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What the Hell Just Happened in the Atlantic Division?

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A completely informed, unbiased analysis of offseason changes for the Nets, Knicks, Celtics, Raptors and Sixers

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Boston Celtics

Offseason in 5 words

No Kyrie = Addition by Subtraction

Big Changes

Kyrie Irving has been swapped out for Kemba Walker, and while it’s a mild talent downgrade, Boston is hoping throwing Kyrie off the edge of the Earth allows the team to get its mojo back. Al Horford is a huge loss compounded by the fact the team lost underrated former Piston Aron Baynes. The team also said “enjoy your paycheck” to Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris.

Coach Brad Stevens wunderkind reputation took a hit after a disappointing and dysfunctional season. This year, he has a chance to be known once again as one of the best coaches in the NBA. If he can keep the defense bespoke and find enough offense from Jayson Taytum, Walker and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics will be in the thick of it in the East.

Better or Worse?

I’m no fan of Kyrie, but this team got worse and will greatly miss its big men.

Playoff Contender?

Clearly in the playoffs but will struggle to be mentioned in the same breath as the Bucks and Sixers.

Brooklyn Nets Media Day Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets

Offseason in 5 words

Best team in East .... eventually

Big Changes

Maybe you’ve heard of a little player called Henry Ellenson? JK. Kevin Durant is in Brooklyn but out for most the season. Kyrie Irving will hold down the fort in the meantime.

The real question is, how good can a team led by Kyrie Irving actually be? Boston was good, but his supporting cast was better. And while his exit out of Boston was bizarre, any friction in Brooklyn could get heated awfully quick.

DeAndre Jordan is also here as the cost of doing business in order to get Kyrie and Kevin into town. The Net lost some legitimate talent but was able to keep all the best pieces that would complement its new duo.

This is the first season with real expectations. Could the team buckle under some actual pressure?

Better or Worse?

Hmmmm ... can’t decide.

Playoff Contender?

In the East? Definitely.

2019-20 New York Knicks Media Day Photo by Michelle Farsi/NBAE via Getty Images

New York Knicks

Offseason in 5 words

All the power forwards szn

Big Changes

The Knicks were supposed to get Kevin Durant. It didn’t quite work out. But I guess the next best things are Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson and a trio of former PistonsMarcus Morris, Reggie Bullock and Wayne Ellington.

I also legitimate laughed out loud when I looked at the list of Knicks who stayed with the team from last season — Damyean Dotson, Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., Allonzo Trier, Kadeem Allen and the promising Mitchell Robinson.

This team seems sad. I hate its point guards. Everyone is going to get bitter real quick and our former Pistons are going to suffer, which kind of sucks because I like all those guys.

I imagine they will look to trade anyone and everyone at the earliest possible convenience.

Better or Worse?

Somehow, despite all logic and mathematical probability this team is worse than a year ago.

Playoff Contender?

Oh, bless your little heart. NO.

Guangzhou Long Lions v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers

Offseason in 5 words

Joel, Ben or keep both?

Big Changes

They traded for Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler in the middle of last season. They let Jimmy go but got Josh Richardson from Miami. Oh, and they also added Al Horford and added Kyle O’Quinn and drafted rookie Matisse Thybulle, who might be able to contribute as a defender right away.

But it might not be about new additions for the Sixers, it might be about the same fundamental question they’ve faced for awhile — can you really keep both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons on the same team and win a title?

Both are great but they don’t necessarily complement each other. Each need the ball and Simmons might be unable to play off the ball his entire career.

This might not be a perfect team, but it’ll be able to defend the hell out of the ball and has plenty of offensive firepower. They will be great in the regular season but we’ll see what they’re really made of in the playoffs.

Better or Worse?

I stan for Horford. Better.

Playoff Contender?

Anything less than a finals appearance is a disappointment.

Denver Nuggets v LA Clippers Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

Toronto Raptors

Offseason in 5 words

One and done for Kawhi

Big Changes

Kawhi Leonard came to town, won a championship and then headed home to the LA Clippers. That means the defending champions aren’t expected to make it back to the finals to defend their title but that doesn’t mean they’ll be a bad team.

The team is deep. It went 17-5 without Kawhi last year as he was load managed. The team can expect Pascal Siakam to get better and OG Anunoby to be healthy. They’re still scary.

But losing Leonard and Danny Green is an awful lot of offense to see head out the door. And they were replaced by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson. I dunno. We’ll see.

Better or Worse?

They lost an MVP caliber player and yet ...

Playoff Contender?

... they still might make it back to the Eastern Conference finals. The East, everyone. It’s fantastic.