Ladies and Gentleman, as we have finally completed the 2008-2009 NBA Season with the crowning of the Los Angeles Lakers, we move into the critical time between seasons. With the NBA draft looming in two weeks, lets take a look at each division and what teams should do. Today we look at the Atlantic Division.
BOSTON CELTICS- The Celtics are an interesting team these days. They are still an elite team in the East and could have been repeat champions if it wasn’t for that fateful Kevin Garnett knee injury. The Celtics could go many ways here. They could keep the Big 3 together and give it one more go around, or they could make some changes, however mild or drastic they decide. Without a first round pick in this years draft (Traded to Minnesota in the Kevin Garnett trade). There have been many talks of them trading into the lottery. They have eyes on Memphis’ number two pick and Washington’s number 5 selections. However, they don’t necessarily have the pieces to trade with Memphis. They are in the middle of a rebuilding process and wouldn’t want to take on any more money or contracts. The Washington trade seems more likely. The Wizards could trade that pick for Ray Allen with his expiring contract. Sources say that Danny Ainge desires Memphis Tigers standout Tyreke Evans. There have also been talks of the Phoenix Suns and Celtics talking about a Rajon Rondo Amare Stoudemire swap. This seems ridiculous since Rondo is quickly becoming an elite point guard and the Celtics don’t need Stoudemire at the power forward position with Kevin Garnett on the roster. Also the Celtics need to decide what to do with their free agents. They have restricted free agent in Leon Powe and Glen “Big Baby” Davis and unrestricted free agents in Mikki Moore, Eddie House, and Stephon Marbury. I see them letting Moore and Marbury go to other teams. They will resign Davis and House as solid role players. The only question is with Powe who is coming off knee surgery this season.
NEW JERSEY NETS- The Nets are in a good position to build on last season’s success. They have a strong point guard in Devin Harris. They also have a franchise center in Brook Lopez who they drafted last year. They have a former All Star in Vince Carter. They have a lot of holes in other positions that could be filled with a strong draft. They have some cap room but are unlikely to take on any more contracts with the summer blockbuster of 2010 coming next year. They have hopes of getting Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Amare Stoudemire, and Chris Bosh. This leads me to believe they will look to move Vinsanity to a contender. They will either seek expiring contracts or draft picks in this deals. Moving up in the draft or getting multiple first round picks will help them out. Rod Thorn wants to draft a tough power forward with the number 11 pick in this year’s draft. Mock drafts have Tyler Hansbrough from North Carolina slated here, but I find this unlikely. With the expected shakeup in the Top 5 with trades I see the Nets selecting the best player on the board at that point.
NEW YORK KNICKS- Coming off a decent season where fans were treating to a real team in the Garden for the first time since the pre- Isaiah Thomas era. With many players wanting to play for Mike D’Antoni the Knicks are in a good position. They want to take Stephen Curry to play in the run and gun system in New York. However, I see him being drafted already by a Top 10 team. The Knicks have some question on their current roster. Nate Robinson and David Lee are both free agents and in today’s economy they can’t resign both. Robinson is a 6th man gunner and David Lee is a great center posting 20-10 consistently. However he is under sized. They have solid players at the 3 and 4 with Wilson Chandler and Al Harrington respectfully. However, Harrington has a player option this season and could be a valuable trade asset to clear cap space. Their biggest void is at shooting guard, thus their desire for Curry. But the New York brass need to decide what they are going to do in regards to Robinson and Curry while still keeping money available for the “Summer of Lebron”. I see them resigning David Lee and letting Robinson walk if they can draft Curry to take his place.
PHILADELPHIA 76ERS- The 76ers salvage their season after a terrible start. They fired Mo Cheeks are the rough beginning and the failure of the Elton Brand signing. They play better without Brand with an up- tempo style. After a strong performance in the playoffs against the Orlando Magic they look to build upon last season ending success. They have a quality player in Andre Iguodala and a rising star in Thaddeus Young. They have a need at center with the under performing Samuel Dalembert. However, they might have a hole at point guard if they cant resign Andre Miller. With the recent trade for Jason Kapono, he fills the 3-pointing void they have and this can allow the team to let Donyell Marshall go in free agency. With no real quality centers in this draft I see them passing on that need. Unless they sign a free agent such as Gortat away from the Magic or take a chance through the draft with someone like B.J. Mullens.
TORONTO RAPTORS- The Raptors were one of the leagues most disappointing teams last season. This Chris Bosh due to become a free agent next summer and deciding not to sign a contract extension this year the Raptors have a difficult decision to make. Do they trade Chris Bosh and get something in return or do they chance it in free agency, possible letting him walk for nothing? This decision will affect what they due this summer. They have great players in Jose Calderon at point and Andrea Bargnani at center but big holes in other areas. They also have free agents this year in Anthony Parker and Shawn Marion. It is unlikely they will resign both, and possible neither. Look for the Raptors to be active in the free agent market this year, whether they trade Bosh or try to put a better team on the floor to lure him to stay. The contract of Carlos Delfino can be a valuable trading piece. The team has already been active in the trading market by sending Jason Kapono to Philadelphia for Reggie Evans to save cap space. They could take a look at solid shooting guards in Ben Gordon or Nate Robinson. Sources have them selection a wing player such as DeMar DeRozan out of USC or Gerald Henderson from Duke.