There have already been some blockbuster trades made and it’s only day one of free agency, one of the most hectic periods in the NBA calendar. Paul George has been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. The Minnesota Timberwolves traded for Jimmy Butler in exchange for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen. Chris Paul was traded to the Rockets and paired up with runner up MVP James Harden.
With George and Butler being traded to teams in the Western Conference, the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers launch themselves into a rebuild. Both teams made the playoffs last season and with their stars all gone, they will probably fall a few spots in the standings.
Then there is the Atlanta Hawks, who are like lost puppies trying to find their way home. The team will likely lose Paul Millsap to a better established team in free agency. The Hawks also traded Dwight Howard, their starting center, to the Charlotte Hornets. The team will be much weaker from last year without a quality starting center and forward.
With three teams who made the playoffs last year now in rebuilding limbo, there is space for other teams to creep up the standings. Teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, who have made some splashes in free agency of their own.
The team signed J.J. Redick to a one-year 23 million dollar deal. They did overpay a bit but they have the cap space to do so. Redick brings a solid veteran presence to the team and is a deadly sniper from deep. He has the highest 3 point field goal percentage in the past two seasons shooting at a 45.1 percent clip. The team will surely benefit from his long range shooting ability.
The Sixers also signed Amir Johnson to a one-year 11 million dollar deal. Johnson is more than capable of knocking down some threes, shooting 40.9 percent from deep last season. He also brings another veteran into the mix.
If the Sixers can stay healthy, they should be looking at a playoff spot next season. Don’t expect any more free agent signings from the team though. The remainder of their cap space will most likely be used on extending Robert Covington.
Still, a starting lineup of Fultz, Redick, Simmons, Saric or Covington, and Joel Embiid is one of the stronger lineups in the recently deprived Eastern Conference. They probably (as a Sixers fan, I choose to believe that they can) won’t get past the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Boston Celtics if they do make the playoffs, but be prepared to see the Philadelphia 76ers back in the postseason.
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