In anticipation of the 2016-2017 season, here are some of the highlights of the off-season in the Central Division.
Wade and the Windy City: While Chicago lost former cornerstones Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah, elevated Jimmy Butler to alpha-dog status and signed Rajon Rondo, the biggest news in Chi-town is the return of its local legend, Dwyane Wade. Born on the South Side of Chicago, Wade signed with the Bulls after a difficult resigning situation with Pat Riley and the Heat. Though many Bulls fans are excited, major concerns still persist, as a starting lineup of Wade, Butler and Rondo project to be less than ideal when it comes to perimeter system. It remains to be seen whether this collection of big names can come together and bring Chicago back to the playoffs.
Larry Bird and Paul George look to keep Pace in the East: The Indiana Pacers obtained all sorts of players to add depth to its roster, such as bench scorer Aaron Brooks and backup center Al Jefferson. While getting rid of mainstays such as Jordan Hill, Ian Mahimi and most importantly, floor general George Hill, Bird replaced him with Jeff Teague to add more offensive firepower. With Paul George leading the charge and youngsters like sophomore Myles Turner ready to contribute, along with steadying influence Nate McMillan, Larry Bird is trying to best to get the Pacers back to the contender status they were at several years ago.
Can the Cavs Repeat?: After celebrating its first ever NBA championship, Cleveland didn’t change much and shouldn’t. They let Matthew Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov go, choosing to sign players such as Chris Andersen and Mike Dunleavy as well as drafting Kay Felder of Oakland University. Though the Cavs still have to resign J.R. Smith, Lebron James and Kyrie Irving are back to lead them to the “Promised Land” once again. Despite the issues surrounding Kevin Love, the Cavs have proven he contributes on a championship team, and the “Wine and Gold” remain the biggest threat to Golden State’s second championship in three years.
The Young Bucks’ Road to Relevance: Milwaukee is another young team looking to the crack the Eastern Conference playoff race. With its frontcourt core of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Greg Monroe, coach Jason Kidd has a solid foundation to build around. With electric rookies Thon Maker and Malcolm Brogdon, the Bucks have a seriously talented influx of youth, which is a major advantage. Jason Terry and Matthew Dellavedova will hold down the guard position, while Mirza Teletovic serves as a solid stretch four. While this team still has some growing to do, the talent and athleticism on the roster bodes well for the future.