Posted Jul 16 2010 6:43AM
The most anticipated summer in years is slowly dissolving, and it has indeed been something to behold. When's the last time the NBA carried the sports conversation through July? Perhaps never to this degree, thanks to free agency.
Here's a state of the address regarding the teams and where they stand, as the 2010-11 season approaches. This week, the Eastern Conference, next week, the West.
Reaching Game 7 of the NBA Finals evidently made the Celtics believe they're still a contender with a decent shelf life. So they'll wait until Kevin Garnett's deal expires in two years before cleaning house and starting over. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were extended, and Jermaine O'Neal signed as insurance for Kendrick Perkins, out until possibly next spring after knee surgery. And Doc Rivers returns, too. One last run for the Big Three plus One.
They won't repeat last season's 12-win nightmare, but is this the way to rebuild? They hired Billy King to be the architect, and King was mostly known for overpaying a bunch of role players and sinking the 76ers. Spurned by the big names in free agency, the Nets gave five years and $35 million to Travis Outlaw and three years and $12 million to Anthony Morrow. At least those players are young with upside, same for first-round pick Derrick Favors and center Brook Lopez.
Rejected by LeBron, the Knicks will live on a high-wire with Amar'e Stoudemire. Did they just give $100 million to a player with a time-bomb for a knee, who doesn't play defense or rebound with abandon, who was effective only because of Steve Nash and who might be the target of the tabloids if the season turns lousy? Or will Stoudemire help the Knicks get Carmelo Anthony and/or Chris Paul in the next 12 months? Anthony Randolph and Raymond Felton could turn out to be wise buys.
They added a new coach in Doug Collins and a new hope in Evan Turner. If Collins can rejuvenate Elton Brand, or at least turn him into value trade bait, the season will be a success. There are enough young players on the roster to make the Sixers intriguing, but the issue is whether those players (Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams) have the stuff to take the Sixers to the next level.
They assumed all along that Chris Bosh was gone and put a replacement plan in motion. Dumping Hedo Turkoglu was a start in the right direction; his signing was a disaster, in hindsight. The Raptors aren't necessarily a better team today, but they're far more flexible going into the future. Any additional moves will reflect greatly on Bryan Colangelo's reputation in Toronto and perhaps determine his remaining time in Toronto.
Is it possible to miss out on the big names in free agency and still be declared winners? The Bulls will put a solid starting five on the floor, thanks to the addition of Carlos Boozer. Tom Thibodeau has something to work with here in his first coaching gig.
Once they snap themselves out of their LeBron hangover, which may take a while (two years?), the Cavs need to build a new identity. And that movement, given their cap situation, may have to wait until next summer at the earliest.
Their big offseason improvement plan happened last summer, when the Pistons spent good money on the wrong players. Now they wait for the next major purchase, as in, who's going to buy the team?
They're still stuck in a holding pattern until they shed a number of franchise-killing contracts next summer. Can Danny Granger hang on until then? Even better, will Larry Bird?
Now that he's with a good team, Corey Maggette can finally put to rest the notions of him being a selfish player. Should that happen, and if Andrew Bogut returns healthy, the Bucks will be something to watch. And just think, Michael Redd's gargantuan contract is up in 2011.
Has there ever been a more shoulder-shrugging reaction by the home crowd to a team signing a top free agent to a $120 million contract? Joe Johnson won't exactly get the pulses moving in Atlanta, but at least this means the Hawks, by keeping Johnson, should resume their 50-win existence.
They'll keep operating on the cheap until Michael Jordan is given a good reason to spend. Right now, he doesn't have that, because the Bobcats aren't championship material. Larry Brown has decided to stick around, and a good thing, because he's the best guy to reach Tyrus Thomas, now richer by $40 million.
The center of the NBA universe is now located in South Beach, where LeBron James has taken his talents. Along with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, Miami has dibs on the next title. Should be interesting.
Chris Duhon is an upgrade over Jason Williams (though not by much) and Quentin Richardson over Matt Barnes, but these are minor gains for the Magic. The team is essentially same-old same-old, and the next major move must wait until Vince Carter comes off the books next summer.
Gilbert Arenas is still around, which means the Wizards couldn't find anyone to take his lead contract, or they want to see how it works with Arenas and John Wall. Perhaps the former is closer to the truth. The best scenario is Arenas being moved by the trade deadline, since the Wizards not only have Wall but Kirk Hinrich at the same position. Otherwise, the Wizards are young and cap friendly, which is the right situation when you're rebuilding and trying to stay flexible for the future.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.
|NBA Rooks: Trey Burke - Making up for Lost Time|
Here's a look at Trey settling in to his new career and new city.
|The Starters: Top 10 Plays|
The Starters countdown their Top 10 Plays of the Week.
A Bulls' Luvabull is proposed to during the Chicago's matchup with Miami.
|NBA Action: One-On-One with Al Horford|
NBA Action goes one-on-one with Al Horford.
|NBA Action: Courtside Countdown|
Check out NBA Action's top 10 plays of the week.