Western Conference rankings
Also-rans making most of the noise in the offseason
Posted: Friday August 3, 2007 2:19PM; Updated: Friday August 3, 2007 4:10PM
It's still early, but the Western Conference has been mostly quiet this summer as several teams wait for mid-tier free agents to make up their minds.
Among the top contenders, only the Rockets have been particularly active. Otherwise the biggest shakeups have occurred at the bottom of the standings, where Minnesota, Portland and Seattle have radically altered their lineups.
Here's one man's view of the West race, as of right now, with the caveat that there are more moves (albeit relatively minor ones) in the pipeline for several teams:
1. SPURS: They haven't added much new blood this offseason, instead re-signing Fabricio Oberto, Jacque Vaughn and Matt Bonner. Then again, the defending champs don't need to make major changes. As long as Tony Parker doesn't decide to run off somewhere with his new bride Eva, they should be just fine.
2. MAVS: They also haven't shaken things up after winning a league-best 67 games a year ago. They re-signed Jerry Stackhouse and Devean George, and will hope the bitter finishes of the past two postseasons can give them the edge they need to get over the top.
3. SUNS: After dangling Shawn Marion and Amarť Stoudemire in an effort to land Garnett, they ultimately are left with the core intact while adding Grant Hill via free agency. Of course, keeping this team together might prove to be a good idea. Steve Nash probably has at least one more MVP-type campaign left in those 33-year-old legs.
4. JAZZ: Coming off that terrific run to the conference finals, they didn't want to do anything to break the mojo. It's still possible they could look to deal Andrei Kirilenko, especially after losing out on free agent Morris Peterson (who signed with the Hornets), but most likely they will keep it together and hope another Morris (Almond) can fill their need for outside shooting.
5. ROCKETS: New GM Daryl Morey has added solid pieces in veterans Steve Francis and Mike James and Argentine power forward Luis Scola, who was acquired in a trade with the Spurs. If Bonzi Wells doesn't go AWOL again, new coach Rick Adelman should have some more depth to go with Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming.
6. NUGGETS: They made their splash last winter by acquiring Allen Iverson from the Sixers. Their only significant move this summer has been to sign point guard Chucky Atkins, who replaces the departed Steve Blake. With Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby, NenÍ and a healthy Kenyon Martin, it should be enough to keep them in the Western mix.
7. WARRIORS: It's tempting to rate them higher after the way they tore through the West down the stretch and slayed the Mavs in the playoffs. But Baron Davis is injury-prone, Matt Barnes and Mickael Pietrus remain unsigned, and they might miss Jason Richardson (traded to Charlotte) more than they think. They better hope that Italian sharpshooter Marco Belinelli doesn't play like a rookie.