Offseason busy for NBA, full of important trades
The NBA offseason is in full swing with a flurry of free agent signings and trades. Big name players such as forward Elton Brand, point guard Baron Davis, center Marcus Camby, forward Corey Maggette, shooting guard Brent Barry, guard Mike Miller and forward Richard Jefferson have all found new teams, as every NBA city looks to become a title contender.
The Houston Rockets have been busy, signing free agent Barry from the San Antonio Spurs and waiving center Loren Woods. In June the Rockets drafted and signed Syracuse forward Donte Greene, Memphis center Joey Dorsey of Conference USA and Oregon forward Maarty Leunen.
The biggest free agent move so far has to be Brand signing with the Philadelphia 76ers. Brand will switch leagues and add low-post scoring to the 76ers, which makes them a top-four team in a mediocre Eastern Conference. However, Brand’s former team, the Los Angeles Clippers, is suspicious of the move because Brand said he would return and re-sign with the team for less money.
The Clippers have been involved in a few moves themselves this offseason, signing free agent Davis from the Golden State Warriors while also acquiring Camby in a trade with the Denver Nuggets. However, the Clippers, who had a tough offseason and who lost Maggette to the Warriors and Brand to the 76ers, will struggle to compete in the deep Western Conference.
The top two teams in the NBA last season, the Boston Celtics and LA Lakers, have both lost one key free agent. Boston lost defensive guru and 3-point threat forward James Posey, who signed with the New Orleans Hornets. The NBA champs will miss Posey, who played great in the postseason and will bring that veteran leadership to a young, exciting Hornets team. The Celtics did sign free agent center Patrick O’Bryant, formerly with the Warriors, and re-signed role player guards Eddie House and Tony Allen.
The NBA draft included some draft-day trades of veteran players. Power forward Jermaine O’Neal was shipped from the Indiana Pacers to the Toronto Raptors for point guard T.J. Ford and center Rasho Nesterovic. The move makes the playoff-bound Raptors a very good low-post team with O’Neal and All-Star forward Chris Bosh anchoring the scoring.
In another big move, the Milwaukee Bucks acquired Jefferson from the New Jersey Nets for forwards Bobby Simmons and Yi Jianlian. The Bucks also drafted forward Joe Alexander from West Virginia, a scorer who will make the Bucks an exciting team to watch.
The free agent season has been full of role players changing teams. The Orlando Magic signed veteran point guard Anthony Johnson and swingman Mickael Pietrus to bolster a backcourt that struggled against the Detroit Pistons during last year’s playoffs. The New York Knicks signed point guard Chris Duhon, who could start, as Stephon Marbury’s career in the Big Apple may be over. Duhon brings great work ethic to a Knicks team struggling to get back on track every season.
Free agent Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas and forward Antawn Jamison both re-signed for big contracts to remain in Washington.
Other NBA teams filled the need for veteran leadership and experience as they prepare to make a playoff push in 2009. The Nets signed point guard Keyon Dooling and forwards Jarvis Hayes and Eduardo Najera; the Suns signed forward Matt Barnes; the Bucks signed veteran forward Malik Allen and point guard Tyronn Lue; the Heat signed forward James Jones; the Mavericks signed center DeSagana Diop; the Wizards signed guard Dee Brown and the Spurs signed guard Roger Mason Jr.