Sportsline grades team's offseason (Atlantic)

Sportsline grades team's offseason (Atlantic)

Postby JSM on Tue Sep 16, 2003 4:41 pm

Here is what kind of grade and the reason for the grade given to each team. I broke it down into conference to shorten it up

Boston Celtics: Danny Ainge is running the team now as president of player personnel and immediately addressed needs when he swung a draft day deal to get point guard Marcus Banks and high school center Kendrick Perkins. They also might have gotten a steal in the second round with undersized but powerfully built forward Brandon Hunter. Ainge then traded marginal young point guard J.R. Bremer to Cleveland for talented but unpolished forward Jumaine Jones. No doubt Ainge is being pro-active, but unless Banks and Perkins make an immediate impact, they still have major questions. There has been plenty of talk about Antoine Walker being moved, but with two more seasons at huge money and his lack of conditioning, his trade value doesn't match his productivity. Grade: B-

Miami Heat: This could be the time that Pat Riley actually does make the kind of personnel moves that will have an impact on the rest of the East. The six-year, $65 million deal he signed Lamar Odom to is a huge gamble, but coupled with the drafting of Dwyane Wade, they are the kind of moves that could change them from a bottom rung team into a serious playoff contender in the 45-victory-or-so category. Yes, they still lack a center to help Brian Grant from being out of position in the middle, but with the athleticism they've added to play alongside Caron Butler and Eddie Jones, they'll be far more dangerous. They still need another point guard besides more-style-than-substance Rafer Alston, but they finally appear to be on the right track after drowning for two years. Grade: B+

New Jersey Nets: Just re-signing Jason Kidd after his protracted flirtation with the San Antonio Spurs made this a successful offseason, but that Alonzo Mourning came with him adds dramatically to the two-time Eastern Conference champs' lofty perch atop the Atlantic Division. They also brought back Lucious Harris when there was some doubt, and they are hardly finished at this point. Rookie Zoran Planinic is very likely to make a bigger impact than a lot of people would think, with his size, ball-handling skills and shooting ability. The talk continues that they will unload Dikembe Mutombo and perhaps deal Kenyon Martin for Rasheed Wallace in some kind of package. Regardless, president Rod Thorn continues to be an adroit manipulator of talent. Grade: A

New York Knicks: If Antonio McDyess comes back healthy from knee surgery, that will make it a successful summer. The big question is what they have done to the chemistry with Keith Van Horn coming in the big trade that sent Latrell Sprewell to Minnesota. Yes, they did well in the draft with Michael Sweetney and Maciej Lampe, but they still need to make another big deal for the way the team will be run. If they really do manage to get Nick Van Exel to run their offense, it will be a grand slam summer. If not, considering the unlikelihood of Van Horn actually succeeding in New York, the pressure on general manager Scott Layden and coach Don Chaney will multiply quickly if they fail to make the playoffs for the third year in a row. Grade: C+

Orlando Magic: The Magic still don't have a legit center and Grant Hill isn't likely to play this season again, but they did hit a home run signing Juwan Howard and are better off with Tyronn Lue than Darrell Armstrong. Those additions, plus adding guard Reece Gaines and Keith Bogans from the draft, considerably upgrade the roster. Giving coach Doc Rivers a full training camp with midseason rookie acquisitions Drew Gooden and Gordan Giricek will also make a big difference. This won't catapult this team to win the East, but it helps Tracy McGrady tremendously in his attempt to escape the first round after three years of early knockouts. Somehow, they have to figure out how to get some consistent play in the middle to complete the package. Grade: B+

Philadelphia 76ers: It began suddenly when Larry Brown was allowed to walk and Randy Ayers was named coach. The crying wolf finally left for Detroit, and now we'll see what Allen Iverson will do without him. Billy King became president of the organization and dealt Keith Van Horn to New York and Randy Holcomb to Atlanta, and it brought back high scoring Glenn Robinson to aid Iverson and Marc Jackson home to add bulk inside. Derrick Coleman's return will help some, but as always how much will depend on his never-ending injuries. They added more shooting with rookies Willie Green and Kyle Korver but still are lacking inside like so many other teams. Nevertheless, it will come down to the health of Aaron McKie and Eric Snow and Iverson's ability to dominate. Grade: B

Washington Wizards: It's all new in Washington for a change. Ernie Grunfeld replaces Wes Unseld as general manager. Eddie Jordan replaces Doug Collins as coach, and Michael Jordan is gone with the wind. Grunfeld's first order of business was signings free-agent point guard Gilbert Arenas. He doesn't replace M.J., but he helps, and Chris Whitney will take the opening left by Tyronn Lue's departure. They also added rookies Jarvis Hayes and Steve Blake from the draft. Eddie Jordan was a great pick for this very young team that re-signed Jerry Stackhouse; now we'll see how quickly they'll develop. Arenas is already proclaiming them a playoff team. Oh, they will be, just not this season. But on a given night, they will be very dangerous offensively. Grade: B
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