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West continues to add firepower in NBA free agency while East stands still

West continues to add firepower in NBA free agency while East stands still

The Golden State Warriors are going to remain intact to make another run at an NBA title after retaining a supporting cast of David West, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala in free agency and locking up Steph Curry long-term.

The Western Conference could end up stronger than it was in 2015 when the Oklahoma City Thunder failed to make the playoffs despite 45 wins. By comparison, that win total would've gotten an Eastern Conference team a No. 5 seed in the 2016-17 season.

The biggest moves at the June 22 draft shifted assets to the West. Since free agency opened Saturday, the same has transpired.

Three of the best two-way players in the NBA, Jimmy Butler, Paul George and Paul Millsap, have gone from East to West. Butler was shipped to the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team that could help bring up the bottom of the conference and qualify for the postseason for the first time in 14 years. 

[RELATED: What Porter signing max offer sheet with Kings means]

In part, because Indiana Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard doesn't believe in trading a game-changer such as George in his own conference, the Thunder look like a team that'll go beyond the first round and bring up the middle after landing George. And the Denver Nuggets are in prime position to move into a playoff spot, too, after missing the last four postseasons. They were 40-42 and finished one spot out of the playoffs, but now have Millsap on their side.

The Houston Rockets got even better after their addition of Chris Paul. They just secured P.J. Tucker, a big, physical wing defender, from the East's Toronto Raptors.

Because of salary cap constraints, the No. 2 seed Cleveland Cavaliers and No. 4 Wizards haven't been able to do much. The Boston Celtics had the best shot at George but couldn't make that happen. The best the No. 3 seed Toronto Raptors could do is re-sign two players who could be past their best in Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka.

The Sacramento Kings have agreed to a max offer sheet with restricted free agent Otto Porter and the Wizards will have 48 hours to match when the moratorium is lifted July 6. They''re expected to do so, but if not Porter could help make the Kings a legitimate playoff team for the first time since 2006. Even without Porter, the offseason moves and draft picks they've made have given them promise as it is. 

[RELATED: Wizards' deal with Meeks offers big upside]

Even if Gordon Hayward chooses to sign with the Miami Heat or Celtics, that won't be nearly enough to offset an offseason of imbalance. If he opts to stay with the 51-win Utah Jazz, that'll just be one more landmine in the West.

It's still tough to imagine the Warriors not repeating, but their road through an 82-game regular season will be much rougher. And if they have an injury or slip up, there could be viable replacements.

Last season's East playoff teams such as the Pacers, Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks have taken major steps backward. The only conference team that has made significant, possibly game-changing shakeups is the Philadelphia 76ers. They finished 15th of 16 teams and should vault into the playoff picture.

Still, the Sixers have a lot of question marks in terms of the health of their starters and rookie Markelle Fultz. They're not going to be good enough to create a power shift in the conference just yet, but they're in a great spot.

The 2018 NBA Finals could turn into an anticlimactic consolation matchup, with the series between the best teams actually taking place in the West finals. The top of the East appears to just be treading water, which basically means its falling farther behind.

[RELATED: Wizards add guard to mini-camp roster]

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Jodie Meeks

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Jodie Meeks

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Jodie Meeks' season...

Player: Jodie Meeks

Position: Shooting guard

Age: 30

2017-18 salary: $3.3 million

2017-18 stats: 77 G, 14.5 mpg, 6.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.9 FG%, 34.3 3P%, 86.3 FT%, 49.1 eFG%, 111 ORtg, 112 DRtg

Best game: 11/29 at Sixers - 21 points, 4 rebounds, assist, steal, 5-for-11 FG, 3-for-6 3PT, 8-for-9 FT

Season review: The Wizards took a flier on Jodie Meeks last summer in what seemed at the time to be a low-risk contract with a potentially high reward, if he could stay healthy and play to his career norms. They were in obvious need of help at backup shooting guard and three-point shooting for their bench.

Meeks fell short of those expectations for a variety of reasons. Though he stayed healthy for the first time in years, he could not make shots at the clip the Wizards were hoping for. His field goal percentage was not far off from what he posted in recent years, but his three-point percentage was nowhere near the 38.8 percent he shot in his previous four seasons.

Meeks bottomed out midseason, shooting 28.9 percent from three in December and 28 percent in January. Those numbers ticked up beginning in February, but Meeks never fully gained the trust of his coaching staff. He rarely got hot enough to alter games and his best stat-lines often came in blowouts. 

There was a domino effect from Meeks' struggles, as starting shooting guard Bradley Beal had no one to spell him. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any NBA player this season.

For Meeks personally, it was a bittersweet year because staying healthy was no small feat. He had a run of bad luck and finally broke out of it this season. On the other hand, he never made the impact he felt he was capable of and that wasn't easy for a guy joining a new team and a new locker room.

Meeks' 2017-18 season was ultimately defined by more than his shooting woes. First, he expressed interest in a trade in February and did not get his wish. Then, he was suspended for allegedy using performance-enhancing drugs after the regular season ended. He was out for the playoffs and will miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season without pay as he waits out a 25-game ban.

Meeks may or may not serve that suspension as a member of the Wizards. He has a player option for next season worth $3.5 million. He has yet to inform the team of his decision, but the expectation is that he will pick it up. Given how poorly his season went and ended, it would likely be the smart move financially for him to opt in and hope for better results next season.

Potential to improve: Shooting percentage, perimeter defense, passing

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

Ian Mahinmi, C

Ty Lawson, PG

Tim Frazier, PG

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Tim Frazier's season...

Player: Tim Frazier

Position: Point guard

Age: 27

2017-18 salary: $2 million

2017-18 stats: 59 G, 14.2 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.5 FG%, 30.4 3P%, 76.7 FT%, 44.5 eFG%, 105 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 1/27 at Hawks - 4 points, 14 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2-for-5 FG

Season review: The Wizards tabbed Tim Frazier to be their backup point guard nearly a year ago when they sent a second round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans on the eve of draft night. They viewed Frazier as the solution to their years-long search for a capable backup behind John Wall. Frazier had thrived as a replacement starter in New Orleans and the Wizards saw him as worth a draft pick, even though he had just one year left on his contract.

Frazier began the season as the primary backup point guard, but ultimately lost the job to Tomas Satoransky once Wall went out with a left knee injury. Frazier became the starter and Satoransky the backup, but through two weeks Satoransky outplayed him and became No. 2 on the depth chart once Wall returned. Then, when Wall went down for months late in the season, Satoransky started and Frazier backed him up.

Frazier never found consistency as he moved back and forth between roles. His minutes, points and assists averages were all career-lows.

The Wizards added competition to their roster for Frazier and Satoransky midseason, first by signing Ramon Sessions in March and then adding Ty Lawson just before the playoffs began. That led to Frazier being inactive for four of the Wizards' six postseason games.

All in all, it was a frustrating year for Frazier. He even had to deal with a broken nose and surgery to repair it after getting inadvertently kneed in the face by Bobby Portis in a game against the Bulls in February.

Frazier has been part of small group of Wizards players continuing to work out at the team facility this summer. He has been there along with Wall, Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith. That said, it does seem likely Frazier returns given how the Wizards used him this season. He was completely out of the rotation for extended periods of time.

Helping his cause in that regard is that the Wizards have his Bird rights, meaning they can re-sign him while going above the salary cap. They currently have five open roster spots and not much money to spend. Frazier could represent a cheap option and help them fill out their roster.

Potential to improve: Shooting, on-ball defense, consistency

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

Ian Mahinmi, C

Ty Lawson, PG

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