2010 NBA Draft and Offseason Blog

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, and David Kay of the The Sports Bank.
Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Winner in Lebron Sweepstakes? Milwaukee Bucks

Everyone knows LeBron James' decision to forge a new Eastern Conference Big Three in South Beach will have a profound ripple effect on the whole conference.

But as the Knicks, Bulls, Clippers, Nets and Cavaliers try to move on like a recently dumped high-schooler, one team clearly emerged as a winner in the LeBron sweepstakes: the Milwaukee Bucks.

Cleveland fans may be torching James' jersey in an ironic effigy, but it's not just a signal of LeBron's place as public enemy No. 2 in Ohio (behind Art Modell). It's a sign that Milwaukee, and the rest of the Central Division, are free from the monopolistic grip on the conference at the hands of LeBron and the Cavs.

With the King out of Cleveland, the Bucks should be considered the favorite for a divisional crown in 2010-11, barring any injuries, chemistry issues or overall regression. On paper (which is all we have to go off of until the season starts), they've made the most improvements over any team in the division, have the deepest bench, and the best coach-front office combination able to keep the team grounded now that they are a known commodity.

During Thursday's John Salmons and Drew Gooden introductory press conference, Bucks general manager John Hammond said luck has a big part in any team's trek to and through the NBA playoffs. That's no more apparent right now than in the power structure of the Central Division, where the Bucks look like the most complete team on the court and in the front office.

Thanks to LeBron's defection, Antwan Jamison is now the Cavs' best player. The Bulls plucked Carlos Boozer off the shelves, but the team has no depth and two of their best players (Boozer, Deng) are constant injury risks. The Pacers have been in basketball limbo since the days of Reggie Miller, and the Pistons are financially handcuffed and aging faster than Trevor Hoffman.

Almost by default, Milwaukee becomes the frontrunner in the Central as the rest of the division toils in the rebuilding process or scrambles to sign less than stellar players with the money they reserved for the King.

In a funny twist, it seems as though the Bucks were fortunate not to have the money to chase a $10 million-plus free agent. Milwaukee had a good amount to spend on free agents and potential trade acquisitions this offseason, but not enough to enter in the roulette wheel that is courting a maximum deal player.

The Bucks would still be facing heightened expectations if LeBron had opted to stay in the Central, and the team expects nothing less than another step forward as an organization. But now that he's moved south, Milwaukee has a golden opportunity to hang a Central Division title banner in the Bradley Center rafters for the first time since 2000-01.

Of course, on-court chemistry and winning are never guaranteed in the NBA, but the fact remains that the Central is the Bucks for the taking as long as the egos stay in check and the team continues to work hard and play hard under coach Scott Skiles.

Fate has dealt Miami a golden opportunity to bring home multiple NBA championships with two of the top five players in the league taking the floor together. But the same hand that has left a few Eastern Conference teams settling for lesser players has also rewarded those that planned accordingly to not swim in the deepest waters of the 2010 summer free agent flood.

The Fear the Deer movement is alive and well in Milwaukee, and fans should get the bandwagon moving early.

Recent NBA Draft and Offseason Blog Entries:

Four-Team Trade - 8/12
More with Ted Leonsis: Turning around the Washington Wizards - 8/11
Ted Leonsis Taking Washington Wizards on a New Path - 8/8
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 8/5 (Shaq)
NBA Announced Nationally Televised Game Schedule - 8/4
Michigan State Dismisses Chris Allen - 8/4
2011 NBA Free Agents - 7/30
2010 NBA Offseason Losers - 7/29
2010 NBA Offseason Winners - 7/28
Larry Bird Ranked Worst NBA GM - 7/27
Chris Paul Possible Trades - 7/26
Tracy McGrady to Chicago looking Extremely Likely - 7/26
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/24 (Kurt Thomas)
2011 NBA Draft Trades - 7/24
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/23 (Jefferson)
John Hammond May Have One More Transaction Up His Sleeve - 7/23
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/20 (Kleiza)
Evan Turner vs. Purdue Fans in Heated Twitter Trash Talk - 7/19
Top 10 2010 NBA Free Agents Available - 7/18
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/18 (Brad Miller)
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/17 (Brewer)
Magic Match Offer Sheet for J.J. Redick - 7/17
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/16
How Does Wesley Matthews Fit in Portland? - 7/16
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/15
Jefferson-Chandler Trades Analysis - 7/14
Michael Redd Era Over in Milwaukee - 7/14
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/13
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis (Last Weekend's) - 7/13
Childress-Turkoglu-Morrow Trades Analysis - 7/13
Sixers' Evan Turner Struggled in Summer League - 7/13
Specific Details of NCAA Tournament Expansion Announced Today - 7/13
Bulls Sign Kyle Korver, Offer Sheet to J.J. Redick - 7/11
Brainwashed Timberwolves Fans Fail to See the Light - 7/10
Winner in LeBron Sweepstakes? Milwaukee Bucks - 7/10
Larry Sanders Brings a Unique Skill Set to Milwaukee - 7/10
LeBron James to Miami Heat Recap - 7/9
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/9
Knicks-Warriors David Lee Trade Analysis - 7/9
Timberwolves-Heat Michael Beasley Trade Analysis - 7/9
Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to Miami Heat - 7/8
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/8
The LeBron James Show - 7/8
Carlos Boozer Signs with Bulls - 7/8
Profiling Milwaukee's Potential Point Guards - 7/8
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/7
2010 NBA Summer League Recap - 7/7
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/6
2010 NBA Summer League Recap - 7/6
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/5
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/4
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/3
It's Not LeBron or Bust for the Bulls - 7/3
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/2
2010 NBA Free Agency: Day 1 - 7/2
Former NBA Player Kendall Gill on the Bulls Free Agent Prospects - 7/2
2010 NBA Draft Day Trades - 6/25
Foreign Flavor Losing Flair in NBA Draft - 6/24
Bucks-Warriors Corey Maggette Trade - 6/23
2010 NBA Draft Mailbag - 6/22
76ers-Kings Samuel Dalembert Trade - 6/18
2010 NBA Draft Mailbag - 6/3
2010 NBA Draft Lottery Odds Breakdown - 5/17
Evan Turner's Flaws - 5/13
Where Will Joe Johnson Go? - 5/12
Bulls Could Use Oklahoma State's James Anderson - 5/10
2010 NBA Draft Mailbag - 5/9
2010 NBA Draft Early Entries - 5/9
Debate's Over: Deron Williams is the Best Point Guard - 5/8
Someone to Be Drafted from DePaul? Yes, Really - 5/7
Gani Lawal: Testing the NBA Draft Waters - 5/6
Can De'Sean Butler Be Mr. Clutch in the NBA? - 5/5
Derrick Favors: No. 1 Big Man on 2010 NBA Draft Boards - 5/4
Jordan Crawford: More Than the Guy Who Dunked on LeBron - 5/3
Devin Ebanks is an NBA Draft Wildcard - 5/3
Where Will Dwayne Wade Go? - 5/1
Where Will Chris Bosh Go? - 5/1
2010 NBA Trade Deadline Grades - 2/19
NBA Offseason and Draft Blog - Home

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