Most free agents are signed and the balance of power in the NBA has shifted to the East.
Now that free agency is basically over, winners and losers can be determined. Obviously, the Miami Heat were the big winners for securing two of the NBA's best players and the top three players of the free agent class. The Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks also made bold moves during the offseason. But who was the biggest winner of the Summer of 2010? The Western Conference.
The Heat became a perennial title contender but other teams in the East also improved. The Chicago Bulls made their big splash by signing Carlos Boozer but also added Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson, and Kurt Thomas to a core that already includes Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, and Luol Deng. Add new coach Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls have a new formula for success. The Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks improved their teams with great new additions and the Boston Celtics kept their team together for one more shot at a title.
While the Celtics, Heat, Magic, and Bulls will be discussed as title contenders, the only true contender in the West is the Los Angeles Lakers. The Phoenix Suns took the Lakers to six games in the West Finals but they lost big man Amare Stoudemire and sixth man Leandro Barbosa. The Utah Jazz lost several key pieces including Boozer, Korver, and rookie defender Wesley Matthews. The Denver Nuggets tried desperately to add a veteran big man like Jermaine O'Neal or Zydrunas Ilgauskas but lost out to teams in the East. The Suns acquired Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress, and Hakim Warrick. The Jazz traded for Al Jefferson and the Nuggets signed Al Harrington. However, all those teams failed to address their lack of size and toughness.
Each team in the league is aiming to defeat the Lakers now but L.A. managed to improve in the offseason. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers got better but still do not have enough to take down the defending champs. Expect L.A. to beat out a weaker Western Conference and face one of the new Eastern powers in the NBA Finals.