Eastern Conference Run Down (Updated)


Miami Heat

The NBA Champions have turned the page after celebrating, and are focused on defending their title. Dwyane Wade will have surgery on his knee and Chris Bosh is recovering from his oblique strain, so only LeBron James will participate with Team USA. Coach K is thinking about naming James as a co-captain along with Kobe Bryant.

On draft night Miami swapped picks with Philadelphia, selecting LSU 7-footer Justin Hamilton in the second round while acquiring a future first-round pick. Hamilton is a big man that runs the floor, can hit free throws, and passes well. He should be a smooth fit into the rotation for some minutes as a blue-collar big man that adds size to the roster.

As far as free agency is concerned, the Heat are in the hunt for sharpshooter Ray Allen. Boston has offered him double the money to keep him in a green uniform. He hasn’t had the best relationship with point guard Rajon Rondo, and is expected to take his talents to South Beach. Miami is also talking to veteran big man Marcus Camby.

Chicago Bulls

The story is obviously Derrick Rose and his recovery. For all we know, he’s making progress and taking the necessary strides to get back to form. Joakim Noah is taking time to heal his ankle and will not play for the French team this Summer. Luol Deng is not opting for surgery on his wrist and is determined to play for Great Britain.

Chicago left draft night with Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague. Teague is a quick penetrating guard that called the offense for the National Champions. He’s a good passer and defender, drawing comparisons to Rajon Rondo of the Celtics. Last year the Bulls drafted Nikola Mirotic from Real Madrid in the Euroleague, he was named the Rising Star the past two seasons and is projected to join the team in 2014.

The Bulls could be losing big man Omer Asik to the Rockets, and are linked to Kirk Hinrich, Courtney Lee and Derrick Fisher. Aside from Rose missing a portion of next season, the bench mob is in question. The Bulls have a team option on CJ Watson, Ronnie Brewer, and Kyle Korver, while John Lucas III is a free agent.

Boston Celtics

Boston took care of their first priority by resigning Kevin Garnett then Jeff Green. Garnett was expected to test the market and many teams were interested, but they quickly resigned. Green missed last season with a heart condition. He played well for the Thunder as a tweener forward before getting traded for Kendrick Perkins. The Celtics reached out to Ray Allen with a nice offer, but he’s expected to dart to Miami.

They drafted the fundamental Jared Sullinger, a player that rebounds and knocks down free throws but he does have back issues. They also selected Fab Melo, a physical 7-footer that protects the rim with a nice face-up shot. The left the draft with Kris Joseph in the second round. Joseph is a 6-11 explosive finisher. He’s a well-rounded wing that can hit from downtown.

In the meantime they snagged veteran combo-guard Jason Terry from the Mavericks, likely Allen’s replacement. Word is that this is Coach K’s last go-around with Team USA. Who better to takeover as the next coach than Doc Rivers, a man with class that handles player egos with the best of them?

Indiana Pacers

The offseason plan for the Pacers is to keep the good thing they have going. They signed point guard George Hill to a 5-year deal, but may be losing all-star center Roy Hibbert to Portland and a max contract. With some changes in the front office it will be interesting to see if Danny Granger is in their future plans or if they dangle him on the trading block.

First-round pick Miles Plumlee is a rebounding big man from Duke. He’s a project offensively but runs the floor. He’s strong and does the dirty work. They traded for Orlando Johnson in the draft, a versatile offensive scorer including his 3-point stroke. He’s fundamental and athletic, but could improve his handle and like most players, defense.

The past couple of seasons Indiana tried to trade for OJ Mayo, now he’s a free agent. They also reached out to Courtney Lee, Gerald Green, Chris Kaman, and Ian Mahinmi.

New York Knicks

New York has a new point guard by the name of Jason Kidd for three seasons, hoping he is the answer to their offense by distributing and leadership. They committed to coach Mike Woodson and he will try to get Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire on the same page. They definitely played better defense since he took over.

Draft pick from Olympiacos in Greece, Kostas-Papanikolaou, is a left-handed wing with the ability to score inside-out. He plays well without the ball but isn’t known as a shooter or playmaker. He’s a hustle player that does the little things, and is expected to join the Knicks in 2014.

The Knicks have some decisions to make in the back court. JR Smith is expected to return, they’re expected to match Houston’s offer to Lin and Landry Fields signed an offer from Toronto. They’re also talking to a familiar face in Raymond Felton. They did sign James White, who averaged 16.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game last season for Scavolini Pesaro in Italy.

Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia keeps Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen in town. All-star Andre Iguodala’s name is always swirling in trade rumors and there was some previous interest in Evan Turner as well. There is a report saying that Elton Brand is going to get amnestied to alleviate cap space.

76ers got Maurice Harkless and Arnett Moultrie on draft night. Harkless is a physical swingman that plays big, attacking the rim and blocking shots. He runs up and down the court and is active in the passing lanes defensively. Moultrie just rolled his ankle and will not play in the Orlando Summer League. He a mobile big and crashes the glass, with some face-up skills.

Jrue Holiday expressed his desire for a max contract, so we’ll see how that situation unfolds into next offseason. Lou Williams is drawing interest from several teams and is likely on his way out, so they inked Nick Young to a deal. The 76ers are looking to add a shooter and even inquired about Dwight Howard.

Atlanta Hawks

As you may have heard, the Hawks ship Joe Johnson out of town for five players, one is Jordan Farmar and he’s rumored to be bought out. They cleared even more cap space by swapping Marvin Williams for Devin Harris and his expiring contract. Having Al Horford as an asset to build around or even trade gives them flexibility.

They drafted Vanderbilt shooting guard John Jenkins. He’s money on the perimeter and charity stripe with a quick release, and crafty finishing in the paint. Their other pick Mike Scott can score, both in the post and facing up. He’s physical and hits the boards, similar to Utah’s Paul Millsap.

New GM Danny Ferry comes in making moves, and all of a sudden Atlanta is trying to bring Dwight Howard back home. Howard is good friends with Josh Smith and the newly acquired Anthony Morrow. Smith had requested a trade, but recently gave his approval of the team’s new direction. They’re angling for Chris Paul next offseason, he just turned down an extension from the Clippers.

Orlando Magic

Orlando is talking to teams about offers for Dwight Howard, although it’s widely believed his next destination is Brooklyn. They will definitely reload with players and picks when a deal goes through. With Howard they made the finals a couple years ago, now the franchise is starting fresh from the top-down.

In the first round Orlando selected Andrew Nicholson, the big man from St. Bonaventure will block shots and grab rebounds. He has a variety of post moves with a face-up game as far as the arc. They picked up Kyle O’Quinn, another rebounder and shot blocker with a low post game.

The Magic retained Jameer Nelson and JJ Redick. They’re currently interviewing coaches. They would love to trade Hedo Turkoglu’s contract in a  package with Howard. Their draft picks add size and skill to a front line that could also lose restricted free agent Ryan Anderson. Another thing to think about, how will Howard bounce back from back surgery?

Brooklyn Nets 

The Nets migrated to Brooklyn with a splash, showcasing the all-star back court of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. They successfully resigned Williams who tested the waters of free agency, while trading contracts for Johnson. Whether they stand pat or acquire Howard this offseason, this should is a playoff team.

Tyshawn Taylor out of Kansas is a quick guard with some size. He defends well and thrives in transition. His shot needs work and his style of play is more high-risk, high-reward. Belgian forward Tornike Shengelia runs the floor with athleticism and intensity. He has a good handle with the ball and rebounds well. Ilkan Karaman is another forward with length, a great athlete that knocks down the occasional three.

It might take Brooke Lopez, Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks, and three first-round picks to acquire Dwight Howard, but they would have their own “big three” so to speak. They wouldn’t have to be better than other big threes in the league, just good enough to win a title. The Nets signed Gerald Wallace, Spanish League star forward Mirza Teletovic, and are talking to Ersan Ilysova.

Washington Wizards 

The makeup of Washington has changed in 2012. The front line consists of Nene Hilario, Emeka Okafor, and Trevor Ariza. They now have a viable starting lineup and support around John Wall. They also retained head coach Randy Wittman.

With the third pick in the draft they got Florida guard Bradley Beal. Beal can drain jumpers along the perimeter as well as attack the hoop with authority. He can grab some boards and he makes good decisions, but could improve his shooting on the move. They also drafted Spain guard Tomas Satoransky out of Spain. A 6’7 catch and shoot player that’s comfortable with the ball in his hands. He’s not known for his defense or rebounding.

At the moment the Wizards are interested in Courtney Lee. He does a little bit of everything and would be inserted into the rotation immediately. After adding talent and ridding themselves of Rashard Lewis and his contract, Wall is encouraged about the team’s future.

Milwaukee Bucks 

Milwaukee added defensive specialist Samuel Dalembert to the roster. This team is led by their explosive back court duo of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Drew Gooden filled the box scores last season when they fell just short of the playoffs. Ersan Ilysova had a breakout season but is drawing heavy interest around the league.

UNC’s John Henson injects life into the defense. He is a good shot blocker and rebounder, with great athleticism but he would benefit by adding strength. Kentucky shooting guard Doron Lamb will drain jumpers, whether it’s behind the arc or a contested mid-range shot. He’s a shooting guard, and the Bucks added a couple specialist this offseason.

The Bucks are letting Ilysova’s market play out, but they do want to keep him around. They’re also discussing an extension with Ellis, as Jennings previously stated his desire to test free agency before extending. This team will flirt with the playoffs again.

Detroit Pistons 

Detroit traded for Corey Maggette and add depth to the wing position. Pistons fans should be encouraged by the play of Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight. They’re forming a tough young nucleus. Tayshawn Prince and Jason Maxiell could be part of the turn around by playing for Detroit, or netting more pieces via trade.

They had three draft picks, one is Andre Drummond. A defensive big man, he’s intense on the boards and blocks, should compliment Monroe well down low. Kim English sounds like a Pistons player, good shooter and defender. Student of the game and savvy, he could get a little bigger. Khris Middleton is a three-level scorer and playmaker. He’s got a good mid-range game and sees the floor well, but has a history of knee injuries and needs to add strength.

Detroit has formed a big front line, while recently signing 7-foot Ukrainian center Vyacheslav Kratsov. Kyle Singler, former from Duke and most recently in Spain, is expected to play for the Pistons next season. He chose to play overseas during the lockout.

Cleveland Cavaliers 

Cleveland is building their team around Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving. Irving developed a reputation as a clutch player in his rookie season with game-winning baskets. Antawn Jamison is a free agent and his future is in question, while Anderson Varejao has been in and out of trade scenarios.

Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller were welcomed to the Cavaliers on draft night. Waiters came out saying, “I don’t think I have any weakness.” Waiters brings instant offense, both handling the ball and scoring. Zeller can do a little bit of everything as a big man who can not only score, he’s a solid defender, a good rebounder and free throw shooter. They just signed undrafted rookie Kevin Jones. The forward from West Virginia can shoot face-up jumpers including the three-ball, and he crashed the offensive glass.

The Cavs are looking at Russian guard Alexey Shved from Russia, Ersan Ilysova, and they extended qualifying offers to Semih Erden, Alonzo Gee, and Luke Harangody.

Toronto Raptors 

After being turned down by Steve Nash, Toronto gets a new floor general in Kyle Lowry. The point guard is a box-filler and a leader, acquired after a fallout with Houston. They’re also awaiting the Knicks and their decision on matching Landry Field’s offer sheet he signed with the Raptors.

The team drafted Terrence Ross, Quincy Acy, Tomislav Zubcic. Ross is a good 3-point shooter and athletic defender that hustles on the boards. Acy has hops, works hard on the glass, has a mid-range shot, and he’s a good passer. Zubcic is a 7-footer from Croatia, with strengths in ballhandling and mobility. Not the best rebounder or defender with his size, he has a decent shot and is projected to join the team in 2015.

The big question is will they trade Jose Calderon or amnesty him? The Raptors are one of several teams to inquire about the services of Ersan Ilysova. Before making the move to get Lowry, most of their interest in free agency was at the point guard position. They let Aaron Gray and Jamaal Magloire go, but Jerryd Bayless is still a restricted free agent.

Charlotte Bobcats 

Charlotte got a future first-round pick and Ben Gordon before the draft. Gordon will not suit up for Great Britain along with Byron Mullens who is recovering from a toe injury. Jamario Moon Eduardo Najera were let go, while DJ Augustin and Derrick Brown received qualifying offers.

Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Vanderbilt’s Jeffery Taylor were drafted by the bobcats. Kidd-Gilchrist was the second pick of the draft because he can do it all. He could improve his shot, but the guy does everything else so well. He’s a two-way player with the athleticism and mentality to help turn this franchise around. Taylor is a lock-down defender, contributes by hitting the boards, and can stroke it from 3-point land. He could be more assertive offensively.

The Bobcats are hoping to hit on their two draft picks, and they need young players like Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson to improve in the back court. They certainly have the athletes and defenders to create an identity.