October 1, 2009
10. New Orleans Hornets
Significant Additions: Emeka Okafor
Heading out: Rasual Butler, Tyson Chandler
Analysis: Make no mistake the Hornets are going to miss Rasual Butler but the trade that sent Tyson Chandler to the Charlotte Bobcats for Emeka Okafor was a straight up steal for the Hornets.
GM Jeff Bower got back one of the hardest working big men in the entire NBA, whose shot blocking skills, among other things, are a far upgrade over the defensively incumbent Chandler.
Okafor is one of the best defensive centers in all of the NBA and is often in the regular season leaders in both rebounding, double-doubles and offensive rebounds. A defensive duo of Chris Paul and Emeka Okafor will give the Hornets probably the best defensive PG/C tandem in the NBA. Okafor will also benefit by having such a point guard as Chris Paul to work with and his offensive numbers should see boosts all over the board.
By leaving the Charlotte system for the Hornets Okafor will finally get a new fresh start on a career that has yet to reach its maximum potential and there no better point guard to facilitate that than Mr. Paul.
Offseason Theme Song: “New Beginning” by Tracy Chapman
9. Portland Trailblazers
Significant Additions: Andre Miller
Heading out: Sergio Rodriguez, Channing Frye
Analysis: Many people may question why the Trailblazers made this list after what may be termed as a hell summer for GM Kevin Pritchard. First, prized free agent Hedo Turkoglu spurns the Portland last minute accepting an offer from Toronto even though Portland might have been a better situation for him career wise.
After that Portland sent an offer sheet to Paul Millsap which was matched by the Utah Jazz and thus could not sign him. Millsap and Turkoglu would have really helped the Trailblazers get to the next level, but if there was a silver lining it was that they were able to sign Andre Miller who will help them tremendously next year.
Miller is a poised and savvy point guard who will take some of the playmaking pressure of Brandon Roy and really be able to control the game come playoff time. Miller has a knack for getting the ball to the right people at the right time and on a young Portland team Miller will emerge as a leader in the locker room whose floor composure will be felt by the entire roster late in games.
Offseason Theme Song: “Ray of Light” by Madonna
8. Washington Wizards
Significant Additions: Randy Foye, Mike Miller, Fabricio Oberto
Heading out: Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila, Oleksiy Pecherov
Analysis: After a very disappointing 2008-09 campaign the Wizards used their high draft pick to acquire both Randy Foye and Mike Miller from the Timberwolves as a message to their fans that with a healthy Gilbert Arenas hopefully back they are ready to win now.
Foye is a talented offensive player who just could not fully get it going in Minnesota and could really blossom in a successful Washington system. Foya is a versatile scorer who can both slash and shoot and will really boost Washington’s starting lineup along with Arenas, Butler and Jamesion.
Miller is an excellent shooter and will really come in handy in the tight late game situations where his three-point shooting will be welcome. The interesting thing about Washington’s offseason is that they gave up almost nobody really valuable from their roster and replaced some incumbent names with some pretty good ones.
Offseason Theme Song: “No Scrubs” by TLC
7. Detroit Pistons
Significant Additions: Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Austin Daye (draft), Ben Wallace, Chris Wilcox
Heading out: Rasheed Wallace, Antonio MyDyess, Amir Johnson, Arron Afflalo
Analysis: The Pistons made one of the biggest splashes early in the offseason by acquiring offensive minded Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon and effectively sent the message that they were making a change to their team mentality.
Both Villanueva and Gordon are potent scorers who are not only explosive but have excellent long range capacity in their versatile arsenals. GM Joe Dumars, who constructed the defensive structure in Detroit for so long, realized that he needed to change the team approach to a more offensive minded regimen.
With the acquisitions of both Villanueva and Gordon the difference between both styles of play could not have been more different that night and day.
Chris Wilcox is another nice addition and will bolster the weak frontcourt of Detroit. Austin Daye is an excellent athlete and along with Stuckey, Maxiell, Gordon and Villanueva represents a solid young nucleus that the Pistons can move forward with in the coming years.
Offseason Theme Song: “Day n Night” by Kid Cudi
6. San Antonio Spurs
Significant Additions: Richard Jefferson, Dejuan Blair (draft), Antonio McDyess, Theo Ratliff
Heading out: Bruce Bowen, Drew Gooden, Kurt Thomas, Fabricio Obert
Analysis: Out of all the teams on this list the Spurs have been the most familiar to the playoffs in the last decade and though with their window of opportunity slowly beginning to close they still made some great moves this offseason to send a message that their not done yet.
GM R.C. Buford began the offseason by acquiring underappreciated Richard Jefferson from the Milwaukee Bucks. Jefferson should fit right into the team concept of the Spurs and gives them another perimeter weapon on the wing that can take some pressure off Duncan in the playoffs.
It’s a mystery how Dejuan Blair fell so far in the draft, but the Spurs stole Blair in the second round and got a player with a high motor who loves to rebound.
Though the Spurs may have lost some frontcourt players in Drew Gooden and Kurt Thomas they replaced them with Antonio MyDyess who brings playoff experience and toughness in the paint.
The Spurs haven’t missed the playoffs in 12 years and Buford made sure they would be singing the same old tune next season.
Offseason Theme Song: “Same Old Song and Dance” by Aerosmith
Significant Additions: Anthony Parker, Shaquille O’Neal, Jamario Moon, Leon Powe
Heading out: Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic
Analysis: Though the Cavs ended the NBA season last year with the best record in the Eastern Conference they didn’t make it to the finals as expected and GM Danny Ferry made sure that next season his superstar LeBron James got more help.
The trade that brought over Shaquille O’Neal will certainly help the frontcourt although not as much as people may think. Shaq is getting older and his resurgent season last year might have been a fluke as he played for the offensive minded Suns.
Still, Shaq will provide an intimidating presence in the playoffs and if he can stay healthy he will give the Cavs another weapon to play with.
Anthony Parker is also an underrated signing and will give the Cavs a very good three-point shooter who is not only a smart and efficient player but also a tremendous locker room presence.
Jamario Moon and Leon Powe shore up one of the best benches in the NBA and will provide athleticism and defensive production on the second unit. Theme Song: “Number One Spot” by Ludacris
4. Boston Celtics
Significant Additions: Rasheed Wallace, Shelden Williams
Heading out: Leon Powe
Analysis: Losing Leon Powe will certainly hurt but GM Danny Ainge went out and acquired Rasheed Wallace and Shelden Williams to replace the loss of Powe.
The addition of Rasheed Wallace will not only bolster the frontcourt defensively but when paired up with Kevin Garnett should provide Boston with one of the toughest frontcourts in the NBA.
Wallace also brings tons of playoff experience to Boston and should be a good influence on Rajon Rondo. Shelden Williams will bolster a strong Boston bench especially on the rebounding side of things.
Though Boston might threaten the NBA record for most technical’s in a season no one will want to face such an intimidating team come playoff time.
Offseason Theme Song: “Swagger Like Us” by T.I. feat. Jay Z
3. Orlando Magic
Significant Additions: Vince Carter, Brandon Bass, Ryan Anderson, Matt Barnes
Heading out: Hedo Turkoglu, Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, Tony Battie,
Analysis: The loss of Turkoglu will defiantly hurt the reigning Eastern Conference Champions but GM Otis Smith made a smart trade that saw Courtney Lee and Rafer Alston moved to New Jersey for the always dangerous Vince Carter.
Carter provides a more explosive option than Turkoglu and should be motivated to play on a championship contending team for the first time in his career.
The signing of Brandon Bass will provide great depth in the frontcourt and is a solid offensive player who can also rebound well. Unsung Ryan Anderson is a tough player down low and should bolster an above average Orlando bench.
Matt Barnes is a versatile player and was a steal at the for Otis Smith as a slasher who can rebound well at the SF spot. After a trip to the finals Smith didn’t just stay put but made sure a repeat performance was in order. Offseason Theme Song:
“Try Again” by Aaliyah
2. Toronto Raptors
Significant Additions: Hedo Turkoglu, Jarrett Jack, Demar Derozan (draft), Rasho Nesterovic, Antoine Wright, Marco Belinelli, Amir Johnson, Reggie Evans
Heading out: Jason Kapono, Anthony Parker, Shawn Marion, Roko Ukic, Joey Graham, Kris Humphries
Analysis: After an extremely disappointing season that saw the Raptors win just 33 games, GM Bryan Colangelo promised changes in the offseason and did not disappoint.
The signing of Jarrett Jack transformed the weak backup PG spot into one of the best in the East. The trade that sent incumbent shooter Jason Kapono for Reggie Evans instantly made the Raptors tougher in the paint while the drafting of high flier DeMar DeRozan provided Toronto with much needed athleticism at the wing spot.
The best move of the offseason though was the signing of Hedo Turkoglu which gave Toronto a premier offensive player at SF, a position of weakness last year whose clutch shooting will be welcome.
The complicated trade that sent Shawn Marion to Dallas and netted back defensive specialist Antoine Wright was a masterstroke while the acquisitions of Marco Belinelli and Amir Johnson were just icing on the cake for possibly a third Executive of the Year for Colangelo.
Offseason Theme Song: “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by Daft Punk
1. Los Angeles Lakers
Significant Additions: Ron Artest
Heading out: Trevor Ariza
Coming off a tremendous championship season GM Mitch Kupchak enjoyed an excellent offseason where he resigned Lamar Odom and then went out and replaced Trevor Ariza (who headed to Houston) with a more skilled Ron Artest. Artest is one of the top defensive in the league and paired up with Kobe Bryant
should provide the best defensive perimeter tandem in the NBA.
Though Artest might have a history of chemistry problems if there’s any coach who can make him realize the concept of a team first mentality it’s Phil Jackson. It’s very rare for a championship team to get even better for the next season but Kupchak has done it and the Lakers enter next season as the favourites to repeat.
Offseason Theme Song: “Encore” by Jay Z