NBA training camps start on Tuesday, and after a fairly turbulent and rumor-filled summer, many squads are looking different or wishing they did. Here’s a breakdown of the offseason each Southeast Division franchise had and how good it was with consideration for what could be expected and how it sets up the future success of the team.
Divisions previously covered:
They fired coach Mike Woodson, who wasn’t very good. They then hired his long-time assistant, Larry Drew. The team’s thinking was that they needed to go with someone new, but they wanted someone the players would be familiar with: a little weird. The big news was the re-signing of Joe Johnson at a max deal for six years. For starters, a very easy case can be made that he’s only the team’s third-best player, and the team isn’t great. Secondly, he’s definitely not a max contract level of player. All in all, it was a terrible signing, especially after he dissed the organized during negotiations. They also re-signed C Jason Collins, which was fine. They ended up with Jordan Crawford in the draft, although he came at the expensive of trading much-better-in-a-supporting-role Damion James, so I have to say that wasn’t good. They signed Josh Powell and Etan Thomas for cheap, but now I’m reaching. If this organization was a stock, you would be selling everything you got right now; they’re in disarray. Grade: D+
I’ll start with the bad news: Michael Jordan is now the majority owner and will certainly have his hand in everything. They/he appropriately started off the summer by signing Tyrus Thomas (athletic, questionable effort and defense) to a ridiculous 5-year deal. They traded Tyson Chandler and Alexis Ajinca for Matt Carroll, Eduardo Najera, and cash, which was bad but I guess could have gone worse. It was basically done for the always-popular-with-fans reason of saving money this in the short run. They decided not to re-sign PG Raymond Felton for the money reason, so they helped out D.J. Augustine by signing perpetually-really-hurt Shaun Livingston and likely-not-an-NBA-player Sherrod Collins to share ball handling duties. The Bobcats also signed punchlines Kwame Brown and Darius Miles. All in all, this sounds like the type of offseson you’d expect from Jordan, which is not good; at least head coach Larry Brown didn’t leave before his contract was up. Grade: F
You pretty much know the deal here. The re-signed Dwyane Wade and picked up LeBron James and Chris Bosh. They also re-signed Joel Anthony, Carlos Arroyo, Udonis Haslem, James Jones, and Jamaal Magloire, so there’s a little more carry-over than most fans thought. Some of their other important free agent pick-ups include Mike Miller, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Juwan Howard, and Eddie House. There are some serious questions about their interior defense and what will Bosh’s role and long-term attitude be considering he’s a distant third in terms of talent yet he’s talked about like he’s right there with Wade and James. Overall, this was obviously a great Miami summer, but the interior defense issue could become troublesome against the Magic, Celtics, or Lakers. Grade: A
The Magic re-upped with JJ Redick and Jason Williams, so that helps keep the backcourt in place. Plus they signed Chris Duhon (although his 4-year contract is too long) which also helps the backcourt. Orlando took the bait and drafted untested C Daniel Orton with the second-to-last pick of the first round; he went on to bomb in the summer league. They got super athlete Stanley Robinson, who could become a versatile lock-down defender someday, in the second round, which was much more value for the pick. The Magic also picked up F Malik Allen and G/F Quentin Richardson, which won’t mean a whole lot in the long run. All in all, they didn’t change much, which is OK for where they’re at. Grade: B
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t believe in John Wall in terms of turning a team around (terrible shooter, terrible A-TO rate for a PG, no defense), but he’ll get the fan base revved up for a little bit, and that’s worth something. The Wizards extended Andray Blatche’s contract through 2014-15, which makes sense talent-wise, but could spell doom from a he’s-a-nutcase perspective. Re-signing Josh Howard for cheap makes sense. They managed to get veteran G Kirk Hinrich and draft pick Kevin Seraphin (supposedly an underrated defensive player) for nothing on draft night, both of which I like even though Hinrich seems a little spendy (2 years, $17 million left on his deal). Also on draft night, Washington traded two throw-away picks for hard-working F Trevor Booker, which was a good move. They traded for Yi Jianlian’s services for a year, which makes no sense. Probably the most upsetting move the Wizards didn’t make was not figuring out how to get out of their $80 million commitment to Gilbert Arenas after his whole gun incident. They could have done it, but they chose to stick with him, which means they have more than a few knuckleheads with recent legal and/or attitude issues sitting on the roster, making a rebuilding project much harder than it would be in a video game where you only have to deal with players’ abilities. This is a tough summer to get a handle on since they made some very good decisions and some very bad decisions—plus a couple that could go either way (Wall, Blatche)—but not pursuing an end to the Arenas contract was just too much. Grade: C-