Offseason recap: Catching up on moves in the Eastern Conference
FOX Sports Wisconsin
The NBA’s offseason is only a few weeks old and there’s been big shakeups all over the league. The Milwaukee Bucks will be looking to win a second straight Eastern Conference title, but how will things look in 2019-20? We take a look at the major moves made by all the teams in the East, listed in order of last season’s record.
Skinny: Middleton is back (with a big contract) and, surprisingly, so is Hill, who stepped up in the playoffs, for entire season. Robin Lopez adds depth behind his brother, who is sticking around. Former Marquette star Matthews and sharpshooter Kyle Korver should fit right in. Matthews has made at least 150 3-pointers in each of the last eight seasons and Korver was built for Mike Budenholzer’s 3-point offense (and in fact Korver made his only All-Star team while playing for Bud in Atlanta). The Bucks lose a key piece in Brogdon, but the roster is still in great shape and primed for another deep playoff run.
Skinny: Yeah, there’s going to be a bit of a drop off. In Leonard, the Raptors are losing 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game not to mention a tenacious defender. He brought a whole attitude to Toronto – not to mention a title - and, obviously, is going to be hard (ok, pretty much impossible) to replace. Green was a fine complementary piece. Toronto is hoping one of their signings (basically all role players) can break out, including Thomas, a sharpshooter who spent the past few years in Europe.
Skinny: The whole “we’re going to build around Jimmy Butler thing” changed quickly to “we’re going to build around Tobias Harris”. But Philadelphia did OK in getting Richardson from Miami in return then adding Horford from division rival Boston. The 76ers will be legit competition for the Bucks for the top spot in the East.
Skinny: Boston lost a lot of superstar power in Irving and Horford. Walker is a different kind of player than Irving but could fit in well in Brad Stevens’ system. Horford might actually be the harder to replace and Boston has gone with depth pieces in trying to do so, while also hoping Gordon Hayward is better two years out after a season-ending injury.
Skinny: Indiana wanted to add shooters in the offseason then picked up three guards who can do that in Brogdon, Lamb and McConnell. The Pacers did lose a couple of forwards, though, in Bogdanovic and Young, who they haven’t replaced. Even with their moves, the eventual return of Victor Oladipo might be the key to the Pacers’ season.
Skinny: Has any team remade itself over this offseason more than the Nets? Irvin, Durant (when he’s healthy) and Jordan give Brooklyn three star players while Chandler, Prince and Temple will provide nice depth. If Durant can’t return from his Achilles injury next season, the Nets could be a year away from challenging for the East title. But if he can return late … look out for the Nets in the playoffs.
Skinny: The Magic finished seventh in the conference and kept key players like Ross and Vucevic but made no splash moves (with all due respect to Aminu). Status quo while those around them, both above and below, made moves.
Skinny: The Hornets didn’t help their reputation of being directionless after they low-balled Walker. Another mediocre, or worse, season appears to be in the offing. (Of course, even with Walker it’s doubtful Charlotte would be a playoff team.)
Lost: Ryan Anderson, Josh Richardson, Dwyane Wade, Hasaan Whiteside
Skinny: Out with one former Marquette star (Wade) and in with another (Butler). The cost to acquire Butler was high, and not just monetarily, as the Heat had to give up Richardson and clear cap space by trading Whiteside and waiving Anderson. Butler not going to a “super team” situation is surprising. How high can he lift a non-playoff team on his own?
Skinny: The Wizards have made a lot of moves this offseason. Is it just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic or is there a clear path? Washington did acquire some young players, so the eye is likely on the future more than the present or short-term.
Skinny: Give the Hawks credit; they are at least trying to mix things up. And why not take some chances. Maybe the oft-injured Parsons can get healthy and play like he did at the beginning of his career with Houston and Dallas. And maybe Parker keeps progressing (and isn’t that big a defensive liability). There’s a long way to go back to respectability, but, hey, you never know.
Skinny: Chicago made its big move during the season when it acquired Otto Porter. That, coupled with getting some role players in the offseason and hoping for improvement from younger players and the Bulls should be improved, at least.
Skinny: The Knicks had hoped to make a big splash this offseason and, well, LOL. Even one of their bigger signings (relatively speaking), Bullock, could miss the entire season. Pretty much sums up the way things have gone recently in New York.