Share this article

print logo

PISTONS BACK STRONG; HEAT, BULLS, MAGIC MAKE STRIDES <br> ATLANTIC DIVISION

Last season: 39-43, eliminated, 4-0, by Nets in first round of playoffs.

Coach: Lenny Wilkens, first full season with Knicks, 23-19; 32nd season overall, 1,315-1,133.

Added: G Jamal Crawford, F Jerome Williams (trade with Bulls), F Trevor Ariza (draft, No. 43, UCLA).

Lost: C Dikembe Mutombo, F Othella Harrington, G Frank Williams (traded to Bulls), G DerMarr Johnson (free agent, Nuggets).

Better or worse?: Improved in the offseason by dealing three noncontributors with expiring contracts for Crawford, who will begin the regular season as the starting shooting guard due in part to Allan Houston's slow return from knee soreness. Will be suspect defensively and small in the middle, especially if Kurt Thomas supplants Nazr Mohammed in the pivot and Michael Sweetney moves into Thomas' old spot at power forward.
Last season: 33-49, missed playoffs.

Coach: Jim O'Brien, first season with 76ers; fifth season overall, 139-119.

Added: C Brian Skinner (free agent, Bucks), F Kedrick Brown, G Kevin Ollie (trade with Cavaliers), F Corliss Williamson (trade with Pistons), F Andre Iguodala (draft, No. 9, Arizona).

Lost: G Eric Snow (traded to Cavaliers), F Derrick Coleman (traded to Pistons); G Greg Buckner (free agent, Nuggets), C Zendon Hamilton (free agent, Bucks).

Better or worse?: Depends on whether Allen Iverson can make a successful switch from shooting guard to point guard, a tricky proposition for a player who hasn't played that position since his rookie season. Williamson is an upgrade over Coleman, but Snow's defense and leadership will be missed. Iguodala was picked to start at small forward over Glenn Robinson, and Marc Jackson edged out incumbent Samuel Dalembert to start at center.
Last season: 36-46, eliminated, 4-0, by Pistons in first round of playoffs.

Coach: Doc Rivers, first season with Celtics; sixth season overall, 171-168.

Added: G Gary Payton (trade with Lakers), F Tom Gugliotta (free agent, Jazz), F Al Jefferson (draft, No. 15, Prentiss H.S., Miss.), G Delonte West (draft, No. 24, Saint Joseph's), G Tony Allen (draft, No. 25, Oklahoma State).

Lost: G Chucky Atkins, F Jumaine Jones, C Chris Mihm (traded to Lakers), F Brandon Hunter (expansion draft, Bobcats).

Better or worse?: If Raef LaFrentz is able to recover after knee surgery caused him to miss a majority of last season, the Celtics should at least contend for a .500 record. Paul Pierce remains one of the league's best shooting guards, but what was Danny Ainge thinking when he sent three players to the Lakers for Rick Fox, who retired, and Payton, who has little left?
Last season: 33-49, missed playoffs.

Coach: Sam Mitchell, first season.

Added: C Rafael Araujo (draft, No. 8, BYU), G Rafer Alston (free agent, Heat), C Loren Woods (free agent, Bobcats).

Lost: C Corie Blount (free agent), G Dion Glover (free agent), G Rod Strickland (free agent), F Michael Curry (free agent).

Better or worse?: Until they figure out a long-term solution to the question of whether Vince Carter will be part of the team's future, it's difficult to see this franchise moving forward. Rob Babcock has been brought in to replace Glen Grunwald as general manager. Alston is an upgrade over Alvin Williams, whose career it appears will be cut short by a knee injury.
Last season: 47-35, eliminated, 4-3, by Pistons in conference semifinals.

Coach: Lawrence Frank, first full season, 25-15.

Added: G Ron Mercer (free agent, Spurs), G Rodney Buford (free agent, Kings), C Nenad Krstic (rookie, Partizan Belgrade, Serbia), G Travis Best (free agent, Mavericks), F Eric Williams (free agent, Cavaliers), G Jacque Vaughn (free agent, Hawks).

Lost: F Kenyon Martin (traded to Nuggets), G Kerry Kittles (traded to Clippers), G Lucious Harris (free agent, Cavaliers), F Rodney Rogers (free agent, Hornets), F Tamar Slay (free agent, Bobcats).

Better or worse?: Definitely worse, having traded Martin and Kittles for draft picks. Jason Kidd begins the season on the injured list, and if he comes back healthy after knee surgery, he should be a prime candidate to be dealt before the Feb. 24 trading deadline. Same goes for Alonzo Mourning, who is attempting a comeback after a kidney transplant.

There are no comments - be the first to comment