NBA preview: Eastern Conference outlook
- October 29, 2012 - 11:24 PM
Eric Spoelstra is trying to morph the Heat into a team of position-less players -- LeBron James is his "4" and Chris Bosh his "5," or are they? -- but the new Heat's tack is clear as they aim for a title repeat: Add shooters Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis (and Mike Miller, too) around their big stars.
Don't count the old guys out just yet, because the Celtics have retooled with Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green and rookies Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. This is Rajon Rondo's team more than anything.
If his knees hold up, newly acquired Andrew Bynum just might prove there's reason to vote a center to the revamped All-Star Game ballots that now exclude the position.
The Pacers retained big Roy Hibbert and bring back Danny Granger and David West, but taking the next step might depend on if 6-8 shooting guard Paul George is ready to become a real star.
New city, new name, new logo, new vibe, and a remade team that re-signed Deron Williams and Brook Lopez and added a third max-salary guy, guard Joe Johnson, as well. Suddenly, the Nets might be the best team in New York.
6. NEW YORK
Linsanity is gone to Houston, and old-timers Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace have arrived. A knee injury that could keep Amare Stoudemire out for the season's first six weeks won't help.
They just might have challenged Miami for the East's No. 1 seed if Derrick Rose hadn't torn his ACL in last spring's playoffs, but he did. The former league MVP won't be back until late February, and he admits he could miss the entire season.
The Hawks have reached the playoffs five consecutive years, but never really have gone anywhere. New GM Danny Ferry has traded away Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams and is building around Al Horford as well as Josh Smith, who could be dealt at the trade deadline.
John Wall will start the season sidelined because of a knee injury, but the new-culture Wizards will appear more stable with Nene, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza and rookie Bradley Beal.
The Raptors will be better with the arrival of Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunias, Landry Fields and Terrence Ross, but will it matter?
The Bucks possess a potentially electrifying backcourt with having Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis for a full season, but not enough elsewhere.
Yes, Dwight Howard is gone, but don't forget Ryan Anderson is, too. This may be Glen "Big Baby" Davis' team for now.
This is reigning Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving's time, even if it isn't the Cavs' time just yet.
The Pistons have some nice pieces -- Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and intriguing rookie Andre Drummond -- but you don't win with some nice pieces.
The Bobcats have added new coach Mike Dunlap and new players Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions and rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, so they will be better. That's not saying a whole lot.
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