With major changes at the top of the East looming, the Bobcats may have a realistic shot of inserting themselves as a conference contender within the next few years.
The Big Three of Miami Heat may not return if the team fails to win a championship this year
The Boston Celtics are in a tight knit series with the Philadelphia 76'ers, tied up at 2 apiece in their best of seven playoff series.
Yes, ladies and gentleman, it's entirely possible that we could see a conference finals featuring two teams without one true superstar, the Pacers vs Philly. The NBA seems to be shifting more and more away from the "you know these guys are going to be in the Finals" to "it's really anyone's guess who makes it". At least in the East. The theory that you need superstars on your team to win a title, or at the least a conference title, is beginning to be put to the test a lot more these days. In the end, it's all about building a successful TEAM.
Me and Focus debate back and forth all day about player worth and their potential impact, but one thing that we've NEVER debated over is that a well built team full of decent players can still beat a poor built team with a superstar core. And as we're seeing in real life, the Pacers are demonstrating much like the championship Detroit Pistons team that you don't have to have a future first ballot hall of famer to win.
Larry Bird has built this team from almost the ground up and has assembled a core of Darren Collison, Paul George, Danny Granger, George Hill, David West, and Roy Hibbert that's short on big names, but not on big talent. Add in talented role players such as Tyler Hansborough, Leandro Barbosa, Dhantay Jones, and Louis Admundson, and it becomes clear that not only is this is a deep team.
The same can be said about the 76'ers who are pushing the Celtics to the limit .
My question is should this new found uncertainty atop the east push us into making a move that we probably would've instantly shut the door on a few weeks ago.
I mean, all it took was for Derrick Rose to go down for us to see that Chicago lives and dies by their star. And all it's taking is a Chris Bosh injury and a poor series by Dwayne Wade for the Heat to look as vulnerable as they've ever been.
Though Miami isn't gone yet, you have to think that anything short of a championship is going to bring about major changes. Possibly even splitting up Wade and Lebron James. The Bulls may go ahead and part with Carlos Boozer and some other integral pieces of their core given how the team performed without Rose.
Howard's departure would provide a serious shift in the balance of power
Dwight Howard's situation in Orlando doesn't seem to be improving at all which in my opinion will ultimately lead to him leaving. Josh Smith and Joe Johnson are still taking an enormous amount of blame for the Hawks' failures and one of them will probably be moved. The Celtics, as everyone knows, are an aging squad and more than likely will be finally broken if they don't win a title. There has been talk of using the amnesty on Amare Stoudemire of all people in New York,. But hey, that's what happens when you pay out so much money to a core as fundamentally flawed as what the Knicks have. I mean, from the top to the bottom, the east looks as unsettled as it has been since, well, since after M.J. retired for a second time.
Should the Bobcat's make a move to position themselves as more of a threat in the short term? Maybe something like taking on a contract of an overpaid but talented player (like Joe Johnson) or signing prime free agents this off-season to multi year deals (Goran Dragic, Jameer Nelson, Eric Gordon, Roy Hibbert)?
I don't know, it just seems like now we're not in the same climate as we were when we first accepted this rebuilding project. Part of my reasoning for accepting it so easily was that the east would more than likely be dominated by the Knicks, Heat, Bulls, Magic, and Hawks for the next few years anyway. Now that those teams are vulnerable, do we alter our plans at all?
P.S. I think we should stick to the script as that would probably give us a better chance to build a team we can sustain over a decade or so. But if you could build a team that could actually compete with a team like Indiana or Philly (seemed so impossible a few months ago) now in the playoffs where it matters most, would you sacrifice a little of your future flexibility.