Best Move In Division: I was recently asked to participate in a preview piece for the LA Clippers website, and one of the questions asked was somewhat interesting and it got me thinking about the entire league in this way. The question was: What was the best offseason move in the Pacific Division? So, with that in mind let’s take a look at each division, and what might be the best move in each.
The Toronto Raptors re-signing Kyle Lowry leaps off the page, mainly because had the Raptors lost Lowry they might have come apart as a team and they were clearly a special group last year. With the age and construction of the roster, there really isn’t a reason to believe they won’t pick up and likely improve from where they were last year. There is always the case of a guy excelling mainly because he’s in a contract year, but in talking with Lowry about his season, it’s clear that he finally turned off the somewhat selfish part of himself and embraced a new mindset. It paid dividends, and like someone who has found a new diet that works, Lowry is all the way in on what’s going on in Toronto, which is huge.
There was a temptation to toss Phil Jackson’s name in here, but that really happened last year. The trade of Tyson Chandler was big for the Knicks, but given how many questions still surround New York, going with Toronto and Lowry made the most sense.
LeBron James anyone? There was no bigger move in the NBA than James opting to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. That’s a game changer for the division too, as Chicago was arguably the front runner to win the division; now they have a lot more to worry about. Toss in the fact that Cleveland was able to then trade for Kevin Love and the Cavaliers won in the big move department.
Outside of the Cavaliers there were some other notable moves. The Pistons landing Stan Van Gundy to coach and run the team is huge. In any other division that alone might have moved them to the front because he is that much of a difference maker.
The Chicago Bulls dumping Carlos Boozer via their amnesty roster cut and adding both Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotić would be huge in any other division as well.
But the Cavaliers getting James triumphs everything else.
A lot of teams in the Southeast had very good drafts. The Charlotte Hornets nabbed a quality prospect in Noah Vonleh. The Orlando Magic got their point guard of the future in Elfrid Payton. So the draft was good to the Southeast. Free agency, not so much.
The Washington Wizards lost Trevor Ariza. The Miami HEAT lost LeBron James.
The best offseason move might be the Miami HEAT re-signing both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but both of those contracts are hefty. The Luol Deng addition in Miami was solid and much cheaper.
There wasn’t an earth shattering gain in the division, which likely means the division takes some steps backwards in the grand scheme of the East. Last season 54 games won the Southeast, this year it might be closer to 48 games, like it was in the Atlantic a season ago.
There wasn’t a huge move here either, but there were a couple of solid additions. The Denver Nuggets getting Arron Afflalo was solid, mainly because he adds a ton and they gave up so little to obtain him. The Portland Trail Blazers added Steve Blake and Chris Kaman; both are solid bench additions that bring veteran savvy and toughness.
The Northwest was dominated by the Kevin Love circus in Minnesota, but in the end the Timberwolves did really well for themselves not only in the Love trade by nabbing a possible star in Andrew Wiggins, but also in landing Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young. The draft was solid too with the additions of Zach LaVine and Glenn Robinson III. Overall the Wolves have a very strong roster filled with promising talent. They may not win a ton of games, but they should be exciting to watch and in a division lacking blockbuster type moves, the Wolves may have won the distinction of best offseason move in the division.
The Dallas Mavericks finally hit pay dirt on a significant free agent. They also made a bold trade to land Tyson Chandler back in Dallas. The Mavs overpaid for Chandler Parsons, there is no questioning that, but they got aggressive and remade their team in a pretty interesting way, and made a division rival in Houston a little weaker.
The Memphis Grizzlies did really well in the draft and the Pelicans made some moves to improve along the front line with the addition of Omer Asik in trade and picking up bruiser Patric Young as an undrafted free agent.
The Southwest was busy, but Dallas clearly made the biggest moves.
The Pacific Division also lacked the splashy move. Golden State firing Mark Jackson and hiring Steve Kerr was arguably the biggest change in the division.
There were some roster moves that could be interesting. The Lakers landing Carlos Boozer on an amnesty waiver claim is big. That’s a ton of talent for very little financial commitment. The Lakers also did well for themselves in the draft with big man Julius Randle.
The Suns landed Isaiah Thomas in free agency. That’s a quality talent addition, but it’s unclear where he fits in the rotation. The Suns also drafted a possible stud in TJ Warren.
The biggest personnel move in division might be the Clippers picking up Spencer Hawes and Jordan Farmar. Neither are overly splashy moves, but both add much needed depth to the Clippers’ bench and neither cost a ton in terms of salary cap commitments.
Like most of the league the Pacific didn’t blow anyone away, but there were a few solid moves and the Clipper might have edged out the competition.
Don’t agree, drop your division winners in the comment section below.
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