Eastern Conf. Summer Transactions
Below is a rundown of significant transactions made since July 1 by East Conference squads. At this point, most all of the major free agents are locked up, and really only back-up caliber players are left on the market. Varejao is the only remaining free agent left who could command more than the MLE, but only the Bobcats have more than the MLE, & I imagine their summer spending spree is over. Chris Webber is still out there, but he is only interested in a few title-contending teams (Dallas & Detroit have been mentioned), or he might retire. After that a few solid wingman remain on the market like M. Pietrus, M. Barnes, J. Posey, C. Bell, R. Patterson, Pavlovic, Ed Jones & J. Hayes. Very little to choose from if you are still searching for PG or bigs.
After having a successful draft for once, Atlanta has been quiet on the free agent front. They could still look to deepen their center spot, though very little remains on the market.
Still have all of their MLE, and could definitely use some frontcourt help. The problem, as mentioned above, is there ain't much of anything out there on the market that will make much of an impact. Maybe a guy like Melvin Ely or Rafael Araujo could provide some depth. Yeah I know, nothing to get excited about. Will probably have to trade to get viable frontcourt help--Ainge should look to use Ratliff's expiring deal as bait.
BOBCATS: Re-signed Gerald Wallace & Matt Carroll
Have one of the deeper wing rotations in the league. Really kept Wallace at a bargain rate--half the price of Lewis. Yes. Lewis is a better shooter & offensive player, but Wallace might be the better all-around player, and by no means is Rashard worth twice as much as Gerald. Why they thought they needed to give Carroll a 6-year deal, I'm not sure. Carroll has had only one good season, and should have been given 3 years at the most. Plus, the Bobcats just brought in JRich & had solid back-ups to fall back on with Morrison & Herrmann if they lost Carroll in free agency. Why they felt the urgency that Carroll had to be locked up so early in the summer is beyond me. The good thing for Charlotte is they still have roughly $8-10 mil left under the cap, which can come in handy either to facilitate trades or later in the season if certain players are waived.
BULLS: Signed Joe Smith; Re-signed Andres Nocioni
Some people think that Paxson shelled out too much green for Noce, but I think $6-7 mil per is about right for his skill level. Now it might be slightly too much for the Bulls since Noce is a back-up in Chicago, but this guy could start on a lot of teams & is now a valuable trade option for Paxson. Don't forget Andres was huge in the playoffs in '06 & was playing pretty solid ball before the fascitis set in--he was pitching around 15ppg & 6 rpg. Noce rebounds well for a natural SF, has improved his shooting, and is one of the few Bulls who will drive deep into the lane to draw fouls. Joe Smith might not really answer their low-post scoring needs, but he still is a solid vet who should be a steady contributor. The Bulls might be the deepest team in the league right now having 2 quality players at each position, and I'm leaning toward Chicago as my Eastern Conf. favorite right now.
Sort of disappointing that a team that made a Finals run this year really can't make significant changes because they are held hostage by the lux tax. Will see if Dan Gilbert really does loosen the purse strings. The one good thing for them is no teams will offer more than the MLE to Varejao, so the Cavs have the ability to control the negotiations easier. And same goes for Pavlovic, so you can keep his pricetag down as well.
PISTONS: Re-signed Chauncey Billups; Re-signed Amir Johnson
Pistons retained Billups at a pretty reasonable yearly rate--about $11.5 mil & are only obligated to 4 years. Not too shabby. Dumars lucked out because there was very little competition for Chauncey's services, besides Milwaukee, so they could keep Billups' price down. Amir Johnson was also retained, which seems to be a nice move since he tore up the NBDL, and he can provide a jolt of youth to the Pistons frontline. Pistons were able to keep their core intact (Webber's status is still uncertain), and they added some much needed youth on the bench, so they still should be considered a strong contender for the East title.
PACERS: Signed Travis Diener; Signed Kareem Rush
Pacers had a big need for a back-up PG, so Diener was a decent grab. The Pacers also have a crushing need for a 2-guard, so going after Rush might be a good gamble. Rush is probably not starting-caliber, but he does have a picture-perfect jumper that Coach O'Brien should love in his 3pt-happy offense.
Have to strengthen their PG spot, so guys like Boykins, Smush, & Brevin Knight are really the only options out there. Heavily rumored to be after Navarro, which is a savvy move since Juan can play a little PG in a pinch & could play alongside Wade well for extended minutes; just not certain Miami has much Grunfeld will want in return for Juan's rights. Also looking for a SF, but not really sure why they just don't re-sign Posey. It would allow them to hold onto their MLE, and there really not many better options than Posey on the free market.
BUCKS: Re-signed Mo Williams; Signed D. Mason; Signed J. Voskuhl
Bucks had to keep Mo since there was very slim pickings for PGs in the free agent market & Mo was clearly the best option out there. The Bucks also needed to address their SF position since they passed on Corey Brewer to immerse themselves in the Yi debacle. So Mason should be a value pick-up at $5mil per for only 2 years. He can't shoot & he turns the ball over at an alarming rate for a non-primary ball-handler, but can provide a much needed defensive presence for the Bucks. Voskuhl gives the Bucks a servicable big body, and a little insurance if Harris can't bring Yi over.
NETS: Re-signed Vince Carter; Signed Jamaal Magloire
Re-upping Vince was a must since the Nets have to look to win now. And to be only responsible for 4 years of contract... have to think the Nets made out pretty well. I like the pick-up of Magloire; basically no risk involved by signing him to just one year. The guy has shown he can be a pretty valuable post presence in the recent past (All-Star in '04). Still shows the ability to pound the boards (especially the offensive), and has the physical tools to be a solid defensive presence in the painted area. Some might be not as high on Jamaal because of his lackluster play the last few years, but you have to give him some leeway since for the last 2 years in a row he knew he was not long for his team & would be traded in the near future. That can't be good for anyone's psyche, especially for someone as surly as Magloire.
Also have their full MLE, but they might sit tight since they have so many guys under contract (15 at last check). Still have not addressed their need for a defensive-minded big, an issue that is now exacerbated by teaming Randolph & Curry together to form the worst defensive backline in the NBA.
ORLANDO: Sign/Trade for Rashard Lewis
Chad Ford's piece on this deal pretty much covered all the bases. Orlando still has a few more holes to fill on their roster but with all the money they've thrown at Rashard & the recent extension for Dwight, they really boxed themselves in in O-Town. They still need to add some depth to their frontline & they still might need to find a viable starting option at the 2-guard--sorry but I'm not sold on Redick as a NBA starter.
Not really sure if it even matters if the Sixers use their MLE at this point, because it really should not make much of a dent in their woeful prospects for next season anyway. Plus, Philly is right at the lux tax threshold thanks to still paying Webber's & Aaron McKie's deals. Not really sure how this team is gonna score points outside of Iggy next year, especially on their frontline. Not to mention, I don't expect their putrid defense to improve much either. Should be bad times all around next year. They only have the MLE to use, and still need a quality back-up PG & veteran help at PF. And as mentioned above, the remaining free agents at both positions will not have much of an impact anyways, so may be better that King sits on the MLE, and just concede the fact that the Sixers will mostly likely be the worst team in the East.
RAPTORS: Signed Jason Kapono; Signed Maceo Baston
Not really liking the Kapono deal. Is he really worth the full MLE? There's no doubt he is a dead-eye shooter, but he has only one good year under his belt after bouncing around the fringes of the league for a few years. He really might be better suited as a back-up, and think Delfino has more all-around talent & Carlos is the one who should be projected as the starting SF instead. Even though they lost Mo Pete, they still have Parker & Bargnani (who at this point is really just SF on offense anyways), so another shooter was not a crushing need--getting some rebounding help with the MLE was much more important. Maybe they answered those rebounding issues somewhat with the solid addition of another battle-tested Euroleague vet, Maceo Baston.
WIZARDS: Re-signed DeShawn Stevenson
Good move holding on to DeShawn. Even though they just drafted a promising 2-guard in Nick Young, think the Wizards had to keep someone around who actually plays a modicum of defense. And by re-upping DeShawn, the Wiz still have some of the MLE to go after some defensive help on the frontline--though the free agent big guy pool in rather shallow--or just throwing the money at Andray Blatche.