Projected Starting Lineup:
C Jamaal Magloire
PF Nenad Krstic
SF Richard Jefferson
SG Vince Carter
PG Jason Kidd
Coach: Lawrence Frank
The good news: Jason Kidd is still there, and that means theres still hope.
The New Jersey Nets were on the verge of losing it all last season. The Nets were struggling on the verge of sending Jason Kidd to the Los Angeles Lakers for spare parts. The deal was so close Jason Kidd already had his bags packed bracing for the deal. Of all things, Jersey native Andrew Bynum held up the trade as the Lakers did not include him. Vince Carter almost seemed destined to leave Jersey at the end of the season and Richard Jefferson has been(and remains) the subject of trade talks as injuries have dogged him recently. Team President Rod Thorn and GM Ed Stefanski managed to not only keep all three together (Carter signed a 4 year deal to remain a Net) but to add even more pieces to this team. The free agent signing of former all-star Jamaal Magloire is huge as well as the drafting of talented but troubled power forward Sean Williams out of Boston College. That almost assures Nets fans that theyll see a little less of Jason Collins. Second year PG apprentice Marcus Williams has another year to learn from Jason Kidd and the return of Nenad Krstic gives them a big man that they sorely missed when he tore his ACL.
The bad news: It can still fall apart for them if they dont produce.
This team is getting older fast. Jason Kidd is 34 and aging fast. Vince Carter is known to be a quitter when times get tough. Richard Jefferson is overpaid. Oh yeah, let me not forget. Jason Collins is still a Net. The Boston Celtics with their Big Three trumps the Nets Big Three and if things take a permanent nose dive, Thorn and Stefanski may just call up Mitch Kupchak and ask for Bynum again. With the Barclays Center set to open in Brooklyn in 2010, now is a good time to see what they have. If they win, it would be great for Jersey residents. If they rebuild, although Sean and Marcus Williams will be able to spearhead that process, it will be painful for a franchise ready to leave the swamps of Jersey for the streets of Brooklyn. This is a make or break season for the team
The outlook: 7th seed in the East, 3rd in the Atlantic Division, first round exit. Richard Jefferson, probably traded.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Coach: Isiah Thomas
The good: The Knicks will be once again be the team to watch for right and wrong reasons.
The Knicks are quality television. Say what you want about Cablevision and their ownership (I will in a minute), but, nobody brings more unintended entertainment value than the Knicks. Imagine what you get to see this season. You get to see Stephon Marbury get closer to Godwhatever that means, the fattest frontcourt in the league, and the aftermath of Anuchasandersgate. All jokes aside, the Knicks wont be an absolute train wreck despite Isiah Thomas best efforts. This is a team that, when focused on basketball, can win many games. Jamal Crawford will now be a fixture in the starting lineup and adding a 20 and 10 guy in Zach Randolph is always a good thing. The Knicks saved about $40 mil in contracts by getting rid of Steve Francis and Jalen Roses deals and Allan Houston's return should provide additional drama if not results. First round pickWilson Chandler has a lot to prove and David Lee is a threat for Sixth Man of the Year. Playoffs could be a possibility in NYC again.
The bad: Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry will be at your local pizzeria. And McDonalds. And corner bodega. And in Zachs case, Sin City Cabaret in the South Bronx. Where they wont be is guarding their man in the low post.
Now the Knicks may have more offensive firepower, but they have defensive deficiencies . If the team wants to get anywhere, Stephon Marbury has to go. The Coney Island prospect needs to get his head together instead of wanting to see the spit come out of NBC Sports Analyst Bruce Becks mouth. He has to become a pass first guard, and needs to take charge of this team before the Knicks find someone else to be the point man. Nate Robinson needs to show maturity and the ability to play contained basketball. Most importantly, head coach and GM Isiah Thomas needs to put this summer's trial behind and coach like his job is on the line (it should be anyway). He got his extension last year and the Knicks tanked. This year, the Knicks need play the way theyre capable of, not cause Knicks fans to revert back to Baseball Hot Stove discussion in January.
The outlook: 11th in the East, 4th in the Atlantic, no playoffs.
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG Andre Miller
Coach: Maurice Cheeks
The good news: Your franchise player is still A.I.: Andre Iguodala. Get used to it. It should be easy to do so.
Philadelphia traded franchise guard Allen Iverson last year. All was lost with the team. People were ready to throw GM Billy King all the way to Camden, NJ so Philly residents could have more of a reason to hate him. But then, Andre Iguodala took off. He finished the season averaging 18.2 points per game, 5.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. He was so good he carried the Sixers to playoff contention until the last week of the season. Samuel Dalembert showed improvement, averaging nearly 2 blocks per game and showed signs of becoming the rebounder Sixers fans have wanted to see from him since he arrived in 2001. Veteran PG Andre Miller will be back for another season of playmaking and mentoring Louis Williams, who needs to show he belongs in the NBA.
The bad news: The Sixers mismanagement in the 2007 NBA Draft will cause them to take a step back this season.
The Sixers had three picks in the first round of this years star studded NBA Draft. THREE! And they have little to show for it. They drafted Thaddeus Young out of Georgia Tech with the #12 pick. He has the potential to be a franchise player, but he is very raw and inconsistent. They then drafted Daequan Cook out of Ohio Stateonly to trade him for Colorado State big man Jason Smith. Although the Sixers have a thin frontcourt as is, Smith was a wasted pick and wont amount to much. With the last pick in the first round they took Petteri Koponen. Great. Then they ship him off to Portland for Vanderbilt guard Derrick Byars. They had a chance to clean up at the draft only wound up making a bigger mess for themselves. An influx of youth is always a good thing, especially if you know who your franchise player is. However, if the ceiling isnt high and your team is still mediocre, itll take time for the team to get better. Philly fans are running out of time and patience with the Sixers. Expect Allen Iversons return to Philly as a Nugget to be very anticipated. It seems the Sixers didnt know last year whether to lose or not. Now it isnt their choice to make anymore.
The outlook: 13th in the East, 5th in the Atlantic, out of the Playoffs.