Aug 10 2016

NBA 2016 Summer Moves: Western Conference

This article looks at the new NBA landscape for the 2016-2017 season for the Western 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 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:


Oklahoma City Thunder (2015-2016: 55-27, 1st in Northwest, 3rd in Western, Conference Finals Loss to Golden State)

Starters: PG Russell Westbrook, C Steven Adams, SG Victor Oladipo*, SF Andre Roberson, PF Domantas Sabonis (1)

Rotation: SF Kyle Singler, C Enes Kanter, SG Alex Abrines (1)

Bench: PF Ersan Ilyasova*, PG Ronnie Price*, PF Nick Collison, SG Anthony Morrow, PG Cameron Payne (+)

Head Coach: Billy Donovan

General Manager: Sam Presti

It’s Westbrook’s team for the first time in Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant left for Golden State as an unrestricted free agent, and Serge Ibaka was traded to Orlando in exchange for Oladipo, Ilyasova, and Sabonis, the 11th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. While there was speculation about whether or not Westbrook would commit beyond the 2016-2017 season, that all ended once Westbrook agreed to a three-year contract extension. Obviously, Durant will be missed, but Oladipo should form an intriguing tandem with Westbrook. Ilyasova can’t defend but can replace Ibaka’s three-point shooting after making a career-high 96-of-259 threes last season (37.1 percent). Abrines, Oklahoma’s 2013 2nd-round pick, is signed and ready to replace Dion Waiters. Sabonis was a very efficient scorer and rebounded at a high rate at Gonzaga, and he should challenge Ilyasova and Collison for playing time; Sabonis replaces Nazr Mohammed. Payne is recovering from right foot surgery. This is a team in obvious transition, but if you were excited for Penny Hardaway with the 1996-1997 Orlando Magic, then be excited for Westbrook and his 2016-2017 Oklahoma City Thunder.

September Addendum: Price replaces Randy Foye as the veteran backup guard.

October Addendum: Payne has a right foot fracture that will keep him out until at least mid-November. Sabonis appears to have won the starting PF role ahead of Ilyasova.

Portland Trail Blazers (2015-2016: 44-38, 2nd in Northwest, 5th in Western, Semifinals Loss to Golden State)

Starters: PG Damian Lillard, SG C.J. McCollum, SF Al-Farouq Aminu, C Mason Plumlee, PF Maurice Harkless

Rotation: SG Allen Crabbe, C Meyers Leonard, SF Evan Turner*

Bench: PF Ed Davis, PG Shabazz Napier*, C Festus Ezeli* (+), SG Pat Connaughton, PF Noah Vonleh

Head Coach: Terry Stotts

General Manager: Neil Olshey

Portland is building off of a surprising postseason run, and they kept most of the band together. Leonard, Crabbe, and Harkless all got four-year deals in restricted free agency, with the Trail Blazers matching Brooklyn’s offer sheet for Crabbe. Portland also signed McCollum to a four-year extension. Turner was signed to replace Gerald Henderson, and he’ll play a lot whether he starts or not. Turner’s three-point shooting has declined each of the last three seasons (and he was average at best before that), but his rebounding and playmaking is an upgrade on Henderson. Napier replaces Brian Roberts after Portland acquired him in a trade with Orlando. Ezeli is another upgrade, as he replaces Chris Kaman; Ezeli’s biggest issue is durability, as he has played in only 92 games the last three seasons. This is a better team than the one that won a postseason series last year, and their confidence should be higher as well.

September Addendum: Ezeli had his left knee injected to alleviate pain, and he is expected to miss the start of training camp.

Utah Jazz (2015-2016: 40-42, 3rd in Northwest, 9th in Western)

Starters: SG Rodney Hood, PF Derrick Favors, C Rudy Gobert, PG George Hill*, SF Joe Johnson*

Rotation: SG Dante Exum, PF Trey Lyles, PG Shelvin Mack

Bench: SF Gordon Hayward (+), C Boris Diaw*, PF Joel Bolomboy (1), SG Alec Burks (+), SF Joe Ingles

Head Coach: Quin Snyder

General Manager: Dennis Lindsey

Folks have been expecting the Jazz to sneak into the postseason for a couple of years now, so it’s time for them to actually get there. Utah went out and got some veterans, trading their lottery pick (12th overall) to Atlanta in order to acquire Hill from Indiana, and trading the rights to 2015 2nd round pick Olivier Hanlan to San Antonio to acquire Diaw (who came with a future 2nd round pick). Hill replaces Trey Burke, who was traded to Washington for a future 2nd round pick, while Diaw replaces Trevor Booker. Diaw is 34 and Johnson is 35, so while both will help the Jazz offensively, the team will need former lottery picks Lyles, Burks, and Exum (returning from missing 2015-2016 with torn left ACL) to produce. Anyway you look at it, Utah should win more than 40 games next season. Whether they can win 50 is a big question.

September Addendum: C Tibor Pleiss was traded, so 2nd round rookie Bolomboy should have an opportunity to be the team’s fifth big man.

October Addendum: Utah has several injury issues. Hayward broke his finger, and is out until mid-November. Burks is still rehabbing from multiple surgeries. Johnson would start until Hayward returns, while Exum will play more SG with Burks out.

Denver Nuggets (2015-2016: 33-49, 4th in Northwest, 11th in Western)

Starters: SF Danilo Gallinari, PG Emmanuel Mudiay, PF Nikola Jokic, C Jusuf Nurkic, SG Will Barton

Rotation: PG Jamal Murray (1), PF Kenneth Faried, SF Wilson Chandler 

Bench: SG Gary Harris (+), C Juan Hernangomez (1), PF Darrell Arthur (+),PG Jameer Nelson, SG Malik Beasley (1)

Head Coach: Michael Malone

General Manager: Tim Connelly

The Nuggets are going with stability, as there are no veteran additions to the team, unless you count Chandler after he missed the 2015-2016 season due to hip surgery. The only free agent that left Denver was D.J. Augustin, and he was replaced by Murray, the seventh pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Murray isn’t a passer at this stage of his career, but he offers size in the backcourt at 6’4″, 207, and he is a good shooter. Hernangomez (15th overall pick) and Beasley (19th overall pick) were also 1st round selections in the 2016 draft. Every player on this roster that is expected to play significant minutes in 2016-2017 is younger than 30 years old.

October Addendum: Denver is going big, starting Jokic at PF and Nurkic at C while Faried comes off the bench. Harris has a groin injury that will keep him out for the start of the season.

Minnesota Timberwolves (2015-2016: 29-53, 5th in Northwest, 13th in Western)

Starters: SF Andrew Wiggins, C Karl-Anthony Towns, PG Ricky Rubio, SG Zach LaVine, PF Gorgui Dieng

Rotation: PG Kris Dunn (1), PF Nemanja Bjelica, SF Shabazz Muhammad

Bench: C Cole Aldrich*, SG Brandon Rush*,C Jordan Hill*, PG Tyus Jones, PF Adreian Payne

Head Coach: Tom Thibodeau*

General Manager: Scott Layden*

 The Timberwolves have the NBA’s longest current postseason drought at 12 seasons, so they gave Thibodeau all the power he could want (President of Basketball Operations) in an effort to get back to the postseason for the first time since Garnett’s MVP season in 2003-2004. Garnett won an NBA championship and a Defensive Player of the Year award in Boston in 2007-2008, where Thibodeau was an assistant to Doc Rivers. But Garnett, 40, is undecided about continuing his playing career. The firing of Sam Mitchell as head coach could be a factor that leads to Garnett’s retirement. If Garnett stays, then it will be interesting to see if he stays in the starting lineup; Garnett hasn’t come off the bench in a game since 1995-1996, his rookie season. Garnett is also the team’s third-highest paid player. The highest paid player, Rubio, just saw Minnesota use the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft on Dunn. Dunn takes 36-year-old Tayshaun Prince’s roster spot, so he should improve the team significantly. Minnesota should also be better off with Aldrich and Hill instead of Greg Smith and Damjan Rudez. While Garnett’s decision will affect the Timberwolves in the locker room and the practice court, the real factor for Minnesota is figuring out the Rubio/Dunn dynamic, while Wiggins and Towns work with Thibodeau to improve a Minnesota defense that hasn’t been in the top-10 since 2005-2006.

October Addendum: Kevin Garnett retired after 21 NBA seasons, which puts Dieng back in the starting lineup and Bjelica in the rotation.


Golden State Warriors (2015-2016: 73-9, 1st in Pacific, 1st in Western, NBA Finals Loss to Cleveland)

Starters: PG Stephen Curry, SF Kevin Durant*, PF Draymond Green, SG Klay Thompson, C Zaza Pachulia*

Rotation: SF Andre Iguodala, PF David West*, PG Shaun Livingston

Bench: C Anderson Varejao, SG Patrick McCaw (1), PF James Michael McAdoo, PG Ian Clark, C Damian Jones (1) (+)

Head Coach: Steve Kerr

General Manager: Bob Myers

Golden State won an NBA-record 73 games last year, then overcame a 3-1 deficit to win the Western Conference Finals. That set up a huge letdown, losing the 2016 NBA Finals despite a 3-1 lead. Golden State’s major setback has set up a phenomenal comeback, as they signed 2013-2014 MVP Durant in unrestricted free agency. Durant replaces Harrison Barnes, and he’s a universal improvement on everything Barnes did well, including three-point shooting. The Warriors now have the MVP from the last three NBA seasons, and both Curry and Durant are younger than age 30. Pachulia was signed after Andrew Bogut was traded to Dallas. The Warriors will miss Bogut’s rim protection, but Pachulia is coming off a season that saw him average a career-high 9.4 rebounds per game, and he doesn’t have as many problems with fouls or free throw shooting as Bogut. West replaces Marreese Speights, while 1st-round pick Jones replaces Festus Ezeli. Jones is recovering from surgery to repair a torn pectoral, an eerie twist of fate considering Ezeli’s injury woes; Jones and Ezeli are both big men who were drafted 30th overall in their respective drafts from Vanderbilt. McCaw, a 2nd-round rookie, replaces Leandro Barbosa. Varejao was re-signed, but he has a small lower back disc herniation, causing him to miss the 2016 Olympics. Golden State’s offense is better, and if they can get the older big men and rookies on the same page defensively, then they should be able to remain a top-five defense as well.

October Addendum: Varejao is (mostly) healthy.

Los Angeles Clippers (2015-2016: 53-29, 2nd in Pacific, 4th in Western, First Round Loss to Portland)

Starters: PG Chris Paul, C DeAndre Jordan,PF Blake Griffin, SG J.J. Redick, SF Luc Mbah a Moute 

Rotation: SG Jamal Crawford, C Marreese Speights*, PG Austin Rivers

Bench: PF Brandon Bass*, SF Wesley Johnson, PF Brice Johnson (1) (+), PG Raymond Felton*, SF Paul Pierce

Head Coach: Doc Rivers

General Manager: Dave Wohl

If you don’t know, I cover the Los Angeles Clippers for, so you should know that. The Clippers briefly courted Kevin Durant, but decided to re-sign many of their own free agents instead: Mbah a Moute, 2015-2016 6th Man of the Year Crawford, Austin Rivers, and Wesley Johnson. Pierce is taking his time to contemplate retirement, but it doesn’t appear that the team will count on him for a significant role even if he’s back. Bass, Speights, and 1st-round pick Brice Johnson are the new reserve bigs. Bass replaces Jeff Green, who the Clippers gave up a future 1st-round pick to acquire midseason; one former Celtic replaces another for Doc Rivers. Speights replaces Cole Aldrich, a downgrade on defense and in the paint even though Speights is a better shooter. Brice Johnson replaces Jeff Ayres, and though he should be given a chance to get in the rotation, Doc Rivers hasn’t played a rookie for even ten minutes per game since 2004-2005 in Boston. Felton is an upgrade on Pablo Prigioni, and he figures to see more time than the average third-string PG since he’s the only pass-first player the Clippers have on the bench. Blake Griffin (partially torn left quad) is expected to be ready for training camp, but he is also coming off a bad season off the court and he can opt out of his deal (along with Paul) in 2017. The Clippers are shutting down all trade rumors, but that won’t stop the vultures in what is shaping up as the team’s last chance to contend.

October Addendum: Griffin is healthy, but Brice Johnson is out indefinitely with a back injury.

Sacramento Kings (2015-2016: 33-49, 3rd in Pacific, 10th in Western)

Starters: PF DeMarcus Cousins, SF Rudy Gay, PG Darren Collison, SG Arron Afflalo*, C Kosta Koufos, 

Rotation: SG Ben McLemore, C Willie Cauley-Stein, SF Matt Barnes*

Bench: PF Omri Casspi, PG Garrett Temple*, C George Papagiannis (1), SG Malachi Richardson (1), PF Skal Labissiere (1)

Head Coach: Dave Joerger*

General Manager: Vlade Divac

Lawd have merthy. Bless Joerger’s heart – he leaves one perennially (yet relatively successful) dysfunctional situation in Memphis to what is arguably the most dysfunctional team of the decade. Only Minnesota has a longer postseason drought than Sacramento’s ten years, and the Kings are way more lost than the Timberwolves are going forward. The draft is never a fun time for this team – Cauley-Stein made the All-Rookie Second Team last season, but they haven’t had a rookie make the First Team since Cousins in 2010-2011. Then despite drafting Cauley-Stein last year, Cousins watched the Kings package the eight overall pick to Phoenix so that Sacramento could take Papagiannis 13th overall and Labissiere 28th overall. Sacramento also got a future 2nd round pick as well as 2014 1st round draft-and-stash Bogdan Bogdanovic, but for now, the draft left the Kings with a serious logjam of young, raw big men. (Can you tell that Divac is the GM?) Papagiannis and Labissiere replace Eric Moreland and Quincy Acy. The Kings also traded Marco Belinelli to Charlotte in exchange for the 22nd pick in the draft, which was used on Richardson. Rajon Rondo left in free agency, leaving Collison with the starting job and Temple as the new backup; Temple has never averaged more than 2.3 assists per game in a season. Barnes played for Joerger last year in Memphis, and he replaces Caron Butler, while Afflalo replaces James Anderson. Depending on what happens to McLemore and Gay, Afflalo and/or Barnes could wind up starting. Gay, in particular, has been disgruntled with the organization and has done everything but demand a trade. Lord, give Cousins the strength.

October Addendum: Koufos appears to have the starting nod to start the season over Cauley-Stein, while Afflalo will start over McLemore.

Phoenix Suns (2015-2016: 23-59, 4th in Pacific, 14th in Western)

Starters: PG Eric Bledsoe, SG Devin Booker, C Tyson Chandler, PF Jared Dudley*, SF T.J. Warren

Rotation: PG Brandon Knight, C Alex Len, SG Leandro Barbosa*

Bench: SF P.J. Tucker (+), PF Dragan Bender (1), PF Marquese Chriss (1), SG Archie Goodwin, PG Tyler Ulis (1)

Head Coach: Earl Watson

General Manager: Ryan McDonough

This team is the West’s answer to Orlando, a team with just enough positive developments to mask the fact that the GM hasn’t turned the team around in several years. The only veteran additions to the team are two players who were on Suns playoff teams in the 2000s. Dudley replaces Mirza Teletovic as a player who shoots threes and produces little besides that. The Suns also signed Barbosa, who replaces Ronnie Price; Barbosa is a downgrade defensively from Price. Phoenix used their own lottery pick to select Bender fourth overall and traded Washington’s lottery pick and a late 1st round pick to Sacramento (along with a future 2nd round pick and 2014 1st round pick Bogdan Bogdanovic) for the eighth pick in the draft, which was used to select Chriss. Bender and Chriss replace Jon Leuer and Chase Budinger on the roster. Ulis is a 2nd-round pick, and he gives Phoenix a ridiculous five guards from Kentucky (Ulis, Goodwin, Knight, Booker, Bledsoe). Phoenix has several players returning from injury: Bledsoe, Knight, Warren, and Goodwin all missed at least 25 games last season.

September Addendum: Tucker had back surgery, and is questionable for the start of the 2016-2017 regular season.

Los Angeles Lakers (2015-2016: 17-65, 5th in Pacific, 15th in Western)

Starters:PG D’Angelo Russell, PF Julius Randle, SG Jordan Clarkson, SF Luol Deng*, C Timofey Mozgov*

Rotation: SG Lou Williams, PF Larry Nance Jr., SF Brandon Ingram (1)

Bench: C Tarik Black, PG Jose Calderon*, C Ivica Zubac (1), PG Marcelo Huertas, SF Anthony Brown

Head Coach: Luke Walton*

General Manager: Mitch Kupchak

For the first time since the 1995-1996 season, the Lakers will not have Kobe Bryant on the roster. His short-term replacement is Deng, and his long-term replacement is Ingram, the second overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Deng won’t be relied on offensively nearly as much as Bryant, but he’ll be a major improvement defensively. Ingram replaces Metta World Peace, and he’ll benefit from not having to take on a major role early on. Mozgov struggled last season, losing his starting role in Cleveland; he replaces Roy Hibbert, and may actually be a downgrade. Zubac is a 2nd round rookie, and he replaces Brandon Bass. The Lakers also re-signed Huertas and acquired Calderon in a trade from Chicago. The Lakers have a young core in place, and now they have a young head coach to go with them in Walton. Walton is the youngest Lakers non-interim head coach since Mike Dunleavy was hired in 1990 (both 36 years old). Of course, Dunleavy had Magic Johnson, Byron Scott, James Worthy, and A.C. Green. Walton has Russell, Clarkson, Ingram, and Randle.

October Addendum: Black looks like the backup C behind Mozgov, ahead of Zubac. The starting SG position bears watching, but it looks like Clarkson will start over Williams for now.


San Antonio Spurs (2015-2016: 67-15, 1st in Southwest, 2nd in Western, Semifinals Loss to Oklahoma City)

Starters: SF Kawhi Leonard, PF LaMarcus Aldridge, PG Tony Parker, C Pau Gasol*, SG Danny Green

Rotation: SG Manu Ginobili, PF David Lee*, PG Patty Mills

Bench: C Dewayne Dedmon*, SF Kyle Anderson, PF Davis Bertans (1), PG Dejounte Murray (1), SF Livio Jean-Charles (1)

Head Coach: Gregg Popovich

General Manager: R.C. Buford

After 19 seasons with the Spurs, Tim Duncan quietly retired. Duncan is arguably the best top overall pick in NBA history, as he led the Spurs to five championships, and the team finished with a .600 winning percentage and a postseason appearance each year with Duncan. The Spurs should be better off next season with Gasol, who can pass and block shots while providing an upgrade as a rebounder and shooter. Lee replaces Boris Diaw, while Dedmon replaces David West. Bertans, a 2011 2nd round pick, will make his NBA debut this season, taking Matt Bonner’s spot on the roster. Murray, the team’s 2016 1st-round pick, replaces 40-year-old Andre Miller. Jean-Charles, the team’s 2013 1st-round pick, will replace Kevin Martin on the roster and make his NBA debut in 2016-2017. San Antonio was able to re-sign Ginobili. San Antonio will be hard-pressed to repeat as the league’s top defensive squad.

Dallas Mavericks (2015-2016: 42-40, 2nd in Southwest, 6th in Western, First Round Loss to Oklahoma City)

Starters: PF Dirk Nowitzki, SF Harrison Barnes*, SG Wesley Matthews, PG Deron Williams, C Andrew Bogut*

Rotation: PG J.J. Barea, PF Quincy Acy*, SG Devin Harris

Bench: C Salah Mejri, SF Justin Anderson, PF Dwight Powell, PG Seth Curry*, C A.J. Hammons (1)

Head Coach: Rick Carlisle

General Manager: Donnie Nelson

Dallas usually strikes out in the offseason, but they benefitted from Kevin Durant’s decision to leave Oklahoma City, as the Mavericks acquired former Warriors Barnes and Bogut. Barnes signed with Dallas after Durant informed Golden State that he would sign there, allowing Golden State to rescind Barnes’ qualifying offer. Barnes replaces Chandler Parsons in Dallas, and he’ll have to show he can be a more effective player with more responsibility; he definitely has not shown playmaking ability close to Parsons’. Bogut was traded, and he replaces Pachulia, who also signed with Golden State. Bogut is a much better rim protector than Pachulia, but his durability is an annual question mark, and his foul rate was out of control last season. Acy replaces David Lee; Acy has never averaged more than 19 minutes per game in a season. Curry replaces Raymond Felton and is an upgrade as a shooter. Hammons, a 2nd-round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, replaces JaVale McGee. Dallas also retained Powell, Williams, and future Hall-of-Famer Nowitzki in free agency. Matthews will also be another year removed from his torn left Achilles.

Memphis Grizzlies (2015-2016: 42-40, 3rd in Southwest, 7th in Western, First Round Loss to San Antonio)

Starters:C Marc Gasol, PG Mike Conley, SF Chandler Parsons*, SG Tony Allen, PF JaMychal Green 

Rotation: PG Wade Baldwin (1), PF Zach Randolph, SF James Ennis*

Bench: C Brandan Wright, SG Troy Daniels*, PF Jarell Martin, SF Vince Carter, SG Jordan Adams (+)

Head Coach: David Fizdale*

General Manager: Chris Wallace

Memphis made the postseason for the sixth season in a row last year, but it was a fairly catastrophic season. Conley (sore Achilles) and Gasol  (broken right foot) both missed the end of the regular season and all of the postseason with injuries, and the team lost 14 of their last 15 games, including a 1st-round sweep. Fizdale, a Miami Heat assistant for the last eight seasons and the team’s assistant head coach since 2014, replaces Dave Joerger as head coach. One year after giving Gasol a new five-year deal, Memphis ponied up and gave Conley a five-year deal, reportedly the richest in NBA history. Parsons, who also missed the postseason with the Mavericks due to a torn right meniscus, replaces Matt Barnes. Parsons is an upgrade on Barnes offensively, but a downgrade on defense. The bench was always going to look drastically different after Memphis used an NBA single-season record 28 players last season. Baldwin was drafted in the 1st round, and he replaces Jordan Farmar. Ennis, who was with Fizdale in Miami, will replace Lance Stephenson. Daniels replaces Xavier Munford. Baldwin, Ennis, and Daniels all lack experience but they can all shoot. Davis, the first pick of the 2nd round of the 2016 NBA Draft (31st overall), replaces Chris Andersen. Carter turns 40 years old in January, so it’s unclear where he fits into Memphis’ plans for the next season. Gasol’s foot bears watching, as he was unable to participate in the 2016 Olympic Games. This roster is a hazardous mix of injury-prone players, age and inexperience. But it will be hard for the Grizzlies to have a season as unpredictable as 2015-2016.

October Addendum: Green will start at PF this season, and Randolph will help lead the second unit. Adams missed the entire preseason with a knee injury.

Houston Rockets (2015-2016: 41-41, 4th in Southwest, 8th in Western, First Round Loss to Golden State)

Starters: PG James Harden, SF Trevor Ariza, PF Ryan Anderson*, SG Eric Gordon*, C Clint Capela

Rotation: SF Corey Brewer, C Nene*, SG K.J. McDaniels

Bench: PG Patrick Beverley (+), PF Sam Dekker, PF Montrezl Harrell, PG Pablo Prigioni*, C Chinanu Onuaku (1) 

Head Coach: Mike D’Antoni*

General Manager: Daryl Morey

The Rockets followed up their appearance in the 2014-2015 Western Conference Finals with a thoroughly uninspiring 2015-2016 season, putting an end to the ultimately disappointing Dwight Howard era. D’Antoni replaces J.B. Bickerstaff as head coach, and there was no way that Howard and D’Antoni would revisit the 2012-2013 season in Los Angeles Lakers that helped lead Howard to Houston in the first place. Nene replaces Howard on the roster, but Capela is expected to be the starter. It’s a downgrade overall for Houston. The Rockets were able to sign former New Orleans Pelicans Anderson and Gordon in unrestricted free agency. Anderson replaces Terrence Jones (who wound up in New Orleans), and he gives Houston the kind of three-point shooter that would have really been valuable while Anderson’s former Orlando teammate Howard was still on the roster. It is also worth noting that Donatas Motiejunas entered August as the last remaining restricted free agent. Gordon represents a significant upgrade on Andrew Goudelock, giving the Rockets a player who is comfortable with the ball in his hands as well as a proficient shooter. But Gordon has missed at least 18 games each of the last seven seasons, and he only appeared in 45 games last season. 39-year-old Prigioni returns to Houston to replace 39-year-old (in September) Jason Terry. Harden is the only cornerstone left for the Rockets, and he signed a four-year extension this offseason.

October Addendum: Harden will be a PG under D’Antoni, and Beverley has a knee injury, so Gordon will also start. Dekker will be a PF after Houston traded Michael Beasley to Milwaukee. Onuaku is a 2nd-round rookie.

New Orleans Pelicans (2015-2016: 30-52, 5th in Southwest, 12th in Western)

Starters: PF Anthony Davis, SF Solomon Hill*, C Omer Asik, SG E’Twaun Moore*, PG Tim Frazier

Rotation: SG Buddy Hield (1), PF Terrence Jones*, SF Dante Cunningham

Bench: PG Jrue Holiday (+), PG Tyreke Evans (+), C Alexis Ajinca, SG Langston Galloway*, PF Cheick Diallo (1)

Head Coach: Alvin Gentry

General Manager: Dell Demps

The Pelicans are coming off a season marred by personnel issues. Gentry was forced to use 42 starting lineups in his first season as head coach. Hield, the sixth pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, replaces the oft-injured Eric Gordon. But Jones, Davis’ teammate at Kentucky, has missed 81 games over the last two seasons. Jones replaces Ryan Anderson, who replaced Jones in Houston. Hill should have an opportunity to start, but he has yet to put a productive season together; he replaces Luke Babbitt on the roster. Moore and Galloway are both combo guards, with Moore offering size at 6’4″ and Galloway showing the ability to make plays for others. They replace Toney Douglas and Norris Cole. Diallo is a 2nd-round pick, and he replaces Kendrick Perkins. The Pelicans sadly lost Bryce Dejean-Jones, who passed away from a gunshot wound in May. Evans, who is entering the final year of his contract, is not expected to be ready for the start of the season after undergoing right knee surgery in February. The Pelicans have been hamstrung by injuries and/or ineffective play since drafting Davis in 2012. Davis himself has to show improved durability. This team isn’t good enough to make the playoffs if he is out for an extended period of time, especially if Asik’s poor play continues while on one of the worst contracts.

September Addendum: Holiday is out indefinitely to support his family, so that leaves Frazier as an option to start in his stead. Frazier played well for New Orleans after joining the team in mid-March, earning a guaranteed 2-year deal in the offseason.

October Addendum: Moore and Hill look to be the starters on the wings to start the season, in place of Hield and Cunningham.

NBA 2016 Summer Moves: Eastern Conference


1 ping

  1. The 2016-2017 NBA Lightweight Report »

    […] NBA 2016 Summer Moves: Western Conference 08.10.2016 […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.