Southeast Division Preview

Today our countdown to training camp continues as we take a look at the Southeast Division. Whether they’re playoff contenders or making a push to the top of the lottery, the Southeast Division is full of interesting players on flawed teams. Let’s take a look.
Team: Atlanta Hawks
Subtractions: Mike Muscala, Dennis Schroeder, Isaiah Taylor, Antonius Cleveland, Damion Lee
Outlook: The Hawks look like a team that will have another high draft pick. Combined with the pick they got in from trading down in the draft with the Dallas Mavericks,  and the possibility of receiving the Cavaliers’ first round pick, that’s not a bad thing for this rebuilding team.
What success looks like (for this team): The Hawks want to be bad, and will certainly get their wish. Their biggest success for this season would be to see Young play a level of basketball that would justify them trading picks with the Mavericks despite Luka Doncic still being available. Considering he was drafted by the Mavs, that trade was essentially Young and a future first for Doncic. This is the kind of gamble that shapes franchises for years to come.

Cavalier theft targets? Taurean Prince is a solid young player who could be an important piece for a playoff team for a long time. Prince can shoot, defend when focused, and has begun to create off the dribble. Not bad for a player with just two NBA seasons under his belt.
Preseason Grade: C. As in Confusing. Most of the Hawks’ moves were appropriate for a team that will be playing for a high lottery pick, but adding a solid player in Lin who may help them get a few unnecessary wins when they could have gotten even more draft picks in making the same trade with the Denver Nuggets that the Brooklyn Nets did seems a bet counter-intuitive to their grand plan.
Team: Charlotte Hornets
Outlook: People talk about how being stuck in the middle is the worse thing that can happen to an NBA team. While many site the Joe JohnsonAl Horford Hawks as an example, those teams made the playoffs ten straight seasons. A far worse fate has befallen the Charlotte Hornets, a team that is capped out despite not even being good enough to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, yet too good to earn a high draft pick. Outside of Kemba Walker, there isn’t much to be excited about with this team.
What success looks like (for this team): The Hornets simply need to be different than they’ve been the past few seasons. Whether that means making the playoffs or bottoming out and snagging a high draft pick, Michael Jordan‘s team would be better off than where they have been.
Cavalier theft targets? As much as I loved Michael Kidd-Gilchrist going into the 2012 NBA Draft, there’s little doubt that a wing who can’t shoot at all simply isn’t that valuable in today’s NBA. Still, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to see the Cavs’ take on the contracts of Kidd-Gilchrist or Marvin Williams with a draft pick attached as payment. Considering the Hornets’ need to move some money, that type of trade would make sense for both teams.
Preseason Grade: (think of something funny) N. As in No-Man’s Land. That’s where the Hornets have been for most of the past decade, and it’s a place they need to get out of as soon as possible.
Team: Miami Heat
Additions: None
Subtractions: None
Outlook: As his career winds down, Heat team president Pat Riley seems content with a well-coached roster of solid role players than can consistently make the playoffs, but make little impact one the postseason begins.
What success looks like (for this team): Getting out of the first round of the playoffs would be nice, but the real prize for the Heat would be if they could trade several of their role players for a disgruntled star who wants to live in Miami.
Cavalier theft targets? I’m as big of a Ty Lue defender as anyone on this blog, but if the Cavs could somehow lure Erik Spoelstra to Cleveland, they shouldn’t think twice about doing so.
Preseason Grade: O. As in Old. Or Over the cap. It doesn’t matter, the Heat are both.

Team: Orlando Magic
Outlook: The Magic haven’t made the playoffs since they traded Dwight Howard six years ago. If you want to argue against tanking, Orlando is a strong case in your favor. They’ve tried to bottom out, drafted reasonably well, and even hired two solid coaches in Frank Vogel and Steve Clifford, yet they haven’t even sniffed postseason contention. That’s unlikely to change this year, as the Magic have an imbalanced roster that features a ton of big men and not much on the perimeter. Their point guard rotation of D.J. Augustin and Jerian Grant will likely be among the worst in the league. Aaron Gordon is a really good player, but not quite as good as he thinks he is. After all, if he was a true star he certainly would’ve made an Eastern Conference All-Star team by now.
What success looks like (for this team): If the Magic can trade impending free agents Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross for young players and draft picks, that could help this team in the future. Finding a long-term answer at point guard either through trades or next season’s draft should also be a priority.
Cavalier theft targets? Steve Clifford could likely coach up the Cavaliers’ defense. There is really anyone one the roster that the Cavs would want and the Magic would give up, although Jerian Grant would be a solid backup point guard for the next few seasons.
Preseason Grade: S. It’s always the Same for the Magic, and that’s a Sad state of affairs. The fact that experts seem down on next seasons’ draft doesn’t help matters either.
Team: Washington Wizards
Additions: Dwight Howard, Austin Rivers, Jeff Green, Thomas Bryant, Troy Brown Jr., Issuf Sanon
Subtractions: Marcin Gortat, Mike Scott
Outlook: The Wizards knew that they needed to improve their locker room chemistry during this offseason, so they signed Dwight Howard and traded for Austin Rivers. Meanwhile, Ernie Grunfeld is beginning his 16th season as the Wizards’ President of Basketball Operations… There are no words. While nowhere near the player he used to be, Howard is still a more talented player than Gortat, and Rivers has become a solid bench scorer over the past few seasons. Still, giving Rivers the ball means less time for John Wall, Bradley Beal, and the underrated Tomas Satoransky to run the offense. Jeff Green had an underrated season for the Cavaliers last year, but he can’t match the shooting of Mike Scott. Still, Wall and Beal are legitimate All-Stars, and Otto Porter was the guy I wanted the Cavs to take with the Anthony Bennett pick. The Wizards should be a playoff team, and if they can really get on the same page, they could be the team no one else in the Eastern Conference wants to face.
What success looks like (for this team): Making it through the season without killing each other?
Cavalier theft targets? The Wizards have quite a few solid young players who would look great in a Cavaliers uniform. Before they signed Howard and the Cavs agreed to a contract extension with Love, I was quietly hoping for a Love-Porter trade. While Porter makes a lot of money for a guy who has never been an All-Star, he’s a highly efficient player at both ends of the floor with excellent advanced metrics. He’s also still just 25 years old. Satoransky, Kelly Oubre Jr., and Troy Brown Jr., would also be solid additions for the next era of Cavaliers basketball. Grunfeld isn’t giving up Wall or Beal, but Koby Altman could probably talk him into parting with one of his younger players in a win-now move.
Preseason Grade: D. The Wizards have the Drama of the LeBron-era Cavs without any of the Dominance. This locker room could be a circus.
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Nate Smith
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7 days 9 hours ago

John B
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John B
7 days 6 hours ago

For Doncic? Doubt it. Pipe dream for the eighth pick and next year’s pick me thinks.

Nate Smith
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6 days 6 hours ago

They’d have had to take on Parsons’ salary.

JMay
Editor
7 days 13 hours ago

Nate Smith
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7 days 9 hours ago

JMay
Editor
6 days 20 hours ago

I REALLY want Bynum to go to LA… Perfect fit. Personality wise….

Raoul
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Raoul
6 days 13 hours ago

Has Bynum married a Kardashian yet?

John B
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John B
7 days 6 hours ago

Shudders in memory

JOHN B
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JOHN B
7 days 11 hours ago

Weird. Didn’t Bynum kill the relationship between himself and LA in the first place?

JRL
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JRL
7 days 9 hours ago

I thought so.

Dude’s a total idiot. Squandering away such an amazing opportunity.

Charlie E
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Charlie E
7 days 13 hours ago
NOMAD
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NOMAD
7 days 21 hours ago

agree JRL—if you want to get accurate / honest / educated / professional basketball– (sporting )—news / advice —–YOU WILL FIND IT HERE AT CTB——I RESPECT / APPRECIATE ALL YOU GUYS OPINIONS / IDEAS ———CTB IS LIKE MY ” MORNING CUP OF COFFEE ” FOR CAVS / SPORTING NEWS —————CAN’T WAIT UNTIL TRAINING CAMP STARTS ——————————-WOW TRIBE ROOKIE BIEBER PITCHED A HELLUVA GAME LAST NIGHT —-QUESTION —-IF BAUER COMES BACK BY PLAYOFFS–DOES BIEBER NOW GO INTO LONG RELIEF MODE ?

JRL
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JRL
7 days 22 hours ago

https://www.theringer.com/platform/amp/nba/2018/9/11/17843536/collin-sexton-cleveland-cavaliers-rookie-curve

I stopped reading when the writer said–

“The Cavs’ summer league roster didn’t have much NBA-caliber talent besides Sexton. ”

Did he not see how both Cedi and Zz were men amongst boys out there? Funny thing is he mention them both as fellow rookies at the summer league, but completely dismisses how great they played.

I’m (We’re) so pampered having such great analytical/smart writers on this blog.

JMay
Editor
7 days 21 hours ago

The Ringer puts out Anti-Cleveland Propaganda all the time. Now that they finally got their wish for LeBron to leave CLE because, in their eyes, we don’t deserve him, they need another rib to poke.

Raoul
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John B
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John B
8 days 4 hours ago

It’s business school, not exactly a scientific, technical engineering or dedicated mathematics program. Some statistics, accounting, and business/economics oriented calculus perhaps, but not the mathematics department. So….even at Harvard, maybe more than one. MBA is the equivalent to Master of BS. I don’t mean Masters of Business and Science. Sorry to everyone who is an MBA. Couldn’t resist stirring the pot.

Nate Smith
Admin
7 days 17 hours ago

Eh. Just like anywhere, you get out of your education what you put into it.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
7 days 11 hours ago

Hehe. Yeah, just like being a trouble maker occasionally.

JRL
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JRL
7 days 16 hours ago

One belief doesn’t a moron make considering we have unmeasurable amount of ideas, believes and thoughts.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
7 days 11 hours ago

No doubt. Well put. However, just a little research will quash any possible logical belief in that particular conspiracy theory though.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
8 days 12 hours ago
Becoming Charlotte due to not tanking enough to keep the Hawks pick and extending love is the result I am terrified of for this semi-rebuild the cavs are trying to pull off. If making the playoffs every couple years, but not really being in a position to actually contend is acceptable, it might be ok. I am not excited about that scenario though. I could care less about being the east 7th or 8th seed and in actuality being the 10th or 11th best team in the league and subsequently getting swept out of the playoffs in the first round or worse being the east 9th or 10th seed and losing the Hawks pick. Would it maybe look good for the organization to prove that without Lebron they are a playoff team or borderline playoff team in the east. Maybe, but it seems like a hollow accomplishment in the east. I get that a soft rebuild is maybe a defiant gesture aimed at those around the league that disrespect the cavs as being only LBJ. I worry it could be shortsighted though. I certainly don’t want to be stuck at the bottom playoff teams of the east or just outside… Read more »
JMay
Editor
7 days 21 hours ago

Just can’t agree. The likelihood that we end up the Sacramento Kings who have had high draft picks for YEARS is just as likely a result as ending up like the Sixers. Maybe even more likely. It’s easier to fail than succeed. Ultimately, from an entertainment perspective, the playoffs are an absolute maximum of 28 games. I’d rather watch 82 games at a decent clip then slog through the NBA trash heap only to MAYBE win a championship in another 5 years.

I’m not saying that I don’t want to compete for a championship, I just believe that we don’t need to actively tank to get there. Just because Charlotte has been run horribly for the past decade doesn’t mean the result will be the same for the Cavs. San Antonio, OKC, Houston, Boston, Toronto, and Indiana, among others, were all able to rebuild and compete at a high level without actively tanking.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
7 days 11 hours ago

I don’t want to lose to the point of bottoming out…..but I think they do need to accumulate first round picks, wherever they fall. Even as trade bait. Celtics accumulated picks by fleecing teams in trades in addition to being bad. They turned the Brooklyn pick into Kyrie with an injured player they didn’t want. Unfortunately, this year a first round pick is only possible if we trade someone for another team’s pick or if they are the 10th pick or worst.

I get the mentality to be decent in the regular season, but that mediocre third year after the cavs got Dion and Waiters was worse for me than Kyrie’s rookie year and Dion’s rookie year, because there were no expectations to win anything those first two years and I could focus only on how those guys did and improved.

JRL
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JRL
7 days 23 hours ago

It’s all about picks, luck and talent recognition.

As I said before, whoever is recognising talent now(Cedi, Sexton, Zz), is a much better person than the one who picked Anthony Bennet as the #1 pick. So yeah, get me as many picks as possible and let that person continue to put a solid, young team together.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
7 days 11 hours ago

Griffin or Grant may have drafted Cedi’s rights. Zz is fine. Not exactly a prototype center in today’s game. Sexton was a reasonable pick and may have been the best we could do. Glad they didn’t pull a crazy stretch like Bennett.

Nate Smith
Admin
8 days 8 hours ago

I don’t get this. It’s only recency bias around teams getting lucky with high draft picks. Look at Utah and Mitchell or Milwaukee and Giannis. To get an elite player you have to e lucky and good. That’s all there is to it.

I’d much rather Sexton and Osman be the real deal and lead them to enough wins to make the playoffs than to be crap because those guys are crap.

John B
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John B
8 days 8 hours ago

To have a pick we have to have the tenth worse record at minimum, so I would like to have a pick.

My opinion on their ceilings may not be as high as others. I am hopeful for them to be quality starters but I don’t necessarily see them as ever being elite. And Sexton is a rookie so to expect him to be a net positive is expecting a lot even from a great rookie. Very few Donovan Mitchells or LBJs out there as rookies in terms of their net value. I don’t necessarily think the Cavs need to be the worst but I certainly don’t see this team ever competing with Boston or Philly the for the foreseeable future without another good young piece.

I don’t see Osman as being an all star caliber player even though I like his game and think he can be a good starter. I don’t think love can be the best player on a team that could beat Boston or Philly, if they continue their upward trend. I like Sexton but he will be a work in progress and I would be happy if he just turned into a good starter.

Nate Smith
Admin
8 days 7 hours ago

Meh. I’m not that up in Boston or Philly.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
8 days 6 hours ago

Boston has crazy talent now though if Irving and Gordon comes back anywhere near their former selves. Will those two be as good defensively? No, but they will have guys that can simply take over games in playoff series. Tatum will be good to great. Brown will be minimally a good starter. They still have their defensive studs.

I think Simmons and Embiid will be studs for years to come. If Simmons develops even a 15 footer look out. They still have Reddick and Covington as shooters. Fultz could be better or they could trade him for another shooter because I am sure somebody will take a flyer on a guy like that. Brett Brown got badly out coached and that team got badly out-executed. Not surprising considering that was their first playoff run. Boston had been through it before, even some of their young guys.

Nate Smith
Admin
7 days 22 hours ago

Maybe. Embiid will always be an injury risk though. As will Irving. Fultz is the big x factor for Philly. If he has figured it out they could be deadly.

My point is though that you don’t have to tank. For every Philly (who got lucky to get Simmons and a healthy embiid) there’s an Orlando Magic or Sacramento who have been bad and haven’t gotten any better. Yes, collect draft picks and and use your cap space to collect assets but you don’t have to bottom out. One draft pick in the next to years is unlikely to be the difference maker. Be San Antonio or Houston or Utah, or Indy. Don’t be Charlotte, Sacramento, etc.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
7 days 11 hours ago

San Antonio keeps their picks though. Need a pick to have a chance to even get hidden gems like San Antonio.

Nate Smith
Admin
7 days 9 hours ago

They’ll get a pick when they flip expiring for picks.

John B
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John B
7 days 6 hours ago

Isn’t Smith partially guaranteed next year? Korver maybe. But doubt he draws a first rounder. Hill has what two years left? That would be ideal though to clean house.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
7 days 11 hours ago

I also don’t think they need to bottom out. 8th, 9th, or 10th isn’t bottoming out in my opinion.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
8 days 12 hours ago

Worst case scenario is the cavs being the 9th, 10th, or 11th seed in the east and still ending up outside the top ten and losing the pick due to a couple of worse teams in the west.

Nate Smith
Admin
8 days 8 hours ago

There won’t be worse teams in the west. At least 3 lottery teams out there will have winning or near winning records.

John B
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John B
8 days 8 hours ago

Maybe. If the Cavs are ninth in the east, I could see Memphis and Dallas being worse. Sacramento and Phoenix will be far worse no matter what. That makes them 11th overall. So with Sac and Phoenix you will have two teams with top ten worst records to the west. With six teams in the east worse than the Cavs in that scenario, basically Dallas or Memphis have to be about 500 or over to keep our pick if the Cavs are the 9th seed in the east. Not guaranteed in my opinion because I think the 9th seed in the east will be around 500 this year or slightly over.

Nate Smith
Admin
8 days 12 hours ago

Wow. Lavar on Lonzo’s knee surgery. This seems unbelievably short sighted.

When asked what the surgery would require by his father, LaVar, Lonzo explained that they would have to remove it as opposed to repairing it.

“They’ve got to take it out,” Lonzo told LaVar. “They said they could repair it but it would take me six months to get back. But, if they just take it out it will only be six weeks.”

Nate Smith
Admin
8 days 12 hours ago

He’s talking about a meniscus tear.

JMay
Editor
7 days 16 hours ago

So, his career is a ticking time bomb now, right?

Simmo
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Simmo
7 days 21 hours ago

This is horrifying.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
8 days 12 hours ago

Kid may be fearful he will be traded after that amount of time. Multiple injuries and missing his entire second year after a pretty bad rookie campaign is likely influencing that line of reasoning. Probably wants to show the lakers sooner rather than later he has improved enough to be a viable offensive guard.

Nate Smith
Admin
8 days 8 hours ago

Long term stupid.

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
8 days 6 hours ago

No doubt, but I get his trepidation if he wants to be in LA. I think out of the young core he is probably most expendable to the lakers.

Nate Smith
Admin
7 days 22 hours ago

Thing is no one is trading for him if he’s injured anyway.

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
7 days 11 hours ago

Meh, teams take flyers on guys that young. You might not get much but you might get a guy from a team dumping salary.

Joshua Martin
Member
7 days 17 hours ago

Couldn’t the organization overrule that decision and have it repaired if they really wanted?

JOHN B
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JOHN B
7 days 11 hours ago

Don’t think so. Final medical decisions are always up to the individual. Kawhi is a prime example. Team doctors can offer their opinion, but I believe the players have the final say. Teams might be able to present a case based off their own doctors for an injury exception or perhaps an uncooperative player if a player cannot find a secondary opinion that contradicts the team doctors.

NOMAD
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NOMAD
8 days 16 hours ago

DON’T DISAGREE WITH YOU JRL—-BUT THINK KOLBY / GILBERT ARE GOING TO GIVE TY A CHANCE TO PROVE US– ( AND PROBABLY THEM TOO )—WRONG —–CLIFFORD WOULD LOOK GOOD ON CAVS SIDELINES—–WHAT’S OPINION ON ‘PENGUIN ” VAN GUNDY AS POSSIBLE COACH HERE ——–AGREE WITH YOU NATE —PRINCE —AGE AND POTENTIAL UPSIDE WOULD BE A PLAYER TO PURSUE

JRL
Guest
JRL
7 days 23 hours ago

I mean, Gilbert didn’t fire so im sure he’s hoping that Lue is a better coach than what he has shown up to now.

Clifford? Orlando?

No to any Van Gundy. They are both 10yrs to late to the new NBA.

NOMAD
Guest
NOMAD
8 days 18 hours ago

I am going to reserve my opinion on the trade until I see a FULL YEAR / WITHOUT LEBRON ‘S SHADOW LOOMING OVER COACHES —PLAYERS /— HOPEFULLY TY’S ABALITY TO COACH UP —YOUNG PLAYERS– -(YES I AM 1 OF TY’S BIGGEST DOUBTERS )– MAYBE HOOD / CLARCKSON WILL COME AROUND—BELIEVE THE RAW TALENT IS THERE —–I LOVE LNJ —-WILL TAKE HIM ANYDAY OVER WAGNER ———SALUTE / REMEMBERING –911 !!

JRL
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JRL
8 days 17 hours ago

I have zero hope that Lue turns it around and becomes a good coach. There’s a difference between deferring to the best player of the league when needed, and not having any type of a system whatsoever.

He should had been fired after the 16-17 season. Sucks he wasn’t.

Nate Smith
Admin
9 days 8 hours ago

JRL
Guest
JRL
8 days 21 hours ago

Clarkson was the way he was due to coaching. He can score and be useful if guided properly. We don’t have a coach that can emphasize his strengths while minimizing his weaknesses.

Not even preseason and I’m already getting angry at Lue. It’s going to be a long season if he shows it was him and not LeBron causing all the drama.

Nate Smith
Admin
8 days 12 hours ago

No way. That kid has the worst blinders for a guard I’ve ever seen.

JRL
Guest
JRL
7 days 23 hours ago

That’s true and I believe a good coach can change that. Lue isn’t a good coach.

Slammin Sam
Guest
Slammin Sam
9 days 7 hours ago

Do you really not think that Nance is better than Moritz Wagner? Of all of th the horrible moves they made last year I’m not sure why you’re always hung up on that pick when it “netted” (Hahahahahaha) us Nance.

Nate Smith
Admin
9 days 6 hours ago

I like Nance too.

Nate Smith
Admin
9 days 6 hours ago

Cuz the Cavs paid 24 million in Clarkson salary and a first rounder for nance. That is simply getting taken to the cleaners.

Nate Smith
Admin
9 days 6 hours ago

Cavs could have had so many good players with that pick, Khyri Thomas, Gary Trent Jr., Evans, Brunson, Musa. Hell not having that pick likely caused them to draft a point guard when they could’ve gotten one later. Knox and brunson or bridges and brunson? Omg.

ChrisKorvalier
Guest
ChrisKorvalier
8 days 18 hours ago

I really think the mid-season trades were all about the Cavs showing LeBron that they were serious about keeping him and were willing to go way, way over the luxury tax to bring in players to fit around him. After the trades, I was 99% sure LeBron was gonna stay. Obviously, the new guys looked great in crushing the Celtics (with Kyrie) and winning a hard-fought game in OKC. But then Lue got his hands on them. And LeBron decided there was no need for a franchise to overspend on his account when you can pick up quality players like Javale McGee, Lance Stephenson, and Rajon Rondo on the cheap.

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
8 days 12 hours ago

I think it was a bit of a hedge in that they didn’t go full on keep LBJ by committing to trading the bkn pick. Don’t get me wrong as I am glad they didn’t because I think he was going anyway. However, I am not sure they were 100% willing to use all their assets, which is a good thing, but certainly is not a fully win now decision.

EvilGenius
Admin
9 days 13 hours ago

It’s weird that none of these teams seem anywhere close to being serious contenders for at least the next five years… Wiz and Heat are the only ones that could threaten for a playoff spot this year. Dumpster fire of a division…

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
8 days 12 hours ago

None of them have any shot in challenging Boston or Philly if those teams continue to get better for the foreseeable future. Nor do I see them competing with Toronto this year (if Kawhi plays), and the future Kawhi miraculously resigns. They are playing for the chance to play in the conference semis and the honor of getting obliterated by anyone of those three teams.

JRL
Guest
JRL
9 days 13 hours ago

The worst division in basketball.

Nothing to see hear folks. Keep it moving!

JRL
Guest
JRL
9 days 11 hours ago

Here*

Nate Smith
Admin
9 days 16 hours ago

Definitely the worst division in basketball. I would love love love satoransky. I’d hate to do it to him, but Korver for sato in a heartbeat.

Slammin Sam
Guest
Slammin Sam
9 days 17 hours ago

Great preview! Maybe the most boring division in basketball?

Jason
Guest
Jason
8 days 17 hours ago

Least talented.

Hawks should be fun to watch. Miami plays good ball. And the Wiz have that star power/train wreck vibe. Magic & Hornets are boring.

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