I've noticed the Eastern Conference has made quite a splash in free agency. For instance, Ben Gordon & Charlie Villanueva have signed with the Pistons, Hedo Turkoglu to the Raptors, Shaq to the Cavs, Vince Carter to the Magic, and now apparently Rasheed Wallace is headed to the Celtics. All in all, the Eastern Conference has made quite an impact, and it's obvious it's getting much more respectable. It's not nearly up to par with the West, but I think it's safe to say the 8 teams representing the East in the playoffs will have wining records.
I, along with many experts, believe the Celtics, Cavs, and Magic are the favorites to win the East next season. With the moves the respective teams have made, they have put themselves in an excellent position. Shaq brings a big man presence the Cavs need. Vince Carter brings athleticism, and will make the Magic core even better. Rasheed Wallace brings defense to the Celtics. Which of these teams are the best?
I believe the Magic will win the East. The Magic flew under the radar all season. They have loads of potential, having three possible all-stars. Despite losing Hedo Turkoglu, the team was able to bring in Vince Carter. The Magic made the finals last year, and I think they have a very good chance of going back, considering their all-star PG Jameer Nelson is now fully healthy. I also think Ryan Anderson, who the Magic acquired in the Vince Carter trade, will be a nicely added piece to the bench. Anderson, a rookie last year, averaged nearly 8 points and 5 rebounds in just 20 minutes per game. According to sources, Shawn Marion may also be heading to Orlando. The starting 5 would be ridiculous with Nelson, Carter, Marion, Lewis, and Howard. Look out for the Magic in the 2009-2010 season, and expect them to make noise in the playoffs once again.
Many people believe the Celtics will win the East, considering the team agreed to terms with Rasheed Wallace. I disagree. I think the Celtics domination is over. Tensions are high in Boston, considering Danny Ainge shopped Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. Rasheed Wallace is 34, Kevin Garnett & Ray Allen are 33, and Paul Pierce is 31. Eventually, this team needs to be showing its age. I believe Rasheed Wallace is a bit overrated, anyway. His numbers have dropped over the years, and his offensive game has diminished a bit. Fortunately, Wallace is a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end, and he'll be sure to strengthen the already good Celtics defense. But as I already stated--age needs to eventually come into factor. Compared to Orlando, the Magic have a much younger core.
A few weeks ago, the Cavs brought in Shaq, which has many experts thinking this is a much needed move. The Cavs, the reigning Eastern Conference regular season champs, were desperately in need of a big man. Shaq is a good answer, but does he still have the tools to be dominate? Shaq, despite being 37, had a very solid year in Phoenix last year--but will he be able to repeat that next year? Chances are, probably not. And will LeBron still be able to penetrate with a 325 pound beast clogging up the paint? I think the Cavs need more help than a 37 year old Shaq if they want to win a championship.
All in all, I think the Orlando Magic will be the #1 in the Eastern Conference come playoff time. I think with the young core they have they will be hard to stop. I think the team will be even better then they were in last years playoffs, considering Jameer Nelson is back.
On a side note...Dwayne Wade will remain in Miami on one condition: He wants the Heat to become championship contenders again. Otherwise, he may be on his way out of Miami. The reigning NBA scoring champion, said Monday that getting to the playoffs "is not enough". Well, Heat good luck with that. Because last time I checked, your front office is yet to do anything this offseason. If the Heat want D-Wade back, they'll need to bring in the best possible players to make the team better. Reports are saying the Heat are interested in Allen Iverson--but those are just reports and rumors. It needs to become a reality, because Iverson is probably the best free agent still available.
The Raptors, Cavs, and Heat need to have a very busy offseason if they want their superstars to stay with their respective teams.