ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: RESERVATIONS FOR SIX: Offseason acquisitions spice up competition
The NBA offseason is in full, and with it comes wheeling and dealing as teams get in position for a title run next season. But by all accounts, the Lakers are sill the favorites.
Here are the top five offseason moves:
5. Pistons sign Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva
The Pistons have drastically remolded their roster by signing Gordon and Villanueva, who average 20 and 16.7 points per game, respectively.
Detroit adds these two scorers to pick up the slack left by Antonio McDyess and Aaron Afflalo, who departed for other teams.
Gordon, a star in the making, is shooting 41.5 percent from beyond the arc for his career. The Pistons also signed forward Chris Wilcox to add some front-court depth. The Pistons got younger this offseason and should be fun to watch next season.
4. Celtics sign Rasheed Wallace
After undergoing knee surgery, Kevin Garnett should be healthy and ready to return to the 2008 NBA Champions. He will have to adjust to a controversial new teammate named Rasheed Wallace.
Wallace, who won an NBA title with the Pistons in 2004, should provide a boost to a Celtics squad that is ready to make another title run.
Wallace is a big man who can shoot the 3, but complements his range with a solid post game. In a backup role, Wallace averaged 12 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last season. His tenacity will provide Boston with the swagger that they had when they won their last title.
3. Toronto Raptors sign Hedo Turkoglu and Jarret Jack
The Raptors will be a team to reckon with after a busy offseason and a solid NBA Draft. They added rookie Demar DeRozan along with veterans Turkoglu and Jack in a roster overhaul. Toronto may be in its last season with all-star Chris Bosh, so the addition of three possible starters could be huge.
Turkoglu can play both forward and guard and create his own shot. Jack is a shifty point guard who averaged 13.1 points and four assists last season in Indiana, finally showing the promise he displayed at Georgia Tech.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers trade for Shaquille O’Neal
Lebron James has a new best friend to a trade with the Phoenix Suns.
O’Neal was acquired in exchange for Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic, giving the Cavs a force in the paint.
Cleveland should have an answer for Dwight Howard, who exposed a glaring weakness in the playoffs. The move makes sense for the Cavs because O’Neal can still score at a high rate. He showed signs of regaining his all-star form in Phoenix last season.
The Cavs still have to overcome Boston and Orlando, but adding a future Hall of Famer is a huge lift.
1. Lakers sign Ron Artest
The signing of Artest is a huge pickup for the defending champions, because of the defensive presence he brings. The Lakers already have a massive offensive arsenal, so adding a grinder like Artest should lead to improved defense.
After taking the Lakers to a seventh game in the Western Conference semifinals with the Houston Rockets, Artest can team with Kobe instead of dodging his elbows.
The Lakers are still attempting to resign the versatile Lamar Odom, and lost Trevor Ariza to the Rockets. Artest’s role with the Lakers should be a defensive one, filling the void Ariza left while eliminating his tendency to take over games he cannot win by himself.