Tag:Offseason Reviews
Posted on: August 2, 2010 5:26 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2010 5:35 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Atlantic Division

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.


 

Boston Celtics

Added: Ray Allen (re-signed), Paul Pierce (re-signed), Marquis Daniels (re-signed), Jermaine O'Neal (free agency), Nate Robinson (re-signed), Von Wafer (free agency), Avery Bradley (draft), Luke Harangody (draft)
Lost: Tony Allen (free agency), Shelden Williams (free agency)

Philosophy: "Ain't broke. Ain't fixing."

We thought they were too old to win last year, and they pushed the Lakers to seven games, and had a lead deep in the second half. Shows what we know. So the Celtics have rolled the dice with the same core again, another year older, another year slower, another year wiser, and for all intents and purposes, have changed almost nothing about their approach in a year.

Sure, adding Jermaine O'Neal gives them a fourth big to slot in, and will give Kendrick Perkins the time he needs to recover from surgery. But after dancing with the idea of trading Ray Allen, the Celtics re-signed the sharpshooter, gave Paul Pierce a new contract and for better or worse, have decided this is the ship they're going to sea with. It's had a ton of success, and obviously they feel that if they were able to go as deep as they did this year, there's no reason to believe they can't do the same this year.

The critics will add that Chicago, New York, and most especially Miami improved, but the Celtics will respond by saying those teams haven't proven anything. There's only one team that matters to Boston, and that team has the ring. Until then, they will consider the rest of the East nothing but pretenders. As long as they stay healthy, they have that right.

Grade: B

New Jersey Nets

Added: Derrick Favors (draft), Damion James (draft), Anthony Morrow (free agency), Jordan Farmar (free agency), Travis Outlaw (free agency), Johan Petro (free agency)
Lost: Tony Battie (free agency), Keyon Dooling (free agency)

Philosophy: "In search of the meaning of Plan B'"

Man, what a letdown. They thought they had a shot at it all. Drafting John Wall. Signing his good friend, LeBron James. Building an empire in Brooklyn. Capitalizing on new owner Mikhail Prokhorov's wealth and power, minority owner Jay-Z's fame, and LeBron's game. It was all set up perfectly. And then one series of disasters after another occurred, and the Nets fell flat. Didn't even walk out with Carlos Boozer. Whiffed on every single one of the top flank free agents.

Don't get me wrong, Anthony Morrow is the steal of the summer. Great shooter, has upside, physical tools to be a better defender than he was in Golden State (like every Warrior). But Jordan Farmar means almost nothing to them. Derrick Favors is so raw he comes with a side of wasabi and ginger, and Johan Petro is... Johan Petro. Even with Travis Outlaw it's hard to see a plan in place, much less the execution of that plan. This team won't be as bad as it was last year, because it's almost impossible for them to. But it's hard to see them being much better.

Grade: F

New York Knicks


Added: Amar'e Stoudemire (sign-and-trade), Raymond Felton (free agency), Kelenna Azubuike (trade), Anthony Randolph (trade, Ronny Turiaf (trade), Timofey Mozgov (free agency), Andy Rautins (draft), Landry Fields (draft), Jerome Jordan (draft)
Lost: Chris Duhon (free agency), Al Harrington (free agency), Eddie House (free agency), Sergio Rodriguez (free agency), David Lee (sign-and-trade)

Philosophy: "Express yourself."

Stylin' and profilin', the Knicks are coming to town. This isn't the super-team Knicks fans hoped for, not even the contending team many expected given their cap space and market availability. In the end, the damage done by Isiah Thomas was just too severe (and sending him as your final LeBron pitcher? What's up with that?) But the Knicks' failures to land one of the Big 3 did mean they were able to concoct this roster, which is inconsistent, underdeveloped, and absolutely 100% interesting.

The idea of an Anthony Randolph-Amar'e Stoudemire pick and roll set is enough to send nouveau basketball philosophers into some sort of apoplectic shock. Meanwhile, Kelenna Azubuike gives D'Antoni the shooter he's been missing, and Turiaf brings some punch. This roster isn't perfect, far from it, but it's stocked with interesting, fun players, who can get up and down in D'Antoni's system. New York basketball may not be contending again, but it's going to be interesting. And that's enough to give Knicks fans what they want, to be relevant again. The real rebuilding starts here, and it's all around Amar'e Stoudemire. We're finally going to learn just how good Stoudemire is without Steve Nash.

Grade: B

Philadelphia 76ers


Added: Evan Turner (draft), Tony Battie (free agency), Spencer Hawes (trade), Andres Nocioni (trade)

Lost:
Samuel Dalembert (trade)

Philosophy:
"Making fusion with carwrecks."

If Evan Turner isn't a Top-5 player in the NBA in five years, this year looks way worse. Switching coaches, the Sixers still held back from a complete blow-up, not moving Andre Iguodala or Elton Brand over the offseason. Brand's value is non-existent, but he's going to have to go if the team wants to completely start over. Meanwhile, Ed Stefanski changed coaches to Doug Collins, who's been broadcasting for quite a while, and traded Samuel Dalembert for Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni, or "the Big White Cap Blanket." The Sixers may have hit a home run when they lucked into the No.2 overall pick in Turner, but if the lack of explosiveness he showed in summer league is more than just a lack of offseason conditioning, things could get worse before they get better in Philly.

Grade: C

Toronto Raptors


Added:   Ed Davis (draft), Solomon Alabi (draft), Linas Kleiza (free-agency), Amir Johnson (re-signed), Leandro Barbosa (trade), Dwayne Jones (draft)
Lost:   Chris Bosh (sign-and-trade), Antoine Wright (free agency), Hedo Turkoglu (trade)

Philosophy:
"No way out."

The temptation will be to grade Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors organization for the mistakes of last summer, which came to hurt them last season and this summer. But that's not our goal here. Losing Bosh was a foregone conclusion, but they still have to take a hit for failing to convince him to stay, no matter how hard that would have been. But after that, Colangelo at least made the move that you have to make when faced with the destruction of everything you've worked for: set fire to the remains and collect the insurance. They traded Hedo Turkoglu and his massive new contract for short term contracts, and managed to get long-term assets in draft picks and trade exceptions from Miami for Bosh. They are committed to starting over, and though the money handed out to Kleiza and Johnson is not chump change, there's still a plan in place.

Expect for the rest of the Raptors to be moved to whatever degree they can be, while the team sees if it can rebuild around DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems, who seem to hold a lot of potential under the radar. Colangelo did not take on massive contracts of a subpar free agent outside of Kleiza's swallowable deal, and the Raptors have flexibility to make the most of their future.

The only question is if Bryan Colangelo will be around to be a part of that future.




Posted on: July 29, 2010 1:59 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2010 1:57 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Northwest Division

Posted by Royce Young



The Northwest Division has become one of the best and most competitive divisions in the league. There's rising teams, star power, a traditional great and then there's the Timberwolves. Regardless, it's a fairly fascinating groups of teams that all had quite different summers.

Utah Jazz

Added : Al Jefferson (trade), Raja Bell (free agency), Gordon Hayward (draft)
Lost : Kyle Korver (free agency), Ronnie Brewer (free agency), Carlos Boozer (free agency), Wesley Matthews

Philosophy : "Keep on keepin' on."

Lose one star player, replace him with another. It's just how this Jazz train keeps on a'rollin'. Utah scored Al Jefferson for relatively nothing and he replaces the exported Carlos Boozer quite well. The Jazz love that pick and roll and Jefferson should be able to team with Deron Williams to keep it at a high level. They also signed Raja Bell who is a pesky defensive player. However, losing Wesley Matthews stings a bit just because he was a rookie last year and appears to have a promising future ahead. But Utah just didn't want to pay the price tag to keep him.

Drafting Gordon Hayward certainly helps as he'll look to fill some of the void left by Matthews and Kyle Korver who signed with Chicago. This offseason was more of just scrambling to maintain in Utah and with the Jefferson deal, it looks like it should do that. A lot depends on the progression of Hayward because he'll see meaningful minutes, but the Jazz didn't let a mass exodus to Chicago burn down their walls.

Grade : B

Denver Nuggets

Added : Al Harrington (free agency), Shelden Williams (free agency), Brian Butch (free agency), George Karl's returned good health (hopefully)
Lost : Johan Petro (free agency), Malik Allen (free agency), Joey Graham (free agency)

Philosophy : "Staying good, but not great."

Denver is a team that feels like it's a piece away. Just one player to push them over the edge from good, competitive playoff team to great, actual contender team. So they signed Al Harrington. Is he that piece? Eh...

The reality is the Nuggets will be good. Their starting five has Chauncey Billups, Arron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony, Harrington and Nene. That's pretty darn solid. Then instant offense with J.R. Smith off the bench, defense in Chris Andersen and quality players in Kenyon Martin and Ty Lawson. That's a pretty stout roster. But is that really good enough? This is clearly a 50-win team and it's destined for a top five seed in the West. But can it get to the Western Finals, which of course is the goal for a squad of this caliber? Again, eh...

Grade : C+

Portland Trail Blazers

Added : Luke Babbitt (draft), Eliot Williams (draft), Wesley Matthews (free agency), Marcus Camby (re-signed)
Lost : Martell Webster (trade), Juwan Howard (free agency), Travis Diener (free agency),

Philosophy : "Get right."

If there was a goal for the Blazers this offseason, it was simple. It wasn't to sign a big name or move up in the draft. It wasn't to restructure or make a big trade. It was just to get healthy.

Nobody dealt with the adversity Portland did last year. Greg Oden. Joel Pryzbilla. Brandon Roy. Nic Batum. Rudy Fernandez. All of those players missed at least some significant time because of an injury. And yet, the Blazers won 50 games and made the playoffs. That's... impressive.

But Portland didn't sit on its hands this summer. The Blazers re-signed Marcus Camby, who was huge for them down the stretch. The traded Martell Webster to grab Luke Babbitt, an extremely promising and gifted forward from Nevada. They inked Wesley Matthews to a big deal, who is someone that will give them a little scoring insurance and wing defender help. The turned over the front office and hopefully remedied any tense situations between ownership and management. Now there are talks they'll lose Fernandez who sees the logjam in the backcourt in Portland, but Matthews and Williams are worth replacements.

All in all, not a bad offseason for the Blazers. Is it enough to push ahead in the West? That depends on the factors that snuck up and bit them last year: health.

Grade : B+

Oklahoma City Thunder

Added : Cole Aldrich (trade/draft), Morris Peterson (trade), Royal Ivey (free agency), Daequan Cook (trade), Kevin Durant (contract extension)
Lost : Kevin Ollie (retirement), Etan Thomas (free agency), Kyle Weaver (waived)

Philosophy : "If you think it's good now, just wait until we grow up."

Most saw the Thunder's cap space and expected something. Something big. Something grand to take them from up-and-comer to favorite in the West. Maybe go grab Chris Bosh. Maybe make a run at Amar'e Stoudemire. Maybe flag down Carlos Boozer. Instead, Oklahoma City did what it does best: stuck to the plan.

Rather than blowing its extra cap room, OKC deferred to utilizing its assets to move up in the draft and fill a need from the ground up. This is a franchise that is absolutely committed to the long term and to player development. Most agreed the Thunder needed an tough, physical inside prescence to defend the paint and rebound. So what did they do? They went and got the best player at those two things in the draft in Cole Aldrich.

Another underrated move from OKC was acquiring Daequan Cook from Miami. The Heat were looking to dump any contract player to anyone to make room for basketball free agency apocolypse, so the Thunder got a former 3-point champ and shooting specialist at a discount price of a single second-round pick.

Oh, and one other thing: They signed Kevin Durant to a five-year extension. I'd say in terms of what the Thunder's goals were before the summer started and how it finished, they'd say mission accomplished.

Grade : B+

Minnesota Timberwolves

Added : Darko Milicic (re-signed), Michael Beasley (trade), Luke Ridnour (free agency), Delonte West (trade), Sebastian Telfair (trade), Lazar Hayward (draft), Kosta Koufos (trade), Martell Webster (trade), Wesley Johnson (draft),
Lost : Ramon Sessions (trade), Ryan Hollins (trade), Al Jefferson (trade), Delonte West (waived), Ryan Gomes (free agency), Damien Wilkins (free agency), Sasha Pavlovic (free agency), Brian Cardinal (free agency), Alando Tucket (waived), what remaining respect David Kahn had from media and fans of the NBA

Philosophy : "..."

Honestly, you know what David Kahn reminds me of a bit? Someone that likes playing fantasy football just so he can call other players, offer up deals, trade players and sign others off waivers. Sometimes it seems like Kahn makes moves just for the sake of not getting bored.

No one can determine a real plan from here. My best guess at what he's doing is trying to put together a roster Ricky Rubio likes and then build a team around that. That's all I can figure. They have a bunch of draft picks and some cap space, but those things aren't great when the man in charge doesn't know what to do with it.

What exactly is going on there though? What's the point of signing Sessions and then signing Ridnour just to trade Sessions? I don't get it. Basically Kahn traded a player he signed for $16 million for Sebastian Telfair. Huh? Then of course the Darko deal. What? Then drafting Wesley Johnson only to bring in a player via trade in Webster that plays the same position. Come again? Then trading Al Jefferson, the face of your franchise, for a couple draft picks. Excuse me?

There's just no rhyme or reason to all this right now. I have no idea what to grade it because I have no idea what the questions even are. Did they get better? I don't know. Did they get worse? I don't really know. Did they set themselves up for the future? I have no idea.

If Sam Presti and Daryl Morey are playing chess and everyone else is playing checkers, right now it looks like everyone else is playing checkers and David Kahn is playing duck-duck-goose.

Grade : D-
Posted on: July 27, 2010 7:56 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2010 7:57 pm
 

Video: Offseason review - Central Division

Posted by Royce Young

The Central was the center of free agency this offseason. LeBron's decision, the Bulls multiple moves and plus, some other interesting transactions. It's all been graded and broken down , plus here's some talking about it as well.


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

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

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)

Lost:
none

Philosophy:
"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)

Philosophy:
"LOCK AND LOAD."

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-



Posted on: July 22, 2010 5:59 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2010 11:11 am
 

Offseason Reviews: Southeast Division

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 various teams did over the summer in negotiating their moves.

Atlanta Hawks

Added: Joe Johnson (re-signed for eleventy billion dollars) Jordan Crawford (draft)
Lost: Josh Childress (didn't really have him anyway, but technically, they lost the rights to him in trade)

Philosophy: "Self-delusion is all the rage this summer!"

What are you going to do if you're Atlanta in six years? When Joe Johnson's crossover is no longer deadly and you're paying him $20 million? The goal, apparently, is to try and contend for a title in the next three years, hoping Al Horford and Josh Smith keep developing, Jeff Teague turns into a starter-caliber point guard, and maybe figure out some big name free agent you can sign on the cheap, like Shaq, that will put you over the top. It's not that the Hawks are a bad team. Far from it. While everyone was mocking them in the mid-00's for stockpiling forwards, they've either developed them into quality starters or raised their trade value enough to move them for pieces or cap relief. But this summer, they have only made one signature move, and that was spending way too much for Joe Johnson.

The vast number of ways in which the Johnson signing was poorly conceived is staggering. The full max, all six years? That much money? The roster had potential to really contend, but instead, the Hawks simply avoided the great collapse of losing a high usage player with low efficiency. Johnson can take over a game like few in the league. But he also simply isn't worth the money, and it's hamstrung their franchise for the future.

Grade: D+

Charlotte Bobcats

Added: Shaun Livingston (free agency), Dominic Maguire (free agency), Matt Carroll (trade), Erick Dampier (trade), Eduardo Najera (trade)
Lost: Raymond Felton (free agency), Alexis Ajinca (trade), Tyson Chandler (trade)

Philosophy: "Slight derivatives"

Did the Bobcats get better? Did they get worse? Did they stay the same? No, those aren't rhetorical. I'm asking. Because looking at that list above, I really can't be sure. They lost an underrated point guard who worked hard but never could stick with Larry Brown. They added a recovering injury-plagued point guard who can't seem to stick with any coach. They lost a veteran seven foot center with wear and tear on him and a large contract. They brought in an aging behemoth with wear and tear issues and a big contract. And they got Dominic Maguire, so they've got that going for them.

Larry Brown and Rod Higgins have built a program of improvement through trade and have kept up with this offseason. Adding Livingston provides a high-upside, low-risk replacement for Felton and they managed to trim some long-term money off the books. But you can't look at the roster and say they've improved dramatically. Status quo for the Cats. Underrated moves that still don't move them up dramatically in the NBA world.

Grade: C-

Orlando Magic


Added: J.J. Redick (re-signed), Chris Duhon (free agency), Quentin Richardson (free agency), Daniel Orton (draft), Stanley Robinson (draft)
Lost: Matt Barnes (free agency)

Philosophy: "The fear of losing out."

Marcin Gortat wants a bigger role. Benched. Brandon Bass wants a bigger role. Benched. J.J. Redick wanted a bigger role and more money. Offer from the Bulls matched and benched. The Magic seem to really believe in this roster, and it shows in them re-signing Redick and only addint marginal adjustments at other positions. Their draft essentially yielded them a raw, underdeveloped player who has little to no chance of getting playing time (Orton) and another wing to be buried deep. They didn't lose anyone, which means the luxury tax and the Magic are best of friends, especially after matching the $20 million offer for Redick from the Bulls.

Without any adjustments, and with how much better the East has gotten, it's hard to argue that the Magic have improved by not subtracting. Chris Duhon might be considered an upgrade over Jason Williams, but we're talking inches, not miles, and Quentin Richardson brings better three point shooting than Matt Barnes . That may be the best addition the Magic made, adding another shooter that provides an alternative reason not to play Vince Carter when he goes in a hole. But all in all, for a franchise that has spent the money to contend, they simply haven't done enough to get there.

Grade: C-

Miami Heat


Added: LeBron James (free agency sign-and-trade), Chris Bosh (free agency sign-and-trade), Dwyane Wade (re-signed), Mike Miller (free agency), Udonis Haslem (re-signed), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (re-signed), James Jones (re-signed), Joel Anthony (re-signed), Jamaal Magloire (re-signed), Juwan Howard (free-agency), Dexter Pittman (draft), Jarvis Varnado (draft), Da'Sean Butler (draft),

Lost:
Jermaine O'Neal (free agency), Quentin Richardson (free agency), Michael Beasley (trade), Daequan Cook (trade)

Philosophy:
"So, that went pretty well."

That's how you build a title contender. Any questions? The Heat managed to add all three of the top free agents this summer, fill out the roster with veteran talent that knows how to win and supports their Big 3, and did it all in a little less than fourteen days. Think about that. The Heat remade their team into a title contender in less time than it takes for your milk to go bad. It was a sweeping coup, one that has to lead people to believe it probably took much longer to orchestrate (cough*tampering*cough). What could the Heat have done better? Well, not allowing for the act to paint them as the most obnoxious triumverate in modern sports would have been nice. Other than that, it's hard to argue Pat Riley's anything but a genius. Getting Quentin Richardson would have been nice, but adding Mike Miller more than makes up for it. Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Joel Anthony gives the team some size to go along with the incredible talent they have. From when once mortals stood, now there be gods. Geez, Riley, save some for the rest of the class.

Grade: A

Washington Wizards


Added: John Wall (draft), Kirk Hinrich (trade), Trevor Booker (draft), Yi Jianlian (trade), Hamady N'Diaye (draft), Hilton Armstrong (free agency), Kevin Seraphin (draft)
Lost: Randy Foye (free agency), Mike Miller (free agency), Shaun Livingston (free agency)

Philosophy:
"Let's see how this goes."

One thing is absolutely certain. John Wall is the future. Everything is built around Wall as the future. He is the singular sure thing. Other than that, sussing out a pattern that goes beyond "keep it flexible, stupid" is tough. The team acquired Kirk Hinrich in one of the more baffling moves we've seen. Hinrich brings a veteran defensive guard that can play on or off ball, back up Wall, and anchor the defense. But he's also an underwhelming shooter (oh, where, oh, where have you gone, 2005 shooting average?) and doesn't seem like an ideal fit next to Wall. Neither does the incumbent shooting guard, Gilbert Arenas , who you may remember from such films as "The Single Worst Offseason Meltdown in the History of the League" and "Little Blogger, Get Your Gun, Then Bring It To The Arena."

Arenas' ability to play next to Wall will decide his future in Washington. No longer is the team willing to build around him. If he can slide into an off-ball shooter that complements Wall? Terrific. Redemption abounds. Provided he stays out of trouble, of course. If he can't, he's trade bait. He may be already. The addition of Yi Jianlian seems like a "let's see what this does" kind of tinkering. The team still needs a long-term solution at small-forward, and with Andray Blatche recovering from injury, there are questions all over in the frontcourt. When you realize that JaVale McGee seems like the player best adapted to mix with John Wall, you know you've got a ways to go in the rebuilding process.

To evaluate? They failed to make any signings or trades that wow you, but they also managed to not screw up the #1 overall pick and cleaned some salary off the books for the future. Not a bad day at the office. And that's better than last year.

Grade: B-
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