Wesley Eggleston | Staff Writer
Several free agents have now found new homes while some continue to search for a place to settle. Players have gone from coast to coast and are ready to make an impact in an entirely different landscape. In desperate need of a shake-up, the Eastern Conference has had made some changes and five of the biggest player moves will be outlined in this article.
Monta Ellis, former Dallas Maverick, has signed a deal with the Indiana Pacers, making the switch from conferences. Known for being a high volume two guard, Ellis averaged 18.9 points per game and 4.1 assists last season. It seems that Ellis, although he has been good every where he has played so far in his career, has not been as dominate as he once was when he played in Golden State. This might be due to poor coaching or not being the right fit for a team.
Ellis brings energy, scoring, and an adamant attitude. It is possible that playing in the East will finally allow Ellis and his new team to get over the proverbial hump and advance far into the playoffs, which is something Ellis desperately wants to do by the end of his playing career. Something that might a little harder to do as center for the Pacers, Roy Hibbert has now been traded to the Lakers. In essence, Monta Ellis just can’t catch a break. But he will undoubtedly give his teammates everything he has, regardless of who is on their roster, as he has shown on his prior teams.
The Cavaliers were able to resign power forward Kevin Love to a contract worth $110 million for five years. Love is a viable piece in today’s NBA because he can stretch the floor, stepping away from the basket at times, to drain three pointers. He’s also a consistent banger on the boards as one of the top rebounders in the league. Love averaged 16.4 points, 9.7 rebounds for the Cavs this past season. Redemption has to be on Love’s mind this season.
During the first round of the playoffs (his first appearance in his career mind you), Love had a season ending shoulder injury caused by Boston Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk. Love called this a “bush league play” and was forced to miss the rest of the playoffs. The joke is either on us as fans, or him. Love either wasn’t missed as much as the Cavs thought he would be, or the Eastern conference was just that weak. In either case, the Cavs still made it all the way to the NBA Finals without his services. It may be fair to say that although the Cavs lost in the sixth game, they still managed to win two, leaving many to wonder what could have happened if Love (and Kyrie Irving) played.
The Cavs were also able to resign guard Iman Shumpert on a $40 million contract. A steep price for the Cavs to pay for the guard, as he averaged 8 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. Nothing to be alarmed about for Shumpert, as he did play alongside LeBron James, who does tend to dominate the ball for obvious reasons. He might be slightly overpaid for his services, but one can be sure that de-facto general manager LeBron James gave his blessing on the signings.
Another big potential move made in the East was the Chicago Bulls offering guard Jimmy Butler a 95$ million contract extension. The swingman averaged 20 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists for the Bulls this past season. When at his best Butler can be seen as a top three two-way player in the league. He is often left with the responsibility of guarding the opposing team’s best perimeter player and he does all that while averaging around 44 minutes per game.
It is safe to say that if 2011 MVP Derrick Rose has another setback, [GOD FORBID], that Jimmy Butler will be able to hold the horns down for the Bulls. The Bulls will be with a new head coach this upcoming season as former coach, Tom Thibodeau, was fired this offseason following the Bulls exit from the playoffs. Butler’s game shouldn’t take a beating under new coach Fred Hoiberg but that has yet to be seen.
It will be fascinating to see how Hoiberg works his offense around Butler and Rose (the 2011 NBA MVP) this upcoming season. If he can get a consistent mix of a Butler-Rose tandem, then that will make the Bulls a team that the Eastern Conference won’t be able to sleep on. Not that they have been overlooked previously but a new coach and a minor tweak here and there could soon bring an NBA championship to the Windy City. Just ask the Golden State Warriors…
The last free agency signing move worthy of discussion is forward DeMarre Carroll. He signed a 4 year 60 million dollar contract to join the Toronto Raptors this upcoming season. Carroll averaged 12.6 points this season on 49 percent shooting and 40 percent shooting from downtown. He was a pestering defensive presence for the Atlanta Hawks last season and might have had an impact on helping the Hawks advance further in the East had he not had his injury. A previous journeyman D-League player, Carroll is now a known name in the league. Although his last team didn’t retain his services, he can now continue to grow his game and brand up North and continue to be a threat wherever he is on the court.