East could flip itself upside down after next summer

by Brandon Simes
Managing Editor
Thursday Jul 2, 2009

With their questionable signings of two solid scorers who don’t offer all that much else in Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, the Detroit Pistons have set themselves up for a continued run of mediocrity. Unless the signing of the duo is followed by another couple big moves in the next two years, look for the Pistons to operate out of a bottom playoff seed for the foreseeable, rarely making much noise once in the tournament.

Why is this significant? As recently as the beginning of last season the Pistons were part of the ruling elite of the East. Meanwhile, the team that Ben Gordon just left, Derrick Rose’s Chicago Bulls, was a has-been with a bunch of not-yets on the roster. Well, in two years, the basketball world may be looking back at Chicago with a semblance of the same fear it did when Michael and Scottie grabbed rings at a pace too rapid for one hand. With Rose, Luol Deng, and a few other notables on the roster depending on cap holds, the Bulls will be in perfect position to nab superstar Dwayne Wade, a Chicago native, and could even team him up with someone like Chris Bosh after next summer’s free agent bonanza. That’s what you get when you have the option of combining up to $30 million worth of cap room and a desirable city and franchise. So, don’t be surprised if the 8-seed ascends to the 1-seed in two years.

In 2010-2011, with the manic summer of 2010 having been decided, the East could feature a powerhouse Bulls squad, a slipping Celtics team, a strong LeBron James-led Cavaliers or (fill in the blank) team, and a still-kickin’ Orlando bunch. In that scenario the C’s might have a tough time making it out of the second round.

Well, at least until they turn their expiring stars into a max deal with Kevin Durant to team with Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins. Either way, I’d rather be in Boston right now even if the Sun’s currently shining on Detroit. You never know when the weather will change, but one thing’s for sure: you’d better have an umbrella, or in this case cap space, if you plan to make a splash.


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