Sunday , Aug , 05 , 2007 Oly Sandor

NBA’s Eastern Conference Makes Power Moves, Featuring Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, & Detroit Pistons

The west’s Bill-Gates monopoly over the NBA ended this summer. Several big-name players departed their left-coast locale and planted roots out east. The west still boasts the league’s three best teams-Dallas, San Antonio, and Phoenix-but the balance of power is starting to even out …

Power shifts are always interesting. For years, the Western Conference reigned supreme over the Eastern Conference, hoarding talent, winning NBA Titles, and earning bragging rights. 

But the west’s Bill-Gates monopoly over the NBA ended this summer. Several big-name players departed their left-coast locale and planted roots out east. The west still boasts the league’s three best teams-, , and -but the balance of power is starting to even out.

Here is a look at this summer’s movers and shakers in the Eastern Conference:

The Movers:

Boston Celtics: Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in green-and-white. That’s a good look for the Boston faithful and . GM Danny Ainge must continue his hot streak and supply the big three with a few veteran pieces.

New York Knicks: took a calculated risk by trading for Zach Randolph. He’s had his troubles, but 23 and 10 doesn’t grow on trees. Z-Bo and Eddie Curry should be enough to give Madison Square Gardens a playoff birth.

Orlando Magic: are batting.500. They made one solid move and one questionable move. Re-signing was smart. The Disney-addict has a rapidly improving skill-set which will soon match his athleticism. When that happens it’s on.

I’m from Vancouver, Canada. That’s close to Seattle for you geographically-challenged folks. I have watched Rashard Lewis grow from a shy teenager to an All-Star. He’s a very good player, but not a first-line superstar. In fact, Lewis isn’t close to all-world status. He’s never been The Man on his own team, always playing senior capo to Ray Allen or Gary Payton.

GMs overpay in free agency. That’s the cost of doing business in the summer season. But the Magic went too far in giving Lewis a six year, 106 million dollar contract.

Slept-on Movers:

Charlotte Bobcats: They re-signed Matt Carroll and Gerald Wallace. And they traded for Jason Richardson. Carroll, Wallace, and Richardson all shift between the 2-3 spots. And they will make a combined 23 million dollars next season. This seems excessive.

Still, the Cats had loads of cap space and had to spend to earn the trust of fans. This trio can play. Not a bad summer for new executive Michael Jordan.

Chicago Bulls: John Paxson got it done as a player for the Bulls. Now he’s getting it done as the club’s GM. Paxson wisely turned down ’s overtures, preferring to build around his young core. Joakim Noah and Joe Smith were added to the mix, while Andres Nocioni was re-signed at reasonable dollars. The Bulls need one final element: a low post scorer.

Detroit Pistons: made the right decision to stick with their veteran core. Next year, the bench will be bolstered by two rookies: Rodney Stuckey and Arron Affalo.  Look for Amir Johnson to step into the rotation, too.

However, their best move was re-signing for 12 million dollars per season. Mr. Big Shot is one the NBA’s premier point guards and could have demanded a higher wage. By paying Billups a below market salary, the Pistons will have the financial flexibility to stay competitive.

Who do you see as the biggest movers and shakers in the Eastern Conference. Get at us with your thoughts in the comment box below.

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