The top three off-season moves in the NBA
Last year marked the emergence of a new era in the Eastern Conference. Teams like the Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards and Miami Heat rebounded from years of stagnancy with sudden playoff appearances and a promising future ahead of them. As players' contracts expired and organizations looked at the market for new talent, these teams, along with numerous other organizations around the league, shuffled their lineups in preparation for the 05-06 season. Here before you, are the top three offseason transactions in the NBA:
1.Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones to Cleveland:
Without a doubt, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the worst team in the Central Division only two years ago, are a major Eastern Championship contender. Cav's General Manager Danny Ferry's signing of free agent Larry Hughes may have been the most important off-season move in the entire NBA. Hughes' solid .430 field goal percentage, combined with an innate ability to drive to the lane makes this swingman an invaluable offensive threat, while his 2.89 steals per game (number one in the NBA) should solidify a fairly stable defense that only allowed 95.7 points per game last season. While Hughes, a should-have-been all-star by any standards, highlights the Cav's offseason transactions, the acquisition of free agents Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall should provide some much needed depth and perimeter shooting to a team that has relied too much on their Ilgauskaus and James tandem. Marshall, a 10 year league veteran, should not only standout as the teams go-to three point shooter but should also provide some defensive support in the form of seven rebounds and close to one and a half blocks per game.
2.Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins to Washington:
Washington fans may cringe at the thought of a Larry Hughes-less backcourt this season, but the Wizards organization avoided potential disaster with the departure of their beloved swingman by signing two talented teammates at a small price. There's no doubt that Washington got the upper-hand in a deal that sent the despised Kwame Brown and role player Laron Profit to Phil Jackson's LA Lakers in return for Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins. In Butler and Atkins, the Wizards have added depth and versatility to a team that was plagued by injuries last season. Butler can play both small and power forward and should complement power forward Antawn Jamison in the post. His 15.5 points per game doesn't really make up for Larry Hughes' explosive scoring capabilities, but his six rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game are welcome to a team that allowed opposing teams to score close to 101 points per game last year. Atkins, who's entering his seventh year in the league, can also help fill the void left by Hughes with his 14.5 points and 4.5 assists per game. Atkins should provide backup support to point guard Gilbert Arenas and veteran guidance in a team composed primarily of youngsters.
3.Coach Larry Brown and Center Eddy Curry to New York Knicks:
The Knick's franchise has made some pretty major moves in the past few years. Fans in the Big Apple witnessed the rise and fall of Latrell Sprewell, the organization's acquisition of Kurt Thomas, Antonio McDyess and Michael Sweetney and most recently, their signing of Stephon Marbury. Yet with one of the NBA's most dedicated fan base and an all-star anchoring a team of talented players, winning never seemed to find its way into the city that never sleeps. Hmmm, talent but no teamwork? Skill but no organization? Put two and two together and head coach Don Chaney is out of there, replaced by a man who has found success with every team he's been with: Larry Brown. Signing Brown and big-man Eddy Curry should almost guarantee a winning record, if not a playoff berth to a revamped Knick's team. Brown has never had a losing record during his span with any one professional team, and it would be very surprising if the Knicks became Brown's first—especially now that point guard Stephon Marbury has a big man to work with. Eddie Curry, the 6'11, 285 pounder averaged close to 17 points per game last year with the surging Bulls, but look for him to stand out this year as the go-to guy for Marbury.
Ethan Kuhnhenn. Ethan Kuhnhenn is a junior in the Communication Arts program and is entering his first year as a SCO staff member. When he's not fishing in his new bass boat, you can probably find him at Taco Bell chilling with his best friend, the cheesy ... More »