Central division offseason moves


Central division offseason moves

The Chicago Bulls had a busy, albeit inexpensive off-season, re-tooling their back court with veterans Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson, declining an offer sheet from Houston on Omer Asik and replacing Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver With Marco Belinelli and Vladimir Radmanovic.
And while the offseason isn't quite over, the Bulls weren't the only team in the Central division making moves.
Cleveland Cavaliers
Additions: Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller, Kevin Jones, Luke Harangody, Jon Leuer, Kelenna Azubuike, C.J. Miles
Subtractions: Antwan Jamison, Anthony Parker, Manny Harris, Semih Erden
Losing Antwan Jamison, the team's second leading scorer from a year ago, will hurt the Cavaliers in the short-run, but with the additions of Waiters (No. 4) and Zeller (No. 17) in June's draft, the future is bright in Cleveland.
Along with will-be sophomores Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, the Cavaliers now have a handful of young players who could be destined for the playoffs in a few seasons. How well the supporting cast performs could determine the team's ceiling, but pending an All Star-worthy season from Irving, the Cavaliers will be picking in the lottery for the third straight year.

Detroit Pistons
Additions: Andre Drummond, Corey Maggette, Khris Middleton, Kim English, Vyacheslav Kravtsov, Kyle Singler
Subtractions: Ben Gordon
The biggest move the Pistons made this offseason was parting with Gordon for Maggette in a salary cap-related transaction. Drummond, who may have as much upside as any rookie not named Anthony Davis, gives Detroit the center they coveted to play alongside true power forward Greg Monroe.
Draft picks Middleton and English, along with 2011 draft pick Singler (who played in Spain last year) will improve a young back court, but the Pistons are still a year or two (and a player or two) from potentially contending in the Central division.
Indiana Pacers
Additions: Roy Hibbert, George Hill, D.J. Augstin, Gerald Green, Ian Mihinmi, Miles Plumlee, Orlando Johnson
Subtractions: Darren Collison, Dahntay Jones, Leandro Barbosa, Louis Admunson
The Pacers showed this offseason they are willing to spend to stay in the top half of the Eastern Conference, matching an offer sheet from Portland on center Roy Hibbert and re-signing point guard George Hill.
Augustin may be an upgrade from Collison, who fell out of favor after Hill took over the starting role. Mahinmi will be nice insurance behind Hibbert, while Green and Johnson, a second round draft pick, will help replace bench scoring lost in Jones and Barbosa.
Milwaukee Bucks
Additions: Ersan Ilyosova, Joel Pryzbilla, Samuel Dalembert, John Henson, Doron Lamb
Subtractions: Shaun Livingston, Kwame Brown, Jon Leuer, Jon Brockman
The Bucks beefed up in the front court this offseason after trading for back court talent at the trade deadline last year.
After sending center Andrew Bogut to Golden State in exchange for Monta Ellis and Epke Udoh, the Bucks had a major hole at the center position that Udoh and Drew Gooden tried to fill. So it was no surprise that the team addressed the position in free agency, trading for Dalembert and signing Pryzbilla.
Drafting Henson with Gooden, Udoh, Larry Sanders and re-signed Ersan Ilyosova already on board creates a logjam in the front court, but a "best player available" approach was the safest route for the Bucks to take.

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition


2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

The theme of the 2018-19 NBA season will be: “old faces in new places”. Like a season-long game of the NBA on TNT crew’s “Who he play for?” game, this year will be about fans trying to get used to the idea of LeBron James in purple (I won’t call it ‘Forum Blue’)-and-gold, DeMarcus Cousins being on a championship-contending franchise and Kawhi Leonard being the new face of Toronto.

The Warriors are still the easy favorite to make it four NBA championships in five years, but they will be tested perhaps more than any year before in a loaded Western Conference, where even the lowliest of teams (here’s to you Phoenix and Memphis!) made solid offseason moves geared towards winning games.

Over in the now-LeBron-less East, there is hope amongst at least four-to-five teams that they could actually have a shot to win the conference. The Pacers still have budding superstar Victor Oladipo, the Sixers still have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the Raptors and Bucks made head coaching changes that could lead to deep playoff runs. But with the rest of the Eastern conference being stuck between lottery contention and middle of the pack, expect the half-experienced, half-youthful Celtics to takeover as East juggernaut.

But whether or not your favorite franchise is aiming for a high draft pick or a postseason berth, there is tons to be excited in a 2018-19 NBA season that will surely be an intriguing one. Check out Week 1 of our NBA Power Rankings right here.

Deadline passes as Bulls, Bobby Portis fail to reach agreement on contract extension

Deadline passes as Bulls, Bobby Portis fail to reach agreement on contract extension

The Bulls and Bobby Portis were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension by today’s deadline, which will make the power forward a restricted free agent next offseason.

According to The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson, Portis’ agent Mark Bartelstein and Gar Forman had “lengthy face-to-face negotiations” on Monday prior to the deadline. The two sides weren’t able to come to an agreement.

The negotiations – and lack of a deal – come after a summer and training camp in which Portis continued to show progression. After beginning the preseason coming off the bench Portis quickly played his way into the starting lineup alongside rookie Wendell Carter Jr. Portis finished five preseason games averaging 17.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals in just 22.4 minutes.

Portis, the 22nd pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, has seen his role increase each of his three seasons. He made a jump last season in Year 3, averaging 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 22.5 minutes. He was one of three players, including DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Love, to average 21 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 3-pointers per 36 minutes.

Though the Bulls certainly had the room to sign Portis to an extension, there were obvious reasons on both sides to wait on a deal. For starters, the Bulls will still be able to match any deal Portis receives in free agency next July, much like what happened with Zach LaVine and the Sacramento Kings. The Bulls maintain their abundance of cap space for the 2019 offseason, when they’ll be able to offer a max contract to the top-tier free agents, and they get to see if Portis makes another jump.

For Portis, it’s a case of him betting on himself. If the Bulls came in with a number he wasn’t satisfied with – to help keep their max cap space – he now finds himself on a contract year playing for his next contract. Still only 23 years old, Portis should cash in in July.

Two players from Portis’ draft class were able to cash in. Pacers center Myles Turner signed a reported four-year, $80 million extension and Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. agreed to a four-year, $45 million deal. Portis likely would have fallen somewhere in between those two deals had an agreement occurred.

The Bulls are hardly in an easy situation with Portis. Though they value the versatile power forward, Lauri Markkanen is entrenched at the position for the foreseeable future and the team just spent last year’s No. 7 overall pick on center Wendell Carter Jr. Portis realistically is stuck behind both those players, though he certainly has starting level NBA talent.