It’s been a busy few months since the Miami Heat defeated the San Antonio Spurs to win their second successive NBA title.
There have been a number of free-agency moves and a few big name trades that will have a huge impact on next season’s playoff picture, and here we look at the winners and losers in the off-season.
The Houston Rockets
It’s been an incredibly busy off-season for the Houston Rockets with a number of players coming both in and out of the team. The Rockets secured the signature of Dwight Howard after he suffered a miserable season at the Los Angeles Lakers, where he struggled with a shoulder injury and to get any sort of form going. It’s a fresh start for D12 who has publicly expressed his desire to win a ring and he obviously sees Houston as the best place to do so.
The Rockets have also made a number of other signings who are unlikely to feature in the starting five but will provide the roster with more strength and depth. Marcus Camby has re-signed after the center spent last season with the New York Knicks, and was then waived by the Portland Trail Blazers. The Rockets have also added Fransisco Garcia and Omri Casspi along with a handful of rookies who will all give the Rockets options off the bench. They have also got rid of Royce White, Carlos Delfino and Thomas Robinson, which provided the cap space to sign Howard.
Houston has performed very well this off-season and now has a starting five that could really challenge for a title. The current bench they have is very impressive and it could be the decisive factor in them reaching the finals and maybe even winning a title.
The Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets have also had a busy off-season. The Nets were involved in the headline trade so far this summer where they acquired Boston Celtics trio Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry in exchange for MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans and Kris Joseph along with future draft picks. The three players will complete a very impressive starting five for Brooklyn, who could really challenge for a title. However, these players only have a few years left in them so if they are to win a title it will have to be soon.
The Nets have also added free agents Andrei Kirilenko and Alan Anderson to their roster who will both provide them with strength off the bench. They have also picked up rookie Mason Plumlee in the draft. Plumlee impressed for Brooklyn at the Summer League and looks like an excellent addition.
The Nets have lost a number of players but have replaced them with real quality. The current roster they have is one of the strongest in the league and the Nets look like they could be the team to try and knock Miami off the top of the Eastern Conference.
The Los Angeles Clippers
The LA Clippers have had one of the most impressive off-seasons in the NBA. They managed to keep all-star guard Chris Paul and have made fantastic additions to their bench. They have also brought in Doc Rivers as their new head coach to replace Vinny Del Negro. There was a lot of speculation as to whether Paul would re-sign with the Clippers but he did and we can all look forward to another season of breath-taking alley-oops from the Clips.
The Clippers have made strong additions to their bench and now have one of the best benches in the league. Darren Collison has been signed and he will provide solid cover for Paul at the point Guard position after Eric Bledsoe was traded to the Phoenix Suns. Shooting guard J.J Redick has also been brought in and he will provide a three-point threat the Clippers lacked last season.
J.J Hickson has departed from LA and Byron Mullens has been brought in to provide cover for the big men. There has been one change to the starting five after Caron Butler was also traded to the Suns and Jared Dudley has came to California to replace him.
The Clippers have managed to keep a strong starting five for next season. The Clippers fell short last year, losing in the first round f the playoffs and their new bench could take them further this season. The Clips have one of the NBA’s strongest rosters and I am backing them to go far this season.
The Los Angeles Lakers
In contrast to their LA rivals the Lakers have had a miserable off-season. The injury to Kobe Bryant at the end of last season, which could affect his performances this season, was made worse by the Lakers’ failure to keep Dwight Howard.
The Lakers looked like a championship team at this time last year but it failed to materialise and now it looks like they will struggle to make the playoffs this season. They have also lost hothead Metta Worldpeace which could really hurt them in the long run next season.
The 16-time champions have brought in Nick Young, Jordan Farmar and Chris Kaman but it’s unlikely they will make the impact needed to reach the playoffs. It is unclear what the Lakers starting five will be next year. One positive for LA is that Pau Gasol will get more minutes with the departure of Dwight Howard and he will be a key player in trying to get the Lakers to the playoffs.
The Boston Celtics
It’s pretty obvious who the losers were in the trade between Boston and Brooklyn. The starting five for the Celtics this season looks fairly weak, especially if Rajon Rondo continues to be sidelined. This season looks very bleak for Boston and a playoff spot is almost impossible for Danny Ainge’s team. However they do have a big roster for the season and it could be strong.
The Celtics have acquired Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks and Keith Bogans from Brooklyn and along with rookie Kelly Olynyk, who was very impressive at the summer league, gives them lots of options. They have kept players like Jeff Green and Avery Bradley, who will be key for them this season.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the Celtics. They have acquired a number of future draft picks and with next year’s draft class looking like it will be packed with talent, the Celtics could add some real talent to their team in the future. They just have to get through this season and then they can start rebuilding for the future.
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