Additions: Kristaps Porzingis, Oshae Brissett, Dalano Banton, Jordan Walsh (38th pick 2023 Draft), Jay Scrubb (Two-way)
Subtractions: Marcus Smart, Grant Williams, Blake Griffin, Noah Vonleh, Mike Muscala, Danilo Gallinari
Other: Signed Jaylen Brown to a 5 year, $304M supermax extension
Outlook: I did not like the Celtics’ summer. Trading Marcus Smart for Kristaps Porzingis, a first, and moving 10 spots up in the draft is good raw value, but in practice I don’t like it for the Celtics’ on-court presence or their locker room. Porzingis was legitimately excellent last year, but his injury issues are persistent and quite a bit of his shooting stats from last season seem fluky. The Celtics could use that shooting and floor-spacing from the big man spot to clean up their offense, but a middling passing team losing their best playmaker (by far) seems bad. That’s not even going into the loss of versatility defensively with Smart and Grant Williams gone, or the deficit in leadership. The Celtics should still be extremely good, but their floor is lower than last season, and their depth gets shaky in a hurry.
Prediction: 52-30 (Last year 58-24, predicted 61-21)
Additions: Pat Beverley, Mo Bamba, Filip Petrusev, Terquavion Smith (Two-way), Ricky Council IV (Two-way), Azuolas Tubelis (Two-way)
Subtractions: Georges Niang, Jalen McDaniels, Shake Milton, Dewayne Dedmon, Mac McLung, Louis King
Other: James Harden has demanded a trade request, Re-signed Paul Reed to 3 year, $18M deal, Re-signed Montrezl Harrell to vet min but he tore his ACL
Outlook: It’s hard to predict the Sixers’ 2024 season with the Harden situation still up in the air. If the Sixers can convince him to fully comeback they should once again be extremely good. If Daryl Morey is able to weasel his way into a really good return for Harden, the Sixers should remain quite good. If they can’t move him and he tanks with his fat suit or they have to trade him for peanuts, they’ll probably just be regular good. Joel Embiid is the reigning MVP, and while that looked silly to some after Jokic’s playoff run, Embiid is an absolute monster who nearly guarantees the Sixers will be at least decent. Add in burgeoning star Tyrese Maxey and competent veterans (though the Sixers depth took a hit), and you have a solid foundation. They just need to really get the Harden thing right.
Prediction: 49-33 (Last year 54-28, predicted 56-26)
New York Knicks
Additions: Donte DiVincenzo, Isaiah Roby, Dylan Windler (Two-way), Nathan Knight (Two-way), Jaylen Martin (Two-way)
Subtractions: Obi Toppin, Derrick Rose, Ryan Arcidiacono, Trevor Keels
Other: Signed Josh Hart to a 4 year, $81M contract extension
Outlook: The Knicks were one of the teams that surprised me most last season, moving beyond mediocrity into being actually good through a breakout star-turning campaign by Jalen Brunson, a bounceback season from Julius Randle, and growth from young players such as Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, and Mitchell Robinson. The gang is mostly back this year, along with tradeline acquisition Josh Hart, who was tremendous for the Knicks down the stretch and in their playoff run. The roster is largely unchanged outside of some shifts around the margins – I like the DiVincenzo add, and the Hart extension is good. It’s possible that the Knicks are better than last year, but they were insanely healthy last season (five key players appeared in 71+ games, and seven of the top eight appeared in 67+), so with slightly worse luck injury-wise I think they’ll be right around last season.
Prediction: 47-35 (Last year 47-35, predicted 39-43)
Additions: Dennis Schroder, Jalen McDaniels, Gradey Dick (13th pick 2023 Draft), Garrett Temple, Markquis Nowell (Two-way), Javon Freeman-Liberty (Two-way)
Subtractions: Fred VanVleet, Juancho Hernangomez, Dalano Banton, Khem Birch, Will Barton
Other: Re-signed Jakob Poeltl to a 4 year, $80M deal, Replaced Nick Nurse as head coach with Darko Rajakovic
Outlook: The Raptors have had a confusing (read: bad) past year or two, with Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster seemingly doubling down on a thoroughly mediocre team that lost in the first round in 2022 and lost in the play-in last year. Trading a future 1st at the 2023 deadline for Jakob Poeltl was bad, signing him to a 4 year, $80M was blah, and then losing Fred VanVleet in free agency for nothing for a team supposedly trying to win was the capper. The Raptors still lack shooting, and their starting point guard is either Schroder (a backup at this stage) or Scottie Barnes, who has immense weaknesses at that spot. Really, their hopes for being better than a play-in team rely entirely on a star leap from Barnes, and while I still like him a lot, the lack of shooting seems like it will take longer to work out. One of the most “meh” teams in the NBA.
Prediction: 37-45 (Last year 41-41, predicted 49-33)
Additions: Dennis Smith Jr., Dariq Whitehead (20th pick 2023 Draft), Noah Clowney (21st pick 2023 Draft), Lonnie Walker IV, Darius Bazley, Trendon Watford, Jalen Wilson (Two-way)
Subtractions: Joe Harris, Seth Curry, Patty Mills, Edmond Sumner, Yuta Watanabe, David Duke Jr.
Other: Re-signed Cam Johnson to a 4 year, $94.M deal
Outlook: The Net’s roster didn’t change a ton over the summer, but it’s almost completely different than last season’s opening roster, with the only primary holdover being Nic Claxton. With the Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving era finally, mercifully over, the Nets have a new direction. Sort of? They’re too good to fully tank, and their own picks are out the door for years anyway, so there’s not much a point in tanking. At the same time, their roster is also mostly in its prime and not nearly good enough for contention. Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Royce O’Neale are good veteran players, but that’s not a playoff team, probably. Still, the Nets did get younger with multiple freshman 1st round picks and signing some young-ish fliers while moving on from declining vets, so I liked their summer. The biggest unknown: what on earth to expect, if anything, from Ben Simmons.
Prediction: 34-48 (Last year 45-37, predicted 51-31)