There’s also been a lot of movement in the Eastern Conference as well, so let’s break down where the teams stand heading into next season:
- Cleveland Cavaliers: A total no-brainer, but that’s what happens when you’re the defending NBA champions and you haven’t lost any big names. As long as LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love all stay healthy, Cleveland will be fine and pose the likely threat of having to dethrone the even-tougher Warriors team in the Finals next year.
- Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan got paid a ridiculous sum of money to stay in Toronto. Now we’re going to see if it was worth it.
- Boston Celtics: Al Horford was a big signing for one of the best young teams in the league. These guys are only going to get better and Brad Stevens is the best coach to hone all that talent into one cohesive force. The Celtics may be the biggest threat to the Cavs in the East.
- Atlanta Hawks: I think Atlanta will be a good place for Dwight Howard to turn back time and be the player he was for the Orlando Magic back in the day. If the Hawks get that Dwight, then they’ll be really, really good.
- Charlotte Hornets: Some of the bigger names left, but Charlotte still represents the middle tier of the Eastern Conference. Nothing special but still decent.
- Detroit Pistons: The max deal for Andre Drummond is well-deserved. If you can get those numbers out of him every night, then the sky can be the limit for the Motor City.
- Miami Heat: I don’t think anyone ever expected Chris Bosh to be the last member of the Big 3 in Miami. But with Dwyane Wade gone to the Chicago Bulls, that’s the sad reality of where the Heat stand. Keeping Hassan Whiteside represents the future for this team, but the present isn’t too bright.
- Chicago Bulls: Who else could foresee Derrick Rose leaving and Wade being in Chicago? Okay, put your hands down, I know you’re lying. The revamped Bulls lineup has Wade, Jimmy Butler, and Rajon Rondo. Add talented rookie Denzel Valentine into the mix and we have a good dark horse team.
- Indiana Pacers: I’m interested in seeing what adding Jeff Teague will do for Indiana. That’s a good move for this team.
- Washington Wizards: The Durant effort failed horribly and now we have to see what the Wizards can do without him. Hint: not a lot.
- Orlando Magic: Great free agency period for the Magic, signing Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo, among others. This is a team on the rise.
- New York Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, and Joakim Noah all on the same team represents a good chance to try to get a title…but only if we can turn back time. The cruel reality is that’s never happening in this era.
- Milwaukee Bucks: The future of Milwaukee is about as uncertain as Thon Maker’s age.
- Philadelphia 76ers: Hey, not last! Maybe “The Process” will finally mean something with the drafting of Ben Simmons.
- Brooklyn Nets: This had ugly written all over it. Good things are usually not in store when your biggest land is Jeremy Lin.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Matt Weingarten