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Category Archives: NBA Free Agency

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By: Mike Bohlin

Well, maybe Ernie Grunfeld and Ted Leonsis were surfing Twitter last night after A.J. Price went down with an ankle injury and the “Shaun Livingston to DC” convention took shape.

The Wizards announced this afternoon that they have signed the former lottery pick. This means two things to me; first, Price’s injury must be serious enough where he’s going to miss game time. Secondly, it shows the confidence level Randy Wittman and the front office has in Jannero Pargo and Jordan Crawford being the primary ballhandlers until John Wall’s return.

I am more than fine with this move as I was one of the people who used their 140 characters of glory to voice how Livingston’s agent should be called immediately. Despite being out of the league to start the year Livingston has more natural talent than any other capable point guard suiting up for Washington at the moment. As long as Livingston can stay healthy there is no reason to believe he cannot help this team.

Livingston will make his season debut in front of the home crowd this Saturday at Verizon. If I were a betting man I’d be willing to say there is a good chance Livingston could go from the couch to the starting lineup. We’ll find out soon enough, but in the meantime here is your newest (Again) Washington Wizard.

Shaun Livingston Washington Wizards Mix

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By: Mike Bohlin

Hey everybody, we’re still here! Despite this being the dullest portion of the NBA offseason and my colleagues at the Dime and I handling some business getting our new University of Maryland website up and running (Terrapinstationmd.com for a shameless plug) the Washington Wizards refuse to let us forget about them! According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports and the NBC Sports Network the Wizards have come to terms with free agent center Earl Barron on a non-guaranteed training camp contract.

While this signing isn’t going to blow any Wizards fan away, I will be the first to admit I have been pining for Washington to take a look at Barron for a few seasons now. If we can have him come in on a non-guaranteed deal to try and make the roster why not go for it?

At the age 31, Earl Barron has already played for six NBA franchises; Miami, New York, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Portland and most recently Golden State. Were he to make the Wizards roster as the 15th man on the team it would be Barron’s seventh team in his seven year career. Making the Wizards would only further solidify his status as a “Journeyman” center in this league.

Much can be made about the plethora of stops Barron has made up until this point in his career. Sure, he hasn’t found a city to really stick and call home. At the same time though he’s been thought highly enough of to have a job as a professional basketball player for the majority of the past decade so Barron is no slouch either.

Barron’s best season as a pro came in 2007-2008 as a member of the Miami Heat. That season, Barron appeared in 46 games while starting 15 averaging a shade over 19 minutes per contest. That season Barron averaged 7.1 PPG and 4.3 RPG in what was mainly a reserve role.

After a one-year hiatus from the NBA in 2008-2009 Barron made his return to the association in a seven game stint with the New York Knicks. These seven games, six of which Barron started, are the high point of his NBA career. In just over 33 minutes per contest Barron recorded averages of 11.7 PPG and 11.0 RPG while shooting 44% from the field.

For his career, Barron has appeared in 112 NBA regular season games, starting 28. In 15 minutes per game Barron has career averages of 5.1 PPG and 3.6 RPG while shooting 37% from the field and 73% from the foul line respectively.

Am I possibly being a little over zealous about this signing? Probably. Is that because I’ve been waiting for the Wizards to take a flyer on this guy for four years now? Absolutely. Earl Barron might not make the Wizards roster but at 7’0″ and 245 lbs with a decent track record of success I am more than willing to take a chance on him and be the Red Barron’s (Marketing potential Ted!) biggest supporter in the District.

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By: Mike Bohlin

According to Marc Stein of ESPN the Washington Wizards have agreed to terms on a contract with free agent swingman Martell Webster.

While terms of the contract have not been released per team policy it has been widely speculated that the Wizards would not spend more than the veteran’s minimum on any remaining free agents. Webster, 25, played for the Minnesota Timberwolves the last two seasons after spending his first five seasons in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The former number six overall pick in the NBA draft has dealt with a number of back issues over the course of his young career. Webster, however, has always been known as a shooting specialist. For his career Webster has shot 41% from the field and 37% from three point range. This includes the 2010-2011 season where he shot a sweltering 42% from long range.

At 6’7″ and 230 pounds Webster could easily provide relief off the bench for the Wizards at both the SG and SF positions. While this might not be the sexiest signing of the offseason Webster fills a vital need for this franchise as we move forward out of the doldrums of the Southeast Division in the Eastern Conference. We will have more on this signing as more information becomes available.

Update:
The numbers for Websters contract have been released. The Wizards will pay Webster $1.6 million for one season, far more than the minimum amount that the Wizards had been rumored to be willing to offer.

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By: Mike Bohlin

Its amazing how much the topic of conversation can change over the course of an afternoon. This morning Rotoworld reported that the Wizards were on the short list of potential landing places for the veteran swingman. Reuniting with the Ernie Grunfeld, Redd would provide some leadership for our youthful rotation of guards.

Normally, in what’s essentially a dead period for basketball news, one Wizards story for the day would be enough to pique my hoops interest. Today must be our lucky day, Marc Stein broke the news via his twitter account that free agent swingman, and former lottery pick, Martell Webster worked out with the Wizards. According to Stein the Wizards are on the short list of teams pining for the services of Webster this upcoming season.

Dealing with a multitude of back injuries since entering the league Webster has yet to realize the potential that Portland saw when they took him with the sixth pick in the 2005 draft. Webster would offer the Wizards another adequate shooter on the outside as that has been one of the teams biggest needs this offseason. A career 37% shooter from long range Webster easily would fill a major need going forward.

Whether the Wizards can sign Redd or Webster not its good to see that we’re still trying to make moves in the free agent market. It’d be nice for us to actually land one of these guys though as we desperately need it. Happy hunting Ernie Grunfeld!

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By: Willis

The Washington Wizards announced their preseason schedule for the upcoming 2012-2013 season on Thursday, with eight games set to be played before the regular season begins.

The preseason will start on October 7th, where Washington will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable arena. Bradley Beal will get the chance to beat the guy who got drafted over him in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, so that actually may be a watchable affair.

From there, the Wizards travel back to the Verizon Center, where they will take on the New York Knicks Thursday, October 11th. After that, they close out the rest of the preseason schedule on the road with games against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Brooklyn Nets (in the brand new arena built for Jay-Z and a Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov), the Toronto Raptors (in Maple Leaf country), the Milwaukee Bucks, the Miami Heat, and the San Antonio Spurs.

Obviously, it would be ideal to play more than one preseason game at home. Jet lag is a very real thing, and plane seating doesn’t accommodate these giant frames very well. On the other hand, it’s time for Bradley Beal to get used to traveling all over the place 82 times a year (at least). The sooner he gets into the groove of things, the better. Mostly I’m just selfish and would actually like to attend some of these games, strictly because I love the Wizards.

Below is the schedule:

DATE OPPONENT LOCATION TIME (ET)
Sunday, Oct. 7 at Charlotte Time Warner Cable Arena (Charlotte, NC) 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 11 vs. New York Verizon Center (Washington, DC.) 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 13 at Cleveland Quicken Loans Arena (Cleveland, OH) 7:30 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 15 at Brooklyn Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY) 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 17 at Toronto Air Canada Centre (Toronto, Ont.) 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 20 at Milwaukee BMO Harris Bradley Center (Milwaukee, WI) 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 24 at Miami Sprint Center (Kansas City, MO) 8:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 26 at San Antonio AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX) 8:30 p.m.

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By: Colenda

After an Olympic break from Diming, I’ve decided to pick up where I left off by examining league-wide offseason activity. And with the happenings over the last two weeks, it made it a perfect time to get back on the horse. The Atlantic Division has spent the summer of 2012 constantly in the headlines. With multiple trades and free agent acquisitions, the Atlantic’s members have had a very busy offseason. In fact, each of the division’s five members has seen major roster overhauls and the addition of at least one player expected to take on a key role in 2012-13. Last year’s winner, the Celtics, have lost a member of its Big Three to the newest Big Three in Miami. However, they bolstered their roster with young players through the draft and the addition of sixth man extraordinaire, Jason “the Jet” Terry. The constantly scrutinized Knicks decided against bringing back Linsanity for an encore, and instead brought in veteran backcourt of Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton. The 76ers finally decided to part ways with the underappreciated Andre Iguodala in a shocking move by joining in the fun of getting the better of new Magic GM, Rob Hennigan, in the Dwight Howard trade. I am still scratching my head trying to figure out how the Magic traded Howard for Bynum, yet somehow ended up getting Arron Afflalo and let Bynum head to Philly but that’s a story for another column (a shameless plug for the Southeast division’s recap to follow). Raptor fans (they exist, right?) no longer have to wait for last year’s highly drafted Jonas Valanciunas, as he will make his NBA debut this season. They also added veterans Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields to a team clearly hoping to try and stay afloat in this extremely competitive division. With the Barclay’s Center expected to open to start the season, the Nets are now official residents of Brooklyn. Although they really blew it with the new logo, they did manage to get a second star (although you could argue there isn’t a more over rated “star” than Joe Johnson) via trade to ensure they could lock up free agent Deron Williams long-term. All-in-all it has been a very eventful offseason in the Atlantic division. Now a let’s take a closer look at the happenings for each of the division’s members:

Boston Celtics (1st place in 2011-2012)
Players Added: Fab Melo, Jared Sullinger, Jason Terry, Dionte Christmas, Kris Joseph, Courtney Lee
Players Lost: Ray Allen, Greg Stiemsma, Ryan Hollins, Sasha Pavlovic, Jermaine O’Neal
The Dime: Ray Allen has packed his bags for sunny weather and wide-open corner threes playing alongside DWade and LeBron in Miami. Entering the scene is one of the NBA’s top sharp-shooters, Jason Terry, someone much more comfortable in the reserve role which he is expected to play behind the emerging Avery Bradley. The Celtics drafted the free-falling Jared Sullinger late in the first round, and Syracuse’s suspended Brazilian center, Fab Melo, as well as his college teammate Kris Joseph in round two.  In addition to a strong draft Boston also secured the services of Jeff Green and Courtney Lee for next year. The Celtics have sufficiently re-tooled around Rondo, Garnett and Pierce for another run at the division crown and playoff glory. Obviously, the continued health of the aging Pierce and Garnett play are a major factor in whether Boston will be able to continue their Atlantic division dominance. With Allen gone, I will be interested in watching the continued offensive emergence off the defensive backcourt of Rondo and Bradley. Rondo is now a bona-fide star, in my opinion, and I think he is primed for his best year yet. Bradley began to show signs of a streaky outside jumper and a knack for scoring in the paint before his season was cut off pre-playoffs by injury. His ability to get healthy and pick up where he left off with his play late from last year will be one of the biggest factors in determining Boston’s success this season.
New York Knicks (2nd place in 2011-2012)
Players Added: Pablo Prigioni, Chris Smith, James White, Ronnie Brewer, Marcus Camby, Chris Copeland, Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd
Players Lost: Renaldo Balkman, Baron Davis, Landry Fields, Jeremy Lin, Bill Walker, Toney Douglas, Josh Harrelson, Jared Jefferies
The Dime: The Knicks were faced with a huge financial decision this year; sign Jeremy Lin and take a sizeable tax hit or let him walk and re-tool with cheaper players. They decided against bringing back Lin, and opted to give the keys to the car to Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd. Felton enjoyed his best season in New York playing for former coach, Mike Dantoni, and the Knicks are hoping the return to MSG will bring that type of production from Felton. Marcus Camby was also brought back for another stint to bolster their bench and provide additional shot-blocking depth behind foul-prone Tyson Chandler. However, the biggest news for the Knicks this summer has to be the play of Carmelo in the Olympics. In case you’ve been under a rock the last few weeks, Melo was a killer in Great Britain. Knicks faithful can only hope that he brings this form back to the U.S. and the NBA season in 2012-2013. I still think the Knicks are more glitter than substance, but if Melo can put the team on his shoulders like he did with Team USA at times during the Olympics, they should be able to compete for the division crown and a top spot in the East. Outside of Melo’s Olympic run the other massive storyline for MSG residents will be the health and play of the oft-injured, and highly-paid Amare Stoudamire. He’s being paid super-star money; he’s got to produce at a super-star level in order for this team to life up to the lofty expectations of New York media.
Philadelphia 76ers (3rd place in 2011-2012)
Players Added: Kwame Brown, Arnett Moultrie, Jason Richardson, Maalik Wayns, Nick Young, Andrew Bynum, Dorell Wright
Players Lost: Jodie Meeks, Andre Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic, Sam Young, Andres Nocioni, Elton Brand, Louis Williams
The Dime: The 76ers may have come away with the steal of the offseason. Somehow they finagled their way into the inevitable deal that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers for Andrew Bynum. When the smoke cleared and the dust settled, they were the team that came away with the second-best player in the trade while not giving up the best. Hell, Iggy wasn’t even the third best player involved (I’ll help you save face some, Mr. Hennigan). I don’t think I will ever understand what the Magic were doing, but Doug Collins and company have to be thrilled. The Sixers will move forward and build around Bynum (if they can sign him next summer), Thad Young, Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday, and Spencer Hawes. Not a half-bad team. They also added my former teammate, and Philly native, Maalik Wayns, in free agency, as well as former Wizards Swaggy Young, and Kwawe Brown (Who has to be thrilled to re-unite with the man who made him cry in his second professional practice). Although the Sixers won’t compete to win the division, they will certainly be competitive and a playoff team for many years to come in the Eastern Conference.
Toronto Raptors (4th place in 2011-2012)
Players Added: Quincy Acy, Tomislav Zubcic, Jonas Valanciunas, Terrence Ross, John Lucas, Kyle Lowry, Landry Fields
Players Lost: Aaron Gray, Rasual Butler
The Dime: NBA Canada made a run at bringing the nation’s prodigal son, Steve Nash, back north of the border. However, he spurned their offer and instead opted for LA (can you really blame him?). This did not prevent the Raptors from having a decent offseason, however. They added Kyle Lowry via trade, Landry Fields and John Lucas in free agency, and will get to see their last two first round picks, Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas, begin their NBA careers together this year. I’m not going to sit here and tell you the Raptors are primed to turn their losing ways around because of this offseason haul, but they are moving in the right direction. From all accounts, Valanciunas is a real stud and has the potential to be an impact player in the league. I haven’t personally seen him play, but I look forward to following this youngster develop. At least there is now a little reason to flip to a Raptors game if you find it on TV.
Brooklyn Nets (5th place in 2011-2012)
Players Added: Joe Johnson, Tyshawn Taylor, Ilkan Karaman,
Players Lost: Damian James, Mehmet Okur, Gerald Green, Jordan Farmer, Anthony Marrow, Johan Petro, DeShawn Stevenson, Jordan Williams
The Dime: The Brooklyn Nets seemed to be on the verge of opening the new Barclay’s Center with Gerald Wallace as the team’s best player. Yikes. Luckily, they somehow swung a deal with the Hawks that landed them Joe Johnson right before Deron packed his bags for home (Dallas) and convinced the point guard that he had the help he so craved.  In my opinion, the Nets will be teaming up the two most overrated super-stars in the game today. They have the big contracts, but have never really taken a team on their back and led them to the promised  land (or even past the second round consistently). The two of them should produce one of the highest scoring backcourt duos in the league, and are natural fits alongside one-another, but I can’t see the pair teaming up to produce serious results where it matters, in the playoffs.  However, due to the offseason activity, the Nets will be more of a contender in the division, and should most certainly find themselves in the playoffs next year. Although I do not think a core of Williams and Johnson is going to make the Nets a championship contender, they will put on a good show for the new fans in Brooklyn. The moves will also make the conversation for best team in the city a little more interesting. The Russian Mark Cuban will be happy with the headlines, but not with the end product on the court. The team still has a ways to go before being a true championship contender, but the moves of this offseason have Brooklyn trending into the positive with a team that will be much more competitive than last season’s last place squad.

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By: Bohlin

Welp, so much for that pipe dream. Jodie Meeks, if you missed the news over the weekend, has signed a two year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers for a total of $3 million. This signing tugs at the heart strings of this blogger as I’d completely bought into the fact that Meeks would be the answer to all of our outside shooting woes. The fact of the matter is the Wizards, by all accounts, were not comfortable giving any more than the veterans minimum to any free gents left on the market who might have interest in joining the Wizards.

Word is that the Wiz Kids would have interest in free agent swing an Anthony Tolliver. However, it would also be at that minimum price that has been associated with this franchise in regard to free agency since the amnesty of Andray Blatche. It remains to be seen whether the Wizards will make any more moves this summer but for the time being they appear to at least be on the radar of Tolliver. After missing out on Meeks he might be our best bet at adding another threat from the perimeter to this roster.

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By: Bohlin

The ongoing saga surrounding Dwight Howard has come to a close. Last night the all-star and former defensive player of the year was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four team deal.

With all the rumored offers on the table from teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets, the Magic decided to send Howard to Hollywood in return for Aaron Afflalo and a bevy of protected first round picks from teams that will almost assuredly be outside of the lottery. While the reasoning behind Orlando pulling the trigger on this deal at this time is perplexing to me, as I believe Brooklyn and Houston’s offers were better, it signifies that the Magic are entering “rebuilding mode”– which is great for the Wizards.

This marks the second time this offseason where a playoff team from the Southeast division has shipped their best player out of town (Joe Johnson to Brooklyn being the other instance). In each case the argument can be made that the Hawks and Magic took a step back (in Orlando’s case a few hops, skips and jumps back) in order to rid themselves of massive headaches inside their organizations.

How does all of this movement effect our Washington Wizards? In short, it brings them closer to the top of the division. While the Miami Heat are still the cream of the crop in the division, that race for number two in the Southeast is up for grabs.

Atlanta should still be competitive with Josh Smith and Al Horford in their lineup but the loss of arguably their best perimeter scoring threat in Joe Johnson will hurt. The thing about the Hawks is they are a much better team when Josh Smith isn’t continuously falling back in love with his jump shot. With Joe Johnson now gone, all I can see is J-Smoove thinking it’s his time to become “The Guy” on the perimeter for Atlanta. Keep pulling up from 18 feet and beyond and you’ll make a lot of Wizards fans happy, Josh.

Orlando has taken a massive step back and will more than likely be challenging the Bobcats for the Cellar Dweller award in the division. Without Dwight Howard in the fold first year head coach Jacque Vaughn has his hands full figuring out how to make this team competitive. They did pick up some nice young pieces in this deal in Afflalo and Mo Harkless, but to think that those two, in addition to Jameer Nelson and Hedo, will be enough to vault Orlando to the playoffs again is a bit extreme.

Charlotte, fresh off becoming statistically the worst team in NBA history, hasn’t done much to shake up their roster this offseason. In are Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Ben Gordon and Ramon Sessions and out is D.J. Augustin. I think in time MKG will be an impact player for Charlotte but to think he’ll be able to really help carry the load on offense as a rookie is extreme. The fact of the matter is the Bobcats still aren’t much of a threat to do anything in the division with the roster they have assembled. Quite frankly I’m not sure why I dedicated this much space to a team that is coming off a 7 win season.

The Wizards are set up nicely to make a move towards the top of the division. With perennial playoff teams Orlando and Atlanta taking steps back it is possible to think that a 2nd or 3rd place finish in the division isn’t out of the question. The Southeast has been at least a three playoff team division for the past five seasons. There is little doubt in my mind that this trend will continue going forward.

Should the Wizards make the type of jump that we believe they are capable of making this season with the additions of Nene, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal they should absolutely contend for one of the eight playoff spots in the East. John Wall said he wanted to be the “savior” of the Washington Wizards…here is your chance John, lead us back to the playoffs where the Wizards belong.

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By: Bohlin

As reported this morning by the Washington Examiner’s Craig Stouffer former Wizards PF James Singleton has declined Washington’s contract offer. This revelation coming from Singleton’s agent effectively ends Singleton’s second stint in the Nation’s Capital.

Washington was widely believed to have offered Singleton the league minimum, it is not overly surprising that Singleton would see what else he could get from the rest of the league. Singleton grew into a fan favorite towards the end of the year as he helped lead the Wizards second unit to a 6-0 record to close the 2011-2012 regular season.

With Singleton now out of the fold the Wizards appear to have their sights set on two FA guards in Jodie Meeks and Anthony Tolliver. I will have something up later on today examining those two players and who could ultimately be the better fit for the franchise going forward.

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By: Colenda

As we delve into the Eastern Conference the Central division has had a tough offseason. Starting from the top, defending champ Chicago will have a HUGE hole to fill next year as star Derrick Rose recovers from his disappointing playoff knee injury. We all saw what they looked like without Rose in the playoffs as they were knocked out by the 8th seeded Sixers, and it wasn’t pretty. The Pistons drafted this year’s biggest enigma, Andre Drummond, and another bust with a first round pick is the last thing Joe Dumars and the Pistons faithful can afford. The Cavs, which looked to be in a terrific position with multiple picks in this year’s draft, somehow came away with a very underwhelming haul. They even had to see nemesis LeBron win his first title. Young-star Kyrie Irving’s broken hand only adds injury to the insult. As Bill Simmons would say “the lesson as always, God hates Cleveland.” The winners for the offseason in the Central have to be the Pacers and Bucks. The Pacers have added to their youthful core and secured big-man Roy Hibbert after their impressive playoff performance and I fully expect them to be the team to beat in the Central in 2012-2013. The Bucks added the volume-scoring Monta Ellis at last year’s trade deadline, but the early returns from the trade last year were not great. However, I am a Monta-fan and with their few interesting offseason moves, I see the Bucks competing for a playoff spot this year.

Chicago Bulls (1st Place 2011-2012)

Players Added: Marquis Teague, Marco Belinelli, Kirk Hinrich, Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic

Players Lost: Omer Asik, Kyle Korver, John Lucas III, C.J. Watson, Mike James, Ronnie Brewer

The Dime: Basketball is a team game, and an injury to one player shouldn’t completely change the fortunes of a franchise. But in the Bull’s case, when that player is MVP Derrick Rose, this rule gets thrown out the window. Rose does everything for Chicago, he scores most of the points, sets up his teammates, and draws 100% of the opponent’s defensive attention. No one else on their roster (outside of Luol Deng) is capable of creating their own offense or offense for others. Without Rose, they look lost offensively. Yes, the Bulls are a defensive team and a damn good one at that. But in basketball, if you can’t score you can’t win, no matter how well you defend. I expect the Bulls to have a dramatic drop off next year until Rose’s return. If they can keep their head afloat until February/March when Rose is expected to return (IF he returns healthy, but most knee injuries of this magnitude take at least two years to really recover from) they could potentially make a late push for the playoffs. However, I don’t expect this will be the case. It’ll be interesting to see if Tom Thibodeau and Co. proves me wrong.

Indiana Pacers (2nd Place 2011-2012)

Players Added: D.J. Augustin, Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee,

Players Lost: Leandro Barbosa, Louis Amundson, Darren Collison, Jeff Foster, A.J. Price, Dahntay Jones, Larry Legend (GM)

The Dime: When the Pacers went up 2-1 on Miami in the playoffs, talking heads around the league fully expected the young upstarts to pull off the upset. Although they ultimately fell short, they can keep their heads held high and get really excited about the things to come. The Pacers will be the Central’s team to beat next year, and one of the East’s top teams. This offseason they took care of the largest priority, re-signing center Roy Hibbert (who had signed a qualifying offer from Portland). Although GM Larry Bird stepped away this summer, the Pacers still could not resist adding a token white-guy in the draft, selecting Duke big Miles Plumlee. Although the selection was pretty poor (no way Plumlee was a first round pick), it was a fitting way to end the Bird-era in Indiana. The Pacers also added a backup PG to fill in for the departed Darren Collison in D.J. Augustin, and another athletic swingman, Gerald Green, to go alongside Paul George, Danny Granger and Co. If the Pacers youth can continue to improve in 2012-13, expect to see Indiana competing for a top spot in the East. The player I will be watching closely is Paul George. George had a terrific year, but had an underwhelming playoff performance. If George can take a step forward in his overall development as a player, particularly on the offensive end, the Pacers are really in a good position moving forward.

Milwaukee Bucks (3rd Place 2011-2012)

Players Added: Samuel Dalembert, John Henson, Doron Lamb

Players Lost: Shaun Livingston, Jon Brockman, Carlos Delfino, Jon Leuer

The Dime: The Bucks are the team most in a position to benefit from the tough-luck of Derrick Rose. Last year they were a borderline playoff contender, and I believe they are poised to find themselves in the playoffs in 2013. With Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, the Bucks have a backcourt of scorers more than capable of getting them points in bunches, and they added this offseason two inside players, Samuel Dalembert and John Henson, that should bolster their paint defense and make up for the loss of oft-injured Aussie, Andrew Bogut. They also added Kentucky shooter Doron Lamb in the second round, an under-rated late selection. Additionally, they re-signed one of last season’s breakout performers, Ersan Ilyasova, meaning they should boast a more than decent front court. If the at-times selfish duo of Jennings and Ellis can gel together, and the team continues to defend at the level coach Scott Skiles expects, I believe the 2012-2013 Bucks should be a playoff team.

Detroit Pistons (4th Place 2011-2012)

Players Added: Andre Drummond, Kim English, Khris Middleton, Kyle Singler, Corey Maggette

Players Lost: Ben Gordon, Vernon Macklin, Jason Maxiell, Walker Russell, Ben Wallace, Damien Wilkins

The Dime: Joe Dumars took another gamble in the first round this year, selecting UCONN’s highly talented, but under-productive Andre Drummond. If he pans out in the way his talent suggests, this can be one of the biggest draft steals in a long while. But if he ends up as a bust, which his middling performances as a freshman at UCONN suggest is a very real possibility, this will continue to set the franchise back. Remember, Dumars is the same guy who took Darko before Melo, DWade, and Chris Bosh in 2006. I’m not suggesting the players selected around Drummond will be the league’s biggest stars in 3-4 years like that group, but there was plenty of talent in this year’s draft. The Pistons faithful are in desperate need of some good news, but unfortunately for them, this offseason did not produce much of it. The emergence of Greg Monroe last year was the lone bright-spot in another miserable season, but I do not expect the 2012-2013 version of the team to produce many more highlights. It seems like it’s been forever in Detroit since the Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, and Rip Hamilton led teams were NBA champs and perennial contenders, and this offseason did not move the proud franchise any closer to returning to that kind of glory.

Cleveland Cavaliers (5th Place 2011-2012)

Players Added: Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller, Jeremy Pargo, Jon Leuer

Players Lost: Christian Eyenga, Semeh Erden, Alonzo Gee, Antawn Jamison, DJ Kennedy

The Dime: The Cavs actively looked to put a package together that would entice His Airness to part with the number 2 pick in this year’s draft so they could select the top-rated SG, Bradley Beal. With the number 4, 24, 33, and 34 pick in the draft, the Cavs had a variety of picks and a talented player (Anderson Varejao) they thought would be enough for a deal. However, the trade did not pan out, MJ took MKG at 2 and Beal landed with the Wizards at 3. So with the number 4 selection, the Cavs took Syracuse 6th man Dion Waiters ahead of Harrison Barnes and Thomas Robinson among others. This selection certainly raised some eye brows. They then traded their remaining picks to Dallas for the rights to 17th selection, UNC big Tyler Zeller. So if you’re scoring at home, the Cavs turned 4 top 35 picks in one of the deepest drafts in memory into at best a decent 6th man (Waiters) and a backup center (Zeller). Not exactly the haul the Cleveland faithful were hoping for. On top of it all, enemy of the state numero-uno celebrated his first title in South Beach (what happened with the guarantee the Cavs would win one first, Mr. Gilbert?) and young star Kyrie Irving let out some frustration during the US Olympic team camp and broke his shooting hand. Although he is expected to make a smooth recovery after his surgery, he will miss the entire offseason preparation for next year, and will not be able to star in those awesome Uncle Drew commercials (the real travesty of it all). Overall, in my estimation, it’s been a pretty shitty offseason for Cleveland. I fully expect the Cavs to be in their familiar position in the cellar of the Central Division this season.

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