2017 NBA offseason moves: Atlantic Division
Adrian Dy on Sep 21, 2017 10:07 AM
Photo c/o @sixers
Ahead of the start of the 2017-18 NBA regular season, we’re taking a look back at the major moves each team made, be it re-signing their own guys, free agent acquisitions, or trades.
First off, the Atlantic Division:
2016-17: 53-29, #1 in the East, lost in the East Finals to Cleveland
Biggest move - signing Gordon Hayward
While the trade and the additional haggling over a second-round pick for Kyrie Irving understandably got more headlines, snagging the former Utah Jazz swingman will likely have a greater impact.
For one, he’s the guy who’s probably in a better spot than Irving in terms of knowing the system, having played for Coach Brad Stevens back in college. That’s a huge boost, considering the large amount of roster turnover this team had during the offseason. Second, it’s all about his versatility. Not only does he score, and score efficiently, but he also has the ability to play multiple positions. Plus, Hayward can run the offense, rebound, and play some underrated defense. Irving might be in more highlight reels, granted, but getting a glue guy like Hayward who can also take the reins of a team when the situation calls for it, is a huge get for Beantown.
Underrated move - trading for Marcus Morris
While it came at a big cost - hard-nosed perimeter stopper Avery Bradley - adding Morris isn’t that bad a move in the aggregate. While he’s hardly a lockdown kind of guy, he has the athleticism to combo with Boston’s other forwards, allowing the defense to switch everything, while still keeping track of their guy. He’ll also help space the floor (35.5% 3FG for his career), and allow Al Horford to play center more frequently.
What I like most about Morris though is that he’ll give Boston a bit of an edge and toughness, which was kind of lacking on this team in the past. Also, it’s going to be epic when he faces his brother Markieff and the rest of the Washington Wizards in the East Playoffs.
Other additions: Kyrie Irving, Aron Baynes, Shane Larkin, Abel nadar, Daniel Theis, Guerschon Yabusele
2016-17: 51-31, #3 in the East, lost in the East semifinals to the Cleveland Cavaliers
Biggest move - re-signing Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka
The Toronto Raptors are in a bit of a awkward place. They’re good enough to be a top-four team in the East consistently, but they tend to struggle mightily in the postseason. Entering this offseason, there was a sense that their free agents Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka would command hefty contracts on the open market, and to keep them, Toronto would have to pony up expensive five-year max deals. Would it make sense to keep two aging stars when they’d still be on the books past their prime?
As it turned out though, the Raptors were able to split the difference. They kept Lowry and Ibaka, but signed them to team-friendly three-year deals. That move keeps their window open a bit longer - they’ll get to rumble against a revamped Cavs team this season, and then if LeBron James does in fact leave to go West, they’ll have a shot at conference dominance before the decision whether or not to rebuild comes around again.
Underrated move - trading for and then signing CJ Miles
The Raptors completed a lot of salary cap gymnastics to fit the re-signings of Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, and the result was a hit to their depth. Now, they’ll have to rely more on young guns like Norman Powell, and their two picks from last season, Jakob Poltl and Pascal Siakam. That said, they were able to land CJ Miles in a sign-and-trade that saw backup point guard Cory Joseph head to Indiana.
One criticism of this era of North basketball was the old-fashioned nature of the squad in the sense that they weren’t very good at spacing the floor. DeMar DeRozan doesn’t take a lot of triples, and Jonas Valanciunas is an old-fashioned big. They made some strides in that regard prior to the trade deadline, snagging PJ Tucker and Serge Ibaka, but with Tucker gone to the Rockets, Miles should be able to step right into that role. Last season, on a good-but-not-great Pacers team, he nailed a career-best 41.3 percent of his outside shots. He should have more makes, and at a better clip, with this Toronto backcourt setting him up
Other additions: KJ McDaniels, Kyle Wiltjer
New York Knicks
2016-17: 31-51, #12 in the East
Biggest move - signing Jarrett Jack
It wasn’t a particularly strong offseason for the Knicks. Their biggest move, bringing back Tim Hardaway Jr., came at an expensive cost, and as of writing, they still have Carmelo Anthony on the roster, stopping them from going into a full-on rebuild. Also problematic? Their point guard rotation, which up until recently, consisted of rookie Frank Ntilikina, who was drafted to run the triangle offense, except they won’t be doing that anymore, Ron Baker, and Ramon Sessions, who averaged career-lows in points and assists with the Hornets last season. Yikes.
So, when I say that their biggest move was signing Jarrett Jack, understand that I’m grading on a curve here. Jack played just 32 games in 2015-16 (with the Nets), and 2 games in 2016-17 (with the Pelicans), as he rehabbed back from a leg injury. He’s not exactly a superstar signing, but he’ll be a solid caretaker for head coach Jeff Hornacek at that position, while they groom Ntilikina.
Underrated move - signing Michael Beasley
If/when they trade Carmelo Anthony, this team will really struggle to score. Good thing certified buckets-getter Michael Beasley isn't afraid of hoisting up shots, because Kristaps Porzingis will/might need all the help he can get on that side of the court.
Other additions: Tim Hardaway Jr., Ramon Sessions
2016-17: 28-54, #14 in the East
Biggest move - signing JJ Redick
For most of the “trust the process” build-up of the 76ers, they lacked the type of veteran that could create a winning culture, that would show all their young guns how to get things done in the Association. The team sort of argued though that they didn’t need that type of player just yet, not when the squad’s focus was improving their position in the draft lottery.
Well, it seems like that phase is over, as the 76ers threw big one-year deals at Redick and forward Amir Johnson to guide the likes of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Markelle Fultz. Should the 76ers, aided by the current state of the East, suddenly find themselves contending for a postseason berth, Redick could be huge for them. Aside from the aforementioned intangibles, the marksman will be a big boost to a team that shot a paltry 34 percent on three’s, 25th in the NBA last season.
Underrated move - signing 2016 draft pick Furkan Korkmaz
Some of Philly’s other draft picks, Simmons, Embiid, Fultz, will get the spotlight, but Furkan Korkmaz, the 26th overall pick in 2016, could be just as impactful as his more heralded teammates. A 6’7” wingman, Korkmaz has an impressive resume as a member of Turkey’s U-16, U-18, and U-19 teams. More recently, he seemed to get better and better with each game in the 2017 Eurobasket tournament, culminating in a round of 16 loss to Spain, where he dropped 20 of his team’s 56 points. He wrapped up his stint there with averages of 10.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.2 steals, numbers that, if they translate, will definitely give him a spot in the 76ers rotation.
Other additions: Amir Johnson, James Michael McAdoo
2016-17: 20-62, #15 in the East
Biggest move - trading for D’Angelo Russell
Brook Lopez was on the last year of his deal, and his timeline just did not fit the rebuild of Brooklyn. So to come away with a former second overall pick for him was a huge coup for the Nets front office. Between his Swaggy P snafu as a rookie, and another #2 pick Lonzo Ball set to take his spot, a fresh start was probably best for Mr. Ice-in-His-Veins.
With the Nets, Russell will likely be the focal point of the offense, with plenty of opportunity to showcase the skills that made him so highly-regarded entering the 2015 Draft. Ironically though, Russell had some of his best games versus the Nets, averaging 24.5 points, his second-best number versus a single team. Hopefully that carries over, er, but going the other way.
Underrated move - signing Tyler Zeller
Following trades of big men Brook Lopez and Justin Hamilton, the Nets looked like they’d be forced to give heavy minutes to Timofey Mozgov, who came over with Russell from the Lakers. This was recently averted however when they signed Tyler Zeller, who was caught up in the numbers crunch over in Boston.
Zeller’s career averages aren’t very eye-popping, a mere 7.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists. However, he was at his best during the 2014-15 season when he started a career-high 59 games with Boston, resulting in norms of 10.2 markers and 5.7 boards. He’s exactly the type of player the Nets should gamble on, young, with plenty of upside, especially with a surplus of minutes available.
Other additions: DeMarre Carroll, Allen Crabbe, Timofey Mozgov
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