For NBA teams, the quest for a title starts right now as training camp opens this week. While the Lakers are the champs and arguably the favorites to win it again this year, the rest of the league did not sit idle during the offseason. A lot of teams – especially the ones in contention for the chip – made some bold moves during the summer that strengthen their roster. I ranked the five teams who I thought made the best offseason upgrades.
1. Spurs: The Spurs are coming off a disappointing season where they found themselves in unfamiliar territory by getting wiped out in the first round. Sure, Manu Ginobili was limited to 44 games due to injury and missed the playoffs entirely but questions about the Spurs age started to surface. After the season, 38-year-old Bruce Bowen retired and the front office shipped the aging Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto to the Bucks for Richard Jefferson. RJ gives them an athletic wing man who can play D and score the ball. By also signing Antonio McDyess and drafting DeJuan Blair, the Spurs are deeper down low. Expect the Spurs to be right on LA’s tail all season long.
2. Lakers: The Lakers made only one major offseason move, but it could be a move that secures them a back-to-back title. Locking up Ron Artest adds another all-star level talent to LA. Trevor Ariza was a good defender, but Ron-Ron has a toughness to him that Kobe and Phil will love. Plus he’s a stronger offensive player than Ariza. But on the flip side, Artest comes with baggage and this move could backfire if he becomes a distraction off the court or doesn’t accept his role.
3. Magic: Let’s face it, the Magic lost a great scorer and clutch player in Hedo Turkoglu – who signed a long-term deal with Toronto. But despite that void, management wasn’t shy about finding Hedo’s replacement. They traded Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee and Tony Battie to the Nets for eight-time all-star Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson. Carter, who is from the Central Florida area, will provide scoring and excitement to the team. The Magic also signed Brandon Bass, a young and athletic power forward from Dallas. Bass along with re-signing Marcin Gortat helps improve the Magic’s frontcourt. Orlando fills the backcourt void left by Alston and Lee by signing veteran guards Jason Williams and Matt Barnes.
4. Celtics: Like the Spurs, the C’s took an early exit in the playoffs last year. They also had to go a lot of the season and the entire playoffs without franchise player Kevin Garnett. This year, KG is back and healthy plus they beefed up their frontcourt by adding veteran Rasheed Wallace, Shelden Williams and resigning Big Baby. Boston also acquired Marquis Daniels, who will make Doc Rivers’ backcourt bigger.
5. Cavs: Over the summer, the OG Superman touched down in Cleveland. Now LeBron has a dominant low-post presence to pass to. A lot of people think trading for the 37-year-old O’Neal will slow down King James, but the Cavs have played with Ilguaskas (possibly the slowest player in the NBA) for years so acquiring Shaq won’t be an issue. The Cavs also were aggressive in the free agent market by acquiring veteran guard/forward Anthony Parker as well as athletic forwards Leon Powe and Jamario Moon.
The next five: 6. Mavs, 7. Raptors, 8. Hornets, 9. Hawks, 10. Blazers
Which team or teams had the best offseason?
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