Jul 31 2015

NBA 2015 Summer Moves: Eastern Conference

This article looks at the new NBA landscape for the 2015-2016 season for the Eastern Conference. With the draft and the first wave of free agency in the past, it is time to take a preliminary look at how the rosters are shaking out and whether or not the moves that teams made will have a significant difference in how those teams performed from last season.

Each team will be separated by their nominal starting five (PG = point guard, SG = shooting guard, SF = small forward, PF = power forward, C = center), with most important players followed by the more replaceable parts (i.e, franchise player of the Big 3, followed by the other two starters). Also included are the rotation (6th man through 8th man), followed by the rest of the bench (up to the 13th man). New additions and re-signings are marked by an asterisk*, rookies by a (1). Players who are uncertain to be ready for the season opener are kept out of the starting lineup and rotation and marked with a (+). Because of the heavy coaching and management turnover, those figures are listed as well.

To see my Offseason Preview from before the Draft, open here:


Toronto Raptors (2014-2015: 49-33, 1st in Atlantic, 4th in Eastern, First Round Loss to Washington)

Starters: PG Kyle Lowry, SG DeMar DeRozan, C Jonas Valanciunas, SF DeMarre Carroll*, PF Luis Scola*

Rotation: SG Terrence Ross, PF Patrick Patterson, PG Cory Joseph*

Bench: C Bismack Biyombo*, SF James Johnson, C Lucas Nogueira, SF Bruno Cabloclo, PG Delon Wright (1)

Head Coach: Dwane Casey

General Manager: Masai Ujiri

The Raptors signing of Carroll ensures that the team will have a new look next season. He gives them a legitimate SF, sending Ross to the bench and 6Man Lou Williams off the roster. Carroll will also see plenty of minutes as a small-ball PF, but Patterson has the edge for the nominal starting role after the departure of Amir Johnson; Scola replaces Johnson on the roster. Joseph replaces Greivis Vasquez. Biyombo represents another defensive upgrade, as he replaces Tyler Hansbrough. Wright replaces Landry Fields’ spot on the roster.

November Addendum: The Raptors elected to keep Patterson off the bench, and now Scola is the new starter.

Boston Celtics (2014-2015: 40-42, 2nd in Atlantic, 7th in Eastern, First Round Loss to Cleveland)

Starters: SG Avery Bradley, PF David Lee*, PG Marcus Smart, C Tyler Zeller, SF Jae Crowder

Rotation: PG Isaiah Thomas, PF Jared Sullinger, SF Evan Turner

Bench: C Amir Johnson*, SG R.J. Hunter (1), C Kelly Olynyk, PG Terry Rozier (1), PF Jonas Jerebko

Head Coach: Brad Stevens

General Manager: Danny Ainge

The Celtics have many options as far as their starting lineup goes – Crowder was a much more effective player in Boston than Turner, Lee is a former All-Star, and Sullinger was a starter before his season was interrupted by injury. Lee was acquired in a trade involving Gerald Wallace and was referred to as “depth” by Ainge, so it remains to be seen whether they view him as an option to start. Johnson replaces Brandon Bass. First round picks Rozier and Hunter replace Phil Pressey and Luigi Datome.

November Addendum: The Celtics have a messy frontline, so expect Lee, Zeller, Johnson, and Sullinger to make starts all year with Olynyk and Jerebko filling in. The situation is similar with the young guards, as there just isn’t enough time for James Young to get on the court right now.

Brooklyn Nets (2014-2015: 38-44, 3rd in Atlantic, 8th in Eastern, First Round Loss to Atlanta)

Starters: C Brook Lopez, SF Joe Johnson, PF Thaddeus Young, PG Jarrett Jack, SG Markel Brown

Rotation: SG Bojan Bogdanovic, C Andrea Bargnani*, SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (1)

Bench: PF Thomas Robinson*, PG Shane Larkin*, PF Chris McCullough (1) (+), SG Wayne Ellington*, SF Sergey Karasev

Head Coach: Lionel Hollins

General Manager: Billy King

The Nets have replaced nearly their entire bench, but the most notable change is the departure of PG Deron Williams after five seasons. Jack replaces Williams as a starter, but Larkin takes Williams’ roster spot. Any way you look at it, it’s a major downgrade for Brooklyn. Williams’ athleticism is gone, and he isn’t much of a scorer anymore. Jack isn’t a major dropoff as a starter, but he was an asset off the bench; now he’ll have to start, and he’s coming off a season that saw him shoot only 27% from three. Larkin isn’t a good shooter either, and he’s on his third team in as many seasons. Ellington replaces Alan Anderson, and while he’s a good three-point shooter, he offers a marginal upgrade over Anderson. The much-maligned Bargnani hasn’t been a clear cut backup since his rookie season – he’s come off the bench only 64 games over the last eight seasons. Bargnani doesn’t pass, rebound, or defend, but he has three-point range and will only be 30 next season. Bargnani replaces Mason Plumlee, who was involved in a 2015 Draft night trade involving Hollis-Jefferson. Hollis-Jefferson and McCullough replace Earl Clark and Cory Jefferson. The Nets wanted Robinson last year, and he replaces Mirza Teletovic. This looks like one of the five thinnest benches in the league right now.

September Addendum: Both Robinson and McCullough are recovering from knee surgeries and are not expected to be ready for training camp.

November Addendum: Robinson is back healthy. Brown is back as the starter, while Bogdanovic and Hollis-Jefferson are in the rotation ahead of Ellington.

Philadelphia 76ers (2014-2015: 18-64, 4th in Atlantic, 14th in Eastern)

Starters: PF Nerlens Noel, C Jahlil Okafor (1), SG Nik Stauskas*, SF Jerami Grant, PG T.J. McConnell (1)

Rotation: SG Hollis Thompson, PF Richuan Holmes (1), PG Isaiah Canaan

Bench: PG Tony Wroten (+), C Joel Embiid (+), SF Robert Covington (+), PF Carl Landry* (+), PG Kendall Marshall* (+)

Head Coach: Brett Brown

General Manager: Sam Hinkie

Every year I do this, I struggle to put 13 NBA players together for this team. The veterans always seem to be on the chopping block (Landry, Wallace), injured players are the norm (Embiid), and the starters are throwing darts (Philadelphia has the worst corps of guards in the league, and I’m not sure it’s close). 25 different players saw action for the 76ers last season, and they’re set to spin their wheels toward 60 more losses. Anyway … Okafor is obviously a major upgrade on Henry Sims. Landry would be a good offensive replacement for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, but Landry is uncertain to be ready for the season after undergoing wrist surgery. Stauskas, coming off a brutal rookie season in Sacramento, replaces Jason Richardson. Wallace, if he’s still on the roster with his $10 million contract for next season, replaces Glenn Robinson. As usual, we’ll see how many players actually suit up for Philadelphia next year.

October Addendum: The 76ers released Gerald Wallace, while signing Marshall to a long-term deal. Wroten and Marshall are both recovering from ACL injuries and may not be ready to start the season.

November Addendum: 2nd round rookie Holmes made the roster over Furkan Aldemir. Covington is going to miss time due to a knee injury, so Grant will start in his stead. Undrafted rookie McConnell is a better distributor than Canaan, so he’s the starter for the time being. The 76ers have the shallowest roster in the league, and it’s not even close.

New York Knicks (2014-2015: 17-65, 5th in Atlantic, 15th in Eastern)

Starters: SF Carmelo Anthony, C Robin Lopez*, PF Kristaps Porzingis (1), PG José Calderón, SG Sasha Vujacic*

Rotation: SG Langston Galloway, PF Kyle O’Quinn*, PG Jerian Grant (1)

Bench: SG Arron Afflalo* (+), C Kevin Seraphin*, SF Lance Thomas, PF Lou Amundson, SF Derrick Williams*

Head Coach: Derek Fisher

General Manager: Steve Mills

You all know the deal here: Phil Jackson runs the team, and after the worst season in franchise history, there’s nowhere to go but up. Anthony returns after missing the second half of last season with an injury, and he’ll be joined by at least three new starters. Lopez replaces Cole Aldrich and should be an instant upgrade defensively. Afflalo replaces Tim Hardaway, Jr. Lopez and Afflalo are respectable players, but the former Trail Blazers weren’t asked to be part of the top-3 players on a team. New York still has a talent deficiency. The hope is that #4 overall pick Porzingis becomes Jackson’s Pau Gasol in New York, but Gasol was a Rookie of the Year winner. It would be a surprise to see Porzingis be that productive right away. In any case, Porzingis replaces Andrea Bargnani. Grant, whose draft rights were acquired after New York traded Hardaway to Atlanta, replaces Shane Larkin. O’Quinn replaces Jason Smith up front. Seraphin replaces Travis Wear. Williams replaces Quincy Acy. Vujacic, who has only played ten minutes in the NBA since the 2011 lockout, replaces Alexey Shved.

November Addendum: Afflalo has a hamstring injury; Vujacic has been starting ast shooting guard.


Cleveland Cavaliers (2014-2015: 53-29, 1st in Central, 2nd in Eastern, Finals Loss to Golden State)

Starters: SF LeBron James, PF Kevin Love, C Timofey Mozgov, PG Mo Williams*, SG J.R. Smith

Rotation: PG Matthew Dellavedova, PF Tristan Thompson, SF Richard Jefferson*

Bench: PG Kyrie Irving (+), SG Iman Shumpert (+), C Anderson Varejao, PF James Jones, SG Joe Harris

Head Coach: David Blatt

General Manager: David Griffin

The Cavaliers are still waiting to fit SG J.R. Smith and PF Tristan Thompson into their budget. Williams returns to take Shawn Marion’s spot on the roster, while Jefferson replaces Mike Miller.

September Addendum: Irving won’t be ready to start the season, as he is recovering from June knee surgery. Smith re-signed, but Thompson still wants a max deal. Cleveland also added Kaun, a 2008 2nd-round pick.

October Addendum: Thompson could be considered a holdout, though he is a restricted free agent. Shumpert is out for three months due to right wrist surgery.

November Addendum: Thompson signed in time for Opening Night.

Chicago Bulls (2014-2015: 50-32, 2nd in Central, 3rd in Eastern, Semifinals Loss to Cleveland)

Starters: SG Jimmy Butler, C Pau Gasol, PG Derrick Rose, PF Nikola Mirotic, SF Tony Snell

Rotation: SF Doug McDermott, C Joakim Noah, SG E’Twaun Moore

Bench: PF Taj Gibson, PG Aaron Brooks, PF Bobby Portis (1), SF Mike Dunleavy (+), SG Kirk Hinrich

Head Coach: Fred Hoiberg*

General Manager: Gar Forman

The Bulls drafted one of my favorite prospects in Portis, and he’ll replace Nazr Mohammed. Other than that, the biggest change will come from Hoiberg, who replaces Tom Thibodeau after five great regular seasons and five mostly underachieving postseasons. Hoiberg could always keep last year’s starting lineup intact, or he could start Mirotic in place of the older Gasol or Noah.

October Addendum: Dunleavy is out until at least December after undergoing back surgery. He is 35 years old, so there’s no guarantee that he’ll return to a starting job. Rose broke his orbital bone, but he is expected to be ready by the start of the season.

November Addendum: Mirotic is starting over Noah, shifting Gasol to center. Moore and McDermott are in the rotation over Brooks and Hinrich.

Milwaukee Bucks (2014-2015: 41-41, 3rd in Central, 6th in Eastern, First Round Loss to Chicago)

Starters: C Greg Monroe*, SF Giannis Antetokounmpo, PG Michael Carter-Williams, SG Khris Middleton, PF Jabari Parker

Rotation: SG Jerryd Bayless, C John Henson, PG Greivis Vasquez*

Bench: PF Johnny O’Bryant, SF Chris Copeland, SG O.J. Mayo (+), C Miles Plumlee, SG Rashad Vaughn (1)

Head Coach: Jason Kidd

General Manager: John Hammond

Monroe represents the biggest change to the Bucks for next season, and he’s going to replace Zaza Pachulia – a significant upgrade. Parker also returns from knee surgery. Vasquez was added on draft day despite the presence of Bayless and Mayo. Copeland replaces Ersan Ilyasova. Vaughn is a first round wing, and he replaces Jared Dudley on the roster.

November Addendum: O’Bryant is getting minutes ahead of fellow 2014 2nd round pick Damien Inglis. Mayo is dealing with a hamstring injury.

Indiana Pacers (2014-2015: 38-44, 4th in Central, 9th in Eastern)

Starters: PF Paul George, SG Monta Ellis*, PG George Hill, SF C.J. Miles, C Ian Mahinmi

Rotation: SG Rodney Stuckey, C Jordan Hill*, SF Chase Budinger*

Bench: PF Lavoy Allen, PG Joe Young (1), C Myles Turner (1), SF Solomon Hill, PF Rakeem Christmas (1)

Head Coach: Frank Vogel

General Manager: Kevin Pritchard

Indiana’s season was severely altered before it started due to George’s catastrophic leg injury. George is about to get his Larry Bird on now, starting at PF while Indiana embraces a philosophy shift towards playing faster. The casualties to this change are Indiana’s big men from last season: David West, Roy Hibbert, Luis Scola, and Chris Copeland are all gone. Jordan Hill replaces Hibbert, Turner replaces Scola, Christmas replaces West, and Budinger replaces Copeland. These Pacers will be younger, faster, and more versatile offensively. But it remains to be seen if this is still an imposing defensive squad inside. The biggest upgrade for the Pacers comes in the form of Ellis, who replaces C.J. Watson and allows the Pacers to bring both Stuckey and Miles off the bench. Young and Christmas are second round picks; Young replaces Donald Sloan.

October Addendum: Mahinmi appears to be ahead of Jordan Hill for the starting job at center. Miles appears to be ahead of Solomon Hill for the starting job at small forward.

November Addendum: Jordan Hill and Budinger are in the rotation ahead of Turner and Solomon Hill.

Detroit Pistons (2014-2015: 32-50, 5th in Central, 12th in Eastern)

Starters: C Andre Drummond, PG Reggie Jackson, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, PF Ersan Ilyasova*, SF Marcus Morris*

Rotation: SF Stanley Johnson (1), PF Anthony Tolliver, PG Steve Blake*

Bench: PG Brandon Jennings (+), SG Jodie Meeks (+), C Aron Baynes*, SF Reggie Bullock*, C Joel Anthony

Head Coach: Stan Van Gundy

General Manager: Jeff Bower

I saw plenty of Drummond and Johnson this summer, and I can see Johnson taking Morris’ starting job before the holidays. That said, Morris is the veteran, and he replaces another veteran in Caron Butler. Johnson replaces Tayshaun Prince, so the Pistons are getting younger and better at the game’s most important position. Ilyasova has three-point range, so he’s a better fit offensively next to Drummond than Greg Monroe. It remains to be seen how Jennings will figure into the lineup once he returns from his Achilles’ injury, but he’s entering a contract year while Jackson just got a five-year deal. Baynes replaces Shawne Williams on the roster. Blake replaces John Lucas III. Bullock replaces Quincy Miller.

November Addendum: Meeks is going to miss the majority of the season after foot surgery.


Atlanta Hawks (2014-2015: 60-22, 1st in Southeast, 1st in Eastern, Conference Finals Loss to Cleveland)

Starters: PF Paul Millsap, C Al Horford, PG Jeff Teague, SG Kyle Korver, SF Kent Bazemore

Rotation: PG Dennis Schröder, C Tiago Splitter*, SF Thabo Sefolosha

Bench: PF Mike Scott, SG Justin Holiday*, C Mike Muscala, PG Shelvin Mack, SG Tim Hardaway Jr.*

Head Coach: Mike Budenholzer

General Manager: Wes Wilcox*

The Hawks sent four players to the 2015 All-Star Game, but they lost the fifth starter, DeMarre Carroll. Hardaway takes Carroll’s place on the roster, but the Hawks will replace Carroll internally. If Sefolosha gets healthy, he’ll slot in as the starter. But his status for the start of the season is uncertain, so Bazemore may wind up starting. Either way you look at it, the Hawks will be smaller on the wing next season, and they won’t have the same level of shooting. An upgrade for the Hawks comes in the frontcourt, as Splitter replaces Pero Antic. While Splitter has marginal range, Antic was not an effective player, and he certainly wasn’t a good shooter. Holiday replaces John Jenkins. Besides Sefolosha’s injury, the Hawks are forced to monitor Scott’s legal situation. Wilcox is the new GM, but Budenholzer is the new president as Danny Ferry is no longer with the organization.

October Addendum: Sefolosha has been cleared for basketball activities, and though he is not 100 percent or guaranteed the starting job, he makes the most sense there in a vacuum.

November Addendum: Bazemore is the starter, while Hardaway is out of the rotation.

Washington Wizards (2014-2015: 46-36, 2nd in Southeast, 5th in Eastern, Semifinals Loss to Atlanta)

Starters: PG John Wall, SG Bradley Beal, C Marcin Gortat, SF Otto Porter, PF Kris Humphries

Rotation: SF Jared Dudley*, C Nene, PG Ramon Sessions

Bench: PF Drew Gooden, SG Gary Neal*, C DeJuan Blair, SG Alan Anderson* (+), SF Kelly Oubre (+)

Head Coach: Randy Wittman

General Manager: Ernie Grunfeld

The Wizards will have to make a change to the starting lineup, as Paul Pierce went home to Los Angeles. Dudley replaces Pierce on the roster, but Dudley had back surgery and will likely miss the start of the season. Anderson is a replacement for Rasual Butler, which makes him a younger option, but not by much. Look for Porter to get minutes as a small-ball four (yes, this is becoming a trend, as the NBA eschews free throws and strong interior play). Neal replaces Will Bynum. Oubre takes Kevin Seraphin’s roster spot. The Wizards don’t have a great bench, but they are overloaded with wings that will allow them to pick up their offense.

November Addendum: Humphries is starting over Nene. Dudley is healthy, while Anderson is coming off ankle surgery. 

Miami Heat (2014-2015: 37-45, 3rd in Southeast, 10th in Eastern)

Starters: PF Chris Bosh, SG Dwyane Wade, PG Goran Dragic, SF Luol Deng, C Hassan Whiteside

Rotation: PG Mario Chalmers, PF Josh McRoberts, SF Justise Winslow (1)

Bench: C Amar’e Stoudemire*, SG Gerald Green*, C Chris Andersen, SG Tyler Johnson, PF Udonis Haslem

Head Coach: Erik Spoelstra

General Manager: Andy Elisburg

Yes, the Heat have a GM. Pat Riley runs the place, but Elisburg is entering his third season with the GM title. Of course, we credit Riley for managing to keep Wade, Dragic, and Deng together for the 2015-2016 season. With Bosh returning from a blood clot and Whiteside established, Miami has a formidable starting lineup on paper. They will be joined by a revamped bench. Stoudemire replaces Michael Beasley, and though he will be 33 years old and unlikely to play much more than 20 minutes per night, he can be a double-digit scoring threat. Winslow went 10th overall to Miami, and he replaces Henry Walker. The Heat also signed Green, who replaces Shabazz Napier. Miami’s roster is littered with injury red flags, but there is a surplus of experienced talent here.

November Addendum: McRoberts is in the rotation ahead of Stoudemire, who is on his last legs.

Charlotte Hornets (2014-2015: 33-49, 4th in Southeast, 11th in Eastern)

Starters: PG Kemba Walker, C Al Jefferson, SG Nicolas Batum*, PF Marvin Williams, SF P.J. Hairston

Rotation: PG Jeremy Lin*, PF Cody Zeller, SG Jeremy Lamb*

Bench: SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (+), C Spencer Hawes*, PG Brian Roberts, C Frank Kaminsky (1), PF Tyler Hansbrough*

Head Coach: Steve Clifford

General Manager: Rich Cho

The Hornets took some aggressive steps towards changing their team. They were unconventional, to say the least. Batum was acquired in a trade for Gerald Henderson, and Batum will be starting at SG after being the SF in Portland. Batum has made 100+ threes for five straight seasons, but he’s coming off a career-worst 32% clip from distance in 2014-2015. Lin is a playmaking reserve, replacing Mo Williams in that role. Charlotte really wanted Kaminsky, and kept the #9 pick despite some reported offers from Boston that could have gave the Hornets a lot of draft picks. The Hornets had the #9 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft as well, and after one season, Charlotte included Noah Vonleh in the Batum trade. Lance Stephenson was a free agent bust, and he was swapped for another 2014 free agent bust in Hawes; he takes Bismack Biyombo’s roster spot. Lamb replaces Jeffery Taylor. Hansbrough, one of the best players in North Carolina history before becoming a 2009 lottery pick, replaces Jason Maxiell. Charlotte looks like a safe bet to turn in another bottom-five offense next season.

November Addendum: Kidd-Gilchrist is expected to miss the entire season due to surgery to repair a shoulder injury. Hairston is the new starter, along with Williams. Zeller is in the rotation over Hawes, Kaminsky, and Hansbrough. Lamb is in the rotation over Roberts.

Orlando Magic (2014-2015: 25-57, 5th in Southeast, 13th in Eastern)

Starters: SG Victor Oladipo, PF Tobias Harris, C Nikola Vucevic, PG Elfrid Payton, SF Evan Fournier

Rotation: PG C.J. Watson*, C Dewayne Dedmon, SF Aaron Gordon

Bench: PF Channing Frye, SF Mario Hezonja (1), C Jason Smith*, PG Shabazz Napier*, PF Andrew Nicholson

Head Coach: Scott Skiles*

General Manager: Rob Hennigan

Orlando continues its post-Dwightmare rebuild with the same GM and only one major change to the rotation, top-five draft pick Hezonja, who replaces Maurice Harkless. The Magic hired Skiles, who was on the first five teams in franchise history and hadn’t coached since leaving the Bucks in the middle of 2012-2013. Skiles has a reputation for burning out and using crazy rotations, but he also has a reputation for always getting teams to the playoffs by the end of his second season. Skiles made it to the playoffs in his first season in Phoenix and by his second season with Chicago and Milwaukee. Smith replaces Kyle O’Quinn on Orlando’s bench. Watson replaces Luke Ridnour as a backup veteran PG, while Napier takes Willie Green’s roster spot. Skiles has his work cut out for him to improve this team’s offense from the bottom five in the NBA.

November Addendum: Fournier is in the starting lineup, while Dedmon is in the rotation ahead of Frye. Watson is in the rotation ahead of Hezonja.

NBA 2015 Summer Moves: Western Conference


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    […] NBA 2015 Summer Moves: Eastern Conference » […]

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