Offseason Playlist: Southeast Division
Welcome back to the third installment of the NBA Offseason Playlist. If you missed either of the first two editions, check out those links below. Here’s a brief recap of what I have covered so far:
In the Atlantic Division edition of the series, I trashed the New York Knicks using a Tech N9ne jam, of course picked a Drake song to explain the Raptors summer, and much more.
In the most recent Central Division edition I used an underrated Kid Cudi song to summarize the Youth Movement in Milwaukee, reluctantly plugged in a Macklemore hit to describe the Pacers’ cheap offseason acquisitions, and referred to many other hip-hop artists.
You will quickly realize that this is a very somber section of the Offseason Playlist. Unlike the Central Division, the Southeast will be represented with more depressing tunes. It makes senses though- Can you really say that any of the teams in this division got better this summer? Maybe the Wizards and maybe the Hawks, but even if they did improve it’s very insignificant, and other events still made their offseasons rather disappointing. Here’s why:
Miami Heat: Thinkin Bout You (Frank Ocean)
“I’ve been thinking ‘bout you… Do you think about me still? Do ya? Do ya?”
It has been a solemn offseason for Miami Heat fans. Watching their beloved franchise player breakup with their team and move to a competitive Eastern Conference foe isn’t easy. Dwyane Wade’s free agency decision certainly took me by surprise, so I can’t even imagine how shook Heat fans are from his abrupt departure. Cue smooth singing Frank Ocean to ease your unsettled emotions!
The best way to deal with a tough breakup of a long term partner is to listen to some relatable R&B, right? Siri, play “Thinkin’ Bout You” as I gaze into my Dwyane Wade poster hanging from my wall while wearing my white-hot Wade jersey. On the bright side, at least you Heat fans are handling it more graciously than your breakup with LeBron…well, most of you are at least.
It would be different if the Heat added some other big talent to replace their star shooting guard, but that vacancy is instead left for unproven youngsters Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, and Justise Winslow to fill, who could work out well but are certainly downgrades nonetheless. I mean, look at the additions they brought in as their “notable moves” this summer…two disappointing players who haven’t lived up to their expectations and have already bounced all over the league. Safe to say that the Heat will be missing their franchise player dearly. And don’t worry Miami, I’m sure DWade will still think about his three rings with you, too.
Atlanta Hawks: What We Ain’t Got (Jake Owen)
“All I want is what I had…We all want what we ain’t got.”
Out: Al Horford
One of my favorite country artists Jake Owen sums up Atlanta’s past couple of months as well as anyone could. The Hawks reached a verbal agreement with Dwight Howard in early July, despite already having a beloved center Al Horford. Then, they expressed their intent to keep Horford anyway and pair him next to Howard to create a monster of a frontcourt. As we know, Horford opted to sign with Boston, which left Atlanta with a Horford for Howard swap instead of simply getting another weapon to compliment him.
At that point, Mike Budenholzer must’ve been thinking “all I want is what I had.”
Alright look, I’m sure he is more than content with having Howard on board. I am excited to see him catching lobs from newly promoted guard Dennis Schroder. But this point of “you don’t know what you got til it’s gone” became even more evident to me when I saw some clips of Dwight Howard working on his mid-range game. Regardless of whether or not they can get a consistent jumper out of him, the fact that Atlanta is having him practice this is really telling of how much they may miss Horford’s versatility on offense and his ability to open up the court. Howard posted this workout (along with many others) on his Twitter of him practicing flare screens and catch-and-shoots…look familiar? It looks like Atlanta is trying to mold Dwight into someone he isn’t just so he better fits their offense- an offense that Horford was already a perfect fit in.
Charlotte Hornets: Stuck in the Middle With You (Stealers Wheel)
“Yes I’m stuck in the middle with you. And I’m wondering what it is I should do.”
Charlotte has heard this story before. A roster that is fully capable of beating bad teams, but gets whooped by real contenders. Just in case the Hornets weren’t mediocre enough last season, this summer will guarantee it. Buzz City will be stuck in the middle of the league with their frustrating team again.
I don’t even know if Roy Hibbert will be an upgrade over the old, often injured, out of shape Al Jefferson from last year. That’s how bad he is at this point. Even if he is better, it won’t be by very much. More importantly, the productivity that the Hornets lost when Courtney Lee and Jeremy Lin joined other organizations this summer is going to sting the Hornets in 2016-17, especially when they need to give Kemba Walker some rest. Who’s next off the bench to handle the ball and get buckets? Ramon Sessions? Marco Belinelli? Jeremy Lamb? Good grief. At some point, management must be “wondering what it is they should do.” Overall, an underwhelming offseason will likely abandon the Hornets in the middle of the Eastern Conference and have them struggling to fight for a playoff spot.
Washington Wizards: Dream On (Aerosmith)
“Dream on, dream on, dream on.”
Look, this offseason could have been much worse for the Washington Wizards. But to me, what happened with Kevin Durant is just an embarrassment. This summer was supposed to be all about pursuing Durant for Washington. That was really the only thing they seemed to maybe have going for them- “KD is gonna come home and join forces with Wall and Beal! Lookout Eastern Conference!” Sure, a lot of teams were saying and believing they had a shot at the superstar. But it was different for the Nation’s Capital, which happens to be Durant’s hometown. They signed KD’s former coach Scott Brooks and were ready to make a push at the superstar. Saying that the Wizards were committed to the recruitment would be an understatement. As we all know, Durant didn’t even set up a meeting with them. What. A. Joke.
This should suffice in explaining the song choice. Bringing in Ian Mahinmi and Trey Burke brought Washington back down to reality real quick. Now, the Wiz will need to find a way to move forward without thinking of adding Durant to the mix. Dream on, Washington. Or at least until next summer when he may be an exploring free agent yet again.
Orlando Magic: Contradiction (Mali Music)
“Is everything like it should? Man I don’t know.”
A lot of the lyrics throughout this catchy tune may not entirely be relevant to the argument I am going to make here. But I simply had to use it because, while the title is perfect for this Magic team, it’s also just too good of a song to not share. If you like John Legend, Mali Music will not disappoint (I’m not kidding, I legitimately believed I was listening to a John Legend song for a while).
Alright, onto the real matter at hand. Orlando is trying awfully hard to be relevant again in the East. General manager Rob Hennigan is contradicting himself though. Rather than taking a clear direction with the roster- either a long rebuild with youth or a quicker retool by obtaining established players- Magic management has done a strange mix of both that puts the franchise in a weird spot. The Ibaka for Oladipo/Sabonis/Ilyasova trade suggests the Magic want to contend sooner rather than later, but dealing Tobias Harris in the winter completely counters their thinking. Now they are left with a young backcourt (Elfrid Payton, Mario Hezonja) paired with an experienced frontcourt (Ibaka, Vucevic, Biyombo).
The biggest contradiction came after trading one of their most promising pieces to Oklahoma City for a strong shot blocker Serge Ibaka. Two weeks later, Orlando paid Bismack Biyombo $72 million to do virtually the same stuff that Ibaka is known to do. Plus, Ibaka has a more advanced offensive game that now includes a reliable jumper that can stretch as far as the three point line. This move also stunts third-year forward Aaron Gordon’s development, who will either be forced to play out of position at small forward or be limited behind Ibaka, Biyombo, and Nikola Vucevic. Explain yourself, Hennigan! Is everything like it should? I wouldn’t say so. I love Frank Vogel and what he can do for their team, but a combination of contradicting transactions this summer will probably lead to another year of mediocrity.
On Deck: Northwest Division
Let’s hear your song picks for these teams!
Offseason recap of teams once again provided by RealGM
Featured photo by drdreheadphones