For most of the teams in the NBA’s Central Division in the Eastern Conference, their offseasons this summer were very successful. Let’s take a look at what teams succeeded in becoming better in preparation of the 2006-2007 season.
5. Detroit Pistons
A few years ago the Pistons had won the championship with some great teamwork. Now, they lost their defensive specialist Ben Wallace. To make things worse, the only player they were able to get to try and replace him was Nazr Mohammed, who was previously with the San Antonio Spurs. After signing Mohammed, the Pistons found out that Bonzi Wells was available for cheap. Of course by that time, Detroit didn’t have enough money to get him because they spent it all on Mohammed. It was a very tough offseason for the Pistons and losing their best defensive player will likely hurt them a lot next year.
4. Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee had a very positive summer as they were able to trade Joe Smith for Ruben Patterson. They also gained Charlie Villanueva, which gives Andrew Bogut more play time at the center position. The Bucks lost Jamaal Magloire, but they traded him for two solid role players in Brian Skinner and Steve Blake. With some solid trades this offseason, the Bucks have only gotten better. They’re probably still not ready for the East’s best, but with some more time they might just get there.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
Almost any fan of basketball was watching to see what star LeBron James would do this summer regarding his contract. He decided to stay with the Cavaliers and signed a three year contract extension. That’s some of the best news you could get coming out of the NBA’s offseason, as James was being watched by practically every other team in the league. The Cavs also signed free agents David Wesley and Scot Pollard. The future of the rest of the Cavaliers remains uncertain, however, as Cleveland spent almost all of their money to keep James with them.
2. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers ended up getting two of the best players out on the market this summer. Sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic and big man Al Harrington. Peja Stojakovic will be able to stretch the court out for the Pacers and really make their offense dangerous. With Al Harrington’s help, Jermaine O’Neal will likely become an even more dominant force in the paint. It’s possible that if everything clicks right, the Pacers will be one of the most dangerous teams in the East next season.
1. Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls had one of the best offseasons this summer as they signed Ben Wallace, the defensive specialist who had previously played with the Pistons. Although they paid quite a bit to gain Wallace, they also were able to catch a very promising rookie in Tyrus Thomas. Last year Chicago lost to the champion Heat team in the playoffs, but it’s next year the Bulls team will be a whole new squad with a defensive presence down low with Wallace. The Bulls are a young but talented team and may finally have what it takes to become one of the premiere teams in the East once again.
For every team in the Central Division besides the Pistons, the offseason was pretty positive. The Bulls and the Pacers have become much better over the summer and may finally be able to match up well against tough Eastern teams like the Miami Heat and the New Jersery Nets.