A few things have happened since last week’s look at the first half of the league's free agency, like Jeff Teague’s offer sheet being matched by the Hawks, and Monta Ellis signing with the Mavericks, but you know that already from reading our constant stream of player news blurbs. And I’ve officially decided that I’m ready to reach for Detroit C Andre Drummond in all leagues this year, free throw percentage be damned. Here’s what’s happening with the second half of the league. You can follow me on Twitter by clicking here.
Miami – There’s not much to know about the Heat. The core will be back, they re-signed Chris Andersen, and might use amnesty on Mike Miller or Joel Anthony. Their biggest move could still be in the works, as there are reports that C Greg Oden could be on the verge of signing with the Heat. If he could somehow make it through a season, the Heat could be even better than advertised. This will likely be the last run for the Heat as we know them, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh leading the charge.
Milwaukee – Brandon Jennings isn’t happy with the Bucks and wants out, and it’s starting to look like the team will look to work out a sign-and-trade deal to move him. Monta Ellis now plays for the Mavericks, while O.J. Mayo will take his spot in Milwaukee. We still have to see how the Jennings situation plays out, while the Bucks will bring back Carlos Delfino. John Henson is having a nice Summer League, Zaza Pachulia signed with the Bucks as a backup center, while Samuel Dalembert will likely join Ellis in finding a new home in the near future. This team looks like a bit of a mess, while we expect the Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders and John Henson hype machines to be in full gear this season, as they’re going to be very important pieces of the puzzle.
Minnesota – The Wolves added Kevin Martin at shooting guard, which is kind of a big deal, since it’s been one of their biggest holes forever. Small forward Andrei Kirilenko is in Brooklyn now, while Chase Budinger is back and says he’s healthy, but the Wolves also signed Corey Brewer from the Nuggets. Expect those two to battle it out for the starting small forward job, along with rookie Shabazz Muhammad, who will most likely come off the bench. PG Ricky Rubio and PF Kevin Love should be healthy this season, while we’re all waiting to make sure that C Nikola Pekovic is able to work out a deal to return to the Timberwolves.
New Orleans – The Pelicans have been busy, acquiring PG Jrue Holiday on draft night and signing free agents Tyreke Evans and Greg Stiemsma. A starting five of PG Holiday, SG Eric Gordon, SF Tyreke Evans, PF Ryan Anderson and C Anthony Davis doesn’t look too bad. And with Robin Lopez in Portland, they’re going to probably need Davis to play a lot of center this season. And in case you’re wondering, PG Greivis Vasquez was shipped to the Kings in part of the Evans deal on July 4. Austin Rivers is coming off a disappointing rookie year, but is worth keeping an eye on in training camp, while I’d recommend staying away from Gordon (at least early in drafts), as usual.
New York – The big news out of New York is that Andrea Bargnani is now officially their problem. As a Bargnani fantasy backer over several of the last few years, I can already feel their pain. No rebounds, a decline in blocks and threes, and being constantly injured are his calling cards, but there is some hope that he can get a fresh start and finally stay healthy. I’m not holding my breath. We’re looking at a starting five of PG Raymond Felton, SG Iman Shumpert (J.R. Smith was re-signed, and could also start, but has traditionally been better off the bench), SF Carmelo Anthony (who is reportedly pushing for owner James Dolan to acquire Rajon Rondo from Boston), PF Bargnani and C Tyson Chandler. That looks like a pretty solid team in the East, which means they won’t be in the lottery, nor will they make it through the Eastern Conference in the playoffs. And you can expect Amare Stoudemire to come off the bench and be on a minutes count, as he enters (or should I say ‘continues’) the twilight of his career. And before you send me hate mail, I really don’t have any problem with the Knicks in general. I just doubt this is the offseason fans were hoping for. And the fact they appear to be on the verge of adding Metta World Peace probably isn’t doing much to make them feel any better.
Oklahoma City – It can be argued that the Thunder didn’t really need to do much in free agency, and I tend to agree. Kevin Martin is gone (Minnesota) so it’s time for Jeremy Lamb to get his shot. He tore it up at Summer League and will be a favorite fantasy sleeper this season. With PG Russell Westbrook, SG Thabo Sefolosha & Lamb, SF Kevin Durant, PF Serge Ibaka and C Kendrick Perkins, the Thunder are going to be very good once again, but they’re surely regretting the trade that sent James Harden to Houston these days, not to mention the one that sent Jeff Green to Boston for Perkins. And given the ineffectiveness of Perkins since coming over from the Celtics, the Thunder are praying that rookie Steven Adams is ready to go, and that Hasheem Thabeet will somehow show some improvement in his third season.
Orlando – The Magic will likely not have Hedo Turkoglu or Beno Udrih back this season, while they’re also unsure if Glen Davis will be ready for training camp due to his foot surgery. They’re also attempting to transform rookie SG Victor Oladipo into a point guard, which could mean a bit of a timeshare for incumbent Jameer Nelson. Look for an opening-night lineup of PG Nelson, SG Arron Afflalo (or Oladipo), SF Moe Harkless, PF Tobias Harris and C Nikola Vucevic. Harkless, Harris and Oladipo are going to be favorite fantasy sleepers this season, but this team doesn’t appear to be going anywhere fast, unless Oladipo can surpass the hype he’s already generating. And if you want Oladipo in fantasy, I hope you’re not in a league with an IU fan, or you’ll have to overpay for him.