As we mentioned in Part 1 of this series, we will be previewing the NBA season by ranking the clubs in reverse order and revealing those clubs two at a time. Here’s what those rankings look like at this point:
30. Atlanta Hawks
29. Sacramento Kings
28. Orlando Magic
27. Phoenix Suns
26. Chicago Bulls
25. New York Knicks
Here are the next two clubs:
24. Brooklyn Nets
Last Season: 28-54 (0.341) (5th in Atlantic Division, 12th in Eastern Conference)
Head Coach: Kenny Atkinson (3rd season with team, 48-116 team; 48-116 overall)
Major Off-season Acquisitions: Kenneth Faried, Shabazz Napier, Ed Davis
Major Off-season Departures: Timofey Mozgov, Jeremy Lin, Isaiah Whitehead, Nik Stauskus
Salary Cap Info: $116.0 million ($14M over cap, $7.8M luxury tax space available)
Narrative: The Nets used up their cap space this offseason, allowing the Hornets to dump Dwight Howard to get off the salary of Tomofey Mozgov and clear up their cap sheet for next season. Even the Kenneth Faried trade gave them some flexibility next season, as well as the potential for an extra first round pick. As it stands now, they only have about $45 million committed to 12 players next season, meaning that they will have at least $70 million for next offseason, unless they choose to extend some of their current players.
The cost to this is a mismatched roster that probably won’t win many more games than they did last season, though every Eastern Conference team that can get to 36 wins will probably be close to the 8th seed, especially with the departure of LeBron James from the weakened Cavaliers. The Nets are hoping to be a free agent destination next season… all at the cost of this season. We’ll see how that works out for them.
23. Charlotte Hornets
Last Season: 36-46 (0.439) (3rd in Southeast Division, 10th in Eastern Conference)
Head Coach: James Borrego (1st season with team, 0-0 team; 10-20 overall)
Major Off-season Acquisitions: Miles Bridges (12th pick) Bismack Biyombo, Tony Parker
Major Off-season Departures: Michael Carter-Williams, Dwight Howard
Salary Cap Info: $120.3 million ($18.4M over cap, $3.4M luxury tax space available)
Narrative: As discussed above, the Hornets traded Dwight Howard to the Nets for Timofey Mozgov. So why isn’t Mozgov listed as an acquisition? Because he was traded the next day for Biyombo and some future second round picks. Tony Parker on a two-year deal was kind of a headscratcher, though it reunites the four-time NBA Champion with him with James Borrego, a former assistant in San Antonio. Nevertheless, it would have been nice to see Parker hang it up as a Spur, much like Manu Ginobili did this offseason.
As these rankings stand now, they are in the 10th spot in the East again, so it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see them miss out on the playoffs yet again. However, in a conference that seems weaker from top to bottom, a repeat of last season’s 36 wins might be enough for a playoff berth for Michael Jordan’s team.
Until next time…
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