The following is the first in a six-part series previewing the NBA. We will write about each team in the order they finished in the division last year.
New York Knicks (54-28, lost in the second round to Indiana):
Headline: The Knicks may have starpower but do they have the talent to make an NBA title run?
Summary: It cannot be said that this Knicks team lacks star power. Carmelo Anthony is one of the most lethal scorers in the game, they have a hobbled if still well known Amar’e and they brought in Metta World Peace and former #1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani. Yet, starpower alone doesn’t make a team a title contender and there remain serious questions about this roster.
Overall Trend: Up, if barely, Bargs if he’s healthy can be a good addition and they didn’t really lose a lot.
Salary: $91.13M (over luxury tax threshold)
2014 Draft picks: Owe 2014 First Round Pick to Denver, 2014 Second Round Pick to Houston, Owed Sacramento’s 2014 Second Round Pick (Protected for Picks 31-55).
Biggest Addition: Andrea Bargnani
Losses: Jason Kidd, Steve Novak
Best Case: NBA Finals, if Melo plays as well as he possibly can play at the right time and they get a little lucky, a finals berth is not out of the question.
Worst Case: First Round, the Knicks are too good to miss the playoffs but not so good that they couldn’t be a fairly easy out once they get there.
Most Likely Case: Second Round, the Knicks will probably be good enough to win a series but that’ll be all.
Brooklyn Nets (49-33, lost in the first round to Chicago):
Headline: For Brooklyn the time to win is now or never as they land Pierce and KG
Summary: Gotta give credit to the Nets, they find ways to improve their roster without losing a whole heck of a lot. Sure, they are getting Pierce and KG on the tale end of their illustrious careers and they have a newly, and untested, head coach in Jason Kidd but if they can squeeze some more magic out of them, they could surprise some people and win it all.
Overall Trend: Up, Pierce and KG are a definite upgrade.
Salary: $103.1M (over luxury tax threshold)
2014 draft picks: Brooklyn will convey the less favorable of its and Atlanta’s first round picks to Boston and owes its 2014 Second Round Pick to Philadelphia.
Biggest Addition: Paul Pierce
Losses: Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace
Best Case: NBA Champions, unlikely as it may be, Brooklyn is good enough to possibly catch lightning in a bottle and win a title.
Worst Case: First round, this team is good enough to make the playoffs unless it suffers a rash of injuries but could be one and done.
Most Likely Case: First round, the Nets aren’t as good as the elite so it should be one and done for them.
Boston Celtics (41-40, lost in the first round to New York):
Headline: Boston presses the reset button as they look to rebuild after the Big Three era ends.
Summary: You knew it was going to happen sooner or later, Boston had to blow it up and indeed they did, trading KG and Pierce to the Nets and rebuilding behind Rondo and company. It will likely be a long sad season for rookie head coach Brad Stevens and company.
Overall Trend: Down and way down, they pushed the reset button hard.
Salary: $94.06M (over luxury tax threshold)
2014 Draft picks: Owed the less favorable of Atlanta and Brooklyn’s first round picks, Owe2014 Second Round Pick to Dallas.
Biggest Addition: Gerald Wallace..
Losses: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett
Best Case: #1 pick, the Celtics will be bad but not so bad as to be among the favorites to see them win the #1 pick but still, they will have a decent chance to win it.
Worst Case: Mid lottery pick, the Celtics are not totally devoid of talent and if they are reasonably okay, they could find themselves in a pick in the 7-9 range.
Most Likely Case: Top five pick, the Celtics will suck, the only question is how much.
Philadelphia 76ers (34-38, missed playoffs):
Headline: The question for Philadelphia is not whether they will be bad, but how bad they will be
Summary: The Sixers whole Bynum experiment didn’t work out for them, at all, as he didn’t play a single minute for them. After that failure, they decided to rebuild beyond a core that is best described as perhaps the worst constructed roster in the east, if not the entire league. Hey, at least they have a lot of cap room for next season!
Overall Trend: Down and down big time, the Sixers are going to be a very bad team this year.
Salary: $47.04M ($11M under cap)
2014 Draft picks: Owed New Orleans 2014 First Round Pick (Protected for picks 1-5), Owed Houston and Brooklyn’s 2014 Second Round Picks, Owe Miami their 2014 First Round Pick (Protected for picks 1-14)
Biggest Addition: Nerlens Noel
Losses: Andrew Bynum
Best Case: #1 overall pick, they will be among the favorites to land it come next spring.
Worst Case: #4 pick, the Sixers should have one of the three worst records in the league and so #4 is as low as they go.
Most Likely Case: #1 pick, they’ll probably be just worse than Phoenix and so the odds will appear to be in their favor to land the top pick.
Toronto Raptors (34-48, missed playoffs):
Headline: The Raptors Attempt to Make a Push for a Playoff Spot Behind a Rebuilt Roster
Summary: The Raptors fly under the radar a lot, for a number of reasons including being Canada’s only team, being not very good for quite a long time and ranking well behind Toronto’s favorite winter sport, hockey. Nonetheless, this Raptors bunch has some hope this season as they have a solid roster, a good new GM in Masai Ujiri and some rare buzz in Canada’s largest city.
Overall Trend: Up, losing Bargs was actually a good thing for them and they have improved overall.
Salary: $72.96M (over luxury tax threshold)
2014 Draft picks: Owed 2014 Second Round Pick from OKC and 2014 Second Round Pick from Sacramento (Protected for Picks 56-60), Owe Milwaukee the lesser of its (Protected for picks 31-36) and Sacramento’s (Protected for Picks 56-60) 2014 Second Round Picks.
Biggest Addition: GM Masai Ujuri
Losses: Andrea Bargnani
Best Case: First round, Toronto will be among the teams competing for the last few playoff spots in the west and they could certainly get there.
Worst Case: Just miss the playoffs, if you aren’t going to be good, you might as well be really bad. If the Raptors just miss the playoffs and get a late lottery pick they probably will not move forward much if at all.
Most Likely Case: First round, Toronto should be just good enough to make the playoffs and be easy targets for the Eastern Conference elite.