Yesterday, the Western Conference was summarized through the small changes many of their teams committed to make the difference in their team’s fortunes. Moving along to the East, that couldn’t be further from the case here. If you went to sleep on the NBA after the Finals and woke up in October, you may not recognize many of the teams in the East. The LeBron James saga had every major market team in the Conference gutting their roster in the hopes to add him and another All-Star free agent to change the destiny of their franchise.

After that saga (dramatically) ended and teams reacted and regrouped to “The Decision”, many other teams also changed their membership dramatically as well. Also, some team were left dangerously depleted from the free agent movement free-for-all. This was a case of a group of a few making big leaps, but many others being left without much room to match the major move makers.

Clearly the Heat had a good summer break, but did other teams still do enough to keep up in the East?

Miami Heat-Grade: A+

Retained: Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, James Jones, Jamaal Magloire, Carlos Arroyo

Additions: LeBron James (fa), Chris Bosh (fa),  Zydrunas Ilgauskas (fa), Mike Miller (fa) Juwan Howard (fa)

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

Perhaps no team in the history of the NBA as more radically altered the face of their franchise than the Heat did by luring LeBron James and Chris Bosh into their fold to join Dwyane Wade. While this starting tandem instantly became the best in basketball, the talent and depth they almost instantly attracted is what separates this team’s offseason from all others. Adding Mike Miller and Zydrunas Illgauskas, and bringing back Udonis Haslem among others assured that this team has the impact and depth to play long in to the spring of 2011.

Chicago Bulls-Grade A+

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Carlos Boozer (t), Kyle Korver (fa), Ronnie Brewer (fa), Kurt Thomas (fa), CJ Watson (t), Omer Asik (d-2008)

Lost: Kirk Hinrich (WAS), Hakim Warrick (PHO), Brad Miller (HOU)

The Bulls were players in the James/Bosh/Wade market, but when that didn’t play out as planned, they regrouped and became quickly active in still capitalizing on the depth of the free agent field. The additions of Kyle Korver, Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer have them being called “Jazz-East”, but that isn’t a bad thing, as the 2010 Jazz would have finished 4th in the East, without the Derrick Rose/Joakim Noah, back-to-back playoff core they are joining.

Milwaukee Bucks-Grade: A

Retained: John Salmons

Additions: Corey Maggette (t), Drew Gooden (fa), Chris Douglas-Roberts (t), Keyon Dooling (fa), Jon Brockman (t), Larry Sanders (d), Darington Hobson (d), Keith Gallion (d)

Lost: Luke Ridnour (MIN), Royal Ivey (OKC), Kurt Thomas (CHI), Charlie Bell (GS), Dan Gadzuric (GS), Darnell Jackson (SAC)

Quietly, the Bucks managed to resign one of the best guards available (John Salmons), make several big value trades (Drew Gooden, Chris Douglas-Roberts & Drew Gooden) and land their #1 target in the draft (Larry Sanders). Never a player for any of the big names on the market, there isn’t much more that can asked from the Bucks from their summer and they will be a tough match up for any team in the East all year.

The Bucks flew under the radar and made all the right moves, including locking up Salmons.

Boston Celtics-Grade: B+

Retained: Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Marquis Daniels, Nate Robinson

Additions: Jermaine O’Neal (fa), Avery Bradley (d), Luke Harangody (d)

Lost: Tony Allen (MEM), Shelden Williams (DEN)

Surprises quickly followed the Celts Finals run, with Paul Pierce opting out of his contract and Rasheed Wallace apparently retiring. However, they score high by how they reacted. Resigning Pierce was a must and landing Jermaine O’Neal to replace Wallace is a push. Despite losing Tony Allen, they resigned Ray and draft pick Avery Bradley could be a steal at #18 overall.

New York Knicks-Grade: B

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Amar’e Stoudemire (fa), Raymond Felton (fa), Kelenna Azubuike (t), Anthony Randolph (t), Ronny Turiaf (t), Timofrey Mozgov (fa), Andy Rautins (d), Landry Fields (d), Jerome Jordan (d)

Lost: David Lee (GS), Chris Duhon (ORL), Al Harrington (DEN), Sergio Rodriguez

The Knicks cleared almost their entire roster in an effort to land any of the top free agents available. While he’s no LeBron, they did end up with Amar’e Stoudemire. Adding Raymond Felton to run with him and getting much depth from a sign-and-trade deal for David Lee could signal a slight changing of the fortune coming to Madison Square Garden, but they still need help at center badly.

Orlando Magic

Retained: JJ Redick

Additions: Chris Duhon (fa), Quentin Richardson (fa), Daniel Orton (d), Stanley Robinson (d)

Lost: Matt Barnes (LAL)

They may have overpaid to retain JJ Redick, but it was necessary in case they lost Matt Barnes, as they eventually did, a blow to the defense. However, Q. Richardson can make up for some of his lost and big man Daniel Orton, while a project, could become a quality contributor under the rim with Dwight Howard.

Redick's salary went up this summer, his responsibilities will in the fall.

Washington Wizards-Grade: B-

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: John Wall (d), Kirk Hinrich (t), Kevin Seraphin (d), Travis Booker (d), Hilton Armstrong (fa), Hamady N’diaye (d)

Lost: Mike Miller (MIA), Randy Foye (LAC), Shaun Livingston (CHA)

The Wiz made a huge move in securing their future, making the obvious pick of  franchise guard John Wall number one in the Draft. This is a huge step in the rebuilding process in DC, but its failure to move troubled guard Gilbert Arenas, the former face of the team, could slow this process, but the Wall selection is huge step in the right direction.

Toronto Raptors-Grade: C

Retained: Amir Johnson

Additions: Leandro Barbosa (t), Ed Davis (d), Linas Kleiza (fa), Solomon Alabi (fa), Dwayne Jones (t)

Lost: Chris Bosh (MIA), Hedo Turkoglu (PHO)

The loss of Chris Bosh is an undeniable blow to Toronto, but the Raptors were not on the fast track to the top of the Conference at any rate, so it also gives them a chance to retool. The major move in starting this rebuilding stretch was moving out the disappointing Hedo Turkoglu from their ranks. The veteran presence of Leandro Barbosa and the pick of Ed Davis is a move in the right direction.

Philadelphia 76ers-Grade: C

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Evan Turner (d), Spencer Hawes (t), Andres Nocioni (t), Tony Battie (fa)

Lost: Samuel Dalembert (SAC)

The Sixers are moving in a new direction and brought in even more young talent with #2 overall pick Evan Turner and trading for Spencer Hawes, who will add depth in the front court. Turner struggled some in the summer leagues, but as he settles in more along with Andre Iugodala and Jrue Holiday, he should help the Sixers become a very strong defensive team along the perimeter.

The spotlight is on Turner, the new franchise building block, after quiet offseason from the Sixers.

Indiana Pacers-Grade: C

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Paul George (d), Lance Stephenson (d), Magnum Rolle (d)

Lost: None

Indiana has built a strong overall roster and continue to build through the draft, with Paul George and Lance Stephenson, the latter of which could be a steal and help a both the point and shooting guard. George will add more immediate scoring to their bench. The failure to add help at the point guard spot could hold them back still however.

New Jersey Nets-Grade: C-

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Jordan Farmar (fa), Anthony Morrow (t), Derrick Favors (d), Travis Outlaw (fa), Johan Petro (fa), Damion James (d)

Lost: Tony Battie (PHI), Keyon Dooling (MIL)

Missing out on all of the premier free agents could be viewed as an offseason failure, however this team was so bad last year that any new talent of any sorts pushes them in the right direction. #3 pick Derrick Favors will add athleticism and rebounds immediately. Jordan Farmer, Anthony Morrow and Travis Outlaw wont push them to the promised land, but they will make sure this team doesn’t challenge for the all-time loss record again.

Charlotte Bobcats-Grade: C-

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Shaun Livingston (fa), Dominic McGuire (fa), Erick Dampier (t), Eduardo Najera (t), Matt Carroll (t)

Lost: Raymond Felton (NY), Theo Ratliff (LAL), Tyson Chandler (DAL), Alexis Ajinca (DAL)

The Bobcats just looked to add depth to their roster and came out well by adding Erick Dampier, Eduardo Najera and Matt Carroll to their intact core. They are a solid team that matches up well across the floor and these additions just solidify that more. Nothing spectacular, but not bad either.

Atlanta Hawks-Grade: D+

Retained: Joe Johnson

Additions: Jordan Crawford (d), Josh Powell (fa)

Lost: Josh Childress (PHO)

The Hawks decision to hand Joe Johnson a max contract at the onset of free agency was a brash move that doesn’t make the team better than it already was and could be an anchor to the future development of the team, as he will be 35 when it expires and most likely well into his decline. It could be justified if it was part of a deal with another player to better them, but it wasn’t because they couldn’t afford any more moves. The “win now” philosophy gone wrong.

Detroit Pistons-Grade: D

Retained: Ben Wallace

Additions: Greg Monroe (d), Terrico White (d)

Lost: None

Detroit drafted well in adding Greg Monroe and Terrico White, but their failure to act on a much need clearing house of their older pieces (and even resigning one in Ben Wallace), will continue to keep this team from moving on. These commitments keep them from being able to afford or have room for a much-needed youth infusion. The Pistons are in need of a new look and Monroe is a big grab at #7 overall, who could become a younger Rasheed Wallace if given the time.

Without LeBron backing him, does Mo Williams have enough help to save the day in Cleveland?

Cleveland Cavaliers-Grade: F

Retained: No FAs returned

Additions: Ryan Hollins (t), Ramon Sessions (t)

Lost: LeBron James (MIA), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (MIA), Delonte West, Sebastian Telfair (MIN)

The Cleveland Nowhere Men may be more appropriate here. The biggest losers of the entire LeBron James move, they are left virtually empty. But their failure to add anything of substance to try to replace LeBron’s impact is their biggest mistake of all. Maybe it’s the fact it’s looked at as a Post-LeBron wasteland by free agents or some other act, but they did take advantage of the open market after he left. At this rate, they will be able to count on the Lottery to help rebuild them for many years.

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Comments
  1. Samuel says:

    Nice read..I think OKC had a great offseason on the low….I will have to respectfully disagree and say that Miami has perhaps the sexiest starting 5, but I would take Kobe over Wade, Gasol over Bosh, Bynum over whoever the Heat will start, and Fisher in the playoffs over whoever starts at the 1 for the Heat.

  2. cheneetot08 says:

    Great Post!With all the trading and wooing going around in the league today you’ll never know what to expect. Who’s going where and why? One thing’s for certain, I can’t wait for the season to start.

  3. […] 10/28 & 10/29): I had a lot of good things to say about the outstanding summer prep of both the Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets. You couldn’t tell me that they wouldn’t be mainstays as […]

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