With the summer drawing to a close, various trades and signings have shaken up the NBA landscape. In anticipation of the 2016-2017 season, here are some of the highlights of the off-season in the Atlantic Division.
Boston’s Hit and Miss Free Agency: The Celtics took a page out of the Red Sox’s book and swung for the fences with this year’s free agency crop, almost signing forward Kevin Durant. Though coming close and reportedly almost bringing KD to Beantown, the Celtics lost this summer’s biggest tug-of-war to the Golden State Warriors. However, Boston managed to come away with center Al Horford, which adds another important piece to their team in a very capable All-Star big man. Boston remains competitive with the signing of Horford, and are looking to jump into the East’s upper echelon this upcoming season.
Everything’s Coming Up Roses: Looking to build the Knicks’ shaky momentum with the emergence of Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks attempted to make a splash in free agency with the signings of Brandon Jennings, Joakim Noah and, most notably, point guard Derrick Rose. The signing of Rose gives them another big name to place alongside Carmelo Anthony and Porzingis; however, will these new players really play as well as they look on paper? Rose and Noah are both shells of their former selves and prone to injury, while Jennings and Rose will undoubtedly command the ball a fair portion of their time on the court, thus taking away touches from Melo. Despite the skepticism, an upgrade is an upgrade, and the Knicks are slowly making progress towards relevance in the Eastern Conference.
Sixers Rising From Down Under: With Sam Hinkie gone, Philadelphia is finally looking to take steps towards winning instead of tanking. After high draft picks like Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor making less than stellar debuts, and big man Joel Embiid still devoid of NBA experience due to injury, they hope to have struck gold with their most recent rookie signing. Ben Simmons looks to be the star they need; able to make plays out of thin air and passes in traffic, the Sixers are hoping the LSU product will turn around their recent struggles. Despite serious concerns with his jumpshot, things are looking up for the Sixers, and it might finally be sunny again in Philly.
Linsanity Arrives in Brooklyn: With the departure of Thaddeus Young Brooklyn figures to be firmly in rebuilding mode. In their search for a spark, the Nets signed point guard Jeremy Lin over the off-season. Last season, Lin provided a punch off the bench for the Charlotte Hornets, and after Linsanity struck in Madison Square Garden, the Nets are looking for positive production from one of the more polarizing NBA figures in recent years.
Toronto’s Life as a Target: After the Raptors’ trip to the Conference Finals last season, they’re starting to feel the pressure. Though they managed to re-sign swingman DeMar DeRozan, they lost center Bismack Biyombo. With teams like the Celtics nipping at their heels, it remains to be seen whether Toronto can maintain its level of success or drop back down into mediocrity in the Eastern Conference.