Sharpshooting Guard Brian Winters and Center Dave Cowens have retired, but the MILWAUKEE BUCKS won't lack for oldtimers. They traded for Kevin Grevey, 30 years old and a shooting clone of Winters, and 35-year-old Nate Archibald, who was picked up on waivers, will strengthen the point considerably. Six-eleven Center Bob Lanier, 35, is back after two more rounds of arthroscopic knee surgery, and Old Man Milwaukee's health ultimately will determine just how far these Bucks go in the playoffs.
Bucks of more recent vintage are Guard Sidney Moncrief, 26, and Forward Marques Johnson, 27, who combined for 43.9 points a game last season, and 7-foot Alton Lister, 25, who blocked 177 shots in 1982-83.
The new streamlined, squeaky-clean image of the ATLANTA HAWKS' All-Star guard, Eddie Johnson, whose manic-depressive personality and cocaine habit made him one of the league's most troubled players a few years ago, is the big plus for the Hawks. Last year Johnson came to camp fat and generally out of shape. After missing the last 21 games of 1982-83 with strained ligaments in his right knee, Johnson had surgery and spent the next five months shaping up.
The new faces on the Hawks include Sly Williams, who averaged 11.9 points a game off the bench for New York last year; Point Guard Glenn (Doc) Rivers, who was a second-round draft pick; and Swingman Randy Wittman, the No. 1 pick who averaged 19.0 ppg for Indiana. Returning are the NBA's shot-blocking leader, Tree Rollins (with 343) at center; Dan Roundfield and Dominique Wilkens at forward; and Johnny Davis at guard.
The DETROIT PISTONS got off to a 12-6 start and a share of the Central Division lead last season, but then the injuries began to exact a toll. The most devastating was to Forward Kelly Tripucka, who strained ligaments in his left knee and missed 23 games. Kent Benson missed 61 games with foot and ankle injuries, and John Long missed 11 games with a groin pull. In total, 10 players missed 154 games because of injuries, and the Pistons finished 37-45. If they stay healthy, the Pistons are formidable.
Add first-round draft pick Antoine Carr to Tripucka, who was third in league scoring with 26.5 ppg, All-Star Guard Isiah Thomas and Center Bill Laimbeer, third in league rebounding with a 12.1 average, and the Pistons are right on track. Assuming they're running on all cylinders, of course.
When the CHICAGO BULLS finished last season 28-54, that finished Paul Westhead as head coach. Westhead installed a running game in Chicago, but only one Bull, Guard Reggie Theus, could run. Theus led the team in scoring (23.8 a game), assists (5.9 a game) and steals (1.7 a game). "You can't win with just one guy scoring," says Forward David Greenwood. "Everyone else just stands and watches."
Now Kevin Loughery tries his coaching hand with Guard Quintin Dailey, who has completed a drug rehabilitation program, and three first-round picks: Forward Sidney Green and guards Mitchell Wiggins and Ennis Whatley.
Play no funeral dirges for the INDIANA PACERS. True, they finished with a 20-62 record, but last spring the brothers Simon, Herb and Mel, local shopping mall barons, delivered the franchise from Chapter 11. And, sure, the Pacers lost Ralph Sampson to Houston on a coin flip, but Indiana chose 6'11" Missouri Center Steve Stipanovich to join Herb Williams and Clark Kellogg on the front line. Kellogg, runner-up to San Diego's Terry Cummings for Rookie of the Year, was one of only four pros to average at least 10 rebounds and 20 points a game.
On the CLEVELAND CAVS' media day a helicopter descended from the sky and out strolled Guard World B. Free, down a red carpet no less, to announce that he would sign a three-year, $1.65 million pact. New owner Gordon Gund's Learjet had whisked Free from New York City to Cleveland, where the helicopter picked him up. "It was a dream come true," says Free, who didn't sign until 10 days after all the hoopla. "Fantasy Island all the way."
Cleveland has new team colors (burnt orange, white and royal blue), uniforms, warmups and home-court floor. Sadly, the team has primarily the same mediocre talent, although gargantuan Forward Lonnie Shelton was acquired from Seattle to beef up the front line of Cliff Robinson, who excelled in the Los Angeles Summer League, and either Jeff Cook or recently added Ben Poquette. There are incentive bonuses in Shelton's contract to persuade him to shed 20 pounds.