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NBA 2013 Summer Moves: Pacific Division

Law Murray |
July 31, 2013 | 12:04 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Chris Paul re-signed with the Clippers while Dwight Howard left the Lakers, but the addition of Andre Iguodala to the Warriors keeps the race for the Pacific title tight. (Flickr/Who's The Bet?)
Chris Paul re-signed with the Clippers while Dwight Howard left the Lakers, but the addition of Andre Iguodala to the Warriors keeps the race for the Pacific title tight. (Flickr/Who's The Bet?)
This article looks at the new NBA landscape for the 2013-2014 season for the Pacific Division. With the draft and the first wave of free agency in the past, it is time to take a preliminary look at how the rosters are shaking out and whether or not the moves that teams made will have a significant difference in how those teams performed from last season.

Each team will be separated by their nominal starting five (PG = point guard, SG = shooting guard, SF = small forward, PF = power forward, C = center), with most important players followed by the more replaceable parts (i.e, franchise player of the Big 3, followed by the other two starters). Also included are the rotation (6th man through 8th man), followed by the rest of the bench (up to the 13th man). New additions and re-signings are marked by an asterisk*, rookies by a (1). Players who are uncertain to be ready for the season opener are kept out of the starting lineup and rotation and marked with a (+). Because of the heavy coaching and management turnover, those figures are listed as well.

PACIFIC DIVISION

Los Angeles Clippers (2012-2013: 56-26, 1st in Pacific, 4th in Western, First Round Loss to Memphis) 

Starters: PG Chris Paul*, PF Blake Griffin, C DeAndre Jordan, SF Jared Dudley*, SG J.J. Redick*

Rotation: SG Jamal Crawford, PF Byron Mullens*, SF Matt Barnes*

Bench: C Ryan Hollins, PG Darren Collison*, SF Reggie Bullock (1), SG Willie Green

Head Coach: Doc Rivers*

General Manager: Gary Sacks

The Clippers replaced head coach Vinny Del Negro with Rivers, one of only four active coaches who have won an NBA title. The addition of Rivers made it easy for Paul to re-sign with the Clippers, and Barnes followed suit. The Clippers added Dudley and Redick, giving up SF Caron Butler and PG Eric Bledsoe. SG Chauncey Billups returned to Detroit, and the Clippers signed Collison, a UCLA alum who backed up Paul in New Orleans. Dudley can replace Butler's only useful skill of 3-point shooting, and he is five years younger. Likewise, Redick is a 3-point shooter and a decent passer with much less wear on his legs than his replacement (Billups). Neither Redick or Dudley are plus defenders, but neither were Butler or Billups.  Collison isn't the athlete or plus defender that Bledsoe is, but he is a solid player. The Bobcats let Mullens go, which speaks volumes about the lack of quality in his game. He is a 40% career shooter from the field, takes way too many threes for a 30% shooter from there, and averaged only 6.4 rebounds and 0.6 blocks per game at 7'0"/275 despite starting at PF in Charlotte. But he replaces Lamar Odom, who shot 40% from the field, 20% from downtown, and 48% from the free throw line while averaging 4.0 points per game in 20 minutes a game. The Clippers might want to get another respectable big man. Bullock replaces SF Grant Hill, who retired. The Clippers are only significantly better at head coach, but they are significantly younger and more stable after utilizing several contract-year players over the last two seasons.

Golden State Warriors (2012-2013: 47-35, 2nd in Pacific, 6th in Western, Semifinals Loss to San Antonio)

Starters: PG Stephen Curry, PF David Lee, SF Andre Iguodala*, SG Klay Thompson, C Andrew Bogut

Rotation: SF Harrison Barnes, PF Marreese Speights*, PG Toney Douglas*

Bench: C Festus Ezeli (+), SG Kent Bazemore, C Jermaine O'Neal*, SF Draymond Green, PG Nemanja Nedovic (1)

Head Coach: Mark Jackson

General Manager: Bob Myers

The Warriors haven't made the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 1992, and haven't won a division title since 1976. Both are in reach following the addition of Iguodala. Iguodala more than softens the blow of losing PG Jarrett Jack; he gives the Warriors an impact wing defender with the versatility to make plays offensively. Iguodala's poor shooting is a concern, especially from the free throw line (57% last season). Barnes will most likely head to the bench (the Warriors traded Monta Ellis to clear a starting role for Thompson in 2012), but Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, and Barnes will play major minutes next season. Speights is a downgrade from PF Carl Landry. Ezeli started most of last season while Bogut recovered from injury, but now Ezeli will miss the start of next season due to injury. O'Neal is a good backup until he gets hurt; he's going into his 18th season. Douglas will battle Bazemore (coming off a strong summer league) and first-round pick Nedovic for a rotation spot. SF Richard Jefferson, C Andris Biedrins, and SG Brandon Rush were all traded to make room for Iguodala; neither will be missed. The Warriors have a troublesome lack of depth considering the injury concerns of all three Cs, and they have some accommodating to do on the wing, but they should win 50+ games next season.

Los Angeles Lakers (2012-2013: 45-37, 3rd in Pacific, 7th in Western, First Round Loss to San Antonio)

Starters: PG Steve Nash, PF Pau Gasol, C Chris Kaman*, SF Wesley Johnson*, SG Jodie Meeks

Rotation: SF Nick Young*, C Jordan Hill, PG Steve Blake

Bench: SG Kobe Bryant (+), PF Elias Harris (1), C Robert Sacre, PG Jordan Farmar*

Head Coach: Mike D'Antoni

General Manager: Mitch Kupchak

The Lakers lost out on Dwight Howard after shipping out Andrew Bynum's damaged goods. While the team is planning for the draft/free agent class of 2014, Mike D'Antoni knows from the summer of 2010 in New York that there is no guarantee that they will get a long-term difference maker. Bryant is recovering from Achilles surgery and may not be ready to start the season on time. Even if he does make it back, he will be 35 years old and going into his 18th season (the last of his contract) with a serious injury. For every reason that Bryant has to make it back early, he has another to wait. Kaman replaces Dwight Howard at C, though Kaman is probably going to come off the bench behind Gasol. D'Antoni will probably take the opportunity to utilize Nash and Gasol like Nash and Stoudemire from their time in Phoenix with Howard gone and Bryant sidelined. That would open up a starting spot for Hill, though Hill never started a game while he and D'Antoni were in New York. Hill was the 8th pick of the 2009 draft, but he was traded to Houston during his rookie year. Kaman has missed significant time due to injury five of the last six years, with his All-Star season of 2010 being the exception. He is a skilled offensive player, but he was a defensive liability in Dallas last season. Metta World Peace was released via the amnesty tag and Devin Ebanks was a complete nonfactor last season, opening up a spot for Johnson and Young. Both are undersized for the SF position, especially Young. Johnson is on his third team after being selected fourth overall in the 2010 draft. Young is on his fourth team in three years. Young is a better shooter, but he doesn't pass, rebound, defend, or take good shots. Whoever starts here will be one of the worst rebounding SFs in the history of the NBA. Farmar was out of the league last season, but he replaces Chris Duhon. Earl Clark left for Cleveland, and Antawn Jamison is still a free agent; Harris and Sacre are the only depth behind Gasol, Kaman, and Hill. The Lakers might set a record for fewest forced turnovers in a season, and the Lakers seem likely to slip out of the playoff picture for the first time since 2004, though their lottery odds wouldn't be great unless Bryant, Nash, and Gasol miss significant chunks of the season.

Sacramento Kings (2012-2013: 28-54, 4th in Pacific, 13th in Western)

Starters: C DeMarcus Cousins, SG Ben McLemore (1), PG Greivis Vasquez*, PF Carl Landry*, SF John Salmons

Rotation: SG Marcus Thornton, C Jason Thompson, PG Isaiah Thomas

Bench: PF Patrick Patterson, SF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute*, PF Chuck Hayes, SG Jimmer Fredette, SF Travis Outlaw

Head Coach: Mike Malone*

General Manager: Pete D'Alessandro*

The Kings are under new ownership, management (D'Alessandro from Denver), and coaching (Malone from Golden State) this season, and each is an upgrade by default. SG Tyreke Evans, the 2009-2010 Rookie of the Year, is now in New Orleans, though the return was Vasquez. The Kings also drafted McLemore, who has the opportunity/pressure to make people forget about Evans. McLemore may already be a better shooter than Evans, and though he's not as versatile, he is a plus athlete. Vasquez essentially replaces Toney Douglas on the roster, and though he's not a strong defender or a great athlete, he is a tall player (6'6") who averaged 13.9 points and 9.0 assists per game. The Kings haven't had a player average at least nine assists a game since Reggie Theus averaged 9.6 in 1985-1986. Vasquez is an upgrade over Thomas, even though everyone should be better with Malone replacing Keith Smart as head coach. Malone bought Landry with him from Golden State, and he replaces Cole Aldrich (considering that Patterson, Thompson, and Hayes are still on the roster). Mbah a Moute is no lock to start at SF over Salmons and Outlaw, but Mbah a Moute replaces James Johnson on the roster. The Kings aren't necessarily better - they're still littered with poor defenders and rebounders at every position, there isn't a shot blocker in sight, and they continue their perennial weakness at SF. But they may resemble a stable basketball team next season on their way to the lottery.

Phoenix Suns (2012-2013: 25-57, 5th in Pacific, 15th in Western)

Starters: PG Goran Dragic, SG Eric Bledsoe*, C Marcin Gortat, PF Markieff Morris, SF Caron Butler*

Rotation: SF Michael Beasley, PF Marcus Morris, PG Archie Goodwin (1)

Bench: C Alex Len (1) (+), SG Gerald Green*, C Miles Plumlee*, PG Kendall Marshall, SF P.J. Tucker

Head Coach: Jeff Hornacek*

General Manager: Ryan McDonough*

The Suns were a mess last season, and they're rebuilding properly now. McDonough comes from Boston to replace Lance Blanks. Hornacek, a former Suns guard and Jazz assistant coach, replaces Alvin Gentry and Lindsey Hunter. He plans to run next season, and the plan is for Dragic and Bledsoe to play at the same time. Bledsoe replaces Jared Dudley, and he gets an opportunity to realize his upside. Bledsoe is exceptionally athletic at 6'1"/190, a strong defender, and he improved his shooting to the point where he could play off the ball. But with upside comes inconsistency, and the Suns are getting a contract year out of Bledsoe to determine his true value. Butler, Beasley, and Tucker could all start, play off the bench, or not play at all. The Suns drafted Len fifth overall, but he is coming off ankle surgeries. He replaces Jermaine O'Neal as the latest injury-prone C to arrive in Phoenix. The Suns traded starting PF Luis Scola to Indiana for Green and Plumlee, which clears a logjam of PFs in Phoenix. Scola wasn't going to fit a running offense, while the Morris twins and the Plumlee twin can fill the vacancy up front. It appears that Goodwin has a better chance to play than Marshall, a good passer who can't shoot or defend. The Suns still have moves to make after Len signs a contract, as players like Shannon Brown, Channing Frye, and Malcolm Lee have guaranteed deals. The Suns have to drop some dead weight somehow. Phoenix will give up a lot of points next season.

Reach Staff Writer Law Murray via email or follow him on Twitter.



 

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