2010-2011 Season Preview: Eastern Conference, Part 1

Let’s keep things rolling with a look at likely Eastern Conference playoff teams and the rest of the field:

New York Knicks

Meaningful Offseason Moves

  • Signed Amar’e Stoudemire to a 5-year $100 million deal.
  • Released Chris Duhon, signed Raymond Felton for 3-years, $21 million.
  • Drafted Andy Rautins and Landry Fields
  • Acquired the rights for Jerome Jordan (currently in Europe)
  • Sign-and-Traded David Lee to Golden State for Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, Kelenna Azubuike and a 2011 second-round pick

Why the Knicks are Relevant
When I wrote my Atlantic preview, I commented “the Knicks were becoming a run-and-gun at the end of last season, but they had already dug themselves into a hole when it came to their record and chance for a playoff berth.

And then they grabbed Amar’e. And then they got David Lee to agree to a sign-and-trade for Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, Kelenna Azubuike and a 2011 second-round pick.
They dropped some old bodies (Al Harrington, Tracy McGrady, Eddie House and Sergio Rodriguez) and they added Andy Rautins, Landry Fields, Patrick Ewing Jr. and Roger Mason Jr.”

I’ve watched a few Knicks pre-season games, and the Knicks provided glimpses of promise from those new players.

And Amar’e looks good. Darn… darn good.

If the Knicks can get their hands on ‘Melo, and I feel like its possible that they do, they’re suddenly a threat. If CP3 joins the party, they’re serious contenders.

Milwaukee Bucks

Meaningful Offseason Moves

  • Released Luke Ridnour, signed Keyon Dooling for 2-years, $4.1 million.
  • Traded Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric to the Warriors for Corey Maggette
  • Drafted Larry Sanders
  • Signed Drew Gooden for 5-years, $34 million.
  • Re-signed John Salmons for 5-years, $40 million.
  • Traded 2012 second-round pick to the Nets for Chris Douglas-Roberts
  • Performed a sign-and-trade with Darnell Jackson to the Kings for Jon Brockman
  • Signed Earl Boykins for 1-year, veteran’s minimum.

Why the Bucks are Relevant
They were 46-36 last year, even though they lost Andrew Bogut in April.

They took the Hawks to seven games in the first round last year, arguably wearing said Hawks down, leading to a Magic second round sweep.

Bucks fans enjoyed a surprising intensity from their team on the defensive end, where they lead the league in holding opponents to the fewest shots per 100 possessions.

Assuming the Bucks can keep moving in a positive direction, they should be a playoff team, and that’s before factoring Bogut back into the picture, or the fact that Jennings and Salmons are still getting better, or considering the additions of Maggette and Gooden.

Charlotte Bobcats

Meaningful Offseason Moves

  • Signed Shaun Livingston for 2-years, $7 million
  • Re-signed Tyrus Thomas for 5-years, $40 million
  • Traded Tyson Chandler and Alexis Ajinca to Dallas for Matt Carroll, Eduardo Najera and Erick Dampier
  • Signed Dominic McGuire for 1-year, minimum
  • Signed Kwame Brown for 1-year, veteran’s minimum

Why the Bobcats are Relevant
The Bobcats made it to their first Playoffs last year, going 16-7 in the last stretch of their season. It wasn’t the kind of ball that made anyone overly nervous, but it did show that the Bobcats were heading in a positive direction with MJ at the helm and Larry Brown serving as the head coach.

Now, see, in my opinion, Larry Brown is the key to success in Charlotte. This is the kind of coach that can bring out talent in guys that most people don’t think twice about.

This is a good thing because – and I don’t want to be negative about this but – I think he’s going to need to. The Bobcat roster is nothing to be too concerned about (Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson, Eduardo Najera, Kwame Brown), but I have a feeling that if Coach Brown can bring these guys up, that may be enough to get them to the postseason.

And now the rest…
At a glance, it’s hard for me to decide which conference is stronger overall, though I suspect there are plenty of people with strong opinions. What I will say is that I feel the East is a bit weaker when it comes to the teams in the middle, and weaker still when it comes to teams at the bottom.

Atlanta Hawks

On the upside, they still largely have the core set of guys that took them to the playoffs last year…

On the downside, they did not look good – at all – in said playoff run. I originally had this team as heading to the playoffs again, but then I started to realize that while the Hawks stayed pretty well the same from last year to this, teams like the Bobcats and Bucks are more likely to be getting better than this aging Hawks squad.

Philadelphia 76ers

On the upside, the Sixers drafted maybe the best overall player for what they were looking for. It already appears that Evan Turner is set to become the next Doug Collins disciple. Beyond that, Andre Iguodala had a monster summer playing with the FIBA National team. He’s a player who looks to be coming into his own offensively.

On the downside, it’s not guaranteed that all these pieces will in fact come together. Doug Collins has recently taken some time away from the Sixers to evaluate recurring headaches and migraines. I certainly hope nothing serious is going on there, but even if he’s able to re-join the team soon and not experience any more symptoms, he’s still got a lot of proverbial headaches to deal with.

New Jersey Nets

On the upside, they landed Derrick Favors, signed a new coach in Avery Johnson and allowed Brook Lopez to go play for the FIBA Championship (and he had a solid summer doing so).

On the downside, I’m still of the mindset that the Basketball Gods are hazing Mr. Prokhorov. The Nets attempted to get every meaningful free agent available over the summer and got none of them.

At least they get to look forward to moving to Brooklyn next year.

Toronto Raptors

On the upside, they have a 7 foot sharp shooter in Bargnani to go along with Calderon, Jack and Barbosa. I think Raptors fans may be in for a long season, but at least there should be some occasional high scoring affairs to enjoy.

On the downside, the Raptors lost Bosh to the Heat and had to admit defeat on the Turkoglu experiment before shipping him off to Phoenix. At the moment, there is no clear candidate on the Raptors roster to replace either player.

Detroit Pistons

On the upside, the additions of Greg Monroe, Terrico White and Tracy McGrady is a good bit of help for a team that was struggling with with injuries to Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva last season. Having that entire group of players together and healthy is a positive thing for the struggling Pistons.

On the downside, it’s not really clear if that’ll be enough, as no one player among that group appear to be poised to really dominate this season.

Indiana Pacers

On the upside, there’s still a professional basketball team in Indiana. No, really, that was a big issue this offseason. The Pacers nearly needed to close up shop at their current venue before an agreement was reached to keep the team at Conseco Fieldhouse.

On the downside, the Pacers overall salary is hovering right up next to the league’s salary cap, and the team doesn’t have the means to go above it. The team you see take the floor pretty well *has* to be the team to play out the season, injuries be damned.

It’s a rough time for Pacer Basketball.

Washington Wizards

On the upside, Gilbert Arenas has notably pointed out that this is John Wall’s team now, and ultimately, he’s right. The Wizards may well be the most promising of the rebuilding teams, insomuch as they probably have the best single talent in Wall, but…

On the downside, they’re still a long ways off from relevancy, especially considering that Arenas appears to have checked out.

Cleveland Cavaliers

On the upside, The Cavs have themselves a new GM in Danny Ferry and a new – and very talented – coach in Byron Scott. They also picked up Ramon Sessions and Ryan Hollins. They also are a team that’s playing against incredibly low expectations, which means they stand a solid chance to surprise people.

On the downside, well, you know…

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~ by djepperson on October 22, 2010.

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