Let's Refresh Our Memories

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Basketball. Be grateful you're so lovable. Were you football, I would have divorced you long ago. But now you are back in my life. Yet although we are soulmates, I have forgotten some things about you in your absence. What do your rosters look like? Who are your free agents? What trades are you contemplating? Now that we have a season together, we can start doing season-y things (seasonal? season-esque? whatever...) I believe a refresher course is in order.

Boston Celtics

Roster: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Jermaine O'Neal, Jeff Green, Avery Bradley

Rookies: JaJuan Johnson, E'Twuan Moore

Boston has it's core four intact, albeit a year older. Ray Allen is ageless and Rondo is still on an upward trend, but Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett started to show some serious wear last season. KG is a shadow of the athletic, explosive wonder that graced Target Center for 12 years.

More seriously, the retirement of Shaq and the trade that sent away Kendrick Perkins has left the C's with just injury-prone Jermaine O'Neal at center. This makes resigning Glen Davis a big priority.

I'm not sure why Danny Ainge has such a man crush on O'Neal and Jeff Green. It's clear the Celtics' window is fast closing, but Green is not a solution for this. If I'm Boston, I trade for Chris Paul even if he promises not to resign next summer. Garnett and Allen are on their last year's too...might as well go all out while you can. Rondo does a lot of things well, but scoring isn't one of them, and the C's clearly need someone to help Paul Pierce carry the scoring load.

New Jersey Nets

Roster: Deron Williams, Travis Outlaw, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Brandan Wright, Johan Petro, Brook Lopez, Damion James, Ben Uzoh

Rookies: Jordan Williams, Bojan Bogdonavic, Marshon Brooks

The Nets are still looking for a big move and have put themselves in a great position to find it. By using their amnesty on Travis Outlaw, they can trim the payroll down to $33 million, giving themselves plenty of room to trade with. Dwight Howard seems to be their #1 target, and why not? Howard and Williams would give the team a classic inside-outside duo, with a guy like Anthony Morrow getting plenty of room to launch threes.

New Jersey took a big gamble trading for Williams. They gave up a very promising player in Derrick Favors and have no guarantee that Williams will stay. If they can't land Howard or an otherwise equally big star, DWill will not be lacking for suitors elsewhere.

New York Knicks

Roster: Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Chauncey Billups, Ronny Turiaf, Renaldo Balkman, Toney Douglas, Bill Walker, Derrick Brown, Landry Fields

Rookies: Josh Harrellson, Andy Rautins, Iman Shumpert

The Knicks would kill to get Chris Paul on their roster. The question is, who would they be able to send back in return? They have a little big of leverage in the sense that the Hornets are far more concerned with the bottom line than a winning team, but even then, trading the best point guard in the league for spare parts is not good PR.

Paul would certainly solve the issue of who gets the ball: Melo or STAT. And there's definitely appeal to the idea of CP3 playing the Steve Nash role. That trio won't stop anyone defensively, but they'll sure scare the hell out of everyone else's defense. Can NYC make it happen? If so, watch out. If not, then the Knicks won't be anything worth really talking about.

Philadelphia 76ers

Roster: Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala, Andres Nocioni, Louis Williams, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young, Marrese Speights, Jrue Holiday, Craig Brackins, Jodie Meeks

Rookies: Lavoy Allen, Nikola Vucevic (very unlikely to play in the NBA this season)

Will the 76ers use their amnesty on Elton Brand? That's one of the million dollar questions now. I personally think that, at this point in his career, Brand won't give you anything Marrese Speights won't, so might as well. Not to mention that the Sixers are in desperate need of cap space.

Still, early indications seem to be that Philly would prefer to cut Nocioni. Not entirely sure why. At some point, the team is going to realize Iguodala and Turner are incompatible as teammates. And they already know they need shooters in the worst way. Gotta respect Doug Collins for getting the team to buy into his system and play tough defense, but even his magic only goes so far.

Toronto Raptors

Roster: Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani, Leandro Barbosa, Amir Johnson, Linas Kleiza, Julian Wright, DeMar Derozan, Jerryd Bayless, Ed Davis, James Johnson, Sonny Weems, Joey Dorsey, Solomon Alabi

Rookies: Jonas Valanciunas (unlikely to play in the NBA this season)

On the surface, this team looks like a mess. And for the purposes of this season, it is. The roster is a nightmare of mismatched parts...combo guards, wings who can't shoot threes, and one lone rebounder who habitually fouls out after 30 minutes every night. And to top it all off, there's a lot of money being spent over a long period of time on guys who don't make a discernable difference...Barbosa, Kleiza, Bayless. The team is extremely fortunate to have unloaded Hedo.

The good news is, the future here looks a lot brighter. Derozan is a keeper, and Ed Davis will likely be as well when he starts to really see the floor. The super rebounding powers of Valanciunas should make a nice compliment to the super scoring, non rebounding powers of Bargnani. Throw in a young, worthwhile point guard and you've got the start of something.

Chicago Bulls

Roster: Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, CJ Watson, Keith Bogans, Taj Gibson, Omar Asik

Rookies: Jimmy Butler

It seems strange to pick on a team with the reigning MVP and a conference finals appearance, but the Bulls, by my eye, have a couple of really glaring flaws.

One, Coach Thibs lived up to his reputation as a defense only guy. His ability to scheme a world-class defense with Carlos Boozer in and Joakim Noah out for large parts of the season was impressive. But his playbook is basically one page long: iso-Rose. Granted, Derrick Rose is a big talent and the Bulls can win a lot of games with defense and Rose, but that won't be enough to top a team like Miami in 7. The offense needs to be more creative.

And two, this shooting-guard-by-committee thing needs to stop. It's never a good idea at any position, but especially not at the one other teams man with guys like Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant. Korver can score but doesn't defend. Brewer can defend but doesn't score. Bogans doesn't do either yet somehow starts over both of them. That's nonsense.

Still though, I expect the Bulls to be back in the ECF this year (pending Noah's health...)

Cleveland Cavaliers

Roster: Baron Davis (for now...), Antawn Jamison, Anderson Verajao, Daniel Gibson, Ramon Sessions, Ryan Hollins, JOmri Casspi, Chrstian Eyenga, Semih Erden, Luke Harangody

Rookies: Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson

The Cavs learned some hard lessons last season.

1) JJ Hickson is not, in fact, as good as Amare Stoudemire

2) The roster minus LeBron James = the season minus 50 wins

3) The only thing James is loyal to is winning

But credit the Cavaliers for not sitting around feeling sorry for themselves. Dan Gilbert's inappropriate letters in bizarre fonts nonwithstanding, Cleveland made aggressive moves for the future. Their draft pick hording paid off, several of their players are very tradable, and the one who isn't can now be cut with the amnesty clause of the new CBA. Win, win, win.

It'll be interesting to see how Irving does. His college numbers were off the charts, but he played a very limited number of games. And that aside, expectations are going to be unrealistically high on him, following in the wake of guys like Rose, Tyreke Evans, and John Wall.

Detroit Pistons

Roster: Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell, Will Bynum, Greg Monroe, Rodney Stuckey, Ben Wallace, Austin Daye, Dajuan Summers, Jonas Jerebko

Rookies: Brandon Knight, Vernon Macklin, Kyle Singler (staying in Spain this season)

Another mess of a team. Hopefully the long-awaited sale can finally get things moving here. First and foremost, the team needs to unload Rip. Even at his price, there will be buyers...teams like the Mavs, Spurs, Bulls, maybe the Celtics, maybe the Magic...anyone looking to make a big push or one last run at a title.

Second, figure out the point guard situation. Stuckey has had a lot of chances and hasn't done much with them. Did you draft Knight to be an understudy when he's probably already the better player? Can you get away with a backcourt with an average height of 6'2"?

It's not like the Pistons are short on talent. Greg Monroe is going to be one of the best centers in the league. Ben Grdon can still score with the best of them when he actually sees the floor, and both Austin Daye and Brandon Knight have potential. But how is it all supposed to fit together?

Indiana Pacers

Roster: Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough, Paul George, Darren Collison, Brandon Rush, George Hill, James Posey, Dahtay Jones, Lance Stephenson, AJ Price

Rookies: N/A

I've spent a long time trying to figure out what the pacers are doing, and so far I haven't though of anything that makes any sense.

On paper, this looks like a decent team. They have a big-time scoring wing, a promising young center paired with a workhorse power forward, a couple of (theoretically) good shooting guards, and a couple of young, respectable point guards. But in practice, their scoring wing is injured a lot, their center is inconsistent, one shooting guard has lost his shooting touch and the other can't dribble more than 10 feet at a time, and neither point guard has proven themselves full time.

Indiana seems to just be picking up players just on the abstract theory that they'll be good or fit in well without any actual though put into the process. Not real sure where they go from here. They've been stuck in no-man's land for a while now, and unlike Detroit or Philly, there doesn't seems to be any one obvious reason for that.

Milwaukee Bucks

Roster: Andrew Bogut, Brandon Jennings, Stephen Jackson, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Drew Gooden, Carlos Delfino, Ersan Ilyasova, Beno Udrih, Keyon Dooling, Larry Sanders, Jon Brockman

Rookies: Tobias Harris, Jon Leuer

First thing you probably noticed: there's a lot of names on that roster list. And most of them aren't particularly good players.

That's because two years ago, the Bucks thought they were on to something with Jennings. They subsequently went out and overpaid a whole slew of players, then traded some of those players for other overpaid players, then played the next season and realized that Jennings had almost nothing to do with the previous season's success. The Bucks' fortunes hung, as they always have, on Andrew Bogut's health.

So Milwaukee's back to cost cutting again. Michael Redd is off the books. They managed to unload John Salmons and Corey Maggette. Stephen Jackson is a big help financially. On the court? Maybe not so much. Again, the only thing that will make the Bucks relevant in the standings is a healthy Bogut.

Atlanta Hawks

Roster: Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Jeff Teague

Rookies: Keith Benson

Another year, another ride on the ATL crazy train. This year's conundrum? Not enough players. Just the 7 players currently on the roster add up to more than $65 million in salary.

And missing from that list are two names the Hawks need to have: Jamal Crawford and Kirk Hinrich. Atlanta could show faith in Teague as a starter I suppose, but somehow I don't think that will work very well for them. And who scores for them off the bench without Crawford? Pachulia?

Oddly enough though, the Hawks could be right back in it by landing Chris Paul. Despite being passed on in favor of a vastly inferior player, CP3 still has an inexplicable love for Atlanta. Why? I don't know. But keep an eye on it.

Charlotte Bobcats

Roster: Boris Diaw, Tyrus Thomas, DeSagana Diop, Gerald Henderson, DJ Augustin, Corey Maggette, Matt Carrol, Eduardo Najera, Dante Cunningham, DJ White

Rookies: Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo

Michael Jordan didn't waste any time remaking his new team. He set up a rosy draft scenario, then made off like a bandit with Walker and Biyombo. That's a really good start.

There's still certainly work to do with the rest of the roster. Boris Diaw makes more money than he's worth (not that he isn't decent), but a combo of Thomas and Biyombo will struggle to average a combined 15ppg. Maggette is just deadweight used to facilitate other deals, and Augustin has yet to show anything beyond career backup status. Outside of Walker, Biyombo and Henderson, this team is a complete unknown.

Miami Heat

Roster: Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, Mario Chalmers, Dexter Pittman

Rookies: Norris Cole

Eeeaahhh.....don't really want to talk about this team. It's not so much the James/Wade/Bosh trio. Not a fan, but I respect their right to come together like they did (and grudgingly admire their backbone to actually do so) But the new CBA gives them kind of an unfair advantage for having pulled it off.

Not only will they not have to waive Mike Miller to add to their roster anymore, but they're getting some good players practically begging to fill out their roster. They're the Lakers of the East. Sadly, the one that actually scares me the most is Eddy Curry. Can you imagine this Heat team with a 7', back-to-the-basket scoring behemoth? There'd be no stopping them. They'd have every base on both ends of the floor covered.

Orlando Magic

Roster: Dwight Howard, Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson, JJ Redick, Quentin Richardson, Ryan Anderson, Chris Duhon, Daniel Orton, Brandon Bass

Rookies: DeAndre Liggins, Justin Harper

Now here's a team in a predicament. Nothing the team has done has put a truly formidable supporting cast around Dwight Howard, which all but guarantees he's leaving by next summer at the latest. They vastly overpaid Rashard Lewis, then traded him for the even more outrageously overpaid Gilbert Arenas. They let Hedo walk, then realized they needed him, then found out he's a shell of his former self when he returned. They invested way too much money and faith in Jameer Nelson, and since trading Courtney Lee, their shooting guard situation just keeps getting worse. They spent nearly $90 million last season and ended up whimpering out to the aging Celtics. It's a downward trend.

If I'm Orlando, I'm elated by the Nets' offer for D12. He's a goner anyway, and here's a team offering me a replacement center, 2 draft picks, and they're willing to take Hedo off my hands. If I do that and use my amnesty clause on Arenas, I've suddenly cut my payroll from $76 million to $30 million, and I've got a promising young center and three first round picks to rebuild with. Who says no to that?

Washington Wizards

Roster: John Wall, Andray Blatche, Rashard Lewis, JaVale McGee, Yi Jianlian, Nick Young, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, Mustafa Shakur, Jordan Crawford, Othyrus Jeffers, Larry Owens

Rookies: Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, Shelvin Mack

Finally, we can talk about a team on it's way up rather than ones that need to tear it all down. I like what the Wizards are doing. Lewis is a prime candidate for amnesty, which will free up a lot of space in the books, as well as on the court. The combination of Wall, Young, Vesely and McGee is one of the most absurdly athletic lineups I can ever remember (granted it's rather lacking in basketball IQ, but hey...)

It'll be interesting to see how they fill out the rest of the roster over the next few years. Nick Young is better suited as a scoring sixth man, and I'm not sure if Vesely is better as a 3 or 4. If nothing else, they have a ton of 4s, and none of them stand out as champion-team-level starters. But for a team rebuilding, it's hard to argue with the talent the Wizards have collected so far.

Golden State Warriors

Roster: Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, David Lee, Andris Beidrins, Dorell Wright, Ekpe Udoh, Charlie Bell, Louis Amundson, Reggie Williams

Rookies: Klay Thompson, Charles Jenkins, Jeremy Tyler

This is another one of those interesting teams you can't really take at face value. On paper, they look pretty formidable. In practice, they're kinda not. Maybe a coaching change will help, but it seems like the problem goes deeper than that.

If anything, I think this will be the year the Warriors finally give up on the Ellis/Curry backcourt and ship Monta out. He can score like nobody's business, but he's very undersized for his position and, more often than not, is a loose cannon rather than a cornerstone. The Warriors have spent a lot of money on a group of players that are more or less capped out on potential. Steph Curry is the only one with any sort of significant potential left, and he'd have to get to Chris Paul/Deron Williams/Derrick Rose levels to pull the rest of the team up with him...I just don't see that happening. Something has to change here.

Los Angeles Clippers

Roster: Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, Mo Williams, Chris Kaman, DeAndre Jordan, Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Al Farouq-Aminu, Eric Bledsoe, Brian Cook

Rookies: Trey Thompkins, Travis Leslie

Clippergeddon. The end.

Oh yeah. And healthy Griffin + healthy Gordon = playoffs. If they find a point guard with swag (motivated Baron Davis > conventional Mo Williams), they'll be a threat to beat anyone

Los Angeles Lakers

Roster: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest Metta World Peace, Andrew Bynum, Derek Fisher, Luke Walton, Steve Blake, Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes

Rookies: Andrew Goudelock, Ater Mojak, Darius Morris

No, Dirty Bynum does not deserve a proper listing.

Obviously all eyes will be on Kobe this season. Was last year a fluke wear-and-tear, or the start of a big decline? How will he be willing to let Gasol carry more of the burden (and share more of the spotlight?) How will he respond to the new coach who runs not the triangle? Mike Brown love himself some defense, but his offensive playbook is about as creative as Simpsons season 17. Kobe is not LeBron. Iso him up every play and you'll end up with him taking 60 shots a game.

One player who definitely is in decline is the artist formerly known as Artest. Dude is old. And looking more and more unmotivated. The days when he could check a LeBron are long passed. Less TAFKAA, more Odom.

The Lakers are facing a critical season in terms of their viability, and Kobe is facing a critical season in terms of his legacy. They got beat up a bit by a sad, sad Hornets team in round 1, then got knocked the @&$! out by the Mavs in round two. They got hammered on by the Heat during the regular season, and don't look like a team that could take on young whippersnappers like the Thunder, Grizzlies or even Clippers anymore. Can they prove us all wrong? Or is this the end?

Phoenix Suns

Roster: Steve Nash, Vince Carter, Channing Frye, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, Josh Childress, Aaron Brooks, Hakim Warrick, Jared Dudley, Robin Lopez, Gani Lawal

Rookies: Markeiff Morris

I was not a fan of the Aaron brooks trade. Steve Nash is gone at the end of the year, if not sooner. Goran Dragic was showing signs of being a very good all-around point guard...why trade him for an undersized gunner with attitude problems?

At any rate, the rebuilding process if going to commence here very soon, and right now they only have one piece anyone would consider a solid long-term investment: Marcin Gortat. Everyone else is either too old or too limited. Sure, they'll get something for Nash, but not nearly as much as they seem to think they will. 37 year olds do not get you a superstar in return. Especially 37 year olds who everyone knows they could sign for comparatively nothing if they just wait until the summer.

I don't see grant Hill returning, which will be another big blow to Suns PR. Vince Carter likely won't make it through the season, whether that means he's cut or he's hurt. The Suns held on too long, made too many mistakes, and are about to pay a big price for it in the form of several really not good seasons.

Sacramento Kings

Roster: Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, Francisco Garcia, Jason Thompson, John Salmons, JJ Hickson, Donte Greene, Marcus Thornton, Hassan Whiteside

Rookies: Jimmer Fredette, Isaiah Thomas

They're going to take heat early on for Jimmer, but that was a smart, smart move. With the team so heavy on inside scoring (Tyreke is a post scorer too) and so lacking in shooting, what better fit than a big-time shooter who won't take the ball out of Tyreke's hands?

Otherwise, John Salmons will fit much better at the 3 alongside Evans, which makes Garcia a candidate for amnesty. Cousins will be the starting center from day 1 now. And while I still don't at all buy the "next Hakeem" propaganda, he will challenge Dwight Howard for "best center" in the coming years. The team has a lot of roster work still to do, but they have a really good core to build it on now.

Dallas Mavericks

Roster: Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Rudy Fernandez, Shawn Marion, Corey Brewer, Brendan Haywood, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones

Rookies: N/A

The defending champs could actually be in a lot of trouble.

Because of the new CBA and some rather not-smart post-season lack of communication, Tyson Chandler has declared it highly unlikely he'll be a Maverick....well, ever again. That's not good for Dallas. Chandler transformed this team defensively last season, providing the kind of anchor in the paint they've been looking for ever since Shawn Bradley (and even his anchor skills were debatable) departed. If Chandler can't or won't return, the team will be back to Brenda (n intentionally omitted) Haywood. That's a big big dropoff.

Positively, the Mavs went out and picked up Rudy Fernandez, and should have a healthy Roddy Beaubois. Theoretically that should lock up the starting 2 with a player that's actually got 2-guard size, and will take quite a bit of scoring pressure off of Dirk, which is badly needed. Our beloved Brewer figures to see a lot more floor time as well, as the Mavs start to transition away from the old knees of the Matrix. The Mavs will be good and fun to watch. But repeat champions? Ehhh....don't bet on it.

Houston Rockets

Roster: Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry, Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, Courtney Lee, Goran Dragic, Terrence Williams, Patrick Patterson, Hasheem Thabeet

Rookies: Marcus Morris, Donatas Motiejunas, Chandler Parsons

No Yao Ming. =( x 10,000

The Rockets...in a very very short amount of time....have gone from Yao, TMac and Shane Battie to Scola, KMart, and Chase Budinger. Cliff -> Rockets

Houston has a good collection of young talent an a coach who theoretically knows what he's doing (anyone want McHale back now? No? Alrighty...) But I'm skeptical about how good they'll really be. Martin and Scola put up some great individual numbers, but neither have proven they can carry a team. Is KMart the kind of guy you'd build a franchise around? Not in my book.

The team also has some very interesting balance issues to work out. How do the pieces fit together? Yao's presence will be missed in every way imaginable. Scoring, passing, rebounding, defending. Charity events. Ticketmaster. This is like the Pups post-KG.

Saddest of all, because of the lockout, the Rockets haven't been able to even acknowledge Yao's retirement, much less give him a proper sendoff. That's just cruel. He's one of the all-time greats for so many reasons.

Memphis Grizzlies

Roster: Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, OJ Mayo, Mike Conley Jr., Tony Allen, Xavier Henry, Darrell Arthur, Greivis Vasquez, Sam Young

Rookies: Josh Selby

A team led by Zach Randolph almost eliminated a team led by Kevin Durant. Think about that for a second.

More than anything, the Grizz epitomize brute force. ZBo is a bully. Marc Gasol is a bully. Tony Allen is a bully. Mike Conley wishes he was a bully. Memphis just comes straight at you and doesn't stop.

The gameplan is fairly simple....cause turnovers and try to run. If it works, great. If not, give the ball to Randolph. No tricks to it, just straight up basketball. They're kind of Detroit Bad Boys in their physicality and attitude (their defense is nowhere close, but hey...) It'll be interesting to see how Rudy Gay fits back in, and whether OJ Mayo sticks around. They tried to trade him for spare parts before, and likely will try again.

New Orleans Hornets

Roster: Chris Paul, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Quincey Pondexter, Jarrett Jack

Rookies: N/A

Well, here's a team that's F'd. They have only five players under contract. The best one wants out. And because they have no owner, they can't spend their money to fill out their roster decently to convince him to stay.

I don't really know what to say about this franchise. There's kind of no light at the end of the tunnel for them.

San Antonio Spurs

Roster: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess, Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner, James Anderson, Dejuan Blair, Gary Neal

Rookies: Kawhi Leonard, Cory Joseph, Adam Hanga, Davis Bertrans

Father time has finally, officially caught up to the Spurs. Tim Duncan is in sunset mode, and this is almost certainly his last season. I would be surprised if this is it for Manu as well. Both have played at superstar levels for a long, long time. Tony Parker, despite it seeming like he's been in the league for two decades, is actually just 28. He's got plenty of time. His big three companions don't.

If the Spurs can find some great deals (Grant Hill? Tayshaun Prince, perhaps?) they'll use their amnesty on Richard Jefferson without blinking. He's expensive, increasingly unproductive, and not a good fit for the system. If nothing else, Kawhi Leonard will do the same things on a rookie salary. I'd also expect Tiago Splitter and James Anderson to start getting significant playing time. Blair is struggling to stay in shape, and both Splitter and Anderson have legit size for their positions compared to Blair and Gary Neal.

But as always, the fortunes of the team ride on Duncan's methodical consistency and Ginobili's magic moments. Both were in short supply last season. Is there anything left for one last run?

Denver Nuggets

Roster:......?????????

Rookies: Kenneth Faried, Jordan Hamilton, Chukwudiebere Maduabum

This team is also F'd, but for an entirely different reason than the Hornets. Two of their key players (JR Smith and Kenyon Martin) are unrestricted free agents playing in China with no out clause. A third, Wilson Chandler, is still under contract but also stuck in China. Their anchor big man is just an unrestricted free agent who's likely out of their price range. and their starting shooting guard is likewise going to draw a lot of interest at prices they'll struggle to match.

That more or less leaves this team with Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Al Harrington, Birdman, and a bunch of rookies. Brilliant.

If the team can't keep Nene, the promise they had finishing last season so strongly will be washed out to sea. I'm not sure what they do. They can't afford to lose him, but they can't really afford to keep him either.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Roster: Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Wes Johnson, Martell Webster, Anthony Randolph, Luke Ridnour, Darko Milicic, Nikola Pekovic, Wayne Ellington, Lazar Hayward, Anthony Tolliver

Rookies: Ricky Rubio, Derrick Williams, Malcolm Lee

Well, that list is huge on talent at least.

Anyway, S-n-P has your Wolves overview here.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Roster: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefalosha, Nick Collison, Nate Robinson, Eric Maynor, Dequan Cook, Cole Aldrich, BJ Mullens

Rookies: Reggie Jackson

There's a lot I buy into with the Thunder. I buy into the idea Durant will be the best, most complete player in the league. I buy into the idea James Harden is the next coming of Manu Ginobili. I buy into the idea that the Thunder will be the team to beat out west, and will only be rivaled in the near future by the Heat.

That said, I'm also a little skeptical of their more recent work. I'm not sure I would have invested in Perkins (especially with Nene a free agent) Perkins + Ibaka = 10ppg. Can a team really contend with absolutely no post scoring?

I also wouldn't hang onto Westbrook. Call me crazy, but Durant and Westbrook last season is crazy eerily similar to the start of KG and Marbury. The hotshot point guard with an attitude not wanting to defer to his bigger, more talented teammate?

(sadly, KG was the kind of guy who would have gladly let Marbury take those last shots. As Sam I Am proved)

Some claim that there's absolutely no problem between KD and WB. (ha, radio) Some claim it's already irrepairably hopeless. I don't think it's that extreme either way, but I do know that if I'm Sam Presti, I offer Westbrook for Chris Paul and do whatever I can to make it happen.

Portland Trailblazers

Roster: LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, Gerald Wallace, Nic Batum, Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton, Wesley Matthews, Luke Babbitt, Armon Johnson, Chris Johnson, Patrick Mills

Rookies: Jon Deibler, Nolan Smith

I get Portland's loyalty to Roy. I really do. But there's just no getting around reality: he is never, EVER, going to carry a team again. His knees can barely carry his own weight, and they won't get any better than they are right now.

I feel for Rich Cho. He was put in an impossible situation. He saw the writing on the wall and went about trying to avoid the inevitable apocalypse. Trading for Gerald Wallace was smart. Setting in motion the trade for Ray Felton was smart. Planning for a post-Roy Blazers future was smart, because that future starts now. And as a reward for being so smart, he was fired. I'm happy he landed in Charlotte so quickly. I'm happy he cleaned up draft day. He's going to prove Paul Allen wrong on so many levels.

The Blazers have a lot of good pieces to work with. LMA finally filled out his potential as a low-post threat and defender, and got robbed of an All Star berth by TimmyD's lifetime achievement award. Gerald Wallace is a hurricane of basketball goodness. Felton is a highly underrated point guard who's a good fit for the system, and Camby (when healthy) can still rebound and block with the best of them. Nic Batum is a multi-talented athlete, and Wes Matthews can flat out shoot.

But none of it will matter if the team still clings to the dream of Roy and Oden. It's going to hurt, but amnesty clauses were made for situations like Roy's.

Utah Jazz

Roster: Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Devin Harris, Mehmet Okur, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, CJ Miles, Raja Bell

Rookies: Enes Kanter, Alec Burks

The Jazz could very well have the best frontcourt in the NBA in 5 years. Think of what you'd get if you put Brook Lopez and Dwight Howard on the same team. That's potentially what the Jazz have in Kanter and Favors. Which is why Jefferson and Millsap are both on the block (I'd keep Millsap, personally. Great, great sixth man)

The perimeter is a lot more unstable though. Kirilenko is gone, which is a major cornerstone out. Devin Harris seems to be one of those 'eternal potential' guys. Bell is too old to be in the long term plan. Burks has major questions about his shooting touch. Hayward shows promise as a do-it-all guy, but can he do any of it at a high level?

The Jazz really really screwed up last year. They tried to settle a private dispute between Deron Williams and Jerry Sloan in a very public way. They sided with Williams, then realized the PR backlash would force them to deal him anyways. They ended up with neither, and are fortunate to be in as good a position as they are.

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