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Tag Archives: Atlanta Hawks

There is no doubt that the National Basketball Association’s 2010 free agency period left a deep impact in both the media and the public’s eye. The overall depth of the free agent class was so great that practically everyone declared there had been no other like it. Like the exodus of the Jews from Egypt a host of player’s chose to take their talents to a new team and start fresh. Nearly the entire landscape of the NBA changed in a matter of days and now we are left to pick up the pieces and figure out what is what and which teams are feeling good about their chances to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy in June.

 

The first half of the article will shed some light into the conference that gained the most from the free agency period and the newly established contenders that will vie for the championship. The Eastern Conference has a host of talent that all have a legitimate chance of competing and should change the balance of power between the East and West in the near future. A list of teams that should make the playoffs is at the end.

 

Atlantic Division

Toronto Raptors

09-10 W-L: 40-42

 

After missing out on the playoffs by one game the Raptors saw their supposed centerpiece of their team, Chris Bosh, go to South Beach to team up with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. The loss of Bosh is no doubt a major factor, leaving only former number one pick Andrea Bargnani and free agent signing Amir Johnson to man the frontcourt for the dinos. They also added Linas Kleiza and Leandro Barbosa to go with point guards Jose Calderon and Jarret Jack. If the Raptors can get better production out of DeMar DeRozan they should be a dark horse pick to make the playoffs in the new east despite the loss of Bosh.

 

Philadelphia 76ers

09-10 W-L: 27-55

 

A team that entered the season with high hopes quickly found itself in a quandary with power forward Elton Brand still not being able to effectively play with his teammates. While most of the players on the 76ers roster like to run, Brand needs to operate on a slower, post oriented pace. At the age of 31 and due nearly $16 million this year they can only hope that new head coach Doug Collins can figure out a way to get Brand to put up better numbers, otherwise this team may be headed to another staggering season. The Sixers added College Player of the Year Evan Turner in this year’s draft but it might take a year or two to fully see him develop into an effective player.

 

New Jersey Nets

09-10 W-L: 12-70

 

12 wins would indicate a bad team with nowhere to go, but the group that got those 12 wins was a pretty young team that showed that there was a lot to look forward to. With PG Devin Harris and emerging center Brook Lopez the team definitely has a core that they can build upon in the next few years, especially with new owner Mikhail Prokhorov willing to spend the money to get a contender out on the floor. This was evident in their efforts to obtain Carmelo Anthony, and although they haven’t gotten anything worked out, this should work in their favor since they still have their core players. They drafted Derrick Favors this year to be their PF of the future and with Lopez the Nets should like what they have in their frontcourt should Troy Murphy stay healthy.

 

New York Knicks

09-10 W-L: 29-53

 

After a dismal regular season that more trying to shed salary than legitimately winning, the Knicks still failed to land their top targets in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Instead they had to settle for Amare Stoudemire for the max $100 million deal. While they missed out on the now Miami Trio they still signed PG Raymond Felton and traded PF David Lee for Ronny Turiaf, Kelenna Azubuike and Anthony Randolph. Turiaf should bring some defense to a team that is dedicated to its run and gun offense but persistent foul trouble should dampen that idea. The Knicks still have Danilo Gallinari, Toney Douglas and Wilson Chandler so they may have a team that can make the playoffs this year. What they may be looking at though is next year, when Carmelo Anthony can become a free agent and barring a lockout, sign him and maybe trade for another star in say, Chris Paul. Knicks fans should definitely be excited and not let what happened this past summer stick in their mind.

 

Boston Celtics

09-10 W-L: 50-32

 

The Celtics were a few minutes to closing in on their second championship in three years when they lost to the Lakers in game 7 of the Finals last season. The loss of center Kendrick Perkins left them sorely lacking in strength in the paint and with Perkins still recovering the front office went out and signed big men Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal (no relation) to help the power forward tandem of Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis. But the main trio of this team, SG Ray Allen, SF Paul Pierce and Garnett may be in its final year as age has definitely caught up with at least two of them. The only starter for the Celtics this year under the age of 30 is point guard Rajon Rondo, who has all the talent to carry a team but may have to do more than ever to keep the veterans fresh for the playoffs. The signing of Delonte West is questionable at best given his troublesome history and that’s a cause for concern with the bench also having Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels, never the best in off-court conduct. The window is definitely closing for this incarnation of Celtics but they should be near the top when all is said and done.

 

Central Division

Detroit Pistons

09-10 W-L: 27-55

 

The Pistons definitely had their share of problems last season, with the signings of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva not panning out like they had planned. The signings were also peculiar in that had the Pistons saved their cap space they may have been able to make a run at a top free agent last summer. Since they didn’t we saw them struggle to win games, with SF Tayshaun Prince lacking the same energy that he displayed in years past and Richard Hamilton struggling to be the premier point maker. They have young talent in Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey but both appear to be combo guards and not truly able to fill the point guard slot. Center has been a position of concern the past few years with Ben Wallace manning the middle since he lacks any sort of offensive game to be worried about. This team is headed for another long season and may have to start thinking about trading away some players.

 

Indiana Pacers

09-10 W-L: 32-50

 

Another young team with developing talent around super SF Danny Granger, the Pacers have a lot to look forward to with new point guard addition Darren Collison. By trading for the former UCLA guard the Pacers now feel they have the playmaker with the talent to get them into the playoffs. They have Mike Dunleavy in the SG slot and Josh McRoberts and Roy Hibbert in the frontcourt to go with Granger so the Pacers should be able to make some strides this season with the young core established. They also drafted Paul George and hope that he can make some kind of impact to make the Pacers a legitimate team to make the playoffs in the future.

 

Milwaukee Bucks

09-10 W-L: 46-36

 

The Bucks were headed for a great season until center Andrew Bogut went down with an arm injury that kept him out the rest of the way, when the Bucks were eliminated in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks. Bogut had finally shown himself to be the number one overall pick the Bucks made him and was the core of their defense, averaging 10 rebounds and 2.5 blocks until his injury. With sophomore point guard Brandon Jennings the Bucks have a good starting group with John Salmons, Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden. What may be a concern for coach Scott Skiles is how this group will go about on offense with Salmons and Maggette each being used to dominating the ball in iso type situations. The Bucks are a good pick to make the postseason and it will be interesting to see how they follow up last years run.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

09-10 W-L: 61-21

 

The team that probably lost the most this past summer with LeBron James taking his talents to South Beach, the Cavaliers are now a shell of the team that won 61 games and was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics. James was the centerpiece of the offense in the Cavaliers offense, and its up to new head coach Byron Scott to get these players to focus on this season. The team remains mostly the same, but that is sort of a problem since this group tended to rely mostly on James for many stretches. There probably is a lot of rough times for the Cavs in the next few seasons, and it doesn’t look like it will get better anytime soon.

 

Chicago Bulls

09-10 W-L: 41-41

 

Most likely the best team in the Central Division, the Bulls had cap space in the summer and used it to grab three formers Jazz players in Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer. That’s not bad when you also have PG Derrick Rose and C Joakim Noah to fill out the starting lineup. The Bulls have a load of talent and, Carlos Boozer’s hand injury notwithstanding, are a lock to make the postseason and do some damage. They extended Noah’s contract and are poised to be one of the premier Eastern Conference teams for some years to come.

 

Southeast Division

Washington Wizards

09-10 W-L: 26-56

 

The team with the number one overall draft pick last summer used it to grab their point guard of the future in John Wall. The question after that would be the future of Gilbert Arenas with the Wizards. Arenas does have a quirky nature and last season it cost him 50 games with his gun in the locker room stunt and now must play second fiddle to Wall as the Wizards look to move forward. They do have some other young talent in big men Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee and some backcourt help in Josh Howard and Nick Young but in what looks to be one the NBA’s more deadly divisions it wouldn’t be surprising if the Wizards were to struggle through this season.

 

Charlotte Bobcats

09-10 W-L: 44-38

 

The expansion Bobcats just made their first trip into the playoffs last season and did it with some astounding defense, allowing the fewest points in the league at just under 94 points per game allowed. It got better for the Bobcats when they found out that Michael Jordan would become the majority owner of his homestate team, and this season look to expand upon their playoff berth. They will look to DJ Augustin to be their point guard and know that he can play based on last season. They have vets in Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace and Boris Diaw who know how to play and can all play some stout defense. Like other teams, the Bobcats don’t have a center who can score, as they employ Nazr Mohammed, DeSagana Diop and Kwame Brown, so they will again be more of a defensive team under coach Larry Brown.

 

Atlanta Hawks

09-10 W-L: 53-29

 

The Hawks finally made it past the first round of the playoffs, where they were unceremoniously dumped by the Orlando Magic in the second round. This past summer they signed guard Joe Johnson to a maximum contract, but many questioned whether Johnson was deserving of the deal. Regardless, they still have the same team that made the playoffs and will look to improve some more this year. They still have Josh Smith, Marvin Williams and Al Horford in the frontcourt, but the backcourt may be an issue with the ever aging Mike Bibby still the starting point guard. Backup SG Jamal Crawford was superb for the Hawks, but has revealed his demands for a new contract, something the Hawks are probably hesitant to commit to with the deal just completed for Johnson still hovering over their heads. This may be a good team, but don’t be surprised if they somehow have a down year with the new East.

 

Orlando Magic

09-10 W-L: 59-23

 

The Magic were one series away from reaching the Finals in back-to-back years but were stopped by the Celtics in six games. This year the team opens in a new arena with essentially the same team and hopes to once again contend for the Larry O’Brien trophy. The Magic have a good team built around center Dwight Howard, who has to show improvement in the offensive half of the game to compliment the defense we all know he has in order for the team to succeed. If not, it will be up to players like Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis to score more points, and that may not be what the Magic need if last years series against the Celtics are anything to go by. While he is a good scorer, Carter is heading into the tail end of his career and doesn’t have the same explosion he did in his youth. Once again the onus has to be on Howard to be an all-around player and carry the Magic to the promised land, especially in this competitive Southeast Division with the Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Bobcats all making cases for the playoffs.

 

Miami Heat

09-10 W-L: 47-35

 

This year’s Heat isn’t the same as the one that won 47 games last year and was trounced by the Celtics in five games. This past offseason GM Pat Riley went out and got arguably the biggest free agents of the summer in LeBron James and Chris Bosh, both accompanying Dwyane Wade as Miami’s own big three. The preseason has not been as kind though, as Wade and James have missed time due to injuries but hope to be at full strength by the season’s start. With those three it looks to be a tough time for many defenses to guard, but it will be up to the other complimentary players, such as Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers, to ease the load off the big three and make it that much more difficult for teams to load up on the stars. This team is already in contention for the title and many expect to see them up there until the end. They have the talent in Wade, James and Bosh but need the others to step up to compete this year.

 

Playoff Teams (in no arranged order):

Boston Celtics

Miami Heat

Orlando Magic

Chicago Bulls

New York Knicks

Milwaukee Bucks

Atlanta Hawks

Indiana Pacers

 

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On a day where all the buzz surroundedLeBron James, two players who were plan b for a lot of teams resigned to their respected teams. Joe Johnson is reported to be likely staying with the Atlanta Hawks after receiving a 6 year 116 million dollar contract and Rudy Gay has verbally agreed to remain with the Grizzles for 80+ million over the next 4 years. To both these players I’d like to say I guess money talks.

I personally don’t think these two were wise on their decisions. Both player have tremendous talent and could have gone to a team with a good shot at the title but decided to take the cash and stay.

Rudy Gay was highly looked at by the New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Clippers. Joe Johnson was favored by the Chicago Bulls, Nets, Miami Heat, New York Knicks and other teams but decided to return to his teammates in Atlanta for another 6 years.

Out of the two I figured at least Gay would leave Memphis and head to a team with a chance but he decided to remain with a team that other then O.J. Mayo has no real talent that can take them to the next level. Joe Johnson returns to a Hawks team that have build strong chemistry next year and could be a free agent away from being better this upcoming season and move further into the playoffs.

In other FA news, Drew Gooden reached agreement with the Miluwakee Bucks and Darko Milicic signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves for a reported $20 million dollar deal and now there are talks that Al Jefferson is on his way out of Minny and could be headed to the New York Knicks or Memphis Grizzlies.

John Salmons is reported to be on his way back to the Bucks

Richard Jefferson who opted out of his contract with the San Antonio Spurs says he wants to rejoin the Nets or head over to the Knicks. I personally would welcome him back to New Jersey. I was extremely upset about the team trading him away couple years back.

So for now most teams plan b are off the table but a slew of other players still remain. Quite frankly though no one really cares about any player besides LeBron James.

-Timmy Dimas

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