By: Trisity Miller
After an eventful shortened season and even better playoffs, teams have been preparing themselves for the next season through the draft and free agency. A few teams have thrown themselves in the conversation of "title contender", some teams have stayed put in hopes that things could swing their way, while some have decreased in overall talent setting their organizations up for a trip to the lottery. Now that the off season is close to over, I will break down the winners of the off season and vice versa.
1) Boston Celtics: Subtract Ray Allen from Boston and add Jason Terry, Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox, Courtney Lee, Fab Melo, Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass, and a healthy Avery Bradley and what do you have? Now a legitimate threat to the Miami Heat for a team that lacked quality depth last season when Bradley went out with a shoulder injury, they've upgraded every position outside of point guard. The team's success will rely heavily on whether KG, Pierce, and Bradley can stay healthy when it matters the most. Clearly a top 5 team, it's going to take a 100% healthy Miami Heat to throttle this team.
2) Los Angeles Lakers: Wilt Chamberlain. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Vlade Divac. Kobe Bryant. Byron Scott. Pau Gasol. What do these players all have in common? The Lakers acquired them all in a trade for less than they’re worth. Let's add Steve Nash to the list. The Lakers traded 2 first round and 2 second round picks for Nash. It sounds good, but Jordan Farmar may have been the best draft pick LAL has made since Bynum. Add Nash to an offense that has needed a point guard since Magic left and a lineup that consists of Kobe-Gasol-World Peace-Bynum and this is the best starting lineup in the league. Now factor in Antwan Jamison, who averaged 17/6 last season, and Jordan Hill who was a nice solid pickup for LA last season and you now have a title contender and a legitimate threat to OKC's throne atop of the West. If Kobe wants to get 6 rings the time is now and this will be the best chance he has as he's toward the end of his career.
3) Brooklyn Nets: Deron Williams-Anthony Morrow-Travis Outlaw-Kris Humphries-Brook Lopez. This was Brooklyn's starting line-up when they acquired Deron Williams. The overall plan was to unite Deron + Dwight Howard. Now, two years later, you can argue that the Nets have had the BEST offseason. You re-sign Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez, add Joe Johnson and Reggie Evans via trade, draft Tyshawn Taylor and pick up CJ Watson in free agency and Brooklyn has positioned themselves for the playoffs for the next 3 to 5 years. Are they better than the Heat? Not yet, but a 2nd through 5th seeds seems do-able for the team. Offense will be there game, but don't be shocked if this team sneaks into the second round. Here's to the best team in New York.
4) Big Men: When Kwame Brown inks a $6 million deal over the next two years. He's just one of the MANY big men that have inked huge deals this off-season. Big men are known for getting overpaid, simply because their height can't be taught, and after the lockout you would think that owners would be light on the money after complaining about the spending, but they've done the COMPLETE OPPOSITE. Here are some of the contracts agreed this summer: Kevin Garnett/$36 million, Omer Asik/$25 million, Javale McGee/$44 million, Tim Duncan/$36 million, Brook Lopez/$61 million, Roy Hibbert/$58 million, Ian Mahinmi/$16 million, Ryan Anderson/$34 million, Ersan Ilyasova/$45 million, and Marcus Camby/$13 million. For a league that is converting to a "small game", owners still value the center position, and if you're 7-feet or taller, then an owner is ready to give you millions.
1) Dwight Howard: I've yet to speak on this entire Dwight situation since it has arisen and yet here I am. Dwight is the best big man. He's the best big man defender in the league. Wherever he goes equals championship contention. Yet, he's put himself in a situation where he can't get what he wants. He wants to be a Net. He gets his coach and general manager fired. He signs agreement to stay in Orlando another year. He wants out. He wants to sign long-term with the Lakers. He doesn't want to sign long-term with the Lakers. This is where we are now and, quite frankly, Dwight has escorted himself from our hearts. It's time for Dwight to man-up and come public with his requests. He's holding back a franchise and killing his fan base. Hopefully by the time the season begins he's with another uniform. Where? I'm sure no one cares as long as the drama is over.
2) Chicago Bulls: While being relatively quiet, the Bulls are having one of the worst off seasons a team can have. While the Bulls have been a great team the last two years most of their success has stemmed from their bench play. Referred to as "the Bench Mob", they terrorized teams on defense and, if given the opportunity, could win games with their play. The likes of Omer Asik (offer from HOU), CJ Watson (BKN), Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver (ATL) and John Lucas III are all gone due to Chicago attempting to avoid the luxury tax (maybe the lockout did work). Things are going downhill fast and unless they do something fast, they'll likely slip to a fourth or fifth seed under MIA, BOS, IND, and BKN. This would be a perfect time to throw in the fact that Rose won't be starting the season due to his ACL injury.
3) James Dolan: The Knicks management may be holding the Knicks back more than the players on their roster and it all starts with this man here. He let Jeremy Lin walk for free. He let Jeremy Lin walk because he felt "betrayed" by the second year point guard. He let his marquee point guard walk for non-basketball reasons and made it seem as though paying for Lin's heightened 3rd year, $14.5 million to be exact, was the problem. He made it seem as if paying the luxury tax was the problem though he gave Novak and Camby a combined $27 million. This is the same owner that is paying Amare, Tyson and Carmelo a combined amount of $70 million in 3 years. When an owner puts his emotions over his team you know things aren't looking up for the organization. Would the Knicks have won a championship with Lin? Doubt it, but to let that player walk without compensation is just downright ugly. Knicks fan have to deal with this for how long?
4) Toronto Raptors: It may seem slightly unfair to put the Raptors on the losers list, but any team that gives out $20 million to Landry Fields has loser written all over it. What was supposed to be a part of the chance to lure in hometown star Steve Nash backfired in the Raptors’ face financially. Fields, who lost his starting job late last season for the Knicks, is at best a good rebounding guard. Had the Raptors been able to back out of this deal without screwing up trust with potential free agents in the future I am sure they would have, but now they're stuck with the $20 million man whose career averages just happen to be 9.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game