Day 3, (technically a day late because I completely forgot to post this yesterday) and we finish off the Eastern Conference with the Southeast Division. This division saw quite a few big name players either come or go, along with a couple new coaching hires. As the East is pretty open, all of these teams will be vying for playoff contention, we’ll have to see if their offseason moves swing them one way or another.
Key Additions: Dwight Howard, Kent Bazemore (re-signed), Jarrett Jack, Kris Humphries, Taurean Prince (Rookie)
Key Losses: Al Horford, Jeff Teague
This is a tough one to grade. Losing Al Horford is huge, and their season will depend on which Dwight Howard shows up. Hopefully with him coming home he’ll come out strong and dominate; as he should. But if comes in with back issues, and isn’t happy with the role he is given, they will miss Horford’s underrated rim protection drastically. Bringing back Kent Bazemore is nice, he’s a solid, two-way wing player. Also getting veteran Jarrett Jack to back up Dennis Schröder was a great move, he provides insurance in case Schröder can’t always get it done. I like Schröder in a way that I liked young Rondo during his time in Boston, but not sure if he can handle carrying an NBA offence full time. Taurean Prince should be molded within this great organization to become a DeMarre Carroll-type player.
Grade: C+ (if Dwight is happy)
D- (if Dwight plays like he has the past 3 or 4 years)
Key Additions: Nicolas Batum (re-signed), Marvin Williams (re-signed), Marco Bellinelli
Key Losses: Jeremy Lin, Courtney Lee, Al Jefferson
Retaining both Batum and Williams makes this a positive offseason for Charlotte. Batum was amazing in the Hornet’s system last year, and Williams fits the stretch-4 position very well. Losing Lin as their third guard hurts, along with Courtney Lee, but bringing sharp-shooter Belinelli helps to balance those losses. Al Jefferson can’t run, and his departure opens up more playing time for their white big men; Frank Kaminsky, Spencer Hawes, and Tyler Hansborough (not saying that this is a great thing, but it’s funny how many white big men they have). Charlotte are still primed to be a mid tier playoff team out East.
Key Additions: Hassan Whiteside (re-signed), Tyler Johson (re-signed), Derrick Williams, Wayne Ellington
Key Losses: Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Joe Johnson
Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, these are players who when thought of are considered loyal because they played the entirety of their career for one franchise. Dwyane Wade was always considered to be part of that crew, however that all changed this summer when Pat Riley cut communication with him, and let the best player the Heat organization ever had walk away for nothing. Bringing back Whiteside was key, but with Bosh’s future still cloudy, and Dragic’s lingering health issues, this team could struggle to make the postseason. Deng and Johnson were major contributors, and now they will be replaced by… Derrick Williams and Wayne Ellington? Oh boy, this could be a tough season down in South Beach. At least the weather there is nice. The only reason I’m not giving them an F is because they managed to convince Whiteside to come back.
Key Additions: Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Green, Evan Fournier (re-signed), D.J. Augustin, Frank Vogel (Coach)
Key Losses: Victor Oladipo, Brandon Jennings, Ersan Ilyasova, Andrew Nicholson, Jason Smith
The biggest trade of the summer was a major loss for Orlando. Trading Oladipo, Ilyasova, and the draft rights to Sabonis for one year of Serge Ibaka? The Thunder absolutely fleeced them. Serge is a solid player, don’t get me wrong. But there is almost no chance that he re-signs next offseason. Just giving up a young stud in Oladipo is bad enough, but also a solid draft pick is absolutely horrible. Biyombo is a solid pickup, and he may even usurp Vucevic for the starting job. Fournier showed a lot of growth last year, and now Mario Hezonja should garner more minutes. Jeff Green just keeps bouncing around, for his sake hopefully this one works out. Their best move this summer was clearly snatching up Frank Vogel, who was surprisingly fired in Indiana. Vogel has consistently been a top tier coach in this league, and I’m looking forward to see what he can do with this young core, but this was a bad offseason for Magic fans.
Key Additions: Bradley Beal (re-signed), Ian Mahinmi, Andrew Nicholson, Jason Smith, Scott Brooks (Coach)
Key Losses: Jared Dudley, Nene, Garrett Temple
Even with Beal’s injury history, re-signing him long-term had to happen. His potential is still so high, and with him being the perfect running mate to John Wall they couldn’t afford to let him go. Losing Dudley is tough, he is a great, veteran stretch-4 that works well in a pick and pop with Wall. Ridding themselves of Nene is huge; their spacing will improve drastically. Scott Brooks should be an interesting coach to watch, he was never known for his play-calling abilities in Oklahoma City. Nicholson and Jason Smith are decent for how cheap their contracts are, but nothing that will move the needle for this team.