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Eastern Conference Offseason Moves: Heat-ing Things Up

John Clemeno

John Clemeno

John Clemeno writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Charlie Zegers

Charlie Zegers

Charlie Zegers writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics

Who’s Coming: Jermaine O’Neal (MIA), Shaquille O’Neal (CLE), Von Wafer, Avery Bradley (19th overall), Luke Harangody (52nd)

Who’s Going: Tony Allen (MEM), Shelden Williams (DEN), Rasheed Wallace (Retired)

The Celtics opted to keep their core together, re-signing both Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in the hopes of making another title run. But after struggling to match up with the Lakers’ big frontcourt in the Finals – even before starting center Kendrick Perkins suffered a significant knee injury – and with Rasheed Wallace talking retirement, size became a major priority this summer.

GM Danny Ainge addressed that need in impressive fashion, bringing in both Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal. It will be interesting to see how much they have left, and if either one can provide the sort of active defense that has been the Celtics’ trademark during the Doc Rivers era.
On the offensive end, the team is more or less intact, though emerging superstar guard Rajon Rondo may play a larger role this season at the expense of the veterans.

New Jersey Nets

Who’s Coming: Derrick Favors (3rd overall), Damion James (24th), Troy Murphy (IND), Jordan Farmar (LAL), Travis Outlaw (LAC), Johan Petro (DEN), Sean May (SAC), Anthony Morrow (GSW)

Who’s Going: Yi Jianlian (WAS), Courtney Lee (HOU), Chris Douglas-Roberts (MIL), Keyon Dooling (MIL), Tony Battie (PHI)

The Nets opened the offseason thinking big… they had money to spend, were scheduling meetings with LeBron James, and buying multi-story billboards in Manhattan – right across the street from Madison Square Garden – touting their “blueprint for greatness.”

Then reality set in. Team president Rod Thorn retired suddenly, LeBron took his talents to South Beach, and the Nets spent their cap space on a bunch of journeymen and career backups. In August, after the hire of Billy King to replace Rod Thorn, a strategy started to emerge. Troy Murphy was brought in as a complement to emerging center Brook Lopez and a one-year bridge to top draft pick Derrick Favors. King gave up starting off guard Courtney Lee in that deal, which should open up that job for scorer Anthony Morrow – best known for his occasionally-gaudy point totals as a Golden State Warrior.

Second-year swingman Terrence Williams could emerge as a legitimate fantasy threat this season; he appears to top the Nets’ depth chart at small forward going into training camp.

New York Knicks

Who’s Coming: Amar’e Stoudemire (PHO), Raymond Felton (CHA), Kelenna Azubuike (GSW), Anthony Randolph (GSW), Ronny Turiaf (GSW), Roger Mason (SAN), Andy Rautins (38th overall), Landry Fields (39th), Jerome Jordan (44th), Timofey Mozgov (Russia)

Who’s Going: Chris Duhon (ORL), Al Harrington (DEN), David Lee (GSW), Eddie House (MIA), Tracy McGrady (DET), Sergio Rodriguez (Spain)

GM Donnie Walsh whiffed on LeBron, but he was able to add a max player – power forward Amar’e Stoudemire – surround him with a pretty solid supporting cast and leave himself enough flexibility to make a run at another big name next summer.

The new-look Knicks seem much better suited for Mike D’Antoni’s “seven seconds or less” offense than last year’s group. Raymond Felton – freed from the constraints of Larry Brown’s half-court sets in Charlotte – could put up big numbers as point guard and Stoudemire’s primary pick-and-roll partner. Azubuike – assuming he’s fully recovered from last season’s knee injury – is the favorite to win a starting job at off guard. Ronny Turiaf could start in the middle, and Anthony Randolph should get much more consistent playing time than he ever saw in Golden State. Danilo Gallinari, Toney Douglas, Wilson Chandler and Bill Walker – holdovers from last season – should fill out the rotation.

The super-optimistic among you might want to look at Eddy Curry, who is playing for his next contract and should be motivated to get into shape and contribute. Unfortunately, we’ve seen little indication that will happen; Curry was supposed to appear in Las Vegas to work out with the Knicks’ summer league team, but cancelled at the last minute.

Philadelphia 76ers

Who’s Coming: Evan Turner (2nd overall), Spencer Hawes (SAC), Andres Nocioni (SAC), Tony Battie (NJN)

Who’s Going: Samuel Dalembert (SAC), Rodney Carney (GSW), Francisco Elson (UTA)

It may be tough for Philly fans to feel optimistic after last year’s debacle of a season, but the Sixers have the makings of a very solid young team that could potentially challenge for a playoff berth this season.

Representing the team at the draft lottery, point guard Jrue Holiday was visibly relieved when the Sixers fell to second in the draft. That meant no John Wall to take his job. Instead, he’ll team in the backcourt with Ohio State’s Evan Turner – a player who actually beat Wall for the major post-season college basketball awards last season. Andre Iguodala seems re-energized this year and has reportedly been one of the most impressive players on Team USA this summer; he’ll likely slide to the three spot this year. There’s plenty of depth in the backcourt, with Willie Green and Lou Williams and shooters Jason Kapono and Jodie Meeks in the mix.

In the frontcourt, Mareese Speights should be back to full strength after injuries sidetracked his breakout season. He’ll split time in the middle with Spencer Hawes, acquired from Sacramento for Sam Dalembert. Thaddeus Young provides an athletic, floor-spacing option at the four, while Elton Brand – still looking to rebound from multiple injuries – is a more traditional, post-up big. Veteran Tony Battie comes over from the Nets for depth, and Andres Nocioni can back up multiple positions.

Toronto Raptors

Who’s Coming: Ed Davis (13th overall), Linas Kleiza (DEN/Europe), David Andersen (HOU), Leandro Barbosa (PHO), Dwyane Jones (PHO), Julian Wright (NOR), Solomon Alabi (50th)

Who’s Going: Chris Bosh (MIA), Antoine Wright (SAC), Marco Belinelli (NOR), Hedo Turkoglu (PHO)

With Chris Bosh headed to Miami, the Raptors will have a very different look this year. The addition of players like Leandro Barbosa and Julian Wright and the maturation of second-year guard DeMar Derozan will make them quicker, more athletic, and more perimeter-oriented, and the addition of centers David Andersen and Solomon Alabi may allow Andrea Bargnani to spend more time at power forward – a spot many feel is his most natural position.

Of course, the other reason Bargnani can spend time at the four is Bosh’s departure – which certainly isn’t a net positive for the team. First-round pick Ed Davis could develop into a poor man’s Bosh at some point, but he’s coming off a generally disappointing and injury-marred sophomore season at North Carolina; it would be deeply unfair – and totally unrealistic – to expect him to fill Bosh’s shoes right away.

General manager Bryan Colangelo might not be done dealing. The Raptors have been involved in a number of trade discussions this summer; at one point, they were reportedly very close to acquiring Boris Diaw from Charlotte, and point guard Jose Calderon’s name has surfaced in several trade scenarios.

Central Division

Chicago Bulls

Who’s Coming: Carlos Boozer (UTA), Ronnie Brewer (MEM), Keith Bogans (SAN), Kurt Thomas (MIL), Kyle Korver (UTA), C.J. Watson (GSW)

Who’s Going: Kirk Hinrich (WAS), Hakim Warrick (PHO), Brad Miller (HOU), Jannero Pargo (HOU), Acie Law (MEM)

Call ‘em “Jazz East.” The re-vamped Bulls missed out on LeBron, Bosh and D-Wade, but by adding some key pieces – including three ex-Utah players – they seem poised to make the leap to the top of the Central.

Carlos Boozer is the biggest addition – an ideal low-post complement to superstar guard Derrick Rose. It will be interesting to see if he and Rose can develop the same sort of pick-and-roll rapport Boozer had with Deron Williams in Utah. The presence of ex-Jazz teammates Kyle Korver – an excellent three-point shooter who should replace the perimeter game lost when Kirk Hinrich was traded to DC – and Ronnie Brewer – an excellent perimeter defender – could ease Boozer’s transition. Veterans Bogans and Thomas and backup point guard Watson should form one of the conference’s better bench units.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Who’s Coming: Ramon Sessions (MIN), Ryan Hollins (MIN), Joey Graham (DEN), Christian Eyenga (2009 Draft Pick)

Who’s Going: LeBron James (MIA), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (MIA), Shaquille O’Neal (BOS), Sebastian Telfair (MIN), Delonte West (MIN)

Let’s just say the Cavaliers had a less-than-ideal summer.

The worst part of losing LeBron might be that moves made in the hopes of placating their MVP – the acquisition of Antawn Jamison, for example – are going to make re-building a lot more difficult. In the meantime, it appears the Cavs will become a more perimeter-oriented, faster-paced team on offense, with Mo Williams, Jamison and new arrival Ramon Sessions picking up the scoring load.

Another player to watch is big man J.J. Hickson, who should have a much larger role due to the departures of O’Neal and Ilgauskas – and who could become the team’s starting center.

Detroit Pistons

Who’s Coming: Tracy McGrady (NY), Greg Monroe (7th overall), Terrico White (36th)

Who’s Going: Kwame Brown (CHA)

The Pistons are a work in progress, in the midst of a major renovation. Joe Dumars’ moves of the last two summers have left Detroit with Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Tracy McGrady, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Austin Daye all looking for minutes at the two, three and four spots. Throw Rodney Stuckey into that same mix if, like many, you think he’s better playing off the ball than running the point. Dumars is reportedly shopping both Prince and Hamilton; trading either one would go a long way toward alleviating the logjam. Prince’s contract expires after this season, so he’ll be easier to move than Hamilton (3 years, $38 million remaining).

Rookie big Greg Monroe could have an opportunity to get significant playing time right away, as his only competition is a rapidly-aging Ben Wallace, though he could find himself in the power forward mix with Villanueva, Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko.

Indiana Pacers

Who’s Coming: Darren Collison (NOR), James Posey (NOR), Paul George (8th overall), Lance Stephenson (40th), Magnum Rolle (51st)

Who’s Going: Troy Murphy (NJ)

After spending the last several months inquiring about the availability of every point guard in the league, Larry Bird finally got his man in August, acquiring Darren Collison, along with veteran forward James Posey, from the Hornets as part of a four-team, five-player deal that sent forward/center Troy Murphy to the Nets. If Collison is the standout he appeared to be when filling in for Chris Paul last season, the Pacers have finally addressed their longest-standing need.

Bird’s other need can’t be addressed by trade; he needs key players like Danny Granger, 2009 draftee Tyler Hansbrough and Mike Dunleavy Jr. to get – and stay – healthy. If “Psycho-T” can rebound from the maladies that ruined his rookie season, he could be in line to take over a lot of Murphy’s minutes. Rookie Paul George – a big, athletic wing in the mode of a young Tracy McGrady – could make a big contribution as well.
The team is expected to buy out or trade T.J. Ford, which could open up backcourt minutes for second-round pick Lance Stephenson, who impressed in summer league play.

Milwaukee Bucks

Who’s Coming: Drew Gooden (LAC), Keyon Dooling (NJN), Corey Maggette (GSW), Jon Brockman (SAC), Chris Douglas-Roberts (NJN), Larry Sanders (15th overall), Darrington Hobson (37th), Keith “Tiny” Gallon (47th)

Who’s Going: Luke Ridnour (MIN), Royal Ivey (OKC), Kurt Thomas (CHI), Charlie Bell (GSW), Dan Gadzuric (GSW), Darnell Jackson (SAC)

What a difference a year makes. Last summer, the Bucks were generally considered as a team in serious financial trouble, and desperately looking to get out from under some bad contracts. This year, they’re adding high-priced veterans on long-term contracts to their roster.

The obvious reason for their 180 is Brandon Jennings, who energized the franchise with an impressive rookie season and who, combined with Andrew Bogut, forms the core of what should be a quality team for years to come. That said, some of this summer’s moves were head-scratchers. Drew Gooden is a nice player and could post good numbers for this team, but players like Gooden and Corey Maggette seem more like “complementary pieces on a contender” at this stage of their careers than the sort of players who can elevate Milwaukee into competition for an Eastern Conference title. There’s also a good chance the Bucks will miss point guard Luke Ridnour, who – despite Jennings’ gaudy numbers – was often the team’s most effective floor leader.

John Salmons played well after arriving in a midseason trade, and will continue to be the Bucks’ top option on the wing. Shooter Michael Redd – still recovering from a knee injury – isn’t expected to play until February.

Southeast Division

Atlanta Hawks

Who’s Coming: Jordan Crawford (27th overall), Josh Powell (LAL)

Who’s Going: Josh Childress (PHO)

Atlanta’s biggest move of the summer was retaining Joe Johnson, who re-signed with the Hawks for six years and $123.7 million. I suspect Atlanta’s management team will be regretting that decision in two to three years, but for now, he’ll continue to be their primary offensive weapon and one of the league’s better fantasy guards.

With Johnson back in the fold, Atlanta basically stood pat, with late first-round pick Jordan Crawford and backup big man Josh Powell as the only additions to a team that was blasted by Orlando in the second round of the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how much of the point guard job is passed from the aging Mike Bibby to second-year man Jeff Teague, and if new coach Larry Drew implements an offense that’s less reliant on running isolations for Johnson – a tendency the Magic really exploited in their postseason series.

Charlotte Bobcats

Who’s Coming: Shaun Livingston (WAS), Dominic McGuire (SAC), Matt Carroll (DAL), Erick Dampier (DAL), Eduardo Najera (DAL)

Who’s Going: Raymond Felton (NY), Tyson Chandler (DAL), Alexis Ajinca (DAL), Theo Ratliff (LAL)

The Bobcats reached the postseason for the first time in franchise history, but after this offseason, it’s hardly a lock that they’ll be back. Charlotte lost starting point guard Raymond Felton to free agency and center Tyson Chandler in a trade. Neither were superstars, but their replacements aren’t particularly inspiring.

Shaun Livingston is an interesting gamble – he showed signs of life down the stretch last season, but he’s still recovering from one of the ugliest knee injuries most NBA fans have ever seen, and no one knows if he’ll be able to grind out a full season. Erick Dampier is a veteran banger, but won’t give the team much else. As presently constituted, Charlotte’s hopes for a return to the playoffs rest entirely on Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace… if either of them gets hurt (and Wallace gets hurt all the time) it’s hard to project them in the East’s top eight.

Miami Heat

Who’s Coming: LeBron James (CLE), Chris Bosh (TOR), Mike Miller (WAS), Eddie House (NYK), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (CLE), Dexter Pittman (32nd overall), Jarvis Varnado (41st), Da’Sean Butler (42nd)

Who’s Going: Jermaine O’Neal (BOS), Quentin Richardson (ORL), Michael Beasley (MIN), Daequan Cook (OKC)

Pat Riley took a major risk this summer – turning over his roster almost completely. It seems fair to say the gamble paid off, as he assembled a roster that boasts three of the games top players and a veteran supporting cast that matches up with just about any team in the league.

Obviously, the Miami story starts with LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Those three will be the focus, and should continue to post impressive numbers even though they’ll be sharing the ball. Mike Miller – one of the game’s top three-point shooters – Eddie House and Mario Chalmers should thrive on the open looks they’ll get when defenses key on the big three.
If the team has a weakness, it’s in the middle, where aging veteran Zydrunas Ilgauskas and journeyman Joel Anthony are penciled in. But it’s likely the Heat will finish close games with Bosh as the nominal center, with James, Wade, Miller and either House or Chalmers on the floor.
Of course, this team might not play that many close games.

Orlando Magic

Who’s Coming: Quentin Richardson (MIA), Chris Duhon (NYK), Daniel Orton (29th overall)

Who’s Going: Matt Barnes (LAL)

Last summer’s swap of Hedo Turkoglu for Vince Carter didn’t get Orlando to the promised land. Carter was supposed to rejuvenate Orlando’s offense, giving the team a perimeter threat that could create his own shot late in games. Unfortunately, that version of Carter is long gone – as the Celtics proved in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Magic team that couldn’t get past Boston is back with only minimal changes – Matt Barnes is gone, replaced by Quentin Richardson, and Chris Duhon provides a little more depth in the backcourt – but the team opted to match Chicago’s lucrative offer to restricted free agent J.J. Redick and bring back veteran point guard Jason Williams. Clearly, management thinks the team can still compete for a title as-is.

Vince Carter may still be the key to their plans – but in a very different way. Carter’s contract expires after this season (unless the team chooses to pick up an $18-million option, and we don’t see that happening), which could make Carter a very valuable trade commodity this season. Already, the Magic have included Carter in an offer for Chris Paul, but New Orleans isn’t selling CP3 just yet.

Washington Wizards

Who’s Coming: John Wall (1st overall), Kevin Seraphin (17th), Trevor Booker (23rd), Kirk Hinrich, Hilton Armstrong (SAC)

Who’s Going: Randy Foye (LAC), Shaun Livingston (CHA), Mike Miller (MIA)

The 2009-10 season was rough on Wizards fans, who had to deal with the Gilbert Arenas/Javaris Crittenton throwdown, and the trades of Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and Antawn Jamison at fire-sale prices. But things started to turn around for Washington at the draft lottery.

Washington won the first overall pick and the right to select Kentucky guard John Wall, who could become the league’s next superstar point guard. Wall should be a major force from day one – think Brandon Jennings, but with fewer turnovers. He’ll team in the backcourt with Arenas – and if Arenas is anywhere near his pre-injury form, that combination will be nearly impossible to defend.

Washington’s frontcourt has tons of potential as well. Center JaVale McGee dominated the Vegas Summer League to the point that he won a late invite to Team USA’s camp – and thanks to injuries and other defections, McGee actually has a chance to play in the World Championships. Andray Blatche showed loads of potential late last season as well, and could be an impact player if he can keep his head on straight. And Kevin Seraphin – the 17th overall pick, acquired from the Bulls as part of the trade that also brought veteran guard Kirk Hinrich to DC – is said to be a Nene clone; a real banger who should complement the length and athleticism of McGee and Blatche.