Right now, the Miami Heat are the Yankees of basketball. When they fail, everyone outside of South Beach is elated, and when they win everyone despises them. Lebron James has kept his word so far to Heat Nation. They are the 2-time defending champions seeking a three-peat this coming fall. The NBA is swirling with news and the summer league is underway. There are new faces in different places, as teams attempt to dethrone the Heat.
Many teams have made moves in the Western and Eastern Conferences to improve their chances to challenge the Heat. The Los Angeles Clippers are looking to take over the basketball world in LA and called the Doc for some help. They also resigned Chris Paul, as well as made a blockbuster trade which landed Darren Collison and J.J. Redick, among others. The Clippers have yet to make a decision on the current free agent and one-time sixth man of the year, Lamar Odom.
Playing in the same arena, the Lakers have been a staple of success in LA. Now the tide has turned. After losing Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace to free agency, the Lakers do not look like a contending team. They signed Wesley Johnson and Chris Kaman to fill the two voids and it is looking like Kobe is ahead of schedule returning from his torn Achilles. With a healthy season from Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, and Kobe, maybe the Lakers will have a shot at making the postseason one last time as their 5-time champion will don the purple and gold for what will most likely be his last season.
Houston took the biggest Rocket they had and flew it to Los Angeles to land the biggest free agent on the market, Dwight Howard. He signed a 4-year, $80 million contract. With James Harden, Jeremy Lin and now Dwight Howard, the Rockets are suddenly contenders in the Western Conference.
OKC will bring the thunder as they do every year, and contend yet again, along with the Warriors, Nuggets, Spurs, and possibly the Timberwolves, with the additions of Kevin Martin and Ronny Turiaf, along with a healthy Kevin Love, and Ricky Rubio leading the way.
The Eastern Conference also got tougher with several teams, including the Knicks, making major improvements. The Bulls are finally getting Derek Rose back from tearing his ACL, which takes them from playoff to title contenders. The Pacers are a young, fast-paced team, and after challenging the Heat last season for the Eastern Conference crown, they too will be determined to get back and challenge the Heat once again.
The biggest blockbuster move of the offseason was the Nets landing a JET, with Garnett and Pierce in Brooklyn. With Pierce, Terry, and Garnett teaming up with Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and the newly acquired Andrei Kirilenko, the Nets arguably have the best starting five as well as the deepest bench in the NBA. The Nets also signed a well-respected peer and now head coach Jason Kidd to try and lead them to the Promised Land.
Not only is Brooklyn attempting to win a championship, but they’re trying to take the glory and pride of New York away from the Knicks! With the improved competition around the NBA and primarily in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks did some revamping of their own. They signed Metta World Peace, who will go from Hollywood to the lights of New York. Signing World Peace adds more championship pedigree and experience along with Chandler to help Melo and the Knicks take that next step and compete for a championship.
The Knicks acquired Andrea Bargnani,re-signed the reigning sixth man of the year, J.R. Smith as well as Pablo Prigioni, and picked up Tim Hardaway Jr. and C.J. Leslie from the draft to add some youth to the team. Hardaway will be able to help Shumpert and Felton running the offence and Leslie will add some energized youth and aid to Stoudemire, Chandler, and World Peace in the frontcourt. Unfortunately, I don’t believe the Knicks are even a top four team in the Eastern Conference, let alone championship contenders. Although, when it comes to sports, you never know… the games are not played on paper, they’re played on the hardwood.