Friday, September 4, 2009

Who's winning the NBA's offseason?

The Carlos Boozer-to-the-Bulls report last week generated a lot of buzz among fans on this blog, who seemingly were split down the middle on whether the Utah Jazz forward would be a good addition. Unfortunately, whatever trade talks that might have taken place don't seem to be going anywhere, leaving the Bulls with nothing to offset the free-agent departure of Ben Gordon.
So which NBA teams are having outstanding offseasons, in terms of personnel changes that will make them better next season? The Cavaliers made the splashiest move, bringing in Shaquille O'Neal to play alongside LeBron James. But according to Chad Ford of, the team that has fared best in this offseason is the San Antonio Spurs.
In ranking the teams' offseason moves in this recent article, Ford praises the Spurs' acquisitions of athletic Richard Jefferson and old dependable Antonio McDyess, plus their ability to land DeJuan Blair despite not having a first-round pick in the draft.
The Pistons are third in Ford's rankings, drawing praise for signing Gordon (whom Ford calls arguably the best free agent on the market). Detroit also signed Gordon's former UConn teammate Charlie Villaneuva -- but, c'mon, are these moves really sufficient to say the Pistons are having the league's third-best offseason?
Not surprisingly, the Bulls rank near the bottom (No. 23). Ford says he's "still scratching [his] head a little concerning their draft. The Bulls still have lots of talent, but losing Gordon means they've taken a step back."
As for the teams considered most likely to contend for the NBA title next season, Boston ranks sixth for its underrated addition of Rasheed Wallace. Immediately behind the Celtics at No. 7 is rival Orlando, which added Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson but lost Hedo Turkoglu to free agency and Courtney Lee and Rafer Alston in the Carter deal.
I love the Lakers' siging of Ron Artest -- if any coach can tap his potential while keeping him in line, it's Phil Jackson. But Ford fears Artest will be nothing but trouble, and also notes the Lakers' loss of free agent Trevor Ariza and the iffy contract status of Lamar Odom in ranking them 24th (right behind the Bulls, as fate would have it).
My vote for top offseason goes to the Celtics, who in Wallace have added the perfect front-court catalyst to team with a hopefully healthy Kevin Garnett. Yes, Rasheed can be a hothead, accumulating technical fouls for going off on the refs. But when he's behaving, he does the kind of little-but-vital things that can lead a team deep into the playoffs.
Which team would you say is having the best offseaon:
Cleveland (Shaquille O'Neal)?
Orlando (Vince Carter)?
Boston (Rasheed Wallace)?
L.A. Lakers (Ron Artest)?
San Antonio (Ricard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess)?


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