The NBA season is fast approaching with training camps starting this week and then preseason games starting on Thursday.
And while the regular season is fun, the true hoops addict really earns his stripes during the offseason, digesting and contemplating all the summer’s moves.
With that in mind, Covers.com breaks down the five biggest moves of the offseason and tells you what it means for the upcoming season.
1.) Chicago Bulls signing Ben Wallace, trading for P.J. Brown
There’s no doubt the Chicago Bulls overpaid for Wallace, a 32-year old, undersized center who gives you zero offense.
But hey, that’s what it costs to add one of the league’s best rebounders and one of its most dynamic defensive forces and with the Fro now in tow, the Bulls possess an inside presence to complement the stable of young and athletic perimeter players.
And let’s not forget the acquisition of the veteran, low-post warrior Brown who, along with Wallace, brings plenty of postseason experience. Those two will see to it that the baby Bulls don`t get out-rebounded or pushed around down low.
Odds: +800 to win the NBA championship
2.) Miami Heat retaining Pat Riley as head coach
Just how important was Pat Riley’s decision to stay on as Miami head coach?
A New York Daily News column said Shaquille O’Neal would’ve retired, walking away from the $80-million left on his contract, if Riley left.
Never mind that Riley is one of the most successful coaches of all time who brings with him five NBA championships along with several deep runs during his tenures with the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and his first go with the Heat.
So the pressure of entering a season as the defending champions is nothing new to Riley and you have to think he has something in store as an encore performance. Books must think so too; they’ve made the Heat along with the San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks the odds on favorites to win the title.
Odds: +450 to win the NBA championship
3.) Toronto Raptors trading for T.J. Ford
Don’t worry, nobody thinks the Toronto Raptors are going to challenge for the NBA title now that they have T.J. Ford on board.
But having a true point guard, something the team has never had, will surely improve an underrated squad that went 41-40-1 ATS despite opening the season on an eight-game ATS losing streak.
GM Bryan Colangelo, one of the brightest minds in all of basketball, seems to think so. Recent reports say Colangelo and the Raps are set to ink Ford to a three-year contract extension.
“We know it`s not a risk-free situation,” Colangelo told the New York Daily News, referring to Ford`s spine injury that sidelined him for the entire 2004-2005 season. “But we see him as the perfect fit.”
Odds: +10000 to win the NBA championship
4.) Indiana Pacers signing Al Harrington
The Indiana Pacers easily have the deepest and most athletic frontcourt in all of basketball after bringing Al Harrington over from the Atlanta Hawks in the offseason.
They also have a talented player who wants to play in Indy and is well thought of in the minds of the current Pacers. This is huge for a locker room that has seen its fair share of turmoil over the past two seasons.
It also gives them a versatility they’ve enjoyed since Ron Artest went squirrelly in Detroit two years ago. Harrington is both strong and quick enough to play either small forward or power forward and word has it coach Rick Carlisle will use Harrington at both depending on the matchup.
Odds: +3500 to win the NBA championship
5.) Houston Rockets acquiring Shane Battier and Bonzi Wells
This team will only go as far as Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming will take them but there`s no question the acquisitions of Shane Battier and Bonzi Wells will help.
They both should help on the boards and neither player is afraid to get their nose dirty down low. The moves also brings in some youth and some athleticism that the team was sorely missing and both can play defense.
Battier is a winner as he proved during his years at Duke and he brings the intangibles every championship team needs. The problem is that the Rockets do play in the NBA’s toughest division and because of this Houston goes into each season behind the eight ball before a game is even played.
Odds: +2000 to win the NBA championship
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