Blog Entry

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

Posted on: July 27, 2010 6:12 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2010 8:30 pm

Posted by Matt Moore

With only a handful of free agents left on the market and with summer league over, we thought we'd take a look at how teams in the Central Division did over the summer in negotiating their moves.

Chicago Bulls

Added: Carlos Boozer (sign-and-trade), Kyle Korver (free agency), Ronnie Brewer (free agency), Kurt Thomas (free agency), C.J. Watson (trade)
Lost: Kirk Hinrich (trade), Hakim Warrick (sign-and-trade), Brad Miller (free agency)

Philosophy: "Why have excellent when you can have above-average?"

Well, hey, they didn't get LeBron. Or Dwyane Wade. Or Chris Bosh. Or Amar'e Stoudemire. But they got Carlos Boozer!

And sure, they didn't get Anthony Morrow. Or J.J. Redick (though they tried). But they got Kyle Korver!

And that's pretty much the Bulls summer. The Bulls swung out on the big boys and got the next best thing they could rustle up. Boozer's numbers are good, and he certainly solves a lot of their needs. That's really what it comes down to. All of the Bulls' signings were exactly what they needed, they just weren't the best guys they could get. Carlos Boozer gives them a low-post power forward with offensive versatility. He's just not Amar'e Stoudemire or Chris Bosh. Kyle Korver adds three-point shooting,and was a better option than even Anthony Morrow would have been. Ronnie Brewer may have been their best signing. They essentially took Kirk Hinrich, a defensive combo-guard that can't really shoot anymore (I'll never figure out where his shot went), and his considerable salary and moved him for Brewer, a defensive combo-wing that can't shoot.

It's hard to knock the Bulls, since they did at least stay aggressive, and did make moves. And trying to grade them based on expectations in this competitive of a year is tough. But with one of the biggest markets, cap space, and a handful of advantages, you still have to look at their moves and ask "Really?"

Grade: B-

Cleveland Cavaliers

Added: Ramon Sessions (trade), Ryan Hollins (trade), Christian Eyenga (draft)
Lost: LeBron freaking James (sign-and-trade), Delonte West (trade), Sebastian Telfair (trade), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (free agency)

Philosophy: "Not with a bang, but with 'The Decision'"

Yeah, I think this pretty much sums it up .

How do you judge them for this? How do you evaluate them after losing the most important player in franchise history in one of the most embarrassing ways possible? Can you blame them? Can you exonerate them simply because of James' classless behavior? At the end of the day, it's the responsibility of a front-office to make the team the best it can be. And in this case, it didn't. Whether there were forces beyond their control or foresight is irrelevant. We are judged by our performances, and the results sadly speak for themselves.

Sessions is a great pick-up, though, and Hollins has some potential outside of the triangle.

Grade: F+

Detroit Pistons

Added: Greg Monroe (draft), Terrico White (draft), Ben Wallace (re-signed)
Lost: none

Philosophy: "Running in place is good for the soul."

Such a wasted opportunity. Rip Hamilton, out there to move, with teams who missed out on the Big 3 needing impact players. Tayshaun Prince, same deal. Rodney Stuckey, conceivably expendable. Instead, Joe Dumars and company elected to simply do nothing. No additions, no trades, no moves. Just the consistency of mediocrity. Perhaps the idea is that things could not go as badly as they did last season. And it's hard to argue against that, with all the injuries. But the problems remain with an ineffective frontcourt and an inconsistent backcourt. There was still a lot Dumars could have pursued, he's pulled off those moves before. But instead he seems convinced that this roster as constructed can get the job done.

The shining light? Greg Monroe looks good. Really good. The kind of low-post player they've needed for years and have been getting by with Kwame Brown for. The wasted opportunity docks them, but their draft was solid enough to save them to a degree.

Grade: C-

Indiana Pacers

Added: Paul George (draft), Lance Stephenson (draft), Magnum Rolle (draft)


"The vague semblance of a plan."

The Pacers did the same amount of stuff that the Pistons did, so they get the same grade right? Sadly, no. Fair is not always equal. The Pacers get a much improved grade from years past thanks to their willingness to go away from what has been their calling card. Instead of opting for big-resume players from major programs in college and veteran marginal free agents, the Pacers went with talent. Best talent available. And now? They have a roster with movable veteran pieces (Ford, Murphy, Foster), with replacements in place for them, and have managed to get involved in multiple talks for Granger without losing leverage.

Lance Stephenson, even if Summer League was a complete mirage, has long-term value to be able to invest in at both the point guard and combo-guard position. George has long-term development potential. Roy Hibbert has been given opportunities to develop and showed signs last year, and they didn't do anything in the draft or free agency to interfere with that. Even Magnum Rolle looks like a decent backup prospect.

I don't really know how to live in a world where I'm about to give this grade, but I'm going to.

Grade: B+

Milwaukee Bucks

Added:   John Salmons (re-signed, Drew Gooden (free agency), Corey Maggette (trade), Jon Brockman (trade), Keyon Dooling (free agency), Larry Sanders (draft), Darington Hobson (draft), Tiny Gallon (draft)
Lost:   Luke Ridnour (free agency), Kurt Thomas (free agency), Royal Ivey (free agency), Charlie Bell (trade), Dan Gadzuric (trade), Darnell Jackson (trade)


I love what the Bucks did. I hate what the Bucks did. I totally understand what the Bucks did. I'm completely baffled by what the Bucks did.

Okay, here's what we know.

John Hammond believes this roster can contend. Andrew Bogut, when healthy, can be the cornerstone. Brandon Jennings will only get better. They have movable assets of value. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is versatile and talented at multiple positions. They needed scoring. A high-volume, high-usage, efficient shooter that isn't named Michael Redd Who Has No Legs. So they got Corey Maggette. Nice. That works. Sure, Maggette's a defensive question mark, but we've seen terrible defenders become semi-decent in good systems, and the Bucks have one of the best around. They re-signed Salmons, for a lot less than I thought he would garner in this market. They now have offense and defense.

But in addition to that, the Bucks got gluttonous. Drew Gooden, for the amount of money he was signed for is fairly unforgivable. Three days later, Hammond got Salmons back for a quality price. It was like every move they made, they followed with one on the other end of the sense spectrum. One thing is for certain: the Bucks are good at power forward. After watching Larry Sanders look fairly incredible at Summer League, I'm ready to commit to a bet that the Bucks will lead the league in blocks next season. With Bogut, Gooden, Mbah a Moute, Sanders, and whoever else gets in on the act, I think they have a good shot at that.

The question is if the unbalanced nature of their acquisitions (all high-usage players) will maintain a balance with their defense to ensure they reach last year's performance and exceed it. And on that front, it's a mixed grade.

Grade: B-


Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: July 29, 2010 1:34 pm

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

If Derrick Rose continues to develop his jump shot, then I think the Bulls have a good shot to beat the Heat in the Eastern conference finals.I like the Bulls, but this seems really optimistic.  Most of the time they won't have anyone on the floor reliable beyond 15 feet.  They've got one guy who commands a double team occasionally (Boozer), but no one to take advantage of those.  I think their offense will hold them back from competing at the highest level.

Since: Jul 27, 2010
Posted on: July 29, 2010 12:23 pm

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

I like what you said about the Bucks. I think that's a fair grade and they have added some pretty good scorers. I would have liked to see them re-sign Luke Ridnour though or at least gotten another pg behind B. Jennings. The Bulls did good but I still don't think that makes them better than the Celtics Magic or Heat. Sorry but the Indiana Pacers do not deserve a B+...that's been one of the most poorly run franchises in the last 5 years. That trade with Golden State doomed them forever.

Since: Jan 12, 2007
Posted on: July 29, 2010 12:19 pm

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

As for the actual write-up on the Bucks, it's basically how most of the fans here in Milwaukee are reacting. Every acquisition has had a whilrwind of debate around it. Everyone seems to be in agreement that the Bucks have upgraded from purely a talent standpoint, and would like to believe our "needs" have been met. One being a physical PF (Gooden) and the other being a wing player who can score (Maggette). But no one is sure how it will all mesh and with the depth at the 2-4 no one can even guess what our consistent rotation of players will be. I like what Hammond has done though and am ecstatic for the Bucks season to start. Barring no freak injuries *knock on wood* and if the new guys buy into Skiles' system, this -could- be a 50-win team.

Since: Jan 12, 2007
Posted on: July 29, 2010 12:12 pm

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

"Good luck Bucks you're a nice 7 or 8 seed"

Laughable. How can a team that addressed their biggest needs, and was a six seed the year before (would've been 5 if Bogut doesn't get hurt) be a "nice 7 or 8 seed"? Maybe the Bulls should be the ones worrying about getting out of that 8 seed before they chalk up the Central Division.

Since: Jul 29, 2010
Posted on: July 29, 2010 11:45 am

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

     How can you ask "Really" when pondering the Chicago Bulls off season acquisitions.  Ending the season it was obvious that they had 3 major problems.  These problems were post scoring, perimeter shooting, and a head coach.  The acquisitions focus on all three of the aspects, and I can not really see the Bulls doing any better for these reasons.

     The missed out on the big 3, but can you really miss out when you never had a chance.  Lebron and Bosh both quit on their teams, and the speculation of premeditated signings gets stronger by the day.  The Bulls did what they could to give them a chance, but there was nothing else they could do.  They challenged Jame's competitive side, offered him a max contract, brought in top Chicago business leaders, and promoted the best supporting cast in the league.  It wasn't in the cards, but Boozer is no consilatrion prize.  I would much rather have him than Amar'e, whom would probably not bode well with a coach who emphasises on defense.  They pulled the best player they could realistically land, and got a great post player in Boozer. 

     The Bulls also worked to sign someo
ne who could potentially land a 3 pointer.  Ever since Hinrich tore a ligament in his hand, the three pointer was non existent.  With the acquisitions of Korver, Brewer, and one of the other shooters the Bulls are pursuing, they have developed a very strong perimeter game.  This game should really space the floor and hopefully even help out Deng, who always looks so rushed and uncomfortable.  Korver is also a great player to bring in off the bench.  He will alter the way the defense plays, and gives the Bulls the opportunity to show show many different offensive looks.  Also, I would never offer JJ Reddick more money than the bulls did.  He was restricted and this made the magic give him more money than they really wanted to give him.  These acquisitions all make sense to me, and I really expect Brewer to hit the ground running.

     You should also consider coaches when you think about off season improvements.  Vinny had the inbounding play calling of a 2 grade basketball coach.  "Just give the ball to Derreck"  Walks up to Derreck.  "I want you to get open and try and shoot it."  If that ever failed he always jumped to the wiley kick the ball to miller, which worked twice before teams realized that this was the call every time.  Thibodeau brings the bulls a concept and formula, which the team has lacked for some time.  We know we have some playmakers and athleticism, but he brings an emphasis and proven abilities to bring out defense in his players.

     I know most people look at the off season and think about why they didnt put two top players, or focus on if they can win a championship immediately.  The truth is that a jump from a barely 8 seed to a top 3 or 4 seed in one offseason is nothing to sneeze at.  For all we know they didn't have a chance at the big 3.  Hell, can you blame those players for all going to the same team.  No other team could pull that off, and Miami risked a lot to make that dream a reality.  Im not saying that thew Bulls deserve an A+, or even an A, but its not hard to see why they made these moves. 

Since: May 28, 2010
Posted on: July 29, 2010 11:12 am

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

I hate to start out this blog with an LBJ comment, but isn't that the trend now?  My opinion is that most who wanted to see LBJ wearing a different black white and red uniform next year.  He would have fit into the Bulls system PERFECTLY, but that is done and who cares anymore.  The Bulls did a good job in my opinion.  I like Boozer over Amare for two reasons: he is more consistent and he is cheaper.  I think he will work well and they have enough "good" players to make a splash in the Eastern Conference.  I wish Brad Miller would have stayed; I think he really could have helped the team on and off the court.  Plus they have a big-shot taker in Rose who proved in the USA scrimmage game that he DOES have a shot.  Watch out for him this year.

The Cavaliers are just going to be bad.  They will not make the playoffs and they will have a bad morale all year.  Players will want out because they did so much standing and watching with LBJ that everyone will stand around like a deer caught in head lights when it is time to make a play.  Don't expect big things out of Cleveland for the foreseeable future.

Greg Monroe will be a good pick up for the Pistons, but their core is getting some age on them.  In my opinion, they need to blow that team up and start over, but keep Monroe.  He has the attributes to be a very versatile player in the NBA. He might not be a superstar, but the Pistons aren't a superstar team.  They thrive on a solid core and that is what they should aim for.

The Pacers will be decent.  This will be a defining year for Granger in my opinion and how the Pacers should move forward with him.  He has the potential and has shown that he can be a defining scorer in the league.  The question is, was the 08-09 season a fluke, or was the 09-10 season a fluke?  Which Granger will show up next year?  If he is good again next year, you build around him.  If he isn't, you trade him, get some good pieces, and try and lure another all star.

The Bucks have a point guard in Jennings with some pieces around him.  A good point guard will adjust, but chemistry is formed over time.  The Bucks need to get their hands on a few key players and hold on to them for more than one year.  Jennings needs the experience of forming on-the-court relationships with his team mates to make the team more successful. Is it me, or have the Bucks gone through more players than anyone else in the Eastern Conference over the last few years?

My prediction for the winner of the Central Division in 2010-2011:  Chicago Bulls

Since: May 21, 2007
Posted on: July 29, 2010 9:24 am

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

Moore, your rating of the Bulls is a complete joke.  I actually think I got dumber reading your article.  The Bulls struck out on the big just like every other team not named the Heat.  They didn't want Amare' so they signed a 19-10 player in Boozer who actually plays defense and can rebounds on a nightly basis.  They traded Hinrich and his awful contract and then acquired a back up PG in Watson and a very athletic 2 guard in Brewer.  Those 3 players alone would mark a very successful FA period, but they didn't stop there.  They addressed a glaring need and signed Korver who can spread the floor and keep the defense honest.  They signed a solid PF in Kurt Thomas who is a savy veteran.  Don't discount the signing of Asik who will be a very solid backup Center.  The bulls still have 3 million left to spend on their 12 player.  Moore, please never write again   

Since: Jul 23, 2010
Posted on: July 29, 2010 8:00 am

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

Very fair assessment, Rose is the wild card no other team has.  He will ultimetly be the one who deciedes if the Bulls challenge.  This writer is obviouly a Bulls hater and oblivious to the fact the Bulls got alot better.  Does he work for ESPN, the all booyah network?  Does anyone here remember that Scott Skiles usually wears out his welcome with a team in year 3-4?  His maximum effort, all for one, should go over like a lead ballon with magette and gooden.  Good luck Bucks you're a nice 7 or 8 seed.

Since: Dec 9, 2006
Posted on: July 29, 2010 7:12 am

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

Picking 3 reviews at random...Chicago, Cleveland, Indiana....this guy is obviously an idiot...but lets grade him on his total article...yep, still an idiot. Not even worth wasting the effort to define--just look through the rest of the comments...Chicago upgraded or added good depth at every position with MAYBE the exception of SG (Brewer adn Korver vs Hinrich is about a wash) so they get a B-, Cleveland and Indiana do nothing except lose strength and they get similar grades as the Bulls--relative to what they lost--moron.

Since: Feb 7, 2009
Posted on: July 29, 2010 1:41 am

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

actually the mark on the bulls last year was their shooting. they were second in the league in rebounding thanks to noah.

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