Are the top two threats to the Cavs in the Eastern Conference in clear view already?
The NBA off-season doesn’t last as long as other sports, so the push for organizations to improve starts immediately after the last whistle blows. The Cleveland Cavaliers are no exception. Fresh off of a championship, the Cavs entered the off-season with a gigantic bulls-eye on their backs. With teams making moves all around the league, rosters are nearly done falling into place.
So far there are two teams standing as looming threats to the Cleveland Cavaliers reign in the Eastern Conference. The New York Knicks, and the Boston Celtics have made significant additions to already promising squads. The Celtics added veteran big man and all-star Al Horford via free agency. As well as rookie forward Jaylen Brown via the #3 pick in the NBA draft. Horford exactly is the kind of veteran presence any youthful team needs to get better. Alongside Marcus Smart, and one of the league’s best scoring guards in Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics will definitely be looking to push Cleveland next season. A second, but potentially even larger threat, resides in the Big Apple, also known as New York.
The New York Knicks added former MVP Derrick Rose, veteran guard Courtney Lee, and gritty big man Joakim Noah via free agency. If the Knicks can mesh, and Derrick Rose can manage to stay healthy, they will without a doubt be a more formidable foe for the defending champion Cavs. It will be interesting to see how the Eastern Conference unfolds, with several key free agents still in limbo.
The Heat also re-signed Hassan Whiteside. Another question mark is Chicago. With their recent signings of veteran point guard Rajon Rondo a swell as three time champion Dwayne Wade, Jimmy Butler the Bulls have a potentially lethal back court if they can figure it out, but without hometown hero Rose, and the heart of their team in Noah, will they pose any real threat?
Also, there is Dwight Howard with the Atlanta Hawks. Will he reclaim his spot as the league’s best big men? Will Atlanta rise as a result? Only time will tell. Losing point guard Jeff Teague, and Horford will be noticeable. Bottom line is, no matter what, the Eastern Conference will definitely be much improved heading into the 2016-2017 season, but will they be anyone be strong enough to get by on too much Cleveland.