach)

    Subtractions: Tyrus Thomas, Byron Mullens (Clippers), Reggie Williams (Rockets), DeSagana Diop, Mike Dunlap (coach)

    Good news, Bobcats fans. You are no longer the favorite to be the worst team in the NBA.

    The bad news? That it has more to do with the historic tank job happening in Philly than anything Charlotte did this summer.

    Adding Jefferson gives the Bobcats the strong low-post scoring option that they have lacked the past few years. Zeller gives them a young stretch 4 who could be a terrific complement for a player like Jefferson -- if Clifford can become the first coach in the NBA to persuade Big Al to pass the ball out of the block.

    But the Jazz let Jefferson walk this summer exactly because their young players couldn't make the next leap with him on the floor. And while he and Zeller, combined with the handful of East teams in bad shape, should equal a few more wins this season, it will come at a cost. Getting marginally better won't push the Bobcats into the playoffs, but it will take away pingpong balls in the best draft of the next decade.

    What the Bobcats really need is a star to build around. No one on the current roster is up for the challenge and their summer strategy appears to be hurting their odds of adding that guy next year.

    CHICAGO BULLS | GRADE: C

    Additions: Mike Dunleavy (FA), Tony Snell (draft), Nazr Mohammed (re-sign), Erik Murphy (draft)

    Subtractions: Marco Belinelli (Spurs), Nate Robinson (Nuggets), Richard Hamilton

    The Bulls' biggest addition was already under contract. A healthy Derrick Rose will do wonders for the Bulls next season. The rest of Chicago's approach to the summer can be summed up as such: Stay the course and add some shooters.

    Dunleavy has shot at or very close to 40 percent from 3 the past two seasons. Snell is a streakier shooter, but his length and athleticism could make him a potent backcourt partner in the future for Rose. Murphy is a stretch 4 who shot a sizzling 45 percent from 3 during his senior season at Florida.

    If Rose, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng all stay healthy this season, the Bulls will contend for the Eastern Conference crown. I'm just not sold they did anything to move the needle much this summer, hence the grade.

    CLEVELAND CAVALIERS | GRADE: B+

    Additions: Anthony Bennett (draft), Andrew Bynum (FA), Jarrett Jack (FA), Earl Clark (FA), Sergey Karasev (draft), Carrick Felix (draft), Mike Brown (coach)

    Subtractions: Shaun Livingston (Nets), Wayne Ellington (Mavericks), Marreese Speights (Warriors), Omri Casspi (Rockets), Kevin Jones, Chris Quinn, Byron Scott (coach)

    For the second time in three years, the Cavs had the No. 1 pick in the draft. Unfortunately, this one wasn't full of future All-Stars and the guy they selected didn't exactly set Cleveland on fire with anticipation.

    I'm a Bennett fan. He's a versatile forward who can do everything. The Larry Johnson comp seems just about right. But he was a compromise pick for the Cavs.

    Nerlens Noel and Ben McLemore had more upside than Bennett but neither was ready. Others like Victor Oladipo and Otto Porter were better fits, but had lower ceilings. Ultimately, the Cavs tried to thread the needle to get a guy with both upside and the ability to play right now, which serves the mandate from owner Dan Gilbert to make a push for the playoffs this season.

    The rest of their summer followed that edict, too. If Bynum is healthy and motivated -- which he should be, given that his contract is filled with incentives -- he and Anderson Varejao, along with Tristan Thompson and Bennett, should give the Cavs a formidable front line.

    Jack gives them a stellar backup for Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters who can play both positions and provide instant offense off the bench. Clark had a solid season in L.A. before flaming out in the playoffs. Karasev, likely the future at the 3, is a deadly shooter who has significant experience playing in the Russian pro league. Karasev's defense needs work, but he can score and has a very high basketball IQ.

    Overall, the Cavs should seriously contend with the Hawks, Wizards, Bucks and possibly the Pistons for one of the last three playoff spots in the East. While they are likely out of the running for another high draft pick, they should have enough flexibility next summer to make a run at a certain Akron native if he feels so inclined to return home.

    DETROIT PISTONS | GRADE: B

    Additions: Josh Smith (FA), Brandon Jennings (S&T), Chauncey Billups (FA), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (draft), Will Bynum (re-sign), Luigi Datome (FA), Tony Mitchell (draft), Maurice Cheeks (coach)

    Subtractions: Brandon Knight (Bucks), Jose Calderon (Mavericks), Jason Maxiell (Magic), Slava Kravtsov (Bucks), Khris Middleton (Bucks), Kim English, Lawrence Frank (coach)

    The Pistons have been in lottery purgatory for the past four seasons and Joe Dumars has had enough. The team signed Smith to a huge contract, added Jennings as its new starting point guard, brought back Billups and added two intriguing shooters in Caldwell-Pope and Datome. The hope is the new additions, combined with the emerging talents of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, will be enough to crack the top eight in the East.

    That hope waxes or wanes depending on how you feel about Smith and Jennings. Defensively, Smith should give the Pistons one of the biggest, most athletic front lines in the league. Offensively, the concern is he exacerbates Detroit's spacing issues. If Smith is jacking up long 2s, he can hurt the Pistons as much as help them.

    Jennings has his fair share of issues as well. He still can play out of control despite the fact that he's been in the league four years and his maturity level still hasn't caught up to the talent. But the Pistons felt he was an upgrade over Knight and desperately wanted to add a true point guard to the team. Jennings is blessed with remarkable athleticism and talent, and the Pistons acquired him at a fair price. If new head coach Maurice Cheeks can get through to him, he suddenly make this team much more dangerous.

    The Pistons' spacing issues should somewhat be mitigated by the addition of Pope and Datome (an Italian sharpshooter who won the MVP of the Italian League last season). If both players can sink shots, they should be in pretty good shape.

    I understand the push to end the rebuilding phase (especially so since they're obligated to send next year's first-round pick to the Bobcats if it falls outside of the top eight). I think the Pistons probably should've waited one more year to make the push, but if the team really does jell with Smith and Jennings and makes a run in the playoffs, then it was clearly worth it to try to make the leap now.

    INDIANA PACERS | GRADE: A-

    Key additions: David West (re-sign), Luis Scola (trade), C.J. Watson (FA), Chris Copeland (FA), Solomon Hill (draft), Donald Sloan (FA), Larry Bird (president)

    Subtractions: Tyler Hansbrough (Raptors), D.J. Augustin (Raptors), Gerald Green (Suns), Miles Plumlee (Suns), Jeff Pendergraph (Spurs)

    After pushing the Miami Heat to the brink in the Eastern Conference finals, the Pacers had a clear agenda: Re-sign David West and shore up a woefully ineffective bench.

    They receive mixed reviews here on the first count. Given West's age (33 in August), a three-year, $36 million deal is a bit much. But their window for winning is now and West is their leader. The deal shouldn't really come back to bite them until its final year.

    On the bench front, the Pacers landed a huge score in Scola, who, while also aging, is a massive upgrade over what the Pacers had coming off the bench last season. The fact that they were able to send out Green as part of the deal was a bonus.

    Watson is a slightly better version of Augustin and came on a reasonable deal. Copeland, they are hoping, is more than just a one-season wonder. And Danny Granger is expected to make a full recovery, allowing Lance Stephenson to give their reserve unit additional help.

    They weren't as successful in the draft, though. The Pacers passed on a number of players with more upside in the draft to get their hands on Arizona's Solomon Hill, and they also traded away their 2012 first-round pick, Plumlee, and their 2014 first-round pick to Phoenix to land Scola.

    But overall, the Pacers have gotten stronger this summer. Whether they've gotten strong enough to get by four other teams with significantly larger payrolls is the only real question remaining for the lone small-market team left among the elite in the East.

    MIAMI HEAT | GRADE: C-

    Additions: Chris Andersen (re-sign), James Ennis (draft)

    Subtractions: Mike Miller (Grizzlies)

    After winning back-to-back NBA titles, Heat president Pat Riley is tripling down on the idea that this Heat roster has enough juice to pull off a third straight NBA title. To date, the only real change the Heat made was waiving Miller.

    While it's difficult to second-guess a team that has made it to three straight NBA Finals, the Heat's decision to sit on their hands is mildly surprising given the moves the Pacers and Nets have made this summer.

    Of course, when you have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, you don't have to sweat too much. But with Wade slowing down with age and injuries and the Heat looking vulnerable to teams that can pound them inside, Miami is far from a forgone conclusion to make it back to the Eastern Conference finals.

    Riley's faith in his Big Three is admirable. He also has an eye on the summer of 2014, when the Heat will be flush with serious cap space to make adjustments if they need to. So instead of panicking, the Heat will try to ride this out one more season knowing that in 2014, if they can retain LeBron, they can build another superteam to last for the next three or four years.

    MILWAUKEE BUCKS | GRADE: C+

    Additions: O.J. Mayo (FA), Brandon Knight (trade), Giannis Antetokounmpo (draft), Gary Neal (FA), Zaza Pachulia (FA), Carlos Delfino (FA), Luke Ridnour (trade), Slava Kravtsov (trade), Khris Middleton (trade), Miroslav Raduljica (FA), Nate Wolters (draft)

    Subtractions: Monta Ellis (Mavericks), Brandon Jennings (Pistons), J.J. Redick (Clippers), Samuel Dalembert (Mavericks), Mike Dunleavy (Bulls), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (Kings), Drew Gooden, Gustavo Ayon (Hawks), Jim Boylan (coach)

    The Bucks continue to be stuck in NBA purgatory -- good enough to eke into the playoffs from time to time, but never good enough to make a leap to contender. Don't blame GM John Hammond. His owner, Herb Kohl, hates the rebuilding process and has given the Bucks marching orders to make the playoffs every year.

    What the Bucks need is a star, but the only way they'll get one is through the draft, and their draft position has been too low from year to year to get a real shot at one. That's why Hammond swung for the fences this time around with Antetokounmpo at No. 15. He is one of the rawest prospects to come into the NBA in a decade, but the tools he has are tremendous. He's long, athletic, can shoot and really passes it well for a player his size (6-foot-9, 295 pounds). If he ever develops, Antetokounmpo, Larry Sanders and John Henson will be one of the best front lines in the NBA.

    The Bucks' biggest move outside of the draft was the trade of Jennings to the Pistons for Knight, Kravtsov and Middleton. Jennings privately told the team he either wanted the max or out of Milwaukee, prompting Milwaukee to sign Jeff Teague to an offer sheet, which the Hawks matched. Jennings didn't want to play there and the Bucks didn't really see him as their point guard of the future, so a trade was inevitable.

    Knight, his replacement, is a high-character player who can really shoot and defend. But the Pistons had serious issues with him as their point guard, and with Mayo locked in at the 2, the Bucks are likely going to have to keep him at the 1. Knight has talent, but trading for him doesn't totally seem to jibe with some of their other moves, which fit the Bucks' playoff goals.

    Mayo isn't the scorer that Ellis is, but he's a better shooter and he'll offer far better chemistry. Neal isn't quite the shooter that Redick was, but he comes at a fraction of the cost. Pachulia takes the place of Dalembert backing up Sanders. Delfino gives the Bucks some shooting at the 3. Ridnour is insurance at the point. The team also picked up multiple second-round picks in several trades.

    At the end of the day, I'm not sure if the Bucks didn't just score a wash this summer. The roster has better character guys on it, but I'm not sure the talent level is considerably higher. If Knight is good enough, the combination of him, Mayo, Ersan Ilyasova, Sanders, Henson, Neal and Delfino should put them in the running for the eighth seed in the East. But like the past few years, they're likely to get routed in the first round.

    NEW YORK KNICKS | GRADE: D

    Additions: J.R. Smith (re-sign), Andrea Bargnani (trade), Metta World Peace (FA), Kenyon Martin (re-sign), Tim Hardaway Jr. (draft), Pablo Prigioni (re-sign), C.J. Leslie (FA)

    Subtractions: Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby (Rockets), Steve Novak (Raptors), Chris Copeland (Pacers), Quentin Richardson (Raptors), James White

    Despite their finish with the second-best record in the East, an early exit at the hands of the Pacers in April combined with the strong summers of their rivals leaves the Knicks in a precarious situation. Capped out and without much in the way of assets, their only choice appears to be to double down on an old roster and hope that their veterans limp through the season. In some cases, that's literal.

    Smith was their biggest signing of the summer and indicative of the problems in New York. There was no way to replace him on the open market given their cap situation, so the Knicks overpaid and then announced a few days later that he'll be out three to four months after patellar tendon surgery.

    They also added Bargnani in a trade that didn't cost them much in the way of assets, but seems like a questionable fit. Soft big men who try to do most of their damage on the perimeter are not exactly what the Knicks are going to need to compete in the East.

    World Peace isn't soft (I love that I just wrote that), but he adds another strong personality to a team filled with them. And though World Peace has been on his best behavior lately, his game is in serious decline.

    Even their draft appeared to be more about show than substance. Hardaway Jr. is a solid wing player, but if his name wasn't Hardaway, I doubt he goes as high as he did on draft night.

    The Knicks appear to be heading in the wrong direction and spending themselves into a deeper and deeper hole in the process. Knicks fans have seen this movie before. It doesn't end well.

    ORLANDO MAGIC | GRADE: B-

    Additions: Victor Oladipo (draft), Jason Maxiell (FA), Ronnie Price (FA), Romero Osby (draft)

    Subtractions: None

    The rebuilding Magic scored the potential star of this year's draft and then sat on their hands the rest of the summer. The goal is to be bad enough to grab a high draft pick in 2014, and to that end, they achieved their goal.

    Oladipo, my favorite player in the draft, is both NBA ready and has huge potential. Defensively, he can lock down multiple positions. Offensively, he is still a work in progress (especially after the Magic decided to try him out at point guard in the summer league). But he's a very hard worker, has all the physical tools to succeed and has a track record of improving year to year.

    The rest of the team is filled with young players with average to above-average potential and a handful of veterans -- Hedo Turkoglu, Al Harrington and Jameer Nelson -- who are likely in their last season with the team (if not less).

    My only qualm with the Magic was that they missed an opportunity to land Eric Bledsoe. With the Clippers pushing for a trade for Arron Afflalo, the Magic balked and missed a chance to get a potential point guard of the future.

    PHILADELPHIA 76ERS | GRADE: A

    Additions: Nerlens Noel (trade), Michael Carter-Williams (draft), Royce White (trade), James Anderson (FA), Tim Ohlbrecht (FA), Sam Hinkie (GM), Pelicans' 2014 first-round draft pick

    Subtractions: Jrue Holiday (Pelicans), Andrew Bynum (Cavaliers), Nick Young (Lakers), Doug Collins (coach), Tony DiLeo (GM)

    If you've been watching the 76ers closely since Hinkie took over as GM, you've been given a front-row seat to one of the most blatant tanking jobs in the NBA. Over the past six weeks, they've traded away their young All-Star point guard, let their trade prize of last season (Bynum) walk and haven't really lifted a finger to field a more competitive team. They haven't even bothered to hire a coach.

    And I love it.

    If you are going to be bad, be really bad. Fill your roster with young guys with potential. Let them get the stuffing beat out of them. Position yourself to add cornerstone players quickly. And end the affair as quickly as it began.

    The Sixers set the whole project in motion on draft night. They shipped Holiday to the Pelicans in return for the draft rights to Noel and the Pelicans' 2014 first-rounder. That one trade gave them the player with the most upside in the 2013 NBA draft and a shot at a second lottery pick in the coveted 2014 draft. Noel is a long, athletic big man who likely would've gone No. 1 had he not torn his ACL in February. If he recovers, he has the chance to be a dominant big man.

    The team also got the point guard with the most upside of anyone in the draft in Carter-Williams. He needs to learn how to shoot, but he has elite size, athletic ability and court vision.

    Add in the Sixers' own lottery pick (likely to be in the top four) and the Pelicans' (likely to be somewhere between seven and 15) and the Sixers can add two more young stars next summer and still have $30 million in cap room to add free agents.

    By next summer the Sixers could potentially have FOUR young cornerstone players with the potential to add even more help. They could go from being the league doormat this season to a dangerous playoff team the next. Few teams can pull off that feat, that fast. If everything goes right for Philly, the Sixers are perfectly poised to pull it off.

    TORONTO RAPTORS | GRADE: D+

    Additions: Tyler Hansbrough (FA), D.J. Augustin (FA), Steve Novak (trade), Dwight Buycks (FA), Quentin Richardson (trade), Masai Ujiri (GM), Knicks' 2016 first-round draft pick

    Subtractions: Andrea Bargnani (Knicks), Linas Kleiza, Alan Anderson (Nets), John Lucas III (Jazz), Bryan Colangelo (GM)

    The Raptors' biggest moves this summer came in the front office. After years at the helm, Bryan Colangelo is out and his former protégé, Masai Ujiri, has come to help turn things around. It was a tough few years for Colangelo. The Raptors really never recovered from losing Chris Bosh and have been perpetually in the "bad, but not bad enough" category the past few years.

    Based on his moves, or lack thereof, this summer, it appears Ujiri isn't in any hurry to make the playoffs. Toronto's two biggest acquisitions, Hansbrough and Augustin, were both part of a much maligned Pacers bench last season, and thrusting them into bigger roles in Toronto doesn't exactly scream "We're going for it!"

    The problem for the Raptors is that they aren't bad enough to grab a lion's share of pingpong balls, nor are they good enough to compete for a playoff spot. And next year, they aren't likely to have much in the way of cap room. So either Ujiri waits this out until the 2015 season, or someone like Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry should keep his bags packed this season.

    WASHINGTON WIZARDS | GRADE: B

    Additions: Otto Porter (draft), Martell Webster (re-sign), Eric Maynor (FA), Glen Rice Jr. (draft), Garrett Temple (re-sign)

    Subtractions: None

    The Wizards were woeful coming out of the gate last season, but caught fire once everyone got healthy and looked like a potential playoff team. GM Ernie Grunfeld clearly agrees.

    Their biggest addition was Porter, the type of all-around player who can impact a game without taking 20 shots a night. No, he wasn't great in summer league, but his game wasn't suited to the environment. He can do a little of everything and is an unselfish, high-character player. He's not going to put up huge numbers, but he's a perfect fit in an offense that has plenty of gunners. Pair him with an emerging John Wall and Bradley Beal and the Wizards have quietly built one of the better young cores in the East.

    Other additions, including re-signing Webster and drafting Rice (who dominated the D-League last season), shore up their wing positions.

    The problem is that as strong as the Wizards' backcourt and wings are, their frontcourt is shaky. Any real success this season will rely on the perpetually injured Nene and an aging Emeka Okafor to anchor that front line. Their backups, Jan Vesely, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin, don't inspire much confidence, either.

    As hard as it is to say, it might be a blessing in disguise if Nene goes down yet again. Next year they could land another top draft pick in a draft filled with intriguing bigs. Okafor and Ariza come off the books and they don't have to pick up Vesely's option. Even after a Wall extension, they should have enough cap room to try to add a big-time power forward next summer.
     
  2. RedDynasty

    RedDynasty Member

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    Is there a West report card yet?
     
  3. daywalker02

    daywalker02 Easter Egg Hunter - Tell me why? نحن عائلة
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    Philly on our heels soon enough
     
  4. LabMouse

    LabMouse Member

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    INDIANA PACERS should win the East and face Rockets in the West.
     
  5. FLASH21

    FLASH21 Heart O' Champs
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    Philly and Indy obviously had the 2 best off-seasons in the East, yet are clearly moving in two completely opposite directions.

    Crazy how the NBA works.
     
  6. daywalker02

    daywalker02 Easter Egg Hunter - Tell me why? نحن عائلة
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    philly wants to head pacer's direction but before they do they have to take a detour
     
  7. Classic

    Classic Member

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    Indy, NJ & Miami an maybe Chi. Finally, the east has some bite.
     
  8. DonatasFanboy

    DonatasFanboy Member

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    It was Miami, Chicago, Boston and Orlando before that, until the last two got hit by age, steroids suspension and bad moves.

    The East has been good at the top for a while. Last year they were just ravaged by injuries.

    It's the mid table and the low table that sucks. Under 40 wins teams getting into the playoffs.
     
  9. Classic

    Classic Member

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    You right. I think I'm just thinking these teams will be better to watch than east teams yrs past. Could also be that I'm just dying for some hoops/football action!
     
  10. Shaud

    Shaud Member

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    They gave the Knicks a D for the off-season. Didn't think their off-season was that bad to get such a low grade.
     
  11. htownrox1

    htownrox1 Member

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    I think it's a fair grade. They overpaid for J.R. and then announced a few days later that he was gonna be out for 3 to 4 months with a substantial knee surgery. Not exactly knocking the off season out of the park.
     
  12. Shaud

    Shaud Member

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    4 years for 24 mil isn't really overpaying considering what other guys have been getting all off-season.

    I do agree the knee surgery is a concern.
     
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