By Charlie Zegers and John Clemeno
RotoWire Staff Writers
Rasheed Wallace (DET), Marquis Daniels (IND), Shelden Williams (SAC) Lester Hudson (58th overall)
Stephon Marbury (Free Agent), Gabe Pruitt (Free Agent), Leon Powe (CLE)
The offseason could have been even more eventful for the Celtics, as Danny Ainge spent much of the summer shopping two starters - point guard Rajon Rondo and shooting guard Ray Allen - in an effort to add some young talent and postpone the inevitable crash when the "big three" of Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce start showing their age. Instead, they've added some complementary pieces that make Boston, on paper, a prime contender for the 2010 title.
The big addition: free agent Rasheed Wallace
. 'Sheed could be re-energized playing for a contender, and makes Boston's frontcourt rotation - with Garnett, Kendrick Perkins
, and the re-signed Glen "Big Baby" Davis one of the deepest, most talented and most flexible in the league. Marquis Daniels
, coming off a productive season in Indiana, adds depth behind Pierce and Allen at the swing spots. The only potential hole on this roster is behind Rondo at the point, where the Celtics are very thin after opting not to bring Stephon Marbury
or Gabe Pruitt
back. Look for Boston to add a veteran backup at that spot.
New Jersey Nets
Terrence Williams (11th overall), Courtney Lee (ORL), Tony Battie (ORL), Rafer Alston (ORL)
Vince Carter (ORL)
The Nets got younger and cheaper… and probably a lot worse… by trading Vince Carter to the Magic for a promising young player in Courtney Lee and the expiring contracts of Tony Battie and Rafer Alston. They'll have plenty of cash on hand for next summer's free agent frenzy - only Devin Harris, Keyon Dooling, Eduardo Najera and first-rounder Terrence Williams are under contract beyond this season, though Brook Lopez' option is a lock to be picked up. The question is, will any free agent of note have any desire to play for a team that could be god-awful this season?
Looking at the bright side… Lopez is coming off an excellent rookie season and is generally regarded as one of the league's top young bigs. Harris played at a near all-star level in his first full season in Jersey, and Laurence Frank's dribble-drive offense plays to his strengths. Ex-Louisville star Williams could solidify the three spot for the Nets for the first time since they traded Richard Jefferson
- Yi Jianlian
and Bobby Simmons
gave New Jersey very little from that spot last year.
The competition for Carter's shooting guard spot bears watching. Lee is probably the favorite, but don't forget, the Nets offense is the same system that made Chris Douglas-Roberts
a star in college; CDR could challenge Lee for minutes.
New York Knicks
Jordan Hill (8th overall), Toney Douglas (29th overall, via LAL), Darko Milicic (MEM)
Chris Wilcox (DET), Quentin Richardson (MEM)
In Limbo: David Lee, Nate Robinson
The Knicks are a work in progress - and work is scheduled to continue through this season and into next summer.
As anyone with even a passing interest in the NBA is aware, the Knicks are rebuilding, and hoping to make a big score with next summer's free agent class. The 2009-10 season seems to be a very low priority. David Lee
and Nate Robinson
- arguably New York's two best players last season - are in limbo; restricted free agents both, they've fallen victim to New York's unwillingness to add any contracts that run beyond this season. One or both may be forced to accept a one-year contract.
Even if Lee and Robinson are back, the Knick starting lineup and rotation are full of question marks. Lee would most likely return to his starting center spot, with Al Harrington
and Wilson Chandler
at forwards and Larry Hughes
at shooting guard. Chris Duhon
proved last season he's best suited to a backup role - he broke down from overuse as the season wore on - and the Knicks hoped to upgrade at the point, but none of the guards they've considered - including Jason Kidd
, Andre Miller
, Jason Williams
, Jamaal Tinsley
and Ramon Sessions
- has signed, which leaves Duhon and rookie Toney Douglas
The rest of the rotation is up in the air as well. Lee could be replaced by Darko Milicic
, who is by far the best defensive big man on the roster, by rookie Jordan Hill
or even Eddy Curry
, who is reportedly in much better shape. Last year's lottery pick, Italian forward Danilo Gallinari
, is another player who could find himself in a significant role. He showed potential last season, but missed most of the year with back trouble.
Jrue Holiday (17th overall), Primoz Brezec (TOR), Jason Kapono (TOR)
Andre Miller (POR), Reggie Evans (TOR)
The Sixers are in transition right now. That could be a good thing… with players like Andre Iguodala on the roster, transition is what they do best.
Thinking they were one big player away from contending last year, the Sixers brought in Elton Brand
- one of the game's top low-post scorers. To say that move backfired would be an understatement… Brand's presence on the low block seemed to throw off Philly's offense, slowing their excellent transition game in much the same way that Shaquille O'Neal
stalled the Suns. Before they could work that out, Brand was lost for the season with a serious shoulder injury - his second major injury in as many seasons.
They'll try again this season, under new coach Eddie Jordan. Brand should be back at full strength for training camp, and will anchor a frontcourt that also features shot-blocker Sam Dalembert and promising young bigs Marreese Speights
and Thaddeus Young
. Another seven-footer, Jason Smith
, is coming back after missing all of last season with a torn ACL.
Questions abound in the backcourt after Andre Miller
's departure. The only point guards on the roster are Louis Williams
- more of a combo guard/scorer - and rookie Jrue Holiday
, who has loads of potential but is coming off a somewhat disappointing freshman season at UCLA. Look for Williams to get the starting nod, at least initially, with Holiday backing up the point and the shooting guard spots. The two and three positions will be manned by veterans Willie Green
and Andre Iguodala
, with Jason Kapono
in the mix for three-point shooting.
DeMar DeRozan (9th overall), Hedo Turkoglu (ORL), Devean George (DAL), Antoine Wright (DAL), Reggie Evans (PHI), Amir Johnson (MIL), Sonny Weems (MIL), Jarrett Jack (IND), Rasho Nesterovic (IND)
Shawn Marion (DAL), Anthony Parker (CLE), Jason Kapono (PHI), Kris Humphries (DAL), Roki Ukic (MIL)
Faced with the unpleasant possibility of losing franchise power forward Chris Bosh to free agency after the season, the Raptors pushed through one of the NBA's more aggressive roster makeovers this summer. The result just might be their most talented, balanced roster in years.
The big acquisition was forward Hedo Turkoglu, who reportedly fell in love with Toronto's cosmopolitan atmosphere and large Turkish population. He should be an excellent fit for a team that plays a heavily Euroball-influenced style, in a frontcourt with Bosh and center Andrea Bargnani
In the backcourt, Jose Calderon
has emerged as one of the league's top distributors, and rookie DeMar DeRozan
is an athletic freak and slasher. Jarrett Jack
was brought in both for his ability to play both guard spots and because he's a buddy of Bosh's going back to their days at Georgia Tech.
James Johnson (16th overall), Taj Gibson (26th overall)
Ben Gordon (DET), Tim Thomas (waived), Anthony Roberson (waived)
It's hard to look at Chicago's roster and think they're done making changes… as it stands right now, the Bulls have about eleven forward/center types under contract, two small forwards, Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose. Something's gotta give.
Chicago's frontcourt is impossibly deep - they'll have Brad Miller
, Joakim Noah
and Tyrus Thomas
and draft picks James Johnson
and Taj Gibson
in the mix for minutes at the four and five spots. Luol Deng
should be back in the mix after playing just 49 games last season due to a stress fracture; pencil him in at the three spot… the versatile Johnson could get minutes there as well, as could John Salmons
, when the Bulls go small.
Salmons should get the bulk of his minutes at shooting guard, opposite 2009 Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose
. Kirk Hinrich
is still a Bull - much to his surprise - and will back up both guard spots unless/until he's traded. Portland was a logical destination for Hinrich before the Blazers signed Andre Miller
Shaquille O'Neal (PHO), Anthony Parker (TOR), Jamario Moon (MIA), Leon Powe (BOS), Christian Eyenga (30th overall), Danny Green (46th overall)
Ben Wallace (DET), Sasha Pavlovic (PHO), Tarence Kinsey (waived), Joe Smith (free agent), Wally Szczerbiak (free agent), Lorenzen Wright (free agent)
The Cavs went into the offseason looking to solve a few very specific problems. They needed bodies to bang with Dwight Howard, a combo forward or two that could chase guys like Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis, and maybe a veteran shooting guard to solidify that position.
Check, check, and check.
The Cavs made headlines by acquiring Shaquille O'Neal
in a trade with the Suns. The big fella is clearly on the downside of his career, but he's also very familiar with playing off a perimeter superstar, having shared the floor with Kobe Bryant
and Dwyane Wade
before assuming his new role as LeBron James
' number one running buddy. Cleveland's big man rotation is now almost comically deep, with Shaq and Zydrunas Ilgauskas
at center and Jamario Moon
, Leon Powe
and Danny Green
added to the mix with Anderson Varejao
, and J.J. Hickson
comes over from Toronto to help out at shooting guard, a position he'll share with Delonte West
. Mo Williams is back to run the point, with Daniel Gibson
on hand as an extra shooter.
That rotation seems enough to match up with just about any team in the league, but should LeBron require additional reinforcements, Ilgauskas has an $11.5-million contract that expires after the season, which should be a very attractive commodity at the trade deadline.
Charlie Villanueva (MIL), Ben Gordon (CHI), Austin Daye (15th overall), DaJuan Summers (35th overall), Jonas Jerebko (39th overall), Chris Wilcox (NYK), Ben Wallace (PHO)
Allen Iverson (free agent), Rasheed Wallace (BOS), Antonio McDyess (SAN), Amir Johnson (TOR), Arron Afflalo (DEN), Walter Sharpe (MIL), Fabricio Oberto (WAS)
This is not your father's Oldsmobile. The remaking of the Detroit Pistons, which started with the trade of Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson, kicked into high gear this summer. Suddenly, the team that achieved fame and championships as a tight, physical, defense-first crew with a halfcourt offense like a well-oiled machine looks like a run-and-gun outfit, with hard-nosed players like Wallace, McDyess and Billups swapped out for finesse ones like Villanueva, Gordon and Daye.
The new-look Pistons will most likely feature a front line involving Villanueva and Tayshaun Prince
at the forwards and Rodney Stuckey
with either Rip Hamilton or Ben Gordon
in the backcourt. Center is a question mark - the options include Ben Wallace
, who returns to Detroit this season, and Chris Wilcox
, signed as a free agent.
Having both Hamilton and Gordon on the roster raises the possibility that another trade is coming. Historically, Gordon hasn't been thrilled with a bench role, and Hamilton didn't take well to serving as sixth man last season, either. But Hamilton just signed an extension that runs through the 2012-13 season, which makes a deal highly unlikely. It will be interesting to see how new coach John Keuster divvies up the minutes between his two "starting" twos.
Tyler Hansbrough (13th overall), A.J. Price (52nd overall), Dahntay Jones (DEN), Earl Watson (OKC), Solomon Jones (ATL)
Jarrett Jack (TOR), Rasho Nesterovic (TOR), Jamaal Tinsley (waived)
There's an obvious common thread through most of the Pacers' offseason acquisitions - toughness. Jim O'Brien's system is based on tough, energetic, frenetic defense, and that's exactly what players like Dahntay Jones, Earl Watson, Solomon Jones and 13th overall draft pick Tyler Hansbrough do best. If nothing else, the Pacers should be tougher to score on next season.
Of course, the biggest addition Indiana could make for 2009-10 would be health. The Pacers were wracked by injuries last season: Mike Dunleavy was limited to just 18 games, Danny Granger
67 and Troy Murphy
and T.J. Ford
played 73 and 74, respectively. (You know it's been a rough year injury-wise when T.J. Ford
is on the high end of your games played list.)
Assuming everyone is back and healthy, the Pacers will line up with second-year center Roy Hibbert
in the middle, flanked by Murphy and Granger at the forwards. Ford will start at the point, at least initially, but it wouldn't be a big surprise if Earl Watson
got significant playing time there as well. At shooting guard, Brandon Rush
emerged as a legitimate player last season and could get the starting nod even if Dunleavy's healthy. Jones, Hansbrough and Jeff Foster
will be the other key reserves.
Brandon Jennings (10th overall), Jodie Meeks (41st overall), Hakim Warrick (MEM), Ersan Ilyasova (Europe), Carlos Delfino (TOR), Kurt Thomas (SAN), Walter Sharpe (DET), Roko Ukic (TOR)
Charlie Villanueva (DET), Richard Jefferson (SAN)
In Limbo: Ramon Sessions
The Bucks' leading scorers last season were: Michael Redd, Richard Jefferson, Charlie Villanueva, Ramon Sessions and Andrew Bogut. Of that group, only Redd and Bogut are likely to suit up for Milwaukee in 2009-10.
The Bucks have the look of a team designed specifically to save money. Richard Jefferson
was sent to San Antonio for a batch of spare parts; of the players acquired in the trade, only veteran big man Kurt Thomas
remains on the roster. The team made no attempt to re-sign either Villanueva or Sessions.
So what will this bargain-basement team look like? Milwaukee still has a legit pivot in Bogut, and a top shooter in off guard Redd. Rookie Brandon Jennings
- one year removed from a stint as a bench player with Virtus Roma of the Italian League - could be the starter at point guard, though Luke Ridnour
is still on hand.
Small forward will come down to a decision between the do-everything talents of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
and the thus-far unrealized potential of Joe Alexander
. Warrick projects as the starting four, with Thomas backing up at the four and five spots, and Dan Gadzuric
and Charlie Bell
as key subs.
If that's not the worst team in the league, it's close. Cheer up, Milwaukee fans… at least the Packers are looking good.
Jeff Teague (19th overall), Sergiy Gladyr (49th overall), Jamal Crawford (GSW), Joe Smith (CLE)
Acie Law (GSW), Speedy Claxton (GSW), Solomon Jones (IND), Flip Murray (Free Agent)
After re-signing point guard Mike Bibby and emerging forward Marvin Williams, the Hawks will tip off the 2009-10 season with a starting lineup that mirror last season's, and what could be a much-improved bench.
Bibby will man the point, sharing the backcourt with Joe Johnson
. Williams and Josh Smith
are the top two forwards, and Al Horford
mans the middle. Atlanta added Jamal Crawford
- an excellent scorer and combo guard - and highly regarded Wake Forest star Jeff Teague
for backcourt depth, which should represent a major improvement over Acie Law
, the oft-injured Speedy Claxton and Flip Murray. Mario West
, Maurice Evans
, Zaza Pachulia
and veteran forward Joe Smith
, recently signed to a veterans minimum deal, complete the projected rotation.
Gerald Henderson (12th overall), Derrick Brown (40th overall), Tyson Chandler (NOR)
Sean May (SAC), Emeka Okafor (NOR), Juwan Howard (Free Agent)
In Limbo: Raymond Felton, Sean Singletary
The Bobcats are looking more and more like a Larry Brown team after trading one of their original players - Emeka Okafor - for one of the league's best defensive centers in Tyson Chandler, and adding two energetic do-everything wing players - Duke's Gerald Henderson and Xavier's Derrick Brown - in the draft.
A bigger shakeup may be in the offing, as the Bobcats are one of the leading contenders to sign Allen Iverson
. AI and Larry Brown have a history, of course - Brown coached Iverson and the Sixers to the NBA Finals back in 2001.The addition of Iverson would likely spell the end of Raymond Felton
's tenure in Charlotte.
Without Iverson, Charlotte could retain Felton; he or D.J. Augustin
would take over the starting point guard spot, with Raja Bell
at the two spot. Gerald Wallace
, Charlotte's best all-around player, and Boris Diaw
are the forwards and Chandler the center, with rookies Henderson and Brown, Alexis Ajinca
and DeSagana Diop
as the second unit. An Iverson signing likely means Felton is gone, Augustin is the starting point guard and the Bobcats look to sign a backup floor leader.
Robert Dozier (60th overall), Patrick Beverley (42nd overall, via LAL), Quentin Richardson (NYK)
Jamario Moon (CLE), Mark Blount (MIN)
Pat Riley's big offseason acquisitions: two second-round draft picks - including the NBA's "Mr. Irrelevant," Robert Dozier - and a veteran that's been on five different rosters since May. It seems reasonable to suggest that Miami is working with the 2010 offseason in mind. Of course, you can't really blame them - the Heat are in danger of losing all-world point guard Dwyane Wade, who will be a free agent next summer.
Riley has actually surrounded Wade with a pretty decent set of complementary players. Point guard Mario Chalmers
had a very solid rookie season and emerged as one of the NBA's top thieves with over two steals per game. Michael Beasley
didn't dominate as a rookie, but - assuming he works out his personal issues over the summer - has the potential to develop into an elite combo forward in the style of Shawn Marion
. Udonis Haslem
, if healthy, does all the grunt work down low, and Jermaine O'Neal
, when he's able to stay on the floor, is a highly skilled low-post player. Chris Quinn
, Daequan Cook
, Quentin Richardson
and Joel Anthony
comprise a solid but decidedly unspectacular second unit.
Of course, there's no guarantee that Riley will "stand Pat" (sorry) all season. The Heat are considered one of the leading contenders to acquire Carlos Boozer
if and when Utah decides to deal its all-star power forward.
Vince Carter (NJN), Brandon Bass (DAL), Matt Barnes (PHO), Jason Williams (free agent), Ryan Anderson (NJN)
Hedo Turkoglu (TOR), Courtney Lee (NJN), Rafer Alston (NJN), Tony Battie (NJN)
An unconventional lineup with two 6-10 jump-shooting forwards book-ending all-world center Dwight Howard was enough to get the Magic to the NBA Finals. Magic fans are hoping a more conventional - and more talented - lineup will be enough to win it all this year.
Last year's alignment, which featured Rashard Lewis
and Hedo Turkoglu at the forward spots, created matchup nightmares - especially for the Cavs. But it also left Orlando with Courtney Lee
taking crunch-time shots against the Lakers in the Finals. This year Lee will be replaced by a much more attractive shot-at-the-buzzer option: Vince Carter
. Orlando is hoping Carter will be re-energized by playing for a contender, close to his hometown of Daytona.
Losing the versatile Turkoglu will hurt, but coach Stan Van Gundy can replace his production in a couple of ways. Mickael Pietrus
- an excellent athlete and tough defender - is one option. Or, he could go with a better offensive player in newly acquired Matt Barnes
… or shift Rashard Lewis
to the three spot and use wide-body Brandon Bass
to add toughness and rebounding. In the middle, Van Gundy has an embarrassment of riches, with Howard and the improving Marcin Gortat
The starting backcourt is potentially electric, with Carter teamed with Jameer Nelson
. But the trade that brought Carter to Florida cost the Magic a lot of backcourt depth in Lee and Rafer Alston
, and left Anthony Johnson
as the only backup to Nelson, who missed the second half of last season with a shoulder injury. Veteran point guard Jason Williams
, who didn't play last season, joins Orlando as another option at the point. J.J. Redick
could emerge as the fourth guard in Van Gundy's rotation.
Mike Miller (MIN), Randy Foye (MIN), Fabricio Oberto (MIL)
Etan Thomas (MIN), Darius Songaila (MIN), Oleksiy Pecherov (MIN)
The additions of Mike Miller - one of the league's top sharp-shooters, Randy Foye - a promising young two guard - and Fabricio Oberto - a quality big man with some skill - are nice. But the acquisition that matters most to the Wizards this season is a player that's been with the team since 2003: one Gilbert Arenas.
A variety of knee injuries hobbled Arenas for the last two seasons; he played just 13 games in 2007-08 and two last season. But reports of his workouts this summer have been universally positive, making Wizards fans and fantasy players optimistic they'll see Arenas back among the league leaders in scoring this season.
With Arenas back in the fold, the Wizards could be one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the league. Arenas would man the point, with another combo guard in Foye at the two and one of the league's top threes, Caron Butler
, on the wing. The versatile Antawn Jamison
will be back at power forward, and at center, new Wizards coach Flip Saunders has the option of using veteran Brendan Haywood
or one of two promising athletic young bigs: JaVale McGee
or Andray Blatche
. Miller, Javaris Crittenton
, DeShawn Stevenson
and versatile combo forward Dominc McGuire will comprise the second unit.
Ty Lawson (18th), Aaron Afflalo (DET), Malik Allen (MIL)
Dahntay Jones (IND), Linas Kleiza (Europe), Sonny Weems (TOR), Steven Hunter (MEM)
The Nuggets gave the Lakers a scare in the playoffs, so it would seem all that's needed is some tweaking around the edges. Unfortunately, the Nuggets are hamstrung by payroll issues and could not retain Linas Kleiza or Dahntay Jones, so they're looking to add rotation pieces on the cheap.
After re-signing Chris Andersen
, Denver returns six of its rotation members, including the starting five of Chauncey Billups
, J.R. Smith
, Carmelo Anthony
, Kenyon Martin
and Nene. They'll need to add a few more players before the season starts, with a reported interest in Wally Szczerbiak
. If they're considering Szczerbiak, that means the Nuggets are concerned about losing Kleiza's scoring ability off the bench. Aaron Afflalo figures to have a bigger role with in Denver than he had with the Pistons - he got caught up in lineup re-shuffling in Detroit. Afflalo's a good defender - don't underestimate the need for that skill on this team - who can handle the ball enough to spot at point guard and can score. They might ask him to play some small forward, too. Ty Lawson
, considered the point guard of the future, will not get a ton of minutes as a rookie. Especially after the team re-signed Anthony Carter
Denver could never get a consistently healthy Steven Hunter
, so he was jettisoned for a draft pick. To replace him off the bench, the Nuggets acquired Malik Allen
from Milwaukee for Sonny Weems
and Walter Sharpe
. Allen has a midrange scoring game, which can come in handy, but he won't get enough playing time to help as a scorer, unless Martin's knee acts up again.
Ricky Rubio (5th), Jonny Flynn (6th), Wayne Ellington (28th), Henk Norel (47th), Ryan Hollins (DAL), Darius Songaila (WAS), Oleksiy Pecherov (WAS), Mark Blount (MIA), Damien Wilkins (OKC)
Randy Foye (WAS), Mike Miller (WAS), Sebastian Telfair (LAC), Craig Smith (LAC), Mark Madsen (FA), Shelden Williams (BOS), Jason Collins (FA), Rodney Carney (FA)
Even with an offseason in which four members of the rotation were traded, the change with the most impact comes at head coach. The Timberwolves fired Kevin McHale and hired Kurt Rambis, who leaves a successful gig as an assistant coach for the NBA champion Lakers. In an open letter to fans, who appear to be reinvigorated by the regime change, Rambis said he is looking forward to working with the team's young players.
And those young players are in the backcourt, where the T-Wolves are experiencing the most change. Ricky Rubio
, who still hasn't negotiated a buyout from his European team, is the most important of those young players. If he remains in Europe this season, Jonny Flynn
, (15 ppg, 7.4 apg and 58% 3pt in summer league) will open the season at point guard. Chucky Atkins
is a veteran that could help Flynn or Rubio learn the NBA game, but only as a backup, until his expiring contract makes him valuable to another team.
After dispatching Randy Foye
, Mike Miller
and Rashad McCants
, the Timberwolves are looking for a shooting guard to pair with one of the rookie points. Rambis may not want to use an all-rookie backcourt, though Wayne Ellington
is a scorer they could use at the two. Ellington should earn a decent chunk of playing time off the bench. An outside scorer is needed, but a perimeter defender, like Corey Brewer
, could win the starting job. If he can develop a more consistent shot, so much the better.
The front court is much more stable with Ryan Gomes
(SF), Al Jefferson
(PF) and Kevin Love
(C) all back. Darius Songaila
should earn backup minutes at power forward, and can space the floor to allow Jefferson or Love to work in the low post. Ryan Hollins
will add depth at center. Oleksiy Pecherov
is a big man who plays more like a small forward. He's not rugged enough to bang in the paint, but needs more consistent shooting to have an impact for Minnesota.
Oklahoma City Thunder
James Harden (3rd), Byron Mullens (24th), Robert Vaden (54th), Serge Ibaka (Spain), Etan Thomas (MIN), Kevin Ollie (PHI)
Who's Going: Earl Watson (IND), Chucky Atkins (MIN), Damien Wilkins (MIN), Desmond Mason (FA)
The youth movement in Oklahoma City continues into 2009-10 as they swept out veterans Earl Watson, Chucky Atkins, Damien Wilkins and Desmond Mason. All those players were members of the rotation at various points, so there are opportunities for new bodies. First-round pick James Harden won't start right away at shooting guard, but he should be the second unit's main scorer. He averaged 15 points a game in nine summer league games. We expect Thabo Sefolosha, a good defender, to start at the two with Kyle Weaver also in the mix. Rounding out the backcourt rotation is Russell Westbrook at the point with Shaun Livingston and Kevin Ollie backing him up.
The Thunder's biggest hole, something they brought with them on the move from Seattle, is at center. Byron (BJ) Mullens is not ready to step into an NBA job just yet, so the Thunder will have to get by with Nenad Krstic
and Etan Thomas
in the low post. If it's scoring they want, Krstic will start. If it's defense and toughness they want, Thomas will start. The frontcourt will also feature Jeff Green
at power forward and Kevin Durant
at small forward, who, along with Westbrook, are the primary building blocks of the franchise.
Portland Trail Blazers
Victor Claver (22nd), Jeff Pendergraph (31st), Dante Cunningham (33rd), Patrick Mills (55th), Andre Miller (PHI)
Channing Frye (PHO), Sergio Rodriguez (SAC)
The Blazers lost out on their top two free-agent targets, when Hedo Turkoglu swerved to Toronto at the last minute, and Utah matched their offer sheet for Paul Millsap. Andre Miller isn't a bad haul, and he comes cheaply (two years, $13 million, team option for third year) and motivated after very tepid interest in the free agent market. He should spell Steve Blake at point guard initially, but it wouldn't surprise us to see Miller log more minutes and eventually take over the job. Miller will probably spell Brandon Roy at the two as well.
is pushed further down the guard rotation because of the signing, but he could push Blake before long. The Blazers worked him hard as a ball handler in the summer league with mixed results. Miller gives him a two-year cushion to develop as a point guard.
Up front, there's still a three-way at small forward, with Martell Webster
returning from a foot injury, Nicolas Batum
and Travis Outlaw
. LaMarcus Aldridge
and Greg Oden
will continue to start at power forward and center, respectively. As evidenced by their grab for Millsap, the Blazers feel a little thin in the frontcourt with the exit of Channing Frye
. If any of the draft picks are to make any impact, it will be Jeff Pendergraph
at power forward. First-round pick Victor Claver
, 20, is a few years away from the NBA.
Eric Maynor (20th), Goran Suton (50th)
Morris Almond (FA), Jarron Collins (FA), Brevin Knight (FA)
We're still waiting for the most significant change in Utah to happen. Carlos Boozer disappointed the team by not opting out of the final year of his contract. With him on the books and the team needing to match Portland's offer sheet to Paul Millsap, there's an obvious surplus of salary at power forward.
Everyone is expecting Boozer to be traded, which means Millsap will eventually see the biggest increase in fantasy value. That also leaves the question of what the Jazz can get in return for Boozer, whether a wing player or power forward, and how that could impact the rotation. In another significant non-change transaction, the Jazz extended Mehmet Okur
for two years. He and Millsap (if Boozer is traded) figure to start games up front along with small forward Andrei Kirilenko
or swing player C.J. Miles
. Off the bench, we've probably seen the last of Matt Harpring
. He averaged just 11 minutes last season. Kosta Koufos
has likely moved ahead of Kyrylo Fesenko
at center, but the backup center job is far from settled. Hence the chance taken on Goran Suton
The backcourt starters of Deron Williams
and Ronnie Brewer
remain in place. First-round pick Eric Maynor
may have a hard time beating out Ronnie Price
to be Williams' backup. That's how coach Jerry Sloan rolls with rookies. Kyle Korver
will be the third guard in the rotation, and Miles will play some, too.
Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry (7th), Acie Law (ATL), Speedy Claxton (ATL), Devean George (TOR)
Jamal Crawford (ATL), Jermareo Davidson (FA), Marco Belinelli (TOR), Rob Kurz (CLE)
Warriors coach Don Nelson enters the season with another roster filled with wings and not enough distributors, defenders or rebounders. It's hard to predict how Nelson will construct his rotation, let alone the starting lineup, so playing hunches on a Golden State sleeper is a roll of the dice.
Season 2 of the Monta Ellis
-to-point guard experiment will continue. He never really settled in last season after coming back from an ankle injury, but given the structure of this team, it's the most likely position for him. Golden State got next to nothing for Jamal Crawford
, though we'll have to see how Acie Law
responds to the freewheeling offense in the Bay. Stephen Curry
wasn't bashful about taking his shots in the summer league and should be the number three guard, if he isn't starting at shooting guard. If Nelson chooses to use Stephen Jackson
, the team's best distributor, at shooting guard, Curry will have to get his looks in fewer minutes. Where C.J. Watson
and Anthony Morrow
fit will change nightly.
Jackson could also line up at small forward, where there's no shortage of candidates. Corey Maggette
and Kelenna Azubuike
will need their time. Anthony Randolph
(26.8 ppg, 60.9% FG) was a beast for the organization's summer league team, and Nelson should find a way to get him starters' minutes at power forward. Andris Biedrins
will start at center with Ronny Turiaf
an able backup.
Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin (1st), Sebastian Telfair (MIN), Craig Smith (MIN), Rasual Butler (NO)
Zach Randolph (MEM), Mike Taylor (FA), Brian Skinner (FA), Fred Jones (FA), Alex Acker (FA)
The Clippers did a lot right during the offseason, adding some complementary pieces for the bench and not screwing up the first overall pick. That's two straight scores in the first round, after adding Eric Gordon to the roster in 2008. To clear the power forward spot for Blake Griffin, who averaged 19.2 points and 10.8 rebounds in summer league, the Clippers traded away Zach Randolph. Griffin suffered a shoulder injury during the summer, but all reports indicate he'll be ready for training camp.
When all was said and done, the haul from Randolph was Sebastian Telfair
and Craig Smith
. Those two should provide quality depth at point guard (Baron Davis
) and power forward (Griffin), respectively. Adding Rasual Butler
is another nod to bench strength. He and Ricky Davis
will shift between small forward (Al Thornton
) and shooting guard (Gordon). Rounding out the lineup at center will be a combination of Chris Kaman
and Marcus Camby
. DeAndre Jordan
should see a slight uptick in minutes, but he won't get the kind of playing time that helps a fantasy team until Camby is gone after this season or by February's trade deadline.
Los Angeles Lakers
Chinemelu Elonu (59th), Ron Artest (HOU)
Sun Yue (FA), Trevor Ariza (HOU)
The Lakers did nothing to worsen their chances of repeating as NBA champions. As important as Trevor Ariza was to this team, Ron Artest can fulfill every role Ariza did - only with a better offensive game and with a bit more "flair." Artest will slot in at small forward with Pau Gasol at the four and Andrew Bynum at center. Bynum was largely MIA in the postseason, so re-signing Lamar Odom was the most important offseason development. Odom will come off the bench, but will also be on the court with Gasol. Nothing much will change in the backcourt as Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher return as starters. The club re-signed Shannon Brown to join Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic as support.
Earl Clark (14th), Taylor Griffin (48th), Channing Frye (POR), Sasha Pavlovic (CLE)
Shaquille O'Neal (CLE), Matt Barnes (ORL)
We're still a little angry with Phoenix general manager Steve Kerr for turning the most exciting team in the NBA into a dull and not-very-successful half-court squad last year. But after he traded Shaquille O'Neal and extended Steve Nash for another two seasons, it appears Kerr learned his lesson.
If Amar'e Stoudemire
returns from an eye injury - he's begun working out and should be ready for court work in September - he'll replace O'Neal as the starting center. He can opt out of his contract after this season and should be a motivated player, especially after an offseason in which his name kept coming up in trade rumors. Channing Frye
, who can run the floor the way coach Alvin Gentry wants, could be in line for a huge increase in playing time at power forward. Nash, Jason Richards
on and the re-signed Grant Hill
return as the other starters.
Beyond combo guard Leandro Barbosa
, the Suns are a little thin off the bench. That's a problem with teams that have been dealing with the luxury tax and shedding salaries, as Phoenix has. They get rid of players like O'Neal and waive the players they get in return - Ben Wallace
and Sasha Pavlovic
(not waived yet, but almost certain to be). Jared Dudley
and rookie Earl Clark
will be given the chance to back up the injury-prone Hill at the three. Robin Lopez
enters his second year and will be the primary backup down low.
Tyreke Evans (4th), Omri Casspi (23rd), Jon Brockman (38th), Sean May (CHA) , Sergio Rodriguez (POR)
Calvin Booth (FA), Bobby Jackson (FA), Rashad McCants (FA), Cedric Simmons (FA)
Coming off a 17-win season, the Kings face an uncertain future in Sacramento and a declining fan base that wore the purple passion all those years when they were regular contenders. Into the fray jumps new coach Paul Westphal, who becomes the team's fourth head coach in three years. He inherits some guys that can play, but last year's team was weak defensively and was routinely out-rebounded. We're not expecting big things right away from the coach, but there should be some changes.
The starting spots that are locked up are Kevin Martin
at shooting guard, Jason Thompson
at power forward and Spencer Hawes
at center. Hawes ticked off management by not playing for the summer league team, but there's no one else on the current roster that can log big minutes at center. At small forward, this could be the year Francisco Garcia
locks down a full time gig in the starting lineup, though Andres Nocioni
played well in 23 games for Sacramento. Nocioni plays hard defense and is a good rebounder for his size - both of which are needed by the team - so he'll get plenty of minutes as a starter or on the second unit. The Kings' second first-round selection, Omri Casspi
, is a playmaking small forward who could work his way into the rotation, though the Israeli import struggled in the summer league. Bringing in Sean May
for a look isn't a terrible idea, but he was out of shape and coming of two knee operations last season. Westphal would do better by giving backup minutes to Donte Greene
The long range plan for combo guard Tyreke Evans
is to play at point guard, but Westphal isn't anointing him a starter yet. He was more of a scorer in college, so it'll take time for him to learn the point in the NBA. He'll likely have to settle for backing up Martin at the two, while Beno Udrih
and Sergio Rodriguez
, acquired from Portland, get most of the point-guard minutes.
Rodrigue Beaubois (25th), Nick Calathes (45th), Ahmad Nivins (56th), Drew Gooden (DAL), Quinton Ross (MEM), Greg Buckner (MIL), Shawn Marion (TOR), Kris Humphries (TOR), Nathan Jawai (TOR), Tim Thomas (DAL)
Jerry Stackhouse (FA), Devean George (GS), Antoine Wright (TOR), Brandon Bass (ORL), Gerald Green (FA), James Singleton (FA)
The Mavericks were buyers in a market full of sellers. Feeling the need to stay competitive with Dirk Nowitzki and the core of a recent 67-win team around, owner Mark Cuban spent heavily.
After the trades, the offer sheets, the free agents and the re-signed players, the Mavericks have a boatload of proven NBA talent that should make this as deep as any team in the West. Giving Jason Kidd
three years may tie up salary in 2011, but he's worth it for a team looking to win now. Adding Shawn Marion
will probably move Josh Howard
to shooting guard, where he's been used very little over the last few seasons. Jason Terry
will reprise his effective scoring role off the bench.
was added on the cheap both to spell Nowitzki at power forward, and also to play minutes at center. If they could get by with the 6-7 Brandon Bass
playing the five last year, the 6-10 Gooden can certainly do it. The feeling is Erick Dampier
's interior defense is not much needed, given the paucity of scoring big men in the West. He'll get his run on occasion, but his biggest value is an expiring contract. When the Mavs want to go quicker, you'll see Nowitzki, Marion and Howard up front.
Jermaine Taylor (32nd), Sergio Llull (34th), Chase Budinger (44th), Trevor Ariza (LAL), David Andersen (ATL), Pops Mensah-Bonsu (TOR)
Ron Artest (LAL), Dikembe Mutomobo (FA), Von Wafer (FA)
The 2009-10 season will certainly be a test of Rick Adleman's coaching skills. The season is done before it started, thanks to season-ending surgery for Yao Ming (foot) and Tracy McGrady's microfracture surgery on his left knee that leaves him out, at best, until December. You'd be foolish to bank on someone with McGrady's injury history playing a major role.
Where do the injuries leave the Rockets? First and foremost, they need to fill Yao's void. Bringing in Aussie David Andersen
is a start, but he's an NBA rookie and a European big man - he can space the floor and hit jumpers, but isn't a defensive stalwart. More likely, we'll see the 6-9 Luis Scola
and 6-8 Joey Dorsey
(14.8 rpg, 2.bpg, in summer league) getting heavy minutes in the middle. The 6-9 Carl Landry
and 6-6 Chuck Hayes
will also find some minutes in Adelman's rotation of "bigs." Shane Battier
and Trevor Ariza
round out the forward rotation.
It's far from certain that McGrady will be performing at a high level or for a ton of minutes nightly. Ariza will be forced to play some shooting guard, and we could see a mini-revival of Brent Barry
's career. Aaron Brooks
and Kyle Lowry
will make up one of the league's smaller point-guard rotations. Rookies Jermaine Taylor
and Chase Budinger
could find their way into the rotation because of the McGrady situation. Budinger was the best player on the summer league team.
Hasheem Thabeet (2nd), DeMarre Carroll (27th), Sam Young (36th), Zach Randolph (LAC), Steven Hunter (DEN), Marcus Williams (GS)
Hakeem Warrick (MIL), Darius Miles (FA), Quinton Ross (DAL), Greg Buckner (DAL)
We can't understand the Grizzlies' fascination with Zach Randolph. They almost traded for him prior to the 2008-09 season, and now they've got him. Sure he averages 20-10, but he doesn't pass well and doesn't play defense. Nevertheless, he'll take a lot of shots as Memphis' starting power forward. How Randolph is integrated into the mix should impact the looks for Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo, as well as Darrell Arthur's playing time. If coach Lionel Hollins can get through to Zebo, the Grizzlies will have capable scorers at all parts of the floor.
was drafted to be a defender in the low post, though he was not very good in the summer league (45% FG, five fouls in 25 mpg). His offensive game is weak, meaning there's still a need for Marc Gasol
. The second first-round pick, DeMarre Carroll
, is a hard worker, who plays a great team game. There's a place for him on an NBA team, but he's unlikely to make an immediate impact.
After unimpressive stops in New Jersey and Golden State, Marcus Williams
will spell Mike Conley
at point guard. Conley played his best pro ball during the second half of last season, after briefly losing the job to Kyle Lowry
. It's doubtful Hollins can use Williams to push Conley, as Lowry did in 2008-09.
New Orleans Hornets
Darren Collison (21st), Marcus Thornton (43rd), Emeka Okafor (CHA), Ike Diogu (SAC)
Tyson Chandler (CHA), Rasual Butler (LAC), Ryan Bowen (FA), Melvin Ely (FA), Sean Marks (FA)
The Hornets could be dangerous if they had a bench, but they haven't had good luck in the draft or signing free agents. They've been limited in what contracts they can add as Morris Peterson, Peja Stojakovic and James Posey leave them near tax land. The tax forced them to dump Rasual Butler, who played well last season. And a draft pick hasn't clicked since Chris Paul in 2005. Finding a backup for Paul hasn't been easy, and there was substantial drop-off when Antonio Daniels was asked to lead the team. There won't be many minutes available to Darren Collison, but he played well in the summer league and will be given a chance to supplant Daniels. Marcus Thornton has a chance to make an impact right away, as the Hornets are still looking for a shooting guard. He lit up the summer league (20.7 ppg, 45% FG).
Swapping Tyson Chandler
for Emeka Okafor
commits them to more years at center, but Okafor is a horse that plays every day, and Chandler's recent injuries had been a problem. Okafor averaged 14.0 ppg for his career with Raymond Felton
and Brevin Knight
as his point guards, and he should do better playing with Paul. Ike Diogu
will be playing for his fifth team in five years. He's been relatively productive in short minutes, but has never been given a chance. He won't get that here, either, playing behind David West
, but should give coach Bryon Scott more than he's gotten from Melvin Ely
and Hilton Armstrong
the last few years. The Hornets remain commited to Julian Wright
at small forward. Coach Byron Scott hasn't been able to rely on Stojakovic, whose numbers are in decline due in part to age and back problems.
San Antonio Spurs
DeJuan Blair (37th), Jack McClinton (51st), Nando De Colo (53rd), Richard Jefferson (MIL), Marcus Haislip (Europe), Antonio McDyess (DET), Theo Ratliff (PHI)
Fabricio Oberto (WAS), Bruce Bowen (FA), Kurt Thomas (MIL), Jacques Vaughn (FA), Ime Udoka (FA)
The Spurs looked old at times last season, but had a great summer and are poised to test the Lakers in 2009-10. Undoubtedly, the biggest change is the addition of Richard Jefferson, for next to nothing. Losing Bruce Bowen may be felt in the locker room, but he played his fewest minutes in 10 years last season. Jefferson is a scorer, who can take pressure off of the injury-prone Manu Ginobili. That means a few less minutes for Michael Finley.
and Theo Ratliff
appear to be natural fits for the Spurs - role players who have a long track record of suppressing egos. They'll be the preventative maintenance needed to keep Tim Duncan
fresh all year. Interestingly, coach Gregg Popovich thinks second-round pick DeJuan Blair
(16.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg in summer league) can help right away.
Because Popovich likes the Spurs with Ginobili coming off the bench, Roger Mason
Jr. will survive as the team's starting shooting guard. There's still a hole at backup point guard, though George Hill
had some success there last season. He's still learning aspects of being a floor general, after primarily being a scorer at IUPUI.
Article first appeared on 8/31/09