NBA Offseason: Atlantic Division

Thursday, 2 June 2011, 13:36 | Category : NBA
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With the uncertainty of the looming lockout hanging over the NBA, teams having the daunting task of using this offseason to position themselves for success in whatever direction the new CBA takes them.  We are doing a division-by-division break down of what teams should be aiming to do this offseason.  We will analyze each team’s current situation, free agents, draft prospects, and whose contract the team would drop if the new CBA includes a new amnesty rule.  GMs, no need to worry.  We’ve got you covered.

 

Deron Williams, D-Will, New Jersey Nets, Melo, Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

Will teams in the Atlantic Division be able to add depth, or will they continue to flounder in mediocrity.

Boston Celtics: 2010-11 record: 56-26 (Atlantic: 13-3)

Do the the Celtics have enough in the tank to go for one more title?  Doc Rivers is staying put, but Shaq (the Kendric Perkins replacement) is retiring.  They will need to add size and scoring to their bench this offseason.  Honestly though, the Celtics window of opportunity may have already closed.

Free Agents:  Glen Davis, Jeff Green (restricted), Nenad Krstic, and Delonte West are the key free agents.  They will want to keep Davis because of his scoring and energy.  Green didn’t provide the scoring punch they were hoping to get with their trade so they may look elsewhere.  The Celtics don’t have much payroll flexibility so their hopes of adding an impact player is slim, but they have to improve their scoring off the bench and their defense in the post.  Jamal Crawford would be ideal but he is probably too expensive.  Maybe they should gamble on Yao Ming if he’s cheap.

Draft:  The Celtics have the 25th pick.  They should focus on getting a high energy rebounder ala Kenneth Faried or Trey Thompkins.

Amnesty:  The only upside to the abhorred bench of Band-Aids for temporary solutions is that they all come off this year.  In stead of wiping someone of the roster, they need to focus on adding to it.

 

New Jersey Nets: 2010-11 record: 24-58 (Atlantic: 3-13)

I don’t see Deron Williams staying with the Nets past this upcoming year and Brook Lopez is about to get a lot more expensive.  So New Jersey may try to make a splash by spending big in the offseason while everyone else waits for another year when the big names enter the free agent pool.

Free Agents: Kris Humphries, Brandon Wright, and Dan Gadzuric. Humphries was a bargain last year but he will now be a lot more expensive.  The Nets need a big guy who can cover Brook Lopez’s soft defense and rebounding.  They also need someone who can actually score off of William’s passes.  Tyson Chandler will be available but he will also be a wanted man.  Tracy McGrady may find the Nets appealing and it could be a project that could rejuvinate him.  Jason Richardson could excel here as well.  Reggie Evans would be a good backup plan if they can’t get the bigger names.

Draft:  New Jersey has the 27th pick (another reason they should try to win now).  They should try to get a guy who can contribute right away like JaJuan Johnson or Chandler Parsons.

Amnesty:  Dropping Travis Outlaws’ mistake of a contract (4 years; $28 million) certainly won’t hurt when trying to create a supporting cast around their new star.

 

New York Knicks: 2010-11 record: 42-40 (Atlantic: 10-6)

Did the Carmelo trade really help them that much?  They have the star power but they don’t have the pieces that you need to win a championship.  Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo are two of the biggest egos in the game and neither of them excel in defense.  If New York can find the unselfish defenders to surround them like Memphis did with Zach Randolph, they may be able to eventually compete for a title.

Free Agents:  Jared Jeffries, Anthony Carter, and Ronny Turiaf among a large number of unimportant players.  Chauncy Billups’ contract doesn’t give the Knicks much flexibility for this year.  They will probably try to sign players to one year contracts so they can spend a lot of money the following offseason.  They are just hoping Amare still has knees by then.

Draft:  They have the 17th pick and should use it to try to get a lock down defender like Chris Singleton.

Amnesty:  The only option is Renaldo Balkman (2 years; $3.5 million), who was a throw-in by Denver in the Melo trade who doesn’t play.  Every bit counts.

 

Philadelphia 76ers: 2010-11 record: 41-41 (Atlantic: 9-7)

The 76ers overachieved last year and now have a solid core of young players.  They lack a true go-to scorer but they have a lot of guys that can catch fire for short periods of time.

Free Agents:  Spencer Hawes (restricted), Thaddeus Young (restricted), and Jason Kapono are the most important FAs.  They will most likely match any offer that Young is given unless someone overpays him.  They may try to move Igoudala over the offseason to clear up space, but even if they don’t, they should try to get some wings that score.  Jason Richardson would be an interesting match as would Jamal Crawford.  They may want to wait a year before spending big as Elton Brand’s contract will come off the books.  This will be the strategy for a lot of teams because of the diluted free agent pool.

Draft:  They have the 16th pick.  A potential scorer like Marshon Brooks or Klay Thompson would be ideal.

Amnesty:  While Elton Brand (2 years; $35 million)  is finally fitting in, shedding his salary would put the team under the cap.  Iggy would be the other option, but he still has trade value.

 

Toronto Raptors: 2010-11 record: 22-60 (Atlantic: 5-11)

The Raptors have some intriguing pieces in DeMar Derozan, Jerryd Bayless, and Ed Davis to build around.  Unfortunately they are overpaying Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani for the next several years so this project may take a while.

Free Agents: Sonny Weems (restricted), Leandro Barbosa (player option), Reggie Evans, and Julian Wright (restricted).  Barbosa will likely exercise his option but the Raptors could still spend some money if they wanted to.  There aren’t many free agents that can stick around for the rebuilding process unless they wanted to outspend Portland for Greg Oden or gamble on a player like Earl Clark. Carl Landry could provide some low post scoring, but they need big guys who can score and rebound.

Draft:  Toronto has the 5th pick. It’s not a good year to have the 5th pick.   They may gamble on one of the huge foreign guys to develop into an NBA scorer.  They won’t have any sure future all-stars to choose from so picking an unproven European center with potential may be a good move.

Amnesty:  For some reason the team is sold on Bargnani (4 years; $41.5 million) so look for them to shed either Calderon (2 years, $20 million) or Amir Johnson (4 years; 25 million).  The best talent that will likely be available for the 5th pick will either be a big or a point guard, which happen to be the same positions as those two guys.  So it depends on who they draft.

NBA Summer Review- Atlantic Division

Tuesday, 28 September 2010, 20:45 | Category : NBA
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Now that training camps are underway, I am going through each division in the NBA breaking down this summer’s player movement one team at a time.

Boston Celtics: The “Cs” used to be synonymous with chemistry, but it seems to have been replaced by “cranky old men.”  A second after Boston lost game 7 of the finals, the team was in a hurry to rebuild.  The team is getting old, and this may be the last shot at a championship run for its ever-aging nucleus.  Unfortunately, the luck of the Irish was not with them this summer.

Or maybe they'll get along better than I thought.

After losing Perkins to injury and forcing Sheed into retirement, the Decrepits needed young, athletic bigs to simultaneously plug the holes in their frontline and build for the future.  They decided to go with Jermaine and Shaquille O’Neill.  Good Irish name, so why not?  Jermaine is a bleeder and barley averaged 4 PPG and only pulled down 3.6 RPG in the playoffs on a team with only one talented player.  Shaq only had 5 RPG in conference semi-finals versus the Celtics.  Maybe the Celtics were too focused on where D-Wade and LeBron would take their talents to pay much attention to the fact that these bigs are washed up.  And is the Big Shamrock really going to be able to accept his role coming off the bench?

As if Shaq doesn’t shake up the chemistry enough, they decided to sign the always well behaved Delonte West.  Now that he’s been suspended 10 games this upcoming season, I’m sure he’ll be a great locker room presence.  At least he can play multiple positions and lighten some of the ball handling burden off of Rondo (the only legit ball handler the team has had on the roster in years).

Despite its aging issues, Boston proved last year that they can’t be counted out.  They still cause match-up problems for almost any team in the league.  They’ll be tough and may even make a surprise run in the playoff, but don’t expect them to return to the finals.

The bright spot of the summer for Boston is their rookies, Luke Harangody and Avery Bradley, who had promising summer camps.  Hopefully Luke (another dopey, redheaded big) brought some Irish luck from Notre Dame with him, because it appears the Celtics are at the end of the rainbow, and there’s no gold.

(1st-Atlantic Division, 4th East)

New Jersey Nets: New owner Mikhail Prokhorov has set high expectations on a young team barley beginning to rebuild.  Like so many teams this summer, the Nets went for the slam dunk of free agents but barley got the bottom of the net. (See how I used “net”?)  Note: if they score Melo, then everything I say here will no longer be accurate.

There was a lot of young talent on the roster the team had to build around (you wouldn’t know it by the way they underperformed), but they traded Douglas-Roberts (lots of promise) and Lee (a proven defender) for the likes of Troy Murphy’s expiring contract.  Yes, they may have some of what the team needs to improve this year, but are they going to be a long-term answer?  Probably not.

Farmar and Outlaw bring more youth and solid experience; however, they are probably just the beginning a many changes to come.  And I’m not just talking about relocation to Brooklyn.  Bringing in no non-sense Avery Johnson to coach this young team will help shape and give it the identity it lacks.

I’m actually okay with how the Nets handled this summer.  They may not have a top free agent, but they began adding the pieces to improve.  That’s much better than paying too much for a big name and limiting the organization to make better moves in the future.  New Jersey has the cap space and the trading pieces to make the right moves (even if it takes 2 other teams to make it happen) when they come along.  I’m interested to see where Prokhorov’s vision is going to land the Nets.

(3rd- Atlantic, 10th East)

The power in the East could be shifting to the Empire State.

New York Knicks: After years of clearing cap space, trading drafts picks, and suffering, the long awaited Summer of LeBron came and went.  After all of the anticipation, LeBron did not take his talents to Broadway.  For such a big letdown, New Yorkers (some of the hardest fans to please) were remarkably easily pacified by the acquisition of Amare Stoudemire, not as well known Raymond Felton, and a handful of bench players from the Warriors.

Maybe the prospect of getting its own version of the Big Three and competing for multiple championships was enough to keep New Yorkers on board for just a little longer.  However, if Carmelo agrees to sign a long term contract and is traded to cross-town rivals, it will all be for not.  Then we will see how patient Knicks fans can be.  If they still had any pieces worth trading, Melo could already be suiting up with the Big Stat in the Big Apple.

After the shot of signing another top free agent waved bye-bye, I don’t know why they didn’t sign Allen Iverson.  I know he’s had his issues, but I think it would’ve worked.  He would’ve had a starting position and the chance to shoot as much as he’d like in Dantoni’s system.  Not to mention, the C-Answer wouldn’t spread because they aren’t depending on their young, impressionable talent.  He could’ve held the place for the next big star and made the team exciting in the mean time.  I mean they were willing to give Isaiah Thomas another job after all they’d been through, but not Iverson?

It’ll be interesting to see if New York will ever get back to where it was.

(2nd- Atlantic, 8th- East)

Philadelphia 76ers: There’s no question about the talent on the Sixers’ roster, but they are in search of an identity.

New face of the franchise raises as many questions as he answers.

Coach Collins is the team’s third coach in as many seasons.  His track record says he’ll be able to turn this team around.  Finding an identity starts with having some consistency so the team can develop chemistry.  Going back to playing some defense wouldn’t hurt either.  They’ll probably need to make some major personnel moves.  Rebuilding around number 2 pick, Evan Turner, even if it means trading Andre Iguadola, should be the new plan of action.  Finding a true point guard to take the reins should also be high on the club’s to-do list.

(4th-Atlantic Division, 11th-East)

Toronto Raptors: There was some debate if LeBron was going to stay in Cleveland, but is anybody surprised that Bosh bolted?  I’m not sure why the Raptors didn’t plan for this. In hind sight, I’m sure the Mavericks, or some other team looking to compete with the size of the Lakers last year, would’ve paid big to sign the likes of Bosh.  Now they are left with committing big money to Amir Johnson (who I love, but does not deserve that much money) and other no-namers.  Now the team is left with no identity and no direction.  The big improvement this summer was dumping Hedo. Way to go, Toronto.

(5th-Atlantic Division, 15th-East)

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