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DBB on 3: Free Agency Period, the easy East

While shake ups happened aplenty in the West, the East mainly stayed pat or got worse.

In the last DBB on 3 we talked all about how crazy the amount of commotion there was surrounding Free Agency with teams seemingly unhappy with the idea of ushering Golden State towards another Western Conference Championship. In the East, in contrast, no big moves by anyone other than Boston seem to indicate a “right this way sir” to the Cleveland and it’s 4th straight Finals. In fact the “Leastern Conference” was made even worse by the trades that shipped Paul George and Jimmy Butler to the East.

Then there’s Kyrie...

Let’s discuss, shall we?

1. Are you surprised that no one other than the Celtics made any big moves to combat the Cavs' dominance in the Eastern Conference like some in the West did to combat the Warriors?

Kevin Sawyer: I think the Hornets did just that by signing Dwight Howard. Like him or lump him, he's still a star center, and he'll be taking minutes from Frank Kaminsky, who was one of the worst players in the NBA last season. Add to that the fact they actually played like a 42 win team last season, and I think they have a good chance to be in the mix.

Justin Lambregtse: I'm not really that surprised. The only Eastern Conference team with a chance at beating the Cavs next year is the Celtics. There also isn't a whole lot other Eastern Conference teams could do because of the fact that so many of the star players of the East wanted to go West.

Jamie Delaney: I'm not surprised. If you're any team outside of the Warriors and Cavs (and maybe the Celtics) the paths for building a contending team right now are to either unload bad contracts, tank, and pray for lightning to strike in the form of ping pong balls, OR load up on young prospects, good coaching and hope you can time out player development to peak right as the LeBron window starts closing (which in the East, looks like it is going to be very soon). Also, the Cavs are doing a magnificent job of sabotaging themselves - so if you're the bucks, sixers, or wiz, the best course of action right now is no action.

Ben Gulker: Not really. I'm not sure anyone other than Boston was positioned to do anything in free agency that would propel them past the Cavs. Of course, had everyone known about the Irving situation, maybe things play out very differently. The up and coming teams in the East - Milwaukee, Washington, and I'd include Charlotte (a team whose differential was a lot better than their record) - are probably better of waiting out LeBron and developing their young talent rather than committing themselves to something prematurely.

Ken Wallace (revken): I think most of the teams in the East are not in a great position to compete with the Cavaliers other than by biding their time and hoping they catch a break. Other than the Celtics signing Gordon Hayward, Detroit trading for Avery Bradley is probably the boldest move any team has made. Toronto is in an awkward situation where they basically have to hope that Cleveland declines while their window remains open. Washington is counting mostly on internal improvement from its young players to lift them higher, as is Milwaukee. I think the Pistons would like to make a bold move to contend now, but apparently they have been unable so far to make a trade that would significantly improve their talent.

Steve Hinson: Yes, absolutely. Look at the West. The teams that finished third, sixth, and 13th made big moves to try positioning themselves closer to a 67 win team. In the East, teams are forfeiting the conference to a 51 win two seed. That's just nuts.

Ryan Pravato: You mean signing Galloway, Tolliver and Moreland don't qualify as big moves? :) Though, Avery Bradley is a big time move and could (fingers crossed tight) be a franchise changer if others follow his lead. Yes, I'm particularly hyped about Bradley... and hope he isn't just a rental. I'm not surprised what has gone down with other teams, and think the Bucks are one pretty good deal away from taking another huge step, despite them being seemingly content as a young and evolving team currently. Giannis is carefully calculating.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: I'm not super surprised because Milwaukee, Toronto and Washington are the only teams I'd say had a realistic chance at shooting for the Cavs aside from Boston. Milwaukee and Washington had no cap space because of their previous offseason, and Toronto had about half their core hit free agency. Outside of big trades there wasn't much they could do to make a bigger push than they're already making. I guess they could've beaten the offers for Butler or George, but every team could've so that's not really specific to those three teams.

2. Which team did a worse job getting assets for their lost superstar: Bulls or Pacers?

Kevin Sawyer: Apparently, the Pacers passed up a deal that would have landed them Gary Harris and the 13. If they passed that up, they certainly did a terrible job. On the other hand, the Bulls gave up a better player in Butler. In a vacuum, Oladipo seemed on his way to being a productive player in Orlando, while Lavine showed promise prior to injury and can shoot, if nothing else. Dunn and Sabonis had horrendous rookie seasons, though I'd hold out some hope for Sabonis based on age and his college performance, whereas Dunn was pretty clearly a NCAA tournament overreaction pick to begin with.

Justin Lambregtse: Pacers. At least the Bulls got young players on rookie contracts. The Pacers got Victor Oladipo on a bloated contract and Domantas Sabonis who is a prospect who doesn't have an extremely high ceiling in my eyes.

Jamie Delaney: I'm going to say the Bulls only because David Aldridge pointed out that Kyrie was interested in joining Jimmy in Chicago - until he was traded. PG was a situation where his contract was going to be up anyway - their front office had to get something and with the way the player market is trending (and again the Cavs and Warriors being who they are) I'm not sure Paul George would've garnered a better haul come January February. GarPax just prematurely pulled the trigger it seems despite keeping Buckets in trade rumors for two solid years.

Ben Gulker: If LaVine is healthy and continues to improve, then Chicago. But really, neither one got much. Minnesota and Oklahoma City won both of these trades.

Ken Wallace (revken): I think Indiana fared worse on their trade of Paul George than Chicago did with their trade of Jimmy Butler. Part of the reason for this would be the fact that George has just one year left before he can opt out of his deal, as well as the rumors that he wants to head to Los Angeles once he is a free agent. They did secure a more immediate return in Sabonis and Oladipo, but neither player has the perceived ceiling that the combination of Dunn, LaVine and Markkanen has for the Bulls. Of course, this is just a preliminary assessment. In two to three years we may view the results of these trades differently.

Steve Hinson: Bulls, primarily because they didn't need to trade him. Nothing was forcing their hand the way things were with George. They still had two years of Jimmy Butler, who was good enough to get his team to .500 even with a mess of a roster. Why not put something coherent around him and seeing how that played out? If it didn't work out, he'd be the belle of the ball at the trade deadline.

Ryan Pravato: Indiana did the worst, but both were very blah and I've barely thought about them up to this point.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: Pacers did worse, but that's no praise of the Bulls. Oladipo is what he is and is properly paid at best, and Sabonis I'd be shocked if he even turns out to be a decent starter. So I have really no idea what Indiana thinking with that one. The Bulls' return I think would've been OK if they had taken Dennis Smith instead of Markkanen, so that's better in terms of what was strictly in the trade (the seventh pick).

3. If you were Koby Altman what would you do about the Kyrie situation?

Kevin Sawyer: Trade him to Denver for Gary Harris and Ken Faried and play chess to try to get a draft pick out of the deal.

Justin Lambregtse: Trade him. The relationship is at the point where you likely can't fix it and you still have LeBron, who you can pencil in to lead a team to the Conference Finals regardless of supporting cast.

Jamie Delaney: The situation is beyond repair, and with LeBron's departure looking more and more likely, the best thing you could do is deal Kyrie and ensure that it nets you a top 5/top 10 pick in either of the next two drafts. This at least gives your fan base hope of a reload and not a rebuild.

Ben Gulker: I think it depends on LeBron. If LeBron is committed to staying, then I think you move Kyrie as quickly as possible for anything serviceable, because LeBron can make serviceable role players work. If LeBron is reluctant to stay, then be patient and find the right deals for Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love that give you at least some assets for a rebuild.

Ken Wallace (revken): I think Koby Altman has to field all the trade offers for Kyrie Irving that come to him, and then see which one (if any) stands the best chance of helping Cleveland stay on top in the East AND move forward in the future. However Irving's trade request became public, from my perspective that fact makes his preferences less important to the Cavs. If I were them, I would trade him to Sacramento if that nets the best return to the franchise. I expect that he will be traded, and probably prior to training camp.

Steve Hinson: I'd wait for the right offer. What leverage does Irving have? I'd be targeting mid-December. That makes it so fresh contracts can be dealt, teams can get off to slow starts and panic, and the Cavs can get a sense of how confident they are about keeping LeBron. All of those factors are going to be the biggest impact on the return and the direction the team should want to go.

Ryan Pravato: I agree with the Gary Harris and Faried comment...thumbs up to that. It would give Cleveland better depth and athleticism. Kyrie can't possibly begin the season in Cleveland after all that has gone down, right? Strange things do happen these days, however.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: I'm usually a build-for-the-future kind of guy, but I'm trading Kyrie before the season starts for whatever makes me the best team for 2017-18 (the best shooter/defenders available). You have the second-greatest player ever on your team for one last guaranteed year where you basically get a free path to the Finals. Don't get cute with it, nobody's going to care if the rebuild takes a couple more years, you can't afford to not go in with your potential last chance with LeBron. And don't worry about a secondary playmaker. Just win 48 games, sit LeBron 25 games if you need to, get the 2 seed, and see if you can ride LeBron pick-and-rolls with elite shooting around them all the way to an upset of the Warriors.


What do you all think? Copy/paste your responses in the comments below.

1. Are you surprised that no one other than the Celtics made any big moves to combat the Cavs' dominance in the Eastern Conference like some in the West did to combat the Warriors?

2. Which team did a worse job getting assets for their lost superstar: Bulls or Pacers?

3. If you were Koby Altman what would you do about the Kyrie situation?