What a busy offseason it has been in the NBA. Big name after big name switching area codes, trading places, and dawning new jerseys. Here's a look at the top ten teams who have made the most noise in the off-season thus far.
1. San Antonio Spurs
Additions: Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess, DeJuan Blair, Theo Ratliff
Subtractions: Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto, Kurt Thomas, Drew Gooden
It kills me to say this because if any of you have ever listened to Off the Glass or read any of my blogs, you would know how much I dislike the Spurs, but what they did this off-season ranks by far at the top of the list. Let's start with the draft. Selecting a lottery talent like DeJuan Blair out of Pittsburgh with the 37th overall pick is just criminal. How teams selecting in the 20s did not fathom that even a guy with two below average knees is not better than the people who were actually picked (Darren Collison, B.J. Mullens, Taj Gibson) is asinine. Not to mention, they got Jack McClinton who can flat out shoot the ball.
Now onto the Jefferson move. Trading away Bowen, Oberto, and Thomas is exactly what the Spurs needed. Not only did they get younger but they got an athletic swingman who can score the ball, all while being okay with not being the number one option. McDyess, along with Blair fills the void that was left in the front-line depth when the Spurs traded away Oberto and Thomas. Although 34, McDyess managed to average close to a double double last season with Detroit. McDyess will be making $15 million over the next three years.
2. Orlando Magic
Additions: Vince Carter, Brandon Bass, Ryan Anderson, Matt Barnes
Subtractions: Hedo Turkoglu, Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston, Tony Battie
After trading for Vince Carter the Orlando Magic took themselves out of the running in order to re-sign Hedo Turkoglu and for good reason. They simply felt that they did not need to spend $50 million on a player who is not as complete as VC. Carter enjoyed a nice season with the Nets last year averaging 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. Playing with a dominant big man should open up his game and alleviate any sort of pressure. The surrounding talent including Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis should hault any sort of continuing streak that VC has in his inability to improve teams. Ryan Anderson is another versatile forward the Magic acquired who had a nice rookie year averaging 7 points and 5 boards. Look for Brandon Bass to start at the 4, while Lewis sits for the first ten games due to his suspension.
The kicker to the Orlando off-season is the re-signing of Marcin Gortat. The Mavericks believed they had Gorat in their back pocket after signing him to a 5 year $34 million offer sheet. However, the Magic sured up their depth at center with the move.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
Additions: Shaquille O'Neal, Anderson Varejao (resigned), Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon
Subtractions: Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic
This off-season is a huge gamble for the Cavaliers as they are really rolling the dice. If the Shaq of last season makes the trip to Ohio, than the Cavs could be making the move over the top. If not, than this could easily be Lebron's last year in his home state. Last year O'Neal averaged 18 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, all while missing just seven games. Those were the most points he had averaged in a season since 2005 and the most games he has played in a season since...2000 (yikes). If O'Neal is healthy, he won't be helping out Lebron James the most, but rather Mo Williams. Let's face it, Lebron does not need pressure to be relieved off of him. Rather he needs his teammates to be in roles that suit them best. Mo Williams was not made to be a second option and that was embarrassingly shown off in the Conference Finals. O'Neal can be that second option that forces double teams and opens up shots for the rest of the Cavs.
Anderson Varajeo resigned for 6 years $50 million to give the Cavs some depth that they missed out by not selecting DeJuan Blair but rather Christian Eyenga (I do not understand NBA GM's...) Anthony Parker could be one of the most underrated moves of the off-season. A career 42% 3 point shooter, Parker takes a lot of flack from me for being the second best baller in his family. However, with Shaq and Lebron commanding double teams, Parker will have his chance to shine.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
Additions: Ron Artest, Lamar Odom (resigned)
Subtractions: Trevor Ariza
First order of business, the Ariza for Artest swap. From what I have read and watched this move has gotten a lot of mixed feelings and deservingly so. Ariza is a 24 year old athletic swingman, who does not mind being the fourth option, who came into his own all last season, made big three after big three in the playoffs, and can defend the perimeter exceptionally. Artest is 30 years old who is as tough as nails and is one of the best perimeter defenders in the game but when he gets the ball, his hands become velcro and he dominates the shot clock and is also an ex-nut case who prefers to walk around in his underwear. Why in the triangle offense, would you bring a guy like Artest in? Artest brings something the Lakers have been missing for a while. That is grit and toughness. When Ariza and his agent spurned the Lakers thinking that they would get more than the mid-level exception the Los Angeles had to make a move. Orlando, Cleveland, and San Antonio all had made their moves.
If there is one player and one coach that are perfect for Ron Ron to play with it is Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson. Kobe understands now what it takes to be a champion and will brainwash Artest with that mentality. Jackson has handled egos before and this is just another one added onto the plate. If Artest can keep his shenanigans to a minimum, the Lakers will be the favorites to win it all once again. The one problem I have with the signing is that it was for 5 years $33 million. Not so much the money, but the years. When you have a 30 year old ticking time bomb, I would much rather make it a short term investment than have him when he's 35.
Resigning Lamar Odom was a huge step in the right direction for the Lakers. Odom took less money (4 year, $33 million) from his hometown team than what the Miami Heat were offering. Odom will continue to come off the bench but now alongside with Kobe wants to make this Lakers team into a dynasty. Had the Lakers not resigned Odom it would be hard to even put them into the top ten.
5. Boston Celtics
Additions: Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels, Shelden Williams, Glen Davis (resigned)
None of these guys are cracking the starting lineup on opening night but the Boston Celtics offseason was good enough to earn them a spot in the top 5. Despite his age at 34, Wallace has enough skill and veteran leadership to help the Celtics in a big way. Wallace averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds last season. Consider him to be my early favorite to win the 6th Man of the Year Award. Marquis Daniels will also play a significant role in the Boston rotation. Averaging 14 points for the Pacers last year, Daniels is at the peak of his game and should fit nicely seeing that he could play three positions if need be.
Resigning Glen Davis was a significant move for the Celts. At just 2 years for $6 million, Davis' game matured exponentially over the final two months of the season that the terms of the deal could be one of the bigger bargains of the offseason. Big Baby averaged 16 points and 6 rebounds filling in for Kevin Garnett last year in the playoffs. This is the deepest the Celtics have been throughout the Big Three Era which is a scary thought for the rest of the league.
6. Detroit Pistons
Additions: Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers, Chris Wilcox, Ben Wallace
Subtractions: Allen Iverson, Rasheed Wallace, Amir Johnson, Antonio McDyess, Aaron Afflalo
Joe Dumars was one of the more busier GMs during this year's NBA offseason, especially in the beginning. Dumars managed to nab the best free agent scorer out on the market in Ben Gordon and the best free agent power forward in Charlie Villanueva in a matter of hours. Both were signed to five year deals with Gordon making $50+ million and CV making #35 million. The combo of Gordon and CV is much better and will be much more productive than AI and Rasheed Wallace.
Ben Wallace should be somewhat rejuvenated to return to the place he called home and provide rebounding, leadership, and depth to the center position. The Pistons took a few steps back with losing out on the McDyess sweepstakes only to get Chris Wilcox in return. Austin Daye as NBA talent but will take a few years because he is so thin and frail. DaJuan Summers could provide some production right away for the Pistons.
7. Los Angeles Clippers
Additions: Blake Griffin, Sebastian Telfair, Mark Madsen, Craig Smith
Subtractions: Zach Randolph
The Clippers got the ball rolling when they won the lottery and selected Blake Griffin with the number one overall pick in June's NBA Draft. Griffin appears to be the real deal as he was a beast in the Las Vegas Summer League. However, the main reason they appear on this least is through the principle of addition by subtraction. The Clippers shipped away the headache and glut that is Zach Randolph for an expiring contract in Quentin Richardson. Then they managed to continue the Q-Rich carousel and trade him for Telfair, Madsen, and Smith. Telfair played decently in Minnesota last season averaging 10 points and dishing out 5 assists. Craig Smith can also provide some scoring off the bench.
Now with a nucleus of Griffin, Eric Gordon, Baron Davis, Al Thornton, Marcus Camby, and Chris Kaman, the fortune for the Clippers could slowly be turning. They will take a few years but a few more lottery picks that turn out successfully could send the Clips to the playoffs sooner than you think.
8. Toronto Raptors
Additions: Hedo Turkoglu, Demar DeRozan, Marco Belinelli, Reggie Evans, Antoine Wright, Jarret Jack, Rasho Nesterovic
Subtractions: Shawn Marion, Anthony Parker, Jason Kapono
The Raptors jumped into the free agency pool by signing Hedo Turkoglu to a five year $53 million deal. Although they definitely overpaid for the swingman, the Raptors desperately needed to make a significant move in hopes of resigning Chris Bosh at the end of this year. Turkoglu should be the perfect fit in Toronto when you combine his size, skill, and shooting ability.
Demar DeRozan has as much athletic ability as any person in the draft but does have that bust feature about him. Jarret Jack should be able to come in and be a very competent backup behind Jose Calderon. Jack averaged 13 points and 4 assists last year for Indiana while sharing the point guard role with T.J. Ford.
Belinelli and Antoine Wright will be solid additions and could receive meaningful minutes if DeRozan is not ready right away.
9. Dallas Mavericks
Additions: Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd (resigned), Drew Gooden, Quinton Ross, Tim Thomas
Subtractions: Brandon Bass, Jerry Stackhouse, Antoine Wright, Devean George, Ryan Hollins
I really like the Marion sign and trade to Dallas. Marion averaged 13 points and 8.5 rebounds with Toronto a bit of an underachieving year by Marion's standards. Those numbers don't typically result in a 5 year $39 million contract but when you examine what Marion brings to the Dallas lineup, it makes sense. They will be unconventional now, starting Josh Howard, Marion, and Dirk all at once. Marion's rebounding ability makes up for any loss in height. Also, with J-Kidd continuing to run the point position, the Mavs are an up and down team, a system that Marion absolutely flourished in when he was with Phoenix.
The only negative to the Dallas off-season is that they missed out on front court depth that was a necessity. Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat (ironically both ending up in Orlando) were stolen from the Mavs and all Dallas got back was an unimpressive patch of hair on the back of Drew Gooden's head.
10. New Orleans Hornets
Additons: Emeka Okafor, Darren Collison, Ike Diogu
Subtractios: Tyson Chandler
I absolutely loved and absolutely hated the Hornets off-season. First the good, the Emeka Okafor for Tyson Chandler deal was won by Nawlins. Okafor, not as good as a weak side defender as Chandler is a better shot blocker and significantly better offensively. For his career, Okafor has averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds a game. Mostly while having Raymond Felton as his point guard. Chandler's career numbers are 8 points and 9 rebounds a game. Okafor has not missed a game in the past two seasons while Chandler played in just 45 games last year.
Now for the bad...I do not understand why the Hornets decided to take Darren Collison with the 21st pick of the draft. I like Collison as a point guard and he could be a serviceably body in the NBA. But to use your first round pick on a guy who will be a career backup behind your franchise player and arguably a top 5 player in the league in Chris Paul is ridiculous. Collison will never see a good chunk of minutes that will justify the pick. With DeJuan Blair still on the board and the Hornets in need for bodies down low, the pick just made no sense whatsoever.
So there you have it, the top ten teams who made the biggest splash thus far in the NBA offseason. Make sure you listen to Off the Glass tomorrow night on wcwpsports.com at 8 pm EST where I make my return to the airwaves. Nick Malone and I will be going into the NBA offseason more in-depth.
Like I said, it is good to be back...