Big Moves Around The NBA: How Will This Impact The Teams Involved?
Right now, all 30 teams feel that they are legitimate championship contenders, and just need to add a few pieces in order to achieve their goal.
The reality is, only a few teams are really in the mix for an NBA Title, but you can't blame them for trying. Some people say that if you are not improving during the offseason, you are getting worse. This is probably true; just look at the Boston Celtics. In 2007, they were average at best, but after a solid offseason, they became the 2008 NBA Champs.
And so, here are the moves that have transpired over the offseason thus far:
Although the Bucks received more players, the Spurs probably got the better end of this deal.
This is because the Spurs are getting a pure shooter and quality defender in Richard Jefferson. He is a great addition to any team, and is one of the league's finest scorers. Jefferson is also a pretty good passer and rebounder.
He brings a great deal of versatility to San Antonio, and might be what they need to make a title push. The Spurs are definitely better equipped to contend with the Lakers and Nuggets for the Western Conference Title after adding a talented and experienced player like Richard Jefferson.
On the other hand, Milwaukee did not get a bad deal either.
Bruce Bowen is a savvy, proven veteran who will serve as a big-time defensive presence for the Bucks. Known for being one of the league's best defenders, Bowen has been selected to either the NBA All-Defensive First or Second Team eight times.
Besides being a fantastic perimeter defender, Bruce is also a great three-point shooter. All of this, along with the leadership he will bring to the locker room makes Bowen one of the best players to suit up for the Bucks in recent memory.
Kurt Thomas is also an important pick-up for Milwaukee. While he may be aging, Thomas is a force on the boards. He is a reliable rebounder that also finds a way to put the ball in the hoop. The fact that he is a solid defender will make him a key player for the Bucks in the upcoming season.
Fabricio Oberto was also shipped to Milwaukee, but was soon after traded to the Detroit Pistons.
While the Nets received a couple of quality, it was the Magic who got the best player in this deal.
This of course was Vince Carter. He is one of the NBA's most electrifying players, and is a huge boost to Orlando's title hopes.
He is a phenomenal athlete and is an all-around player. Shooting is his biggest strength, as is proven by his 20.8 points per game last season.
Carter is also a great passer and is a pretty good rebounder considering that he is a guard. He has the defensive skills to go with his offensive arsenal.
He will need to continue his success in '09 in order to replace Hedo Turkoglu, who was dealt to Toronto in another trade. If the Magic are to reach the Finals again, Carter will be one of the players depended on to get them there.
Anderson is another good addition for Orlando. He will probably spend most of his time down low, coming off the bench a couple times a game. He is a decent scorer, rebounder, and defender, despite having only one year of experience.
For New Jersey, their biggest asset as far as this trade goes is Alston.
He has plenty of NBA experience, and will help the Nets' offense significantly. He is very productive in the scoring and assist departments, as well as rebounding. His main job will be to compensate for some of what was lost with the departure of Carter.
Lee will also be relied on as an offensive threat for New Jersey. In 2008-09, his first year in the league, Lee asserted himself as a reliable scorer, despite not starting. He will need to continue developing as a shooter, as well as making strides in the rest of his game if he is to help Alston match Carter's output.
Finally, there is Battie. He is tough on the boards and at times can put up some points. While he is not a starter, he is an experienced veteran that will look to fight for playing time with the Nets.
The day after this trade, another big move was made. This one is considered by many to be the big block buster trade of the 2009 offseason, up to this point.
The clear winners here are the Cavs. They get a 15-time All-Star and former MVP in O'Neal. Shaq is one of the most dominant big men in NBA history. Although he may be getting old, the Diesel has still got some fuel in the tank.
He is an extremely efficient shooter, but then again, who isn't when half their shots are dunks. He puts up a lot of points every time he steps on the court. Rebounding and shot blocking are other areas that "Superman" excels in.
Now that he is in Cleveland, The Big Aristotle has made it perfectly clear that he is there to help King James and the Cavaliers win a championship.
By adding a commanding presence like Shaq Daddy, the Cavs have essentially stated that they will not be falling from the ranks of the NBA's best. While it is unknown what The Big Felon's next nickname is going to be, you can be sure that he will be a difference maker for his new club.
This trade has led many to believe that Cleveland is the best team in the league.
Meanwhile, the Suns are getting a very good player in Ben Wallace. Sure, he is already past his peak, but Big Ben is a seasoned veteran who brings a lot to the table.
He is one of the league's best defenders, having taken home the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award four times. He is also a menace on the boards, and scores a ton of points on put-backs.
So, although the Suns are losing the guy who is arguably the greatest big man of all-time, they get another dominant force in return.
In addition to Wallace, Phoenix is bringing in Sasha Pavlovic. Pavlovic is pretty young, and is still developing his all-around game. He is an efficient shooter that will likely see some decent time off the bench.
Now we move to July 8, the beginning of NBA free agency. On this day, five top-notch free agents were signed to new teams.
This is because Ariza is a young-gun superstar in the making. He is a tremendous all-around athlete, with breakaway speed unrivaled by most other players. He is superb in transition and is always the first guy down the court on fast breaks.
Furthermore, Ariza is a lockdown defender who can handle anyone he is assigned to cover. On the offensive end, he has defined himself as an efficient shooter and is developing as a rebounder.
Ariza was stellar and was a large part of the Lakers' championship run. He performed at the highest level for L.A., and now the Lakers are losing a future phenom. At the same time, the Rockets are get a premier player that will be great for years to come.
However, Los Angeles did not lose out completely. Actually, they barely lost out at all.
This is because the Lakers signed forward Ron Artest, who played for Houston, immediately following the departure of Ariza. Although these two signings are essentially just a single trade, each team is getting something very different with their respective players.
Ariza will be very good in Houston right off the bat, but will be even better down the road as he continues to mature and improve.
Meanwhile, Artest is about as he good as he will ever be for the remainder of his career. He may be past his prime, if only a little bit. But his skills and experience make him an extremely desirable addition to any roster.
Artest was brought in to help take the defending champs back to the Promised Land, and he is expected to do this right away.
He brings a fire and intensity that not many others can match. It is so great it sometimes gets him in trouble. Of course, if you are at all familiar with Artest, you would already know this.
He is an overpowering defender whose stand-out play got him the 2004 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. He gets boards on both ends of the court and is not afraid to tangle with anyone.
He is also a great shooter, averaging 17.1 points a game. Artest is able to score from all over the court, specializing inside. In addition, he made 75 percent of his free throws in '09.
Being the supreme playmaker that he is, it is expected that Artest will do big things during his time in the hills of Hollywood. Now that Kobe's greatest nemesis is now on his side, the Lakers look ready to keep their crown in 2009.
Just as long as he stays on the court and keeps out of the stands, Los Angeles is a serious contender.
Next, we have a Detroit Pistons' double-header. They signed a pair of big name free agents on the same day.
We start with guard Ben Gordon. Gordon is another young guy, who spent his first five years in the league with the Chicago Bulls.
His success dates back to 2004, when he led the UConn men's basketball team to the 2003-04 NCAA Championship.
Now that he is a pro, he has continued his excellence on the court. He has been improving as a shooter, with 20.7 points per game average last year. He can take the ball to the hole, knock-down mid-range jumpers, and is effective from beyond the arch.
From the free throw line, Ben makes a fantastic 86 percent of his shots. He has also improved him assist, rebounding, and steal totals, and will continue to make strides in those categories.
The other guy who signed with the Pistons is forward Charlie Villanueva. Last year, as a Buck, Villanueva averaged 16.2 point per game, 6.7 rebounds per game, 0.7 blocks per game, and 0.6 steals per game.
He brings young talent on both sides of the ball to a Detroit team that has been built around older players for the past decade.
He too, was a member of UConn's 2003-2004 title team. Now that he is reunited with Gordon, his former college teammate, the pair looks to bring Detroit back to prominence once again.
The last signing of the day came when forward Rasheed Wallace, who was a Piston last year, agreed to a deal with the Boston Celtics.
Boston was dangerous enough before, but this move may make them the favorites to win the NBA Title.
Rasheed is another one of those guys who has had a great career, but has some on-the- court troubles. In the 2000-2001 season, he had an NBA record 41 technical fouls.
Wallace is a magnificent defender and is a force on the glass. He can shoot from all spots on the court and plays with a great deal of intensity. He is a tough guy to guard and dominates the opposition as a defender.
Now that the Celtics have Sheed, their starting lineup contains four All-Stars, with another guy who will be soon enough. Watch out for Boston this year, as the addition of Rasheed Wallace gives them one of the more impressive starting lineups in NBA history.
Finally, there was a complicated four team trade that includes some pretty big names.
First, the Orlando Magic cash from the Toronto Raptors and Dallas Mavericks. No players went to Orlando.
Then, Orlando forward Turkoglu and guard-forwards Devean George and Antoine Wright of Dallas were shipped to Toronto.
Turkoglu was one of the NBA's best last year, as he is an outstanding shooter who causes a lot of match-up issues. He is one of the two biggest difference makers in this deal. Geoge and Wright each bring strong shooting and defense to their new team.
Next, Dallas gets forwards Shawn Marion, Kris Humphries, and Nathan Jawai of Toronto.
Marion is an incredible athlete who is a great scorer, rebounder, and defender. He is the other player in this trade that will have a monumental impact for his new team. Humphries and Jawai each bring youth and athleticism to Dallas, where they will probably come off the bench.
Finally, the Memphis Grizzlies receive a future second-round draft pick from Dallas, as well as Mavs' guard-forward Jerry Stackhouse. Stackhouse has since been cut.
And that's about it. There are other moves like the Golden State Warriors trading guard Jamal Crawford to the Altanta Hawks for Acie Law and Speedy Claxton, or the L.A. Clippers acquisition Grizzlies' guard-forward Quentin Richardson for Zac Randolph.
However, these are not ground-breaking transactions, and neither are any others that have occurred so far.
As of right now, the teams who most benefit from their deals are the Spurs, Cavs, Rockets, Lakers, and Celtics. They all signed top-notch players, and all remain title contenders because of it.
Only time will tell if this actually true, but right now, it looks good for the teams who have been making noise this offseason.
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