Pre-Draft Rumors and Activity -- Eastern Conference
Note to Otis: I hope you are studying what San Antonio has done to surround their big man star over the years, and what they just did to keep his championship window open. You have to really respect the San Antonio organization, and hope the Magic seek to emulate them.
2. Cleveland: Shaq rumors are cooling. LeBron will be offered an extension, and turn it down as he looks forward to New York next summer. Varejo will opt out, Z will not. They are far over the cap and luxury tax numbers. Wallace and Pavlovic are trade chips in the last year of their contracts. Shaq would be sheer desperation, and would be the final nail in Lebron leaving for NY. Go to Cleveland Shaq! Go to Cleveland!
3. Boston: seems intent on getting rid of Rondo and Ray Allen. Rondo is great, but can't stand Rivers. Heh, maybe they can trade him for T-Mac! Ray Allen sure looked old against the Magic. The word is that Boston thinks Rajon is out of control and need to trade him before he gets the big bucks next year. Great news for the Magic if they dump Rondo. There aren't that many tough as nails PG's out there and I doubt Boston can get fair value for him.
4. I love Atlanta! Just as they are on the rise -- playoffs last year, 2nd round this year. They trade for Jamaal Crawford! Unlike Grant Hill, who has never seen the second round, Crawford has never seen the playoffs in NINE YEARS. Great addition! Right now he is set to come off the bench. However, if they don't resign Mike Bibby they may start Crawford at PG. I love Atlanta!
5. Miami -- Jermaine O'Neil announced he is not opting out. Great news for Orlando. Miami is almost at the Luxury Tax and can't do much to improve this year. Their best hope is Beasley improves in his second year. Can't believe that Wade can improve much on the great year he had last year. Interesting fact (if hoopshype is correct.) If Wade opts out next year, the Heat could potentially not renew any contracts and have ZERO players under contract for 2010/11. They could be right back to 1988 and an expansion team! (Good news for the Magic!)
6. Philadelphia -- Where is Andre Miller? Rumor is he skipped the mandatory end of season meetings and is a free agent. They have already traded for 3 point specialist Kapono from Toronto, have a new coach, and without signing Miller are only about $5 million from the cap. Elton Brand is, according to the new coach, going to be a central part of 76er's offense next year. Good news for the Magic!
7. Chicago -- up and coming. A lot going on with them. But they are already at the cap at $63 million, and it's a lock that Ben Gordon will (finally) sign elsewhere. Gordon turned down 5 years, $50 million two years ago. Since then he's played for 5 or 6 million a year. That's Deshawn Stephenson dumb(er). They have lots of young players who can get better, and lots of tradeable contracts. If their new GM is any good, they can move up to #4 next year. If Paxson is still (not) pulling the strings, they will be fighting for #8.
8. Detroit -- Loads of cap space but only if they don't resign Rasheed Wallace. If 'Sheed goes, so does a lot of their toughness and insanity. They could sign any number of players including Gordon, Turk, Odom, Ariza. Then again, those guys are from pretty great places to live. Who wants to live in a state where they are planning to tage federal dollars to bulldoze 50% or more of Detroits suburbs? Eeeck!
Best of the Rest: Toronto -- Bosch gone soon, Wizards just traded for Mike Miller and Randy Foye but no longer have a front line to compete with Boston or Orlando. New York -- is trying to trade for Shaq's expiring contract so they can sign Lebron and someone else next year.
So get busy Otis, the entire Eastern Conference seems poised to help the Magic repeat as EC champs!