2017 NBA offseason moves: Southeast Division
Adrian Dy on Sep 27, 2017 07:24 AM
Washington Wizards' John Wall poses for a photograph during an NBA basketball media day, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
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.
On tap today, the Southeast Division:
2016-17 season: 49-33, #4 in the East, lost in the Conference semis to Boston
Biggest move - re-signing John Wall
Last summer, Braley Beal got a big contract that made him the highest-paid player on the team. This summer, the Wizards matched an offer sheet to Otto Porter Jr., which made him the new highest-paid player on the team. The question was, when would John Wall get his?
Well, shortly after wrapping up the Porter transaction, the Wizards gave Wall a designated veteran player extension that will kick in beginning with the 2019-20 season. He’ll see a jump from $19.17 million in 2018-19, to $37.8 million the season after, making him the unquestionable face of the franchise. And you know what? He’s worth it. Wall is too good a player to be allowed onto the open market, and the team clearly has a good thing going for it, after finishing a game shy of the East conference finals. Should a couple of breaks go their way, they could be right back there this campaign, and possibly further, should LeBron James bolt for the West next season.
Underrated move - trading for Tim Frazier
The Wizards really need a back-up to Wall, and last season’s moves to try to fill that hole were underwhelming (Trey Burke), or too one-dimensional (Brandon Jennings). Snagging Frazier from the New Orleans Pelicans for the low, low price of a 2017 second-rounder was a bargain. While hardly flashy, Frazier put up strong per-36 minutes (11.0 points, 7.9 assists, 1.3 steals) while bouncing between the starting point guard job and coming off the bench. He’s the sort of steady hand the Wizards can use when they’re resting Wall, or, knock on wood, if Wall misses an extended amount of time.
Other additions: Mike Scott, Jodie Meeks, Donald Sloan
2016-17 season: 43-39, #5 in the East, lost in the East Playoffs round one to Washington
Biggest move - signing Dewayne Dedmon
Last season, when the Spurs signed Dedmon, it looked like the typical canny move the San Antonio front office pull off all the time, snagging an underrated player that could quickly blossom under Coach Pop’s tutelage. And after Dedmon produced career-highs of 5.1 points and 6.5 rebounds in 17.5 minutes, he opted out of his deal with the Spurs…and signed with Spurs East, the Atlanta Hawks.
But unlike in San Antonio, where Dedmon was an energy guy off the bench, who never found consistent minutes, there’s a strong possibility that Dedmon will not just get a lot of playing time, but start as well (he’s the odds-on favorite versus Miles Plumlee and Mike Muscala). With the team getting younger, and more athletic, after they parted ways with the likes of Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap, Dedmon should be able to connect with this rebuilding Hawks core.
Underrated move - signing Nicolas Brussino
The 6’7” Argentine wing got some burn for the Dallas Mavericks last season, appearing in 54 games, but when he was waived by that team, the Hawks quickly moved to snap him up. Though he averaged mundane numbers in Big D, 2.8 points and 1.8 rebounds, he was fabulous for his native land in the FIBA Americup 2017. Not only did he help his team claim silver behind the US, he was also named to the All-Tournament Team thanks to norming 12.0 markers, 5.4 boards, 2.6 dimes, and 1.6 steals. Should he bring that kind of production over to the Association, he will easily carve himself out a spot in the Atlanta rotation. Manu 2.0 anyone?
Other additions: Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli, Luke Babbitt
2016-17 season: 41-41, #9 in the East
Biggest move - re-signing Dion Waiters
The numbers are stark. When the Heat had Dion Waiters available to play, they were 27-19. Without him, just 14-22. You could even make the argument that had Waiters played a couple more games, they would have been able to sneak into the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Well, Pat Riley and company thought so too, bringing Waiters back for the next four seasons. Is it a risky move? Absolutely. Waiters posted a career-best 48.8 percent effective field goal percentage, to pair with a career-high 4.3 assists. He was also really, really good at hitting tough, clutch shots, not exactly the thing you can bank on long-term. But after striking out on big names in free agency, the Heat opted for continuity, bringing back Waiters and James Johnson. They’re hoping for more than just 27-19 this time out.
Underrated move - signing Kelly Olynyk
The Heat were able to make one big signing, and that was former Celtic Kelly Olynyk. The big man makes for an interesting partner for Hassan Whiteside, which must be why Miami targeted him. While not a particularly strong rebounder (4.7 for his career), despite standing 7’0”, Olynyk can space the floor, hitting 36.8 percent from downtown, 35.4 percent last season. Whiteside can concentrate on hoovering up rebounds and blocking shots, while on the other end, Olynyk can help space the floor for him. Sounds like a match made in heaven.
Other additions: AJ Hammons, Larry Drew II
2016-17 season: 36-46, #11 in the East
Biggest move - trading for Dwight Howard
It’s easy to scoff at the move the Hornets made to trade for Dwight Howard, but consider this: when starting center Cody Zeller was out, Charlotte was a pitiful 3-17. Replacements like Spencer Hawes, Roy Hibbert, Frank Kaminsky, and Miles Plumlee simply couldn’t get it done.
Despite the distance of Howard from his prime Orlando years, he’s still an upgrade over Zeller, someone who can finish strong around the rim, rebound, and deter drives to the basket. Toss in the fact that he has a good relationship with head coach Steve Clifford, and this is a nice gamble by the club. At the very least, it should be a better fit than his homecoming last season with the Hawks.
Underrated move - signing Michael Carter-Williams
Kemba Walker had a spectacular season for the Hornets, but it wasn’t exactly by choice. After Jeremy Lin left, the Hornets hoped that Ramon Sessions would be able to replicate some of that two point guard attack Walker and Lin had in 2015-16. It didn’t happen though. Sessions was hurt for stretches, and just wasn’t effective when he was on the court. Fast-forward to this offseason, and the team has reloaded with former Rookie of the Year Carter-Williams in that back-up PG spot. Even if he and Walker can’t have that same chemistry, MCW’s wingspan should make him better on defense than Sessions, a huge upgrade in and of itself.
Other additions: -
2016-17 season: 29-53, #13 in the East
Biggest move - signing Jonathon Simmons
The Orlando Magic are in a tough spot. They’re supposed to be rebuilding, but they have several players on some significantly hefty contracts (hi Bismack Biyombo!). Couple that with the fact that their young guys are in line to get paid soon, and haven’t quite yet become the superstars that make splashing a ton of money an obvious decision, and you have a team that’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. That basically means the Magic have to get bargains where they can, and that’s what they did with Jonathon Simmons.
Simmons was a D-Leaguer who flourished with the Spurs, bringing a high-flying, athletic element to the veteran-laden club. After the two parties couldn’t agree on the terms of a new deal, Simmons became an unrestricted free agent, paving the way for him to go to Disney World. While it’s true that there isn’t an obvious fit for him, due to the fact that he’s not exactly a good shooter, and neither are a ton of the other Magic players, he’s shown that he can shine in a limited role in San Antonio. And whatever he gets in Orlando will likely be more than that.
Underrated move - signing Arron Afflalo
Speaking of “lack of shooting,” the team was able to bring back Arron Afflalo (who played for them from 2012-14) to sort of address that concern. Afflalo is a career 38.6 percent long-range shooter, and is coming off a season where he shot 41.1 percent on three’s in Sacramento. In all likelihood, he’ll have a more significant role on this Magic team, spacing things for Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon.
Other additions: Shelvin Mack, Marreese Speights, Adreian Payne
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