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: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: July 28, 2010 11:29 pm

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

Yes this guy appears to be a novice writer, probably from one of the coasts who never actually watches the Central Division play.  So basically, the Pacers had the best off season this summer because the Bulls did not land any of the big three????  And it does look like he changed the rating of the Bulls after getting his a$$ reamed by fans who know what they are talking about.  The Bulls got better.  The Bucks got better.  The other teams didn't do much other than Cleveland of course losing King Wuss Dog.  Who knows, in a couple of years the Cavs might be better off with the ability to spend that money on other players.  Basically saying the Pacers had the best off season by really doing nothing, seems to prove this writer is a joke.  I would have thought the Pacers after sucking last year, would have needed to do something to have garnered the best rating in the division!!

Since: Jan 19, 2009
Posted on: July 28, 2010 11:21 pm

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

In isolation, I agree with the grade for the Bucks.  I just disagree with Matt Moore that they should have been rated higher than the Bulls.  The Bucks look like a team that will make the playoffs, and they didn't make any dumb moves. 

Since: Jul 28, 2010
Posted on: July 28, 2010 10:34 pm

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

Who is this guy? Is he a real writer? Does he know anything about players talents, salaries, years on contracts...ANYTHING? He compares Hinrich to Brewer and totally forgets Hinrich had 2 more years @ $12 mill per. Brewer got like $3 mill per. So just that fact your comparing the 2 is a testimate to the Bulls quality offseason. This guy is a quack AND HE CHANGED HIS RATING! Stand by your writing like a man you disgusting excuse for a journalist!

Since: Apr 22, 2009
Posted on: July 28, 2010 9:54 pm

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

woah, thats all good and well, but a focus on D? Boozer is a bad bad defender. He doesnt try and even if he did, he isnt tall enough to match up well anyways. and Korver is one of the worst defenders in the league. Great guy, awesome shooter, no speed or quickness to stay with anyone on the defensive end. I think they got worse on D.

Since: Jul 28, 2010
Posted on: July 28, 2010 9:10 pm

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

Way to edit your grade for the bulls from a C+ to a B-.  Why don't you just own up to knowing nothing about basketball and stop coward.  C+...jesus christ.

Since: May 22, 2008
Posted on: July 28, 2010 8:24 pm

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

All I can say to Matt Moore's analysis of the Bulls off-season is "Really?, C+?"  The Bulls shed Kirk Hinrich's salary and ineffective shooting.  They rid themselves of Brad Miller's corpse and Janerro Pargo's 0 basketball IQ and replaced them with a 20-10 All-Star in Boozer who fills the Bulls need for a low post scorer.  They picked up Korver who had the best 3 pt shooting percentage in the league last season.  They signed Omar Asik from Turkey who is younger & bigger than Brad Miller.  The Bulls signed Brewer who is a big 2 guard and is an excellent defender and slasher.  Brewer will be able to run with D. Rose and finish on the break unlike Hinrich.  Plus, the Bulls still have 3 million left to spend for the last spot on their 12 man roster.

Any success the Bulls have ultimately will be based on Rose & Noah's continued improvement and graduation to periennel All-Star status.  Rose, Noah, & Boozer give the Bulls 3 stars and a chance to compete with the very best teams in the NBA.  The Bulls also appear to be assemblying a excellent supporting cast.  They should be at least 10 games improved from last season.

If that equals a "C+" in Matt Moore's world, I'll take it.

Since: Nov 7, 2008
Posted on: July 28, 2010 8:16 pm

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

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?"
Biggest free agent markets with the three biggest going to one team in a series of deals which most of his colleagues at CBS think were pretty damn close to tampering.  So they went out and got the best remaining guy.  And a couple shooters.  And a far better head coach. 

The knock on the Bulls last year was that they were soft in the paint and they now have gotten noticeably stronger and should have more of a focus on D and paint play.  Is Boozer the second coming of Karl Malone, no.  But if they were looking for a good option for hi-lo and give and go with Rose, a PF who can rebound and score (so really, anyone other than Ty Thomas), then I think we found him.

The rest of the players fit what we needed to fill.  And we have a coach now who probably knows when to call a TO, knows how to coach D, and who will help toughen up what was a weak team.  C+ seems horribly harsh. 

Since: Sep 2, 2009
Posted on: July 28, 2010 9:16 am

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

I agree that the Bulls rating is a little low, but I don't think that the Bucks is wrong. Hammond has done well. He has improved a roster that is really playing well for their coach, kept the team growing, covered some risks and drafted well (at least better than Joe Alexander - I hope).
But I disagree with you that "... it's pretty clear which team got dramatically better and which team has questions marks". In all honesty, do you not think Boozers health questionable. His talent is undeniable and he will get his numbers if he is on the court, but I hope for the sake of Chicago fans that he has a healthy and productive year. 
As I said, I disagree with the Bulls rating, but mainly because if Tom Thibodeau can do for the Bulls what Skiles has done for the Bucks then their off-season will be a hit. The Bulls have talent, but they (some of the players) just seemed to lack something under Vinny. I think TT will put some horns back on the Bulls and hopefully they will show up for every game.
As for the Pacers, WHY????? They certainly don't deserve a B+. Even if they had have done the smart thing and made some moves to secure Ray Felton or even Shaun Livingston, they would have been better off. Instead they went with talent where they needed it least.

Since: Feb 27, 2009
Posted on: July 28, 2010 8:27 am

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

These reviews are ridiculous. with the exception of the heat who pulled off the biggest free agent haul in sports history, the Bulls were the team that got noticeably better. Yes, they struck out on the bigger names, but the players that they signed made them much better. Boozer is not as good as Bosh, but I personally think he is better than Stoudemire. Stoudemire is a better scorer, but Boozer is a much better rebounder and more consistent. You can put him down for 19 points and 10 rebounds every night. On the other hand, Stoudemire will give you 40 points and 15 rebounds one night and the next night give you 8 points and 5 rebounds. He just doesn't show up to play every night. He reminds me of the 21st century version of Derrick Coleman who had all the talent in the world, but little to no work ethic.

The acquisitions of Korver and Brewer were both great! Korver will create room for Boozer to operate down low with his 3 point shooting. Who cares that they didn't get Morrow. Korver is a proven three point specialist and that's what they needed. Brewer gives them a wing player that is a better man to man defender than any of the other wing players on their roster. He can guard 2s and 3s so their coach will have fun sicking him and Noah on teams.

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. Barring significant injuries, I say put the Bulls down for 50+ regular season wins and a birth in the Eastern Conference Finals. They don't have anyone to defend Dwight Howard, but I think the rest of their starting lineup is better than the Magic's starting line up. That's right I said it. The Bulls are the second best team in the eastern conference.

Since: Jan 19, 2009
Posted on: July 28, 2010 6:36 am

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

It seems like you're giving Chicago a C+, because they didn't achieve an A+.  That's not how grades are supposed to work.  You really think Chicago did worse than a team that just locked up Drew Gooden to a 5-year contract?  Salmons, on the other hand, is a quality player, but if you compare the Bulls v. Bucks offseasons, it's pretty clear which team got dramatically better and which team has questions marks.
Also B+ to the Pacers?  A team that did really nothing to get in contention for anything higher than the 8th seed in the East?  It seems like you're giving a C team a B+ because they didn't screw up.  That's grade inflation!

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or