Ploys of summer: Five teams that are making the most of offseason
As the mania from the
There's no scientific criteria at play here. For example, the 29-win Knicks may improve their victory total more than the 41-win Bulls in the 2010-11 season, but the way Chicago has supplemented its core strengths and prepared for playoff competition is, in my opinion, more impressive. The other caveat in judging teams at this stage is that the roster-juggling is far from finished, with plenty of valuable role players remaining as free agents and the trade market continuing to be active.
With that said, here are five teams that deserve praise for their offseasons to date.
A little more than a year ago, the Kings were coming off an NBA-worst 17-win season. People talked about a possible move to Las Vegas more than they extolled the exploits of the players on the roster. But team president
Petrie has maximized that identity with a couple of brilliant moves over the past month. A week before the draft, Sacramento sent soft, smooth-shooting center
Dalembert will also become a key mentor for Sacramento's top pick this year, Kentucky's
The Kings still have an uphill fight to make the playoffs in the deep, competitive Western Conference. Casspi and 6-11 swingman
Of all the spurned suitors for LeBron, the Bulls have collected the most astute and coherent set of consolation prizes. Free-agent signee
None of these recent additions is regarded as an above-average defender, especially compared to two primary starters last season in Hinrich and
Nobody maximizes bit parts with the foresight and discipline of Thunder GM
This offseason, Presti started with four draft picks all outside the top 20. He turned those selections into veterans
The events of June and July have been very kind to the Lakers. Coach
And then there is the challenge provided by Miami's talent coup. Rarely, if ever, has a two-time defending champion with all of its key pieces returning been confronted by such a hypothetically formidable foe. Remember, when the 2008 U.S. Olympic team was reeling in the gold-medal game against Spain, LeBron,
Last but hardly not least we have the Heat, who have experienced a more bountiful summer than any team in NBA history.Yes, Miami lucked into the pajama-party vibe that compelled three of the league's top dozen players to take less than max money for the joy of playing, and presumably winning championships, together. Anyone who watched the 2008 Summer Olympics chuckles at the notion that this star trio can't play together -- Wade and LeBron were baseline-to-baseline defensive demons in China, and it was Bosh, not
Bosh, Wade and James don't need months to learn how to play together. All of them have demonstrated their court IQ and all of them will be more free to roam and create than at any point in the past five years. Riley was wise to line up a three-point specialist in
Size and depth were the immediate question marks after the Big Three agreed to deals, but the Heat moved quickly to at least ease those concerns by bringing back power forward
With Miller, Haslem and Ilgauskas, Miami proved it didn't have to fill out its roster with nobodies even after spending big for James, Wade and Bosh. But even nobodies become a little bit somebody sharing the court with the Heat's mega-talented trio. Remember, LeBron won 127 games the past two regular seasons without Wade and Bosh beside him. This time, he might want to try back-loading a few more of those victories for meaningful games in June.