Who's Coming: JaJuan Johnson (27th overall)
Who's Going: Shaquille O'Neal (Retired), Nenad Krstic (Russia)
The Kendrick Perkins trade may have cost the Celtics a shot at the 2011 NBA crown, and that deal will continue to have major repercussions at the TD Garden. General manager Danny Ainge felt comfortable trading Perk because he was satisfied with the production he was getting out of Shaquille O'Neal. But Shaq barely played in the second half of the season and announced his retirement soon after.
O'Neal's retirement, combined with Nenad Krsitc's decision to return to Russia, leaves Cs paper-thin in the middle, with oft-injured Jermaine O'Neal as the team's only true big. Ainge acquired Purdue forward JaJuan Johnson on draft night, but at 6-10, 220, Johnson may lack the bulk to play inside at the next level.
Ainge will have a lot of work to do when the NBA resumes business. The team extended a qualifying offer to Jeff Green, making him a restricted free agent, but it's unclear whether or not that designation will have any significance in the next CBA. Glen "Big Baby" Davis, Delonte West, Von Wafer and Troy Murphy are all unrestricted free agents; given their lack of size, Davis would seem to be a must-sign.
New Jersey Nets
Who's Coming: Marshon Brooks (25th overall), Josh Harrellson (45th overall)
Who's Going: no one
The NBA's ongoing lockout could arguably hurt the Nets more than any other team. General manager Billy King made a major gamble, giving up Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and several picks for a rent-with-an-option-to-buy deal with Deron Williams. Every day that the players are locked out is a day King can't spend trying to get Williams' name on a long-term deal.
The Nets added some scoring punch in the draft. Marshon Brooks led the Big East in scoring last season, and projects as a Jamal Crawford-esque player. Of course, that's both good and bad – Brooks has a lot of work to do before he's an adequate NBA defender.
The Nets' big priority this offseason will be re-signing Kris Humphries, who emerged as a regular double-double threat last season. They are also expected to kick the tires on free agent David West.
New York Knicks
Who's Coming: Iman Shumpert (17th overall), Josh Harrellson (45th overall)
Who's Going: no one
The Knicks made their big move at the trade deadline, acquiring Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups from the Nuggets in exchange for Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton and Timofey Mozgov. General manager Donnie Walsh – in one of his final acts as the Knicks' personnel chief – picked up the $14.2 million team option on Billups' deal. That could limit New York's options in free agency this year, but will give the team a fat expiring deal to use in trade talks for one of the big 2012 names (Chris Paul, anyone?)
Walsh also added guard Iman Shumpert – a big, athletic combo guard who could log minutes at both backcourt positions – and Kentucky forward/center Josh "Jorts" Harrellson on draft night. The Knicks are also hoping that 2010 second-rounder Jerome James will make the roster after playing in Europe last season.
When business resumes, the Knicks will have a few openings for low-cost veterans. They hope to retain Derrick Brown – a restricted free agent – and re-sign Shawne Williams, who emerged as a valuable bench player last season. Ronny Turiaf exercised a player option and will be back as well.
Who's Coming: Nikola Vucevic (16th overall), Lavoy Allen (50th overall)
Who's Going: Darius Songaila (Turkey)
The Sixers will have some serious work to do when the business of basketball resumes; many analysts believe they will trade swingman Andre Iguodala, with the Clippers (for Chris Kaman) and Warriors (Monta Ellis) being the likeliest suitors. Iguodala is set to make about $45 million over the next three seasons, including a $15.9 million player option for the 2013-14 season. Moving him could free up some time for 2010 second overall pick Evan Turner.
The Kaman discussions – and the selection of USC center Nikola Vucevic in the first round of the draft – show how unhappy the team has become with the progress of Spencer Hawes and Marreese Speights. Hawes is a restricted free agent, and may not be back. But Philly would like to retain Thaddeus Young, who emerged as a valuable wing scorer last season.
Who's Coming: Jonas Valanciunas (5th overall – arrives in 2012)
Who's Going: Sonny Weems (Lithuania), Julian Wright (FA), Joey Dorsey (FA)
The Raptors may have found a gem in Lithuanian forward/center Jonas Valanciunas, who celebrated getting selected by dominating the FIBA Under-19 World Championships this summer. One problem – Valanciunas will play in Europe for one more year before joining the Raps.
While they await his arrival, the Raps will do some roster clean-up. They decided not to extend qualifying offers to Julian Wright or Joey Dorsey, and Sonny Weems opted for the security of a European contract over restricted free agency in a lockout year. The club did pick up its 2011-12 option on Leandro Barbosa, who is now in the final year of his deal.
The big question for the Raptors to resolve is whether or not to trade Jose Calderon and hand the point guard job to Jerryd Bayless on a full-time basis.
Who's Coming: Jimmy Butler (30th overall)
Who's Going: no one
Last season's roster revamp propelled the Bulls to the top of the standings. This year, we'll probably only see some minor tweaks. Most expected Chicago to chase a scoring two guard in the draft, but they opted to use the last pick of the first round on Marquette's Jimmy Butler, who will give Tom Thibodeau another quality defender on the wing.
They may opt to address shooting guard in free agency, but any contract decisions will be affected by their need to lock up reigning MVP Derrick Rose; 2012-13 is the final season on Rose's rookie contract.
The Bulls will also need to add bench help, as greybeard center Kurt Thomas – who was a major contributor when Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer missed time – is a free agent, as are Rasual Butler and Brian Scalabrine.
Who's Coming: Kyrie Irving (1st overall), Tristan Thompson (4th overall), Milan Macvan (54th overall), Omri Casspi (SAC)
Who's Going: JJ Hickson (SAC)
The first-round pick the Cavs picked up from the Clippers in the Baron Davis trade became the first overall selection. Combined with Cleveland's own pick – the fourth overall – they gave the Cavs a very nice influx of talent on draft day. But in the short term, the new arrivals may complicate Byron Scott's rotations.
First overall pick Kyrie Irving and fourth pick Tristan Thompson play the same positions as high-priced veterans Baron Davis and Antawn Jamison. Davis has been saying all the right things about serving as mentor to the Dookie, but has a well-earned reputation as a player that loses focus when his team isn't winning – and it wouldn't surprise anyone if he returns from the lockout in less-than-ideal playing shape. Jamison has been slowed by injury in recent years and may look to retire after this season, so the transition from him to Thompson probably goes a bit more smoothly.
The Cavs acquired small forward Omri Casspi from the Kings just before the lockout started, sending JJ Hickson to Sacramento. Casspi will give Cleveland a natural three for the first time since LeBron jumped ship, and should get a boost in fantasy value.
Who's Coming: Brandon Knight (8th overall), Kyle Singler (33rd overall), Vernon Macklin (52nd overall)
Who's Going: DaJuan Summers (Italy), Tayshaun Prince (FA), Tracy McGrady (FA)
The Bobcats traded up to get the player everyone thought Detroit wanted in this year's draft – big man Bismack Biyombo. So Joe Dumars went small, selecting Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight and effectively ending the "Rodney Stuckey at the point" experiment. Dumars still has work to do.
His first priority should be to resolve the ongoing Richard Hamilton situation. That may mean lobbying for some sort of amnesty clause in the new CBA, as Rip still has two years and over $25 million remaining on his contract. If Dumars can't unload Hamilton, he may wind up losing Stuckey, who is set to be a restricted free agent. The alternative – another year of two-guard gridlock, with new coach Lawrence Frank forced to find minutes for Stuckey, Hamilton and Ben Gordon.
The frontcourt gets an influx of talent with Jonas Jerebko expected to return after missing all of last season with an Achilles' injury.
Who's Coming: George Hill (SAN)
Who's Going: Jeff Foster (FA), Mike Dunleavy (FA), T.J. Ford (FA), Josh McRoberts (FA)
The Pacers could be well-positioned to do big things, especially if the next CBA creates a more favorable environment for smaller-market clubs. The team is finally out from under the awful contracts of players like Dunleavy and Ford, leaving a reasonably-priced roster with Danny Granger ($12 million) as the only big-ticket item.
Another savvy move – trading out of what was generally considered to be a mediocre 2011 draft and picking up established veteran guard George Hill from San Antonio in the process. Hill should log significant minutes at both guard spots and aid in the development of Darren Collison. And he went to school in Indy, at IUPUI. Bonus.
They'll have the money to add talent to a young core of Collison, Hill, Granger, Paul George, Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough, but Indianapolis has never been a popular destination for free agents. That could push the Pacers to build via trade, possibly shopping veteran swingman James Posey, who is in the final year of his deal.
Who's Coming: Tobias Harris (19th overall), Jon Leuer (40th overall), Stephen Jackson (CHA), Shaun Livingston (CHA), Beno Udrih (SAC)
Who's Going: Corey Maggette (CHA), John Salmons (SAC), Michael Redd (FA)
The Bucks got high marks for a draft-day trade that dumped John Salmons on the Kings and Corey Maggette on the Bobcats and brought back veteran swingman Stephen Jackson, guards Beno Udrih and Shaun Livingston and the 19th overall pick, used to take promising forward Tobias Harris. Throw in local hero Jon Leuer – a shooter out of Wisconsin – in the second round, and that's a pretty nice haul.
Is that enough to get the Bucks back to the playoffs? Hard to say. They'll need continued improvement from Brandon Jennings and Larry Sanders, but the most important factor to Miwaukee's success will be getting Andrew Bogut completely healthy. Bogut really struggled last season while working his way back from a serious elbow injury. Barring a setback, he should enter this season healthier than he's been in years.
Who's Coming: Keith Benson (48th overall)
Who's Going: Hilton Armstrong (France), Jamal Crawford (FA), Etan Thomas (FA), Jason Collins (FA), Damien Wilkins (FA), Josh Powell (FA)
Atlanta's biggest acquisition is a new ownership group – California businessman Alex Meruelo is poised to take over from the Atlanta Spirit LLC ownership group most notable for its long history of internal squabbling. (It's not often you have one investor sue others in the hopes of blocking a trade.)
Unfortunately, Meruelo may be Atlanta's only addition. The Hawks had no first-round pick – theirs went to Washington in the Kirk Hinrich trade – so second-round center project Keith Benson was their only draft-day acquisition. Making additional moves in free agency will be difficult, as the team already has over $65 million in salaries on the books for this season – over $40 million for Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Al Horford alone. That would seem to rule out any chance of sixth man Jamal Crawford returning to the team.
Look for Jeff Teague to take on an expanded role this season. Teague had an excellent playoff series against the Chicago Bulls while filling in for Hinrich, and may be the Hawks' new starting point. That could leave Crawford's old job to Hinrich.
Who's Coming: Bismack Biyombo (7th overall), Kemba Walker (9th overall), Corey Maggette (MIL)
Who's Going: Stephen Jackson (MIL), Shaun Livingston (MIL), Kwame Brown (FA), Joel Przybilla (FA), Dominic McGuire (FA)
Rich Cho's first draft as general manager of the Bobcats was certainly eventful. First, he moved ahead of the Detroit Pistons to snag "young Ben Wallace" clone Bismack Biyombo at seven. Then he surprised many by taking Final Four hero Kemba Walker two slots later. He also added scorer Corey Maggette – never a great fit with Scott Skiles in Milwaukee – to replace Stephen Jackson.
How will the new pieces fit? It may be some time before we find out. Biyombo's status for this season is uncertain – he and his agent have said he can join the Bobcats when the NBA lockout ends, but his Spanish team has a very different interpretation of his contract. And Walker, in terms of size and skill set, has a lot in common with incumbent point guard D.J. Augustin.
Even if Biyombo can play, the Bobcats could be very small in the frontcourt, as both Kwame Brown and Joel Przybilla are free agents, and Boris Diaw doesn't really play to his size (except when that size is "round" – Cho has to be concerned about what shape Diaw will be in when play resumes).
Who's Coming: Norris Cole (28th overall)
Who's Going: Mike Bibby (FA), Erick Dampier (FA), Juwan Howard (FA), Jamaal Magloire (FA)
Miami made enough changes last summer to cover the next several years, as Pat Riley's top six players – LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony – are all locked up through 2014-15 at minimum. Any changes Riley makes heading into this summer will be on the periphery.
Mike Bibby didn't really work out. (That's actually being charitable.) But Mario Chalmers played pretty well, particularly in the playoffs, and will go into the regular season at the top of the point guard depth chart, assuming the "restricted free agent" designation is retained. He may be pushed at some point by Miami's first-round draft pick, Cleveland State's Norris Cole.
Riley will likely fill out this year's roster the way he did last year's, replacing greybeard free agents like Juwan Howard, Erick Dampier and Jamaal Magloire with other vets willing to play for the minimum in the hopes of a title.
Who's Coming: Justin Harper (32nd overall)
Who's Going: Jason Richardson (FA), Earl Clark (FA), Malik Allen (FA)
This season is Orlando's last chance to convince Dwight Howard to stay. And given the current composition of the team, it's going to have a tough time doing it. The Magic have just under $75 million in salaries on the books for next season – over $19 million to Gilbert Arenas alone.
Making matters worse, just about every contract on Orlando's books runs through next season – at minimum.
Jason Richardson's departure leaves the off guard spot open to Arenas' seventeenth comeback attempt or for J.J. Redick to step up and take a more prominent role.
Barring some incredibly creative trades – or a very generous amnesty provision in the next CBA – Orlando's biggest addition might be forward Justin Harper, acquired with the 32nd overall pick. Harper actually seems like an ideal fit for Stan Van Gundy's "spread the floor and let Dwight work" offense; he's an excellent three-point shooter with good size.
Who's Coming: Jan Vesely (6th overall), Chris Singleton (18th overall), Shelvin Mack (34th overall)
Who's Going: Maurice Evans (FA), Josh Howard (FA)
The Wizards added some nice pieces on draft day in forwards Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton and guard Shelvin Mack.
Vesely was the first of about 30 guys the ESPN draft-night crew described as a future slam-dunk champ. Per reports, he runs the floor very well and is an aggressive finisher who should complement John Wall and Washington's athletic big men very nicely. And Ernie Grunfeld had to be pleased when Chris Singleton slipped to 18; most observers considered Singleton the best defender in this year's draft, with the ability to cover both guard and both forward positions at the next level. Shelvin Mack helped take Butler to consecutive Final Fours and should emerge as a quality backup to John Wall.
The Wizards will have a number of decisions to make on their own free agents, Nick Young will be their biggest RFA priority.
Washington might be the team best-positioned to take advantage if there is a salary cap amnesty provision in the next CBA. The team has a little over $40 million committed to players for the 2011-12 season, but more than half of that belongs to Rashard Lewis. Eliminate that deal, and the Wizards have a very promising core – Wall, Young, Jordan Crawford, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Kevin Seraphin – all signed long-term for a relative pittance.
Who's Coming: Andre Miller (POR), Kenneth Faried (22nd), Jordan Hamilton (26th, from DAL), Chukwudiebere Maduabum (56th, from LAL)
Who's Going: Kenyon Martin (FA), Melvin Ely (FA), J.R. Smith (FA), Nene (FA), Raymond Felton (POR)
The Nuggets lost a lot of production to the free-agent market, but the good news is they'll have plenty of salary cap space to work with once the lockout is over. They're going to be thin in the front court, where Nene and Kenyon Martin have been mainstays. Losing Nene, who opted out of his contract, leaves a gaping hole in the middle. He figures to command good money in a free-agent market light on high-end talent, though he is open to returning to Denver, where he's been a very productive low-post man. Expect the Nuggets to make some kind of move to fill that spot, because Kosta Koufos won't cut it. They'll also need to find someone to replace J.R. Smith's scoring.
That salary cap space will help fill the power forward spot, with David West being the top target in the market. Depending on what Denver does at the four, Al Harrington could be in line for more minutes until it's time to see what first-round pick Kenneth Faried's got. At 6-8, 225, he may not match up well at power forward in the NBA, but he rebounded everything he saw in college at Morehead State. Jordan Hamilton, traded from Dallas to Portland to Denver on draft night, needs to find available minutes after Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler get theirs.
The newcomer with the biggest name is former Nugget Andre Miller; he'll back up Ty Lawson at point guard. The veteran Miller, who was unhappy when traded from Denver to Philadelphia back in 2006, promises to make no waves.
Who's Coming: Ricky Rubio (Spain), Brad Miller (HOU), Derrick Williams (2nd), Malcolm Lee (43rd, from CHI), Tanguy Ngombo (57th, from POR)
Who's Going: Sebastian Telfair (FA), Jonny Flynn (HOU)
As much as we want to talk about Ricky Rubio, the most important offseason move hasn't happened yet. The Timberwolves need a coach after finally firing Kurt Rambis. They've interviewed every big name available. Owner Glen Taylor and president David Kahn have talked to safe candidates (Terry Porter, Mike Woodson), quick-fix candidates (Don Nelson, Larry Brown), a respected candidate (Bernie Bickerstaff), a candidate with ties to the organization (Sam Mitchell), and a candidate who said he doesn't want to get back into coaching (Rick Adelman), but who's been persuaded to fly to the Twin Cities for a meeting.
Regardless of which coach makes the cut, he'll be walking into a situation with several young and talented players. Perhaps they have too many similar players, and some player movement is on tap. Second-overall draft pick Derrick Williams can play both forward spots, which are already tied up with Kevin Love and Michael Beasley. Something's gotta give. Dealing Jonny Flynn to Houston opens up the point guard position for Rubio, though he could use some kind of mentor this season – and probably a few more pounds to deal with the NBA version of the game.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Who's Coming: Reggie Jackson (24th)
Who's Going: no one
Not much happened to the Thunder in the offseason. Oklahoma City returns its core of youth and depth, with that roster stability certain to be an advantage in whatever shape the upcoming season takes – especially if the lockout forces a shortened slate of games with more back-to-backs.
The one big offseason move was the drafting of Boston College point guard Reggie Jackson – a move at the time met with some head-scratching considering the presence of Russell Westbrook and Eric Maynor already on the roster. But closer inspection shows Jackson improved as a shooter and scorer at BC between his sophomore and junior seasons. Don't expect him to be toiling for the Tulsa 66ers of the D-league. Jackson may very well step into the rotation as the lead scorer off the bench. If he can fill that role, that would allow coach Scott Brooks to move James Harden into the starting lineup ahead of Thabo Sefolosha.
In a minor offseason move, the Thunder re-signed Nazr Mohammed. It doesn't mean that 2010 first-round pick Cole Aldrich has fallen out of favor, but it certainly means Aldrich won't have a big role when the season opens. Mohammed and Nick Collison will back up starter Kendrick Perkins, who will be playing his first full season with the Thunder.
Portland Trail Blazers
Who's Coming: Raymond Felton (DEN), Nolan Smith (23rd), Jon Diebler (51st)
Who's Going: Andre Miller (DEN), Rudy Fernandez (DAL)
It's not an offseason until Portland makes multiple draft-night trades. The biggest trade netted the them Raymond Felton from the Nuggets for Andre Miller. There will be very little to distinguish Felton from Miller, but they do get younger at the position. Felton, who had a career-high 8.3 assists per game last season, has one year left on his deal, but we suspect he'll be re-upped to help groom first-round pick Nolan Smith. Smith was drafted to be Portland's point guard in a couple of years, but the Blazers feel he can play both guard spots and contribute in some fashion right now. He'll learn a lot behind Brandon Roy at shooting guard.
Another big trade on draft involved shipping Rudy Fernandez to Dallas. For all the moaning coming from Fernandez last year, he was a pretty significant part of the team's rotation. For that reason as well as the health of Roy's knees, Wes Matthews will get a bigger slice of the minutes pie – providing his ankle is healthy.
And speaking of health, Portland's going to be a dangerous team if it can get a healthy Greg Oden and Marcus Camby. The front court rotation hinges greatly on it. With both of them playing, LaMarcus Aldridge is full time power forward and Gerald Wallace plays the less stressful small forward.
Who's Coming: Enes Kanter (3rd), Alec Burks (12th)
Who's Going: Francisco Elson (FA), Kyrylo Fesenko (FA), Andrei Kirilenko (FA), Ronnie Price (FA), Earl Watson (FA)
The Jazz won 22 fewer games last season and withered under the rocky relationship between star point guard Deron Williams and long-time coach Jerry Sloan. After trading Williams and the surprising retirement of Sloan, the Jazz are facing an offseason of rebuilding, which began with two picks in the draft lottery.
Utah selected Enes Kanter with the third-overall pick, and he'll join a crowded front court with fellow Turk Mehmet Okur, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Derrick Favors. Okur, in the final year of his contract and a health risk, will lose minutes to Kanter, who is viewed as an elite rebounder and inside scorer. That still leaves four bodies looking to split 96 minutes.
Utah's other lottery pick, Alec Burks, may carve out a role as a bench scorer in his first season, but there are a lot of candidates for those wing minutes, including Raja Bell, Gordon Hayward and C.J. Miles. Hayward, who finished the 2010-11 season with a strong April, and Miles should pick up the minutes that once belonged to Andrei Kirilenko. This coming season is probably Miles' last chance with the Jazz. He's been an inconsistent rotation member the last few seasons, and was challenged by head coach Ty Corbin to dedicate himself to both ends of the floor.
Golden State Warriors
Who's Coming: Klay Thompson (11th), Jeremy Tyler (39th, from CHA), Charles Jenkins (44th)
Who's Going: Vladimir Radmanovic (FA), Al Thornton (FA), Acie Law (FA), Jeff Adrien (FA)
The Warriors weren't an easy out most nights, and were thinking, perhaps improbably, playoffs when the All-Star game rolled around, before a 4-13 record out of the break put a rest to that notion. First-year coach Keith Smart did a relatively good job, but he was just a caretaker for the new owners that bought the club just weeks before training camp began. Looking to make a big coaching hire, the owners lured Mark Jackson out of the broadcast booth to his first gig as a sideline boss.
Jackson has much work to do. A weak bench, intermittent commitment to defense, size in the backcourt, and some of the worst production in the league from the center position, were contributing reasons as to why the Warriors were never seriously a playoff-caliber team. They didn't do much in the draft to address the defense. Klay Thompson does give them size in the backcourt, and he could emerge as a potent scorer off the bench, but there's still work to do defensively. He'll back up at both shooting guard and small forward.
The incredible slide of center Andris Beidrins from double-double man in 2008-09 to last season's disappearing act has been the subject of much ink and computer bytes in the Bay Area. The Warriors are hoping to see Epke Udoh evolve into an option at center, but he was miscast in that role last season. Unfortunately, the power forward spot is occupied by David Lee. The Warriors want Udoh to beef up in the offseason and become a shot-blocking presence in the paint, so that he can make up for the deficiencies of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry as perimeter defenders.
Los Angeles Clippers
Who's Coming: Trey Thompkins (37th), Travis Leslie (47th)
Who's Going: Jamario Moon (FA), Craig Smith (FA)
The Western Conference is where some of the league's rising young squads are developing. Oklahoma City in 2009, Memphis 2010… why not the Clippers in 2011. Young and loaded, the Clippers were a reliable small forward from being a playoff team out West last season.
They still need a good three, but there may be ways of getting one in a trade. Chris Kaman comes off the books next season and would make a nice trade chip. DeAndre Johnson filled in for an injured Kaman last year and showed himself to be a player who doesn't need the ball to be productive. He's a better fit with Blake Griffin than Kaman is, too.
Until they get that elusive small forward, the Clippers will see if they can smooth out the valleys in Al-Farouq Aminu's game. Poor shooting and too many turnovers are what we remember most about his rookie season. Ryan Gomes remains the veteran on hand to share the position. Eric Bledsoe is another young and raw talent, looking to hone his game. He should see combo guard minutes behind Mo Williams and Eric Gordon, but his future will have to be as a point guard. Eric Gordon was becoming a show-stopper at shooting guard, before injuring himself late in the season.
Los Angeles Lakers
Who's Coming: Darius Morris (41st), Andrew Goudelock (46th), Ater Majok (58th)
Who's Going: Shannon Brown (FA), Theo Ratliff (FA), Joe Smith (FA)
The biggest change comes on the sidelines where Mike Brown replaces Phil Jackson as head coach. Brown has experience coaching a superstar and works well with veterans – and teams don't get more veteran than the Lakers, who have five rotation players with 64 years of experience. Can Brown get these old dogs to play the type of defense the team was noted for in the championship years of 2009 and 2010? Motivating an extremely veteran core is the task at hand for Brown.
The Lakers return one of the league's top front courts. At least it's a top one when Andrew Bynum is healthy and Pau Gasol is engaged. Gasol is coming off a lackluster postseason and has a bit to prove in 2011-12. Bynum finished last season strong and appears to be inching his way toward being a motivated player most nights. Keeping him motivated was a challenge for Jackson and will be for Brown. Keeping him healthy is a key for this bunch to earn another title before the core gets too old.
None of the new additions are expected to crack the rotation, though they do have to find someone to replace Shannon Brown, who gave the Lakers an athletic body off the bench that could make some plays. Without Brown, we'll get to see more Matt Barnes and Devin Ebanks.
Who's Coming: Markieff Morris (13th)
Who's Going: Grant Hill (FA)
There is talk coming out of the Valley that the Suns will commit to better defense in 2011. That shows in the hiring of assistant coach Elston Turner to be the defensive coordinator for a team that ranked 26th in defensive field-goal percentage. It also shows in the drafting of Markieff Morris with the 13th overall pick. Morris gives the Suns a real power forward instead of Channing Frye and Hakim Warrick, who play power forwards on TV. Morris is considered a good rebounder and plays near the rim, but also showed improved perimeter touch in his junior year at Kansas. There are worse ways for rookies to break into the NBA than playing alongside Steve Nash.
Marcin Gortat, who came over in the Hedo Turkoglu/Jason Richardson deal, is also a defensive-minded big, whose offensive game took off playing with Nash. We look with great anticipation at his first full season with the Suns, after posting 15.3 ppg and 10.6 rpg following the All-Star break.
With Grant Hill moving on, there's still a crowd at small forward. Mickael Pietrus, who was nearly traded in the offseason, returns from knee surgery to join glue-guy Jared Dudley, Josh Childress and Vince Carter on the wing.
Who's Coming: Jimmer Fredette (10th from MIL), Tyler Honeycutt (35th), Isaiah Thomas (60th), John Salmons (MIL), J.J. Hickson (CLE)
Who's Going: Samuel Dalembert (FA), Jermaine Taylor (FA), Pooh Jeter (FA), Marquis Daniels (FA), Darnell Jackson (FA), Beno Udrih (MIL), Omri Casspi (CLE)
Jimmer-mania is coming to Sacto. The Kings pulled off a draft-night trade to acquire Jimmer Fredette, the most-talked about college player last season. They had to take on John Salmons' contract to do it, but the deal helps the Kings fill a few needs while re-deploying assets already on hand. Head coach Paul Westphal envisions Fredette as the team's point guard – a scoring one for sure – while Tyreke Evans focuses on being a scorer off the ball. In all likelihood, they'll both bring the ball up court. Evans, who has been working hard on his shot this summer, says poor health played a role in his sub-par sophomore season, noting his foot injury impacted his ability to finish. This leaves Marcus Thornton as the third guard and scorer off the bench.
Salmons, who along with Fredette fills the need for outside scoring, should see ample minutes at small forward. That position was occupied for much of the season by the perennially injured Francisco Garcia and Omri Casspi. Casspi made headlines, but never was able to sustain over long stretches and didn't defend well. Getting a very serviceable big man, like J.J. Hickson, for him was a good move for Sacramento. He can step immediately into the starting power forward job or rotate in as the first big off the bench. DeMarcus Cousins will make the center position his on a full time basis with Samuel Dalembert heading for free agency. The Kings are being patient with Cousins, but having Hickson, who can make a living in the NBA as a center, is insurance.
Who's Coming: Rudy Fernandez (POR)
Who's Going: J.J. Barea (FA), Caron Butler (FA), Brian Cardinal (FA), Tyson Chandler (FA), DeShawn Stevenson (FA), Peja Stojakovic (FA)
The Mavericks find themselves in a holding pattern. Five members of the 2010-11 championship team are headed to free agency. It's likely J.J. Barea is brought back after the lockout. He'll back up Jason Kidd at point guard, but can also play with Kidd.
Whether Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson are retained is less certain. In adding Rudy Fernandez to the mix, Dallas has a taller shooting guard who can hit the long ball and create opportunities in the paint. He complements Jason Terry and is a healthy alternative to Roddy Beaubois, who is facing another two months of rehab after a second surgery on his left foot. Although the situation between Fernandez and the Trail Blazers deteriorated, he was a relatively productive player. The Mavericks are getting a good player that should have cost them more.
If Tyson Chandler is lost to free agency, it means Brendan Haywood is the starting center. That might be enough to scare Mark Cuban to throw cash at Chandler. Both sides want to get a deal done, though a rushed offer before the lockout was barely considered by Chandler. We suspect something will happen when the two sides can talk again. Chandler does have an important champion for his cause in Dirk Nowitzki, who lobbied for him to be re-signed, saying Chandler's ability to defend was key to the team's success.
Who's Coming: Marcus Morris (14th), Donatas Motiejunas (20th, from MIN), Chandler Parsons (38th), Jonny Flynn (MIN)
Who's Going: Chuck Hayes (FA), Yao Ming (retired), Brad Miller (MIN)
Under general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets have shown a knack for finding great value from lightly regarded players, but their inability to receive any value from one very highly regarded player has resulted in a two-year playoff drought. Yao Ming's retirement from basketball after playing just five games in the last two seasons hangs over the franchise heading into the 2011-12 season.
The team decided to move away from head coach Rick Adelman, letting go of the NBA's eighth-winningest coach in favor of Kevin McHale, who has yet to coach a full season in the NBA and has never won a playoff game. Adelman wasn't as attuned to the advanced analytics favored by the front office, and there was a growing sense that he wasn't developing its young talent. In comes McHale and a brand new coaching staff – one that presumably embraces the newer metrics.
Yao's retirement, along with the loss of Brad Miller in a trade and Chuck Hayes to free agency, leaves Houston paper thin at center. It's going to take everything McHale has to whip something out of first-round pick Donatas Motiejunas, who has some offensive game, but there are questions about his competitiveness. And Morey labeled him an average rebounder at this point. The kid needs work. That might mean more Luis Scola at center and an expanded role for second-year man Patrick Patterson at power forward. The team's other first-round pick, Marcus Morris, looks like will be in the running for big minutes at the three. He's a tweener that may evolve into a matchup problem for most small forwards.
The one spot with good depth is point guard where Kyle Lowry, Jonny Flynn and Goran Dragic have commitments for the upcoming season. Although this looks like Lowry's job to lose after he improved in shooting and decision-making last season while starting 71 games for the Rockets.
Who's Coming: Josh Selby (49th)
Who's Going: Shane Battier (FA), Leon Powe (FA)
The Grizzlies resisted the urge to change, nearly getting caught up in the trading frenzy of draft night. Callers came knocking for O.J. Mayo and Darrell Arthur, but Memphis stood pat and will head into the 2011-12 season with much the same cast that took Oklahoma City to seven games in the Western Conference semi-finals.
Despite some initial brouhaha involving moving O.J. Mayo to a bench role and nearly trading him in February, the Grizzlies developed chemistry over the final few months of the season and are poised, like Oklahoma City, to go deeper this season. Last year's rotation is intact, though Mayo could be finding himself a new home before the end of the season – especially if Xavier Henry becomes the outside shooting threat head coach Lionel Hollins thinks he can, and one that the team needs (27th in 3 pt. percentage, last in makes and takes). A knee injury limited Henry's ability to contribute in the final months of the regular season and the playoffs. If healthy, he'll be part of the backcourt rotation.
Memphis lost two members of its coaching staff (Johnny Davis and Damon Stoudemire), but defensive specialist Dave Joerger was re-signed for two seasons to be the lead assistant to Hollins. They made great strides defensively with the addition of Tony Allen and team-oriented schemes, leading the NBA in steals and forced turnovers.
New Orleans Hornets
Who's Coming: no one
Who's Going: Marcus Banks (FA), Willie Green (FA), Jason Smith (FA), DJ Mbenga (FA), Carl Landry (FA), Aaron Gray (FA), David West (FA)
The Hornets will be doing more than any team once the lockout ends. They currently have just six players under their control (signed to contract or restricted free agent). So, making an intelligent analysis of their offseason moves is like reviewing a film before the cast is in place.
The biggest shock to the Hornets' rotation is the loss of power forward David West, who opted out of his contract to become a free agent. Long term, West's departure could mean Chris Paul follows suit and opts out after this season, though Paul is saying all the right things about staying New Orleans. But that's for another discussion. This season, the Hornets have Paul, and he makes players around him better.
Who do the Hornets have lined up entering this uncertain season? Five of the six players under team control – Paul, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Marco Bellinelli, and Jarrett Jack – have spots in the rotation. Quincy Pondexter, a first-round pick (26th overall) in 2010, is also on the roster. Finding a replacement at power forward is the first order of business, followed by filling out the bench and presumably a spot or two in the rotation.
San Antonio Spurs
Who's Coming: Kawhi Leonard (15th, from IND), Cory Joseph (29th), Davis Bertans (42nd, from IND), Adam Hanga (59th)
Who's Going: Steve Novak (FA), George Hill (IND), Danny Green (FA)
The Spurs want to regain their defensive edge, after a season in which opponents shot 45.6 percent against them, their worst mark since 1996-97. Every offseason move made to date supports such a conclusion. Although they traded a good defender in George Hill – and someone they hated to part with – they love Kawhi Leonard. He's a small forward from San Diego that can score, rebound and defend. The trade marked the first time in the Gregg Popovich era that they moved up in the draft.
That says a lot about what they think of Leonard – as well as last year's starter at small forward, Richard Jefferson. When the Spurs fielded calls for Tony Parker this offseason, callers were told they'd discuss trading the point guard if the teams were willing to take on Jefferson's contract. Translation: Leonard will replace Jefferson, and all that remains is whether the Spurs can find a taker for Jefferson.
Their other first-round pick is Cory Joseph, a defensive-minded guard. He'll be given a chance to replace Hill as Parker's backup. He has similar qualities to Hill, particularly defensively. If it's deemed that Joseph is too green and needs time in the D-League, Gary Neal is working on his point-guard skills this offseason. And the domino effect of Neal playing point guard is that James Anderson may get a greater role as the backup shooting guard. He was having a nice start to his rookie season before a broken foot put the brakes on his momentum. He's a volume scorer that thrives in a structured offense.