**Read Part 1
Not too many free agents left now, and just a month left before teams start to gather again for camps. Still on the market are vets like Allen Iverson, Lamar Odom, Drew Gooden and Rasho Nesterovic, as well as some under-the-radar types like Von Wafer and the oft traded Ike Diogu who could be difference makers for new teams. While some teams, like Toronto, have been P90X active, other teams have been active for the sake of being active, more along the lines of Richard Simmons. One could argue that some movement is better than winning my “Where’s Waldo” award, which I’ve awarded to a lucky team in this article.
Previous Ranking: 2 Current Ranking: 1
In addition to their current version of "roster makeover" the Raps recently added Jarret Jack, essentially Indiana's starting point guard last season, to avoid relying too heavily on Roko Ukic if or when Jose Calderon goes down. Unfortunately they lost the versatile Anthony Parker to the rival Cavaliers, but something tells me that it was by design. Talks of bringing Carlos Delfino back from his overseas stint and Rasho Nesterovic back from his year in Indiana, are heating up.
Previous Ranking: 1, Current Ranking: 2
San Antonio gets credit for improving their roster immensely to this point, and for signing their rookie pick, DeJuan Blair. In a bit of a shocker, given his age and propensity for long lasting injuries, the Spurs signed Theo Ratliff to a one-year deal. The rest of the roster is fairly set, but they’ll still need someone to replace Bruce Bowen’s defense and spot shooting. Easier said than done.
Previous Ranking: 3, Current Ranking: 3
The Magic bucked up and salvaged Marcin Gortat after Dallas offered a staggering five-year deal to former second-rounder out of Poland. I’m not exactly sure why his services were so sought after that it merited the entire state of Texas hunting after him, but signing Marcin is better than losing a useful young player for absolutely nothing. In a good depth move, the Magic added last season’s starting small forward in Phoenix, Matt Barnes.
Previous Ranking: 5, Current Ranking: 4
The Cavs made a nice pickup in acquiring Anthony Parker for basically nothing, contract-wise. This is an extremely underrated player who has found the perfect fit for his abilities. He could, conceivably, supplant Delonte West as the team's starting shooting guard. They also offered to Miami’s Jamario Moon and re-signed Sideshow Bob for another couple of years.
Previous Ranking: 7, Current Ranking: 5
Detroit brought back the assistant coach under Larry Brown when the franchise won a championship in 2004, John Kuester. He has worked with Dwight Howard and Lebron James in the last two seasons, and is poised to continue his success with the 2010 Pistons. The team also signed athletic big-man Chris Wilcox, adding length and energy to its new roster. They'll need to add a backup point guard and a legit center before Deee-troit Basketball can be taken seriously again.
Previous Ranking: 4, Current Ranking: 6.
This team's resources are tapped out, but they have the ability to offer Lamar Odom more than most teams can surrender at this point. Why they are playing hardball with one of the key players on their team is a bit mysterious to most at this point. If a team, like Portland for example, were to offer Odom a fair deal and steal him away, it would be a big blow to the Lakers' chances of repeating next year.
Previous Ranking: 8, Current Ranking: 7
If all goes well in Boston, this team will be a serious contender. Much will depend on Garnett's health, and the coordination of minutes for Doc Rivers' bench. They are still in danger of losing Glen Davis and Leon Powe, but the addition of under-utilized Marquis Daniels may be just the thing they needed.
Previous Ranking: 9, Current Ranking: 8
Even assuming a slow comeback out of Arenas, the potential starting five of Crittenton, Foye, Butler, Jamison, and Haywood with Arenas, Stevenson, Miller and Blatche off the bench, looks good enough to compete on a nightly basis with just about anyone. The reason? Flip Saunders.
Previous Ranking: 13, Current Ranking: 9
They recently extended Nash, re-signed Hill, signed Channing Frye and parted ways with Matt Barnes. They still like Sasha Pavlovic, but they wisely bought out Ben Wallace’s contract. Perhaps most importantly, the Suns shed Shaq while avoiding trading Amare Stoudamire, despite the rumors. Contract discussions with Von Wafer are under way. This is not a great team, but now a balanced one, with plenty of scoring options still left on Planet Orange.
Previous Ranking: 14, Current Ranking: 10
Imagine the fairytale season in L.A. Everyone healthy, and everyone fulfilling expectations in a unified manner. Your roster? Baron Davis, Allen Iverson (rumored), Al Thornton, Blake Griffin, Marcus Camby, with Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Ricky Davis, Mark Madsen and Sebastian Telfair coming in off the bench. This team has to be better right? Oh, wait, that’s the fairytale.
Previous Ranking: 18, Current Ranking: 11
After Utah matched their offer to Paul Millsap, some talk emerged about the team acquiring Lamar Odom. While this would have been an interesting acquisition in terms of hurting a rival team, the Miller signing is a better move which adds experience to the roster rather than one born out of some malicious need to thwart the Lakers’ plans. Besides, Odom recalls memories of when Portland didn’t take character into consideration when building teams.
Previous Ranking: 9, Current Ranking: 12
6. The team will likely start: PG Devin Harris, SG Courtney Lee, SF Chris Douglas-Roberts, PF Yi Jianlian, and C Brook Lopez. Can anyone spell R-E-B-U-I-L-D-I-N-G? At least they're on the right track now with a nice combination of players who are all around the same age.
Previous Ranking: 11, Current Ranking: 13
Suddenly Atlanta is a hot basketball market again. What’s not to like? The backcourt has depth with combo guard Jamaal Crawford joining returning guards Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson. Some talk about Marvin Williams going free in 2010 isn't good, but the clean bill of health for him and Al Horford is excellent news. Now if only the coaching staff could develop some semblance of a half-court offense…
Previous Ranking: 11, Current Ranking: 14
This team simply isn’t built properly. Both Kidd and Terry are starters splitting the No. 1, while both Marion and Howard are starters who will have to split the No. 3. No one backs up Nowitzki, and Dampier (as well as the almost-Mav, Gortat) should be a backup. They’re getting old, and they have no one to play the No. 2, unless someone, like Howard or Terry, plays out of position. If playoff-bound, they’ll be bounced in No. 4, in the first round.
Previous Ranking: 14, Current Ranking: 15
Recently signed draft pick, Omri Casspi might be the steal of the draft. They also inked their first rounder, Tyreke Evans. In addition, the team is signing former Bobcat power forward, free agent, Sean May. It’s a bit of a gamble, but it could work out in the Kings’ favor. Sacramento might be young, but they will be entertaining to watch. They might even be competitive.
Previous Ranking: 23, Current Ranking: 16
True to their word, Jazz management matched the Blazers’ offer sheet to Paul Millsap, and are now in the enviable position of having assets to trade. This is the most unlikely of teams to rush into a deal for the sake of dumping a player, especially one of Boozer’s caliber, but one has to think that they don’t want the distraction all season long. They’ll do the right thing.
Previous Ranking: 19, Current Ranking: 17
Denver seems to be quite content with last year’s core roster going into 2009/2010. They have made a couple of interesting acquisitions, however. First of all, when Minnesota trades a draft pick, that means he will be in the running for R.O.Y. consideration. This year, Denver gets PG Ty Lawson, who was Minnesota’s pick, which bodes well. In addition they traded for ex-Pistons, SG Aaron Afflafo and PF Walter Sharpe. Is Chauncey giving assists to management now too?
Previous Ranking: 12, Current Ranking: 18
Z-Bo is an exceptional basketball player, but he’s getting a bit long in the tooth for this roster. Chasing after A.I. on a mid-level exception is one thing, but don’t expect the man to sign a contract with a stipulation that he must agree to come in off the bench… In Memphis? We’re talkin ‘bout Memphis! He may not be the same player he once was, but his skills haven’t eroded that much.
Previous Ranking: 16, Current Ranking: 19
Their backcourt just got thinner as they lost Jarret Jack and Marquis Daniels. One could argue, however, that it won’t mean that much in the long run. Can anyone explain to me what the fascination is with big stiffs out in Indy? At least tell me why you guys keep signing Jeff Foster.
Previous Ranking: 15, Current Ranking: 20
What happened to the old adage, “if you make it here, you'll make it anywhere"? At this point I think I could make this roster. It has become obvious that the Knicks have decided to do absolutely nothing except rub their palms together in anticipation of next year’s free agent crop in 2010. Who, exactly, will sign on a team devoid of any talent whatsoever is anyone’s guess.
Previous Ranking: 20, Current Ranking: 21
I want to rank them lower, but it wouldn't be fair. After all, it seems that they are trying. It's just that every move they make seems to cancel out previous moves. Hey, I don’t like Sebastian Telfair that much either, but did you really have to trade Mark Madsen along with him to acquire Quentin Richardson? Oh, that's right, you need a shooter after you traded Foye and Miller for three players who couldn’t get minutes on a depleted Wizards team. This is supposed to be better than McHale? Good news is, they may have gotten Rubio to play—In Spain.
Previous Ranking: 29, Current Ranking: 22
They let Jamario Moon go to Cleveland, which is like saying you chose a pastrami instead of tuna sandwich for lunch today. The reason I'm ranking them at least in the early twenties is because I've heard so many possibilities coming out of Miami lately, that I feel like something big has been done in a deal that I've completely missed.
Previous Ranking: 22, Current Ranking: 23
I feel bad for the Rockets, I really do. After suffering through a miserable season of injuries to their star small forward, Tracy McGrady, they now run the risk of losing their prized big man, Yao Ming, for his entire career. Maybe others can't stop him, but the injury bug stops everyone. Everything is on standby in Houston because, yes, we definitely have a problem.
Previous Ranking: 21, Current Ranking: 24
It’s still honeymoon time in Oklahoma, with everyone playing the "just so darned happy to be here" card. Preaching patience to a newly formed franchise is easy, but it doesn’t bode well in the wins and losses column. It's good that people love watching athletes struggle through obliterating defeat after defeat in the name of progress. At least they have a lot of viable fantasy options.
Previous Ranking: 24, Current Ranking: 25
Not sure what is going on in Philadelphia. This team is in need of a plan. Offering Andre Miller a one year deal worth $6 million is like saying "thanks for the memories." Are they hoping A.I. decides to make a comeback in Philly? It would be a storybook ending…
Previous Ranking: 25, Current Ranking: 26
G-state seems like another team at a complete standstill. They have to move a guard or three and choose a new direction for their team. Small ball doesn’t work anymore. Did it ever?
Previous Ranking: 26, Current Ranking: 27
It’s become obvious that the Bulls are going to see what they have come training camp and pray that Luol Deng is healthy. I think they could use a player like Ike Diogu to be a low post scoring threat. Let’s start up the Kirk Hinrich trade rumors again. That’s always fun.
Previous Ranking: 28, Current Ranking: 28
New Orleans will enter training camp with the same stale roster as last season. They should be one of the teams looking to improve through trades this season if things don't go well. No money left for free agents, although they might have used their mid-level exception to land a role player.
Previous Ranking: 27, Current Ranking: 29
Charlotte’s major move this off-season has been letting Sean May walk for nothing. They already have an imminent problem next season when Adam Morrison proves that he belongs in the NBA and may encounter another when Sean May proves useful for the Kings. Charlotte wins the "Where's Waldo" award for most invisible NBA team.
Previous Ranking: 30, Current Ranking: 30
You can't get much worse than Milwaukee's moves this summer. Are they expecting that much out of Andrew Bogut? Maybe there is a vision here and I'm completely mistaken, but I just don't see it.