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Old 10-23-2012, 08:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Grantland: Raptors season preview/predictions

he Market for Big Expiring Contracts Will Be Disappointing
It always is. Remember when Hornets fans speculated feverishly about what Peja Stojakovic's expiring contract might bring, only to find out in November 2010 that it brought only Jarrett Jack and two journeymen and cost them Jerryd Bayless as bait for the Raptors?
The Spurs, Bucks, and Raptors Will All Make at Least One Minor Deal
All three are overcrowded on the front line, with players both young and cheap that could become expendable if teammates around them develop at a certain rate. DeJuan Blair, Ed Davis, and someone from among Milwaukee's front-line crew of youngsters should be movable in exchange for some minor savings or a future draft pick. The Spurs also have an abundance of backup guards, with Patty Mills, Gary Neal, Cory Joseph, and Nando De Colo all showing early flashes of minutes-worthy play. (Neal, of course, has been a mainstay of Gregg Popovich's rotation for two seasons.) San Antonio is about $1 million under the tax line, so they don't absolutely have to move any of these guys. But if they get something, even a second-rounder, it's worth exploring.

The Eight Eastern Conference Playoff Teams Will Be
Miami, Boston, Indiana, Atlanta, Brooklyn, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Toronto and Milwaukee will push hard for the no. 8 seed but fall short.

Bonus Raptors prediction: The Raptors will make a push for a top-10 ranking in points allowed per possession, a remarkable potential turnaround for a team that was an embarrassing dead last with a bullet just two seasons ago. Dwane Casey got this crew up to no. 14 last season, and with Kyle Lowry onboard to hound opposing point guards as the young bigs get more experience under Casey, another jump is possible. Integrating Jonas Valanciunas and reintegrating Andrea Bargnani will present some early challenges, and the Raptors might give up some more easy points if they remain committed to pushing the pace and shooting 3s. But this is a team to watch.
The Miami Heat's offense, James Harden's contract, and more bold predictions for the 2012-13 NBA season - Grantland

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