Five Things to Watch: Milwaukee Bucks

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Brandon KnightCapping off a mediocrity-defining three-year stretch that saw them finish ninth, ninth and eighth in the East, the Milwaukee Bucks should have entered the summer of 2013 with change as the most obvious mandate.

As in change everything.

Despite a return to the playoffs and encouraging progress from big men Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova and John Henson, the Bucks had little to show for their efforts last season, as coaching upheaval and a dysfunctional locker room motivated GM John Hammond to take a flamethrower to his roster once again.

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SH Blog: Bogut’s ankle to be treated like 100 percent, Budenholzer arrested for DUI

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Bob MyersIf you had to name some of the best up-and-coming general managers in the NBA, Bob Myers of the Golden State Warriors should certainly be on that list.

One of the younger GMs in the league, Myers has made quite a name for himself in just one season on the job. He orchestrated an exceptional draft in 2012 and picked up key pieces in the offseason that helped propel the young Warriors to a wildly successful postseason run.

Despite all the success, Myers stayed busy this past offseason. To help offset the loss of key bench players in Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, Myers swiftly moved on to pick up relevant pieces like Toney Douglas, Maurice Speights and Jermaine O’Neal. The biggest move, however, came when he shockingly acquired the services of Andre Iguodala.

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The NBA Offseason: A Betting Preview

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dwighthoward

The Dwight Howard signing had a humongous effect on the futures market for who will win the NBA title.

And then it started a trickle-down effect.

StatBox Free Agency Breakdown: Winners & Losers July 11 Update

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Most of the star players in free agency are now off the board, but there are still plenty of impact players to discuss in this updated version of the Free Agency Breakdown with unique analytic angles. We here at Sheridan Hoops will break everything down for you into bite sized Winners & Losers style pieces.

HowardThe Houston Rockets, GM Daryl Morey and Dwight Howard were WINNERS after agreeing to a four-year deal worth $88 million to finally, mercifully, ending the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. Morey set out a year ago to acquire two stars to legitimately compete in this SuperTeam Era that currently rules the NBA and got them in Howard and Harden.

Houston also signed Francisco Garcia to a team-friendly contract worth $1.3 million over two years. Garcia could probably replace Carlos Delfino in a spacer-type role for Houston after shooting 37.4 percent from three last season. Houston then picked up another spacer in Reggie Williams, who needs to greatly improve from his 30.6 shooting percentage from three last season with Charlotte.

Of course, the Howard deal makes the Los Angeles Lakers the big losers of the offseason for getting nothing out of Howard and looking ridiculous in doing so. They will now try to delude themselves into thinking players like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will come next offseason. Good. Freaking. Luck.

But if there is any consolation for Laker fans, I do like their signing of Chris Kaman a lot. Despite a sharp decrease in minutes with the Mavericks last season, from 29.2 to 20.7 per game, Kaman shot 50.7 percent from the field (his best percentage in a season in which he played over 40 games since the 2005-2006 season) and averaged 10.5 points with 5.6 rebounds. His Win Shares per 48 minutes was his best mark since the 2007-2008 campaign. Expect better production in LA with a slightly increased workload. And Jordan Farmar won’t be a bad player either for the veteran’s minimum.

Josh SmithDwight Howard’s good friend, Josh Smith, ended up with Detroit for four-years and $56 million and Al Jefferson cashed in for three years and $41 million with Charlotte. This brings us a really interesting philosophical question: Can these players be the highest paid, and best, players for playoff teams? The answer is likely no. But does that mean the teams shouldn’t try?

Despite a subpar year by his standards Smith is still a really good player, so the jury is still out on this signing for the Pistons. Smith will make a really good frontcourt with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, but do the Pistons have the backcourt to compete? Not right now, even with the Chauncey Billups signing (two years, $5 million).

LAC_Billups_ChaunceyBillups will add veteran leadership and a fan favorite to the Detroit roster, but he’s only played 42 total games over the last two seasons. But when he’s played he’s been good, shooting 36.7 percent from three last season with a Win Share/48 number that’s well above average. It’s just hard to envision Billups being healthy all season. Billups will join Will Bynum, who Detroit re-signed to an affordable two-year deal worth $5.75 million. Bynum shot a career best 46.9 percent from the field and averaged nearly 10 points per game for the Pistons in 2012-2013.

It’ll also be interesting to see how the team uses reigning Italian League MVP Gigi Datome, who inked a two-year deal worth $3.5 million. Our resident Euro expert A.J. Mitnick told me that he’ll need to adjust to the NBA game, but the potential is there for Datome to become a nice NBA player. I’ll take his word for it…

On the Charlotte side of things, there’s no doubt that Jefferson is a really, really good player. Anyone who shoots nearly 50 percent from the field and averages nearly 18 points and over nine boards per game is really good. His defense will certainly help an inept Bobcats team in that department, but his offensive rating of 109 last season leaves something to be desired.

Can Jefferson, Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo coexist in the frontcourt? Can Jefferson be the best player on a playoff team? Jefferson has made the playoffs just twice in his nine-season career, losing in the first round on both occasions. Golden State signed David Lee to an enormous contract, and Golden State ended up okay by hitting it big by drafting Stephen Curry, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson. Charlotte will have to do that in order to not look foolish with this Jefferson signing, so, again, the jury is still out.

SH Blog: Lakers to sign Kaman and amnesty World Peace; Bynum to Cavs? Warriors to acquire Speights

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Andre IguodalaWhen it was reported that Andre Iguodala agreed to sign with the Golden State Warriors last Friday, most assumed that the move was made by the front office with a bigger picture in mind: to lure super free agent Dwight Howard into joining the team.

That didn’t quite pan out, obviously, which left plenty wondering if the Warriors really just gave up the rights to Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, as well as future draft picks all for the service of one Iguodala. Some may question if the end result was worth it all, but as you’ll learn from the all-knowing Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, all may not be lost if they can acquire Iguodala via sign-and-trade rather than sign him straight up as a free agent:

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