Since most of the action has died down in the Eastern Conference, I wanted to throw out some thoughts on who’s improved and who’s not improved. Also, looking at who can contend with the Miami Heat as there’s no doubt, they’ll be the favorites to repeat with the team they’re bringing back. Now, next season with Lebron James’ contract up, who knows what we could be talking about.
First, I’ll start with the Indiana Pacers as we all know that’s who we cover here. The Pacers made the move of resigning David West, which was a no brainer. Then they picked up C.J. Watson and Chris Copeland through some free agency moves. The verdict will be out on those two guys until the actual season because it’s hard telling how they will fit in. Last season, I thought bringing in D.J. Augustin would solidify the back up point guard position, but that didn’t work out, so I’m very curious to see how Watson performs. I like the Copeland move because he’s a big man that can spread the floor with his deadly three point shooting. Almost like Sam Perkins back in the day. That should give the Pacers a different look for the bench. The biggest question still lingering is what does Danny Granger do? And we probably won’t have that answer until training camp rolls around. I’ve said many times already, Granger should come off the bench. But at the same time, I understand if he’s going to be a starter since that was his role anyways. It’s just a slippery slope with how well Lance Stephenson stepped into the starting lineup as to what his mental state would be going back to the bench. Nothing will be known until the season rolls around. For now, the Pacers made some good moves, but I don’t think they improved as much as fans would like.
Next up, let’s talk about the big move of the Brooklyn Nets. First, they get Jason Kidd to come in and coach, a day after he retires. Deron Williams apparently wanted Kidd to coach, so that worked out. Usually, Williams is a coach killer, so let’s see how long the love fest lasts there. Then, the Nets made that huge deal of getting Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for some pieces to give back to the Boston Celtics. This is the move that shows the Nets want to compete right now, and that’s great to see. Too many times, I believe teams worry about the future, and not the now. So if the Nets want to go all in on this season, why not? That’s also a slippery slope because I think this thing could fail miserably if things aren’t clicking. And of course, Kidd will be the first one to go, and with this being his first head coaching job, what a way to fail. Plus, you have to wonder about the health of Pierce and Garnett. Two guys that have put plenty of miles on their bodies.
How about Chicago and getting Derek Rose back? That will be the biggest factor for the Bulls competing in the Eastern Conference. Who knows what level Rose comes back at, and what the team will do around him? There’s a sweet video floating around prompting his return that was quite well done.
The Bulls, Nets, and Pacers are my three choices to contend with the top of the Eastern Conference. After that, you could probably slot any of the remaining teams into the playoff picture. One team that could surprise people is the Cleveland Cavaliers. I’ve really opened my eyes to what Kyrie Irving can do, and getting Andrew Bynum could work out. It didn’t work out in Philadelphia, but maybe he’s ready to go now, and can become that top center that he should be.
Other than that, the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks will probably jump into the playoffs because no other team will be able to. I don’t know if the Detroit Pistons will make things work with Rasheed Wallace as head coach. Bringing back Chauncey Billups could help out. Josh Smith is their big pickup of the off season, but is that really a guy that’s going to carry your franchise into title contention? No way. The Boston Celtics will be in rebuilding mode, and I am excited to see how Brad Stevens carries over into the NBA game. I have to support my former Butler Bulldogs.
The Charlotte Bobcats will be the Charlotte Bobcats, so I can’t see them even competing at a respectable level anytime soon. The 76ers will be bad. This Eastern Conference is about the top teams, and everyone else. Some people will say it’s all about the Miami Heat and everyone else. But I think this season that gap will be closer than people realize.