The Sixers’ offseason has been high on Ben Simmons-centric speculation and low on flashy moves.
The rest of the Eastern Conference, however, has featured considerable change.
With media day on Monday and training camp starting Tuesday, here’s a refresher on some of what’s happened this season around the East:
The Nets’ Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving remains intact, and Brooklyn will likely be viewed as conference favorites as long as that’s the case. Patty Mills, Jevon Carter and James Johnson are among the new bench faces, while LaMarcus Aldridge returned to the Nets after suddenly retiring in April due to a heart condition. He figures to be in the mix as an option against Joel Embiid. DeAndre Jordan won’t be after Brooklyn shipped him out in a September trade.
No need for the defending champions to alter anything about their core. Milwaukee added Grayson Allen via trade and signed Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye. They also brought back George Hill, who was available when the Sixers waived him before the team would’ve needed to guarantee his full 2021-22 salary. During his first stint with the Bucks, Hill led the NBA in three-point percentage (46.0) for the 2019-20 campaign.
There’s quite a bit to note with Miami beyond the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade. P.J. Tucker is on board, Victor Oladipo has returned on a one-year, minimum deal, and Jimmy Butler and Duncan Robinson signed long-term extensions. And yes, Udonis Haslem is still on the Heat’s roster at 41 years old.
The theme of Atlanta’s offseason was locking up key pieces for the long term: Trae Young, John Collins and Clint Capela all signed extensions. Atlanta also picked up Delon Wright as a backup option behind Young. Second-year center Onyeka Okongwu had right shoulder surgery in July with a six-month recovery timeline, meaning he could miss all three Sixers-Hawks matchups this regular season. Atlanta signed veteran big man Gorgui Dieng in free agency. Former Sixers Jahlil Okafor and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will be at Hawks training camp.
While we’re on the topic of former Sixers, Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks re-signed with the Knicks. New York aimed to improve its perimeter scoring this summer through acquiring Evan Fournier and hometown kid Kemba Walker. The hunch here is draft pick Miles McBride is capable of contributing as a rookie. The Knicks have several other youngsters worth watching, including RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Mitchell Robinson and Obi Toppin.
Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas didn’t need long to institute a dramatic overhaul. Chicago’s offseason additions include Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso, Derrick Jones Jr. and Tony Bradley. This is a fascinating team, and NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson and Rob Schaefer are recommended sources for Bulls news and insights.
Bradley Beal is still in Washington, but almost everything is different around him after the Wizards acquired Spencer Dinwiddie, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Aaron Holiday in an intricate deal. Russell Westbrook, meanwhile, is now on the West Coast. Integrating all the new players will be a challenge for first-time head coach Wes Unseld Jr., but we’re assuming scoring still won’t be much of a problem on a team with Beal and Dinwiddie. Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard told reporters that Daniel Gafford, who slid into the starting lineup for Games 4 and 5 of Washington’s first-round series loss last season to the Sixers, will start at center. Thomas Bryant (ACL surgery) is expected to make a December return.
Any Sixers fan who’s interested in reliving the not especially pleasant 2019-20 season can tune into Celtics games this season. Former Sixers assistant Ime Udoka is Boston’s head coach — Brad Stevens shifted to president of basketball operations following Danny Ainge’s retirement — and the Celtics picked up Josh Richardson and Al Horford. Dennis Schröder signed with Boston for the taxpayer mid-level exception after not attracting the level of interest and big-money offers he expected.