Blog Entry

Offseason Reviews: Southeast Division

Posted on: July 22, 2010 5:59 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2010 11:11 am
 
Posted by Matt Moore

With only a handful of free agents left on the market and with summer league over, we thought we'd take a look at how various teams did over the summer in negotiating their moves.

Atlanta Hawks

Added: Joe Johnson (re-signed for eleventy billion dollars) Jordan Crawford (draft)
Lost: Josh Childress (didn't really have him anyway, but technically, they lost the rights to him in trade)

Philosophy: "Self-delusion is all the rage this summer!"

What are you going to do if you're Atlanta in six years? When Joe Johnson's crossover is no longer deadly and you're paying him $20 million? The goal, apparently, is to try and contend for a title in the next three years, hoping Al Horford and Josh Smith keep developing, Jeff Teague turns into a starter-caliber point guard, and maybe figure out some big name free agent you can sign on the cheap, like Shaq, that will put you over the top. It's not that the Hawks are a bad team. Far from it. While everyone was mocking them in the mid-00's for stockpiling forwards, they've either developed them into quality starters or raised their trade value enough to move them for pieces or cap relief. But this summer, they have only made one signature move, and that was spending way too much for Joe Johnson.

The vast number of ways in which the Johnson signing was poorly conceived is staggering. The full max, all six years? That much money? The roster had potential to really contend, but instead, the Hawks simply avoided the great collapse of losing a high usage player with low efficiency. Johnson can take over a game like few in the league. But he also simply isn't worth the money, and it's hamstrung their franchise for the future.

Grade: D+

Charlotte Bobcats

Added: Shaun Livingston (free agency), Dominic Maguire (free agency), Matt Carroll (trade), Erick Dampier (trade), Eduardo Najera (trade)
Lost: Raymond Felton (free agency), Alexis Ajinca (trade), Tyson Chandler (trade)

Philosophy: "Slight derivatives"

Did the Bobcats get better? Did they get worse? Did they stay the same? No, those aren't rhetorical. I'm asking. Because looking at that list above, I really can't be sure. They lost an underrated point guard who worked hard but never could stick with Larry Brown. They added a recovering injury-plagued point guard who can't seem to stick with any coach. They lost a veteran seven foot center with wear and tear on him and a large contract. They brought in an aging behemoth with wear and tear issues and a big contract. And they got Dominic Maguire, so they've got that going for them.

Larry Brown and Rod Higgins have built a program of improvement through trade and have kept up with this offseason. Adding Livingston provides a high-upside, low-risk replacement for Felton and they managed to trim some long-term money off the books. But you can't look at the roster and say they've improved dramatically. Status quo for the Cats. Underrated moves that still don't move them up dramatically in the NBA world.

Grade: C-

Orlando Magic


Added: J.J. Redick (re-signed), Chris Duhon (free agency), Quentin Richardson (free agency), Daniel Orton (draft), Stanley Robinson (draft)
Lost: Matt Barnes (free agency)

Philosophy: "The fear of losing out."

Marcin Gortat wants a bigger role. Benched. Brandon Bass wants a bigger role. Benched. J.J. Redick wanted a bigger role and more money. Offer from the Bulls matched and benched. The Magic seem to really believe in this roster, and it shows in them re-signing Redick and only addint marginal adjustments at other positions. Their draft essentially yielded them a raw, underdeveloped player who has little to no chance of getting playing time (Orton) and another wing to be buried deep. They didn't lose anyone, which means the luxury tax and the Magic are best of friends, especially after matching the $20 million offer for Redick from the Bulls.

Without any adjustments, and with how much better the East has gotten, it's hard to argue that the Magic have improved by not subtracting. Chris Duhon might be considered an upgrade over Jason Williams, but we're talking inches, not miles, and Quentin Richardson brings better three point shooting than Matt Barnes . That may be the best addition the Magic made, adding another shooter that provides an alternative reason not to play Vince Carter when he goes in a hole. But all in all, for a franchise that has spent the money to contend, they simply haven't done enough to get there.

Grade: C-

Miami Heat


Added: LeBron James (free agency sign-and-trade), Chris Bosh (free agency sign-and-trade), Dwyane Wade (re-signed), Mike Miller (free agency), Udonis Haslem (re-signed), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (re-signed), James Jones (re-signed), Joel Anthony (re-signed), Jamaal Magloire (re-signed), Juwan Howard (free-agency), Dexter Pittman (draft), Jarvis Varnado (draft), Da'Sean Butler (draft),

Lost:
Jermaine O'Neal (free agency), Quentin Richardson (free agency), Michael Beasley (trade), Daequan Cook (trade)

Philosophy:
"So, that went pretty well."

That's how you build a title contender. Any questions? The Heat managed to add all three of the top free agents this summer, fill out the roster with veteran talent that knows how to win and supports their Big 3, and did it all in a little less than fourteen days. Think about that. The Heat remade their team into a title contender in less time than it takes for your milk to go bad. It was a sweeping coup, one that has to lead people to believe it probably took much longer to orchestrate (cough*tampering*cough). What could the Heat have done better? Well, not allowing for the act to paint them as the most obnoxious triumverate in modern sports would have been nice. Other than that, it's hard to argue Pat Riley's anything but a genius. Getting Quentin Richardson would have been nice, but adding Mike Miller more than makes up for it. Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Joel Anthony gives the team some size to go along with the incredible talent they have. From when once mortals stood, now there be gods. Geez, Riley, save some for the rest of the class.

Grade: A

Washington Wizards


Added: John Wall (draft), Kirk Hinrich (trade), Trevor Booker (draft), Yi Jianlian (trade), Hamady N'Diaye (draft), Hilton Armstrong (free agency), Kevin Seraphin (draft)
Lost: Randy Foye (free agency), Mike Miller (free agency), Shaun Livingston (free agency)

Philosophy:
"Let's see how this goes."

One thing is absolutely certain. John Wall is the future. Everything is built around Wall as the future. He is the singular sure thing. Other than that, sussing out a pattern that goes beyond "keep it flexible, stupid" is tough. The team acquired Kirk Hinrich in one of the more baffling moves we've seen. Hinrich brings a veteran defensive guard that can play on or off ball, back up Wall, and anchor the defense. But he's also an underwhelming shooter (oh, where, oh, where have you gone, 2005 shooting average?) and doesn't seem like an ideal fit next to Wall. Neither does the incumbent shooting guard, Gilbert Arenas , who you may remember from such films as "The Single Worst Offseason Meltdown in the History of the League" and "Little Blogger, Get Your Gun, Then Bring It To The Arena."

Arenas' ability to play next to Wall will decide his future in Washington. No longer is the team willing to build around him. If he can slide into an off-ball shooter that complements Wall? Terrific. Redemption abounds. Provided he stays out of trouble, of course. If he can't, he's trade bait. He may be already. The addition of Yi Jianlian seems like a "let's see what this does" kind of tinkering. The team still needs a long-term solution at small-forward, and with Andray Blatche recovering from injury, there are questions all over in the frontcourt. When you realize that JaVale McGee seems like the player best adapted to mix with John Wall, you know you've got a ways to go in the rebuilding process.

To evaluate? They failed to make any signings or trades that wow you, but they also managed to not screw up the #1 overall pick and cleaned some salary off the books for the future. Not a bad day at the office. And that's better than last year.

Grade: B-
Comments

Since: Jan 26, 2007
Posted on: July 30, 2010 11:29 am
 

Offseason Reviews: Southeast Division

Washington Wizards:

Well, the Gilbert Arenas era in Washington is definitely over. Yes, he is still on the team (with his contract, he is virtually un-tradeable) but this is no longer his team. It is now John Wall's team. So...is this going to be a good team? NO. They will play very unevenly, teams will sag off Wall and dare him to shoot until he proves he can, Arenas will need to make a ton of shots, there is no interior presence and not really anyone other than Arenas and Wall who can create their own shots. I do think that Trevor Booker and Hilton Armstrong might have a chance to contribute, but this is a team with major holes. And I do not like the addition of Yi Jianling - his game appears unsuited to work well with Wall and Arenas. A lot depends on how well Andray Blatche recovers, as Mr. Moore comments. Getting Wall rates an A, but trading for Yi knocks it down a lot. And losing Mike Miller really hurts - he was their only reliable outside threat. Nw teams will tag Arenas and pack it in until Wall and his new teammates prove they can shoot. Overall, they had an OK offseason, but not anything to write home about. Grade C



"no interior presence" - What do you thin Andray Blatche is? JaVale is is 22years old and still developing his offensive game. He is the future interior presence on offense. And the current interior presence on defense. Not to mention draftin Seraphin and Booker to bang down low.

"Hilton Armstrong might have a chance to contribute" - Yeah 10 minutes and 6 fouls a game

"losing Mike Miller really hurts - he was their only reliable outside threat" - Other than Gilbert Arenas, Nick Young, & Yi Jianlian.  

"And I do not like the addition of Yi Jianling - his game appears unsuited to work well with Wall and Arenas." - Yi is a big that can shoot. You already said that teams will pack it in and make them shoot. Then you say a big that can SHOOT won't work with Wall. Which is it?







Since: Sep 24, 2009
Posted on: July 26, 2010 4:02 am
 

Offseason Reviews: Southeast Division

So you complain about Mr. Moore writing Offseason Reviews of the Southeast Division in July...and then you write your own. -scratching head-

You also dedicate two paragraphs to complaining about Mr. Moore allegedly giving the Heat the title too soon while not giving credit to teams like the Celtics and World Champion Los Angeles Lakers. One, did you actually read Mr. Moore's review on the Heat? I just re-read it and, at best, he calls the Heat title CONTENDERS - not winners, not favorites...CONTENDERS. He gives the Heat credit for doing something that is undeniable - having a very good free agency period. That's it. Two, you complain about Mr. Moore not writing about the Celtics and Lakers in a Southeast Division article. What is the matter with you? It's a SOUTHEAST DIVISION ARTICLE. Of course you know the Celtics and the World Champion Lakers are not in the Southeast Division, right?

I think you expose yourself as a scared Lakers fan. There are a lot of you. I've seen you guys blowing up message boards on articles that have nothing to do with the Lakers or with championship predictions at all, like this one. Look, you are the champions. Obviously, until a few weeks ago, you thought the Lakers would waltz their way to a three-peat (at least). Now you see it probably won't happen. I understand the anger of non-Lakers fans as well. But don't let your emotions blind you when you try to provide an educated opinion on something.

Otherwise, good review.






Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: July 25, 2010 3:44 am
 

Offseason Reviews: Southeast Division

Hmmm. Mr. Moore, like so many other pundits. seems to believe that the Heat should be handed the 2011 NBA title. I think those guys down in Los Angeles (maybe you've heard of them? they have a some guys named Bryant and Gasol on their team and the last two O'Brien trophies too) might have something to say about that. But I digress. Let's look at the off-sason reviews.

First and foremost, I agree with the poster who inquired as to why we're doing off-season reviews in July. the free-agent season did not end when the wanna-be King signed in Miami. Did Mr. Moore miss the fact that those same guys down in LA (yes, the ones with the last two O'Brien trophies) signed some pretty good supporting pieces? Did he miss that the Boston Celtics brought back their veteran core that is now working on their third season together? Did he miss that there are still a fair number of guys out there who can help some team get better? So let's hold off on the reviews until free agency is actually over. I think maybe the week before training camp is a good time to assess which teams got better over the summer ad which ones did not. But, since Mr. Moore thinks that July is a good time to review, let's go along with it. I will take his reviews in the same order as he posted them. So we'll start with Atlanta.

 

Atlanta Hawks:

Mr. Moore gives them a D+ and some snark in his review. I would beg to differ. Yes, they threw a ton of money at Joe Johnson. Yes, they probably overpaid him. But he is one of the very few guys in the NBA who can absolutely take a game over. And he plays both ends of the court - again, one of the very few top scorers who also plays D. And if they had lost him, they would have sunk into utter irrelevancy. So they paid him. I think that is a good move. Is it enough to get them over the top in the East? Highly unlikely - Atlanta is still not going to be better than Orlando, Boston or Miami. BUt by standing pat, they pretty much guaranteed themselves a top four seed in the East. And that is not something to be sneezed at. They also are young enough that they can make some moves around Johnson. But they had to have that franchise star. By re-signing Johnson, they did precisely that. Grade: B.

 

Charlotte Bobcats:

Here, I actually agree with Mr. Moore. I like Raymond Felton a lot and I think that Brown did him a disservice. Is Livingston better than Felton? I do not believe that is the case. Felton is mature, hard-working, and knows how to run a team. Livingston is often hurt and has never shown that he can be an everyday starter in the NBA. Until he does, this is a major downgrade for Charlotte in my opinion. Charlotte also added Erick Dampier, Matt Carroll and Eduardo Najera, though they lst Tyson Chandler. Overall, I think this is an upgrade. Chandler could only score when he was receiving alley-oops from Chris Paul. Dampier is mechanical, but he DOES have a post-up game - something Chandler does not. Najera is a tough-nosed defender and reputedly a good locker-room guys and Matt Carroll is a good three-point shooter. I think Charlotte got better and deeper, but losing Felton makes this grade an incomplete until and unless Livingston proves that he can A) stay healthy and B) actually run a team on a daily basis. Grade: incomplete.

 

Orlando Magic:

Re-signing JJ Redick is an excellent move. No, he can't defend a wet paper bag one-on-one, but he has developed into an excellent team defender and he is not a bad positions defender - much like Derek Fisher in fact, though he lacks Fisher's experience and understanding of the game. And Redick can really shoot. Excellent move by Orlando. The Magic also got Quentin Richardson, who, when healthy and motivated, is a dangerous scorer and a guy who can also drain it from deep. In short, the Magic are working on improving their perimeter firepower and both Redick and Richardson can help in that department. Adding Chris Duhon as their backup point gives them a guy who can't shoot but who can defend at a very high level and run a team for short periods. I like that move as well, so long as they surround Duhon with guys on their second unit who CAN shoot. Orton and Robinson are low-risk prospects who are not going to see the court this season anyway. Overall, the Magic shored up their three-point shooting around Howard and their slashers - Carter and Lewis. Dpending on their offensive philosophy (are they going to allow Carter and Lewis to BE slashers, or are they going to try to make them spot-up shooters again?) these are very good moves. Grade: B-.

 

Miami Heat:

OK, Mr. Moore, we know you are in lust with the Wade/James/Bosh trio in South Beach. But as other commenters have already said, let's not hand them a title just yet. The last time a super-team was tried (2004 Lakers) no championship resulted. The previous time it was tried (1968 -1971 Lakers) no championship resulted. However, that being said, I agree that their off-season rates an A. I just don't want to buy into the hype until this team proves it can win on the court. Will they be very good? I think so. Will they win a championship this coming season? History says the answer will probably be 'No'. But only time will tell. However, for their off-season, I do agree with Mr. Moore on the grade. Grade: A.

 

Washington Wizards:

Well, the Gilbert Arenas era in Washington is definitely over. Yes, he is still on the team (with his contract, he is virtually un-tradeable) but this is no longer his team. It is now John Wall's team. So...is this going to be a good team? NO. They will play very unevenly, teams will sag off Wall and dare him to shoot until he proves he can, Arenas will need to make a ton of shots, there is no interior presence and not really anyone other than Arenas and Wall who can create their own shots. I do think that Trevor Booker and Hilton Armstrong might have a chance to contribute, but this is a team with major holes. And I do not like the addition of Yi Jianling - his game appears unsuited to work well with Wall and Arenas. A lot depends on how well Andray Blatche recovers, as Mr. Moore comments. Getting Wall rates an A, but trading for Yi knocks it down a lot. And losing Mike Miller really hurts - he was their only reliable outside threat. Nw teams will tag Arenas and pack it in until Wall and his new teammates prove they can shoot. Overall, they had an OK offseason, but not anything to write home about. Grade: C.

 

Conclusion:

Overall, I think Mr. Moore was way too harsh on Atlanta and Orlando, just about right on Miami and a little too positive with his review of Washington. And I still say this is way too early for reviews. But I guess the scribblers have to do something to justify their wages. In any event, time will tell just how accurate Mr. Moore and I are with out reviews. We could be off somewhere in left field, or we could be right on the money. Regardless, it should be an interesting season!




Since: Aug 20, 2007
Posted on: July 24, 2010 6:42 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Southeast Division

My point is that everyone is going crazy about the Heat picking up two top notched free agents, when free agent, role player or star, has be cornerstones to these past championship teams. It doesn't matter if the free agent is a starter or a 7th man, the champ wouldn't be the champ without that player. My earlier arguments were that there isn't enough college talent that enters the NBA, all these guys are projects. So why waste your time trying to figure out who will be an impact player in two to three years, when you can get a sure thing from free agency.

If someone knows for sure that they will have a player that will develop in three years you can take a chance. Just think back at how the Lakers got Kobe. They had the patience to wait for him to develop, so they traded their players to draft him. So technicaly Kobe should be playing for the Hornets, but because of the great system of trades and free agency, the lakers were able to develop one of the greatest basketball players ever.


Big Brad
Since: Jul 3, 2009
Posted on: July 24, 2010 10:42 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Aug 20, 2007
Posted on: July 23, 2010 11:09 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Southeast Division

@Brick305- I think you need to look back at the sports history books and understand the Every team I mentioned had to build their team either through trade or free agency. The only reason I didnt bother to strip the 94 Rockets was because there was the Dream and a bunch of guys who would have been the first off the bench anywhere else. Both of the bulls three peats were comprised of key game wining shot type free agents, Sean Elliot did leave and play for the Pistons, and Mario was with the Rockets, and lets not think of Robert Horry, who moved around to help 3 franchises win championships, which includes the Spurs.

So when you look at the role players who were brought in, and contributed to championships, I am actually 16 of 15. I decided to take you up on throwing the 94 rockets in as a bonus. My whole point, which you missed, was that every team who wants to win will have to eventually take from another team. It may not be the superstar, but as we have seen more recently,the role players are the ones who eventually give the champion the edge. 



Since: Jul 23, 2010
Posted on: July 23, 2010 6:31 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Southeast Division

@ryansleepy -
There hasnt been a draft built team since the 94 Rockets? Only one of the Rockets top 4 scorers on Hakeem's first championship team was drafted by them. Otis Thorpe, V. Maxwell and Kenny Smith all came to the Rockets via trade/free agency.

The Spurs haven't built throught the draft? Let me remind you that their run started with an aging Robinson (draft pick), rookie Duncan (draft pick), and Sean Elliot (draft pick). Then the next three were won on the backs of Duncan and two foreign draft picks you might have heard of named Manu and Parker.

And not to be a stickler, but I'd hardly call the Bulls a team built via free-agency. The three best and most important players on the their last three championships (Jordan, Pippen, Kukoc) were all draft picks.

So 7 of those 15 championships you cited to were actually won by draft built teams... hardly "instant gratification basketball."

 



Since: Aug 20, 2007
Posted on: July 23, 2010 2:29 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Southeast Division

Title teams are not developed anymore. There hasn't been a draft built title team since the '94 Rockets. There isn't enough good college talent to build your team. That is why teams would rather wait for every other team to roll the dice on their draft picks, and try to pry the players that rise to the top, away. The '95 Rockets did it, the Bulls did it, the Spurs did it, the Lakers did it, the recent Pistons did it, the '06 Heat did it and the Celtics did it. That's 15 years of instant gratification basketball. And Yes! If the Heat stay healthy, they will win many titles, including this upcoming season. 




Since: Jul 22, 2010
Posted on: July 23, 2010 12:55 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Southeast Division

I disagree with your assessment of the Magic (and how can these offseason grades come in July anyhow, especially when you've got major trade rumors swirling around?).  Do you remember the good old days of building a winner?  It takes several years of developing the core, adding additional right pieces one at a time, making it to the second round one year, then the conference finals for a year or two and losing, before finaling winning it all.  Think Pistons 80's.  Think Bulls late 80's-early 90's.  Think Rockets.  Think Spurs.

That philosophy changed in 2008 when the Celtics won in their first year of SuperTrio ball.  Now the Heat are trying it, and everyone is handing them the title.  Slow down people.  I'm not ready to concede the methodical march to championships yet.


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