One of the things I keep hearing from people around the media is that with all these free agents changing teams, that the balance of power in the NBA has moved from West to East. The Eastern Conference is now the better conference with more dominant teams.
I'm not buying it.
You can point to the fact that Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer went to the Eastern Conference from the West. I get that, but that doesn't mean anything to me.
Sure, a LeBron-Wade-Bosh team in Miami would make the Heat as powerful as anyone in the league. But it doing so, Toronto and Cleveland have become ghost towns. Remember that Cleveland has been one of the best teams in the NBA over the past four years, getting to the Finals once and finishing the last two seasons with the NBA's best record. Now that team will be a borderline playoff team.
The band is back together in Boston. We all remember that this team was dominating Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals until the Lakers got it together and got past them. Still, this team is a year older and will be mere months removed from a long, long playoff run of tough physical series and ending in heartbreak.
Atlanta is pretty much all back together, but that team needs some tweaking to become elite.
Chicago and New York have signed big name power forwards and both have money to get a few other parts in some way. But neither are really power teams yet. Chicago is closer but isn't in the elite class yet. New York needs some other star to pair with Amare to make them relevant again.
Orlando has done nothing (oh, they brought in Chris Duhon). Charlotte will lose Raymond Felton and probably Tyrus Thomas. The only other team that dramatically improved this offseason was the Milwaukee Bucks.
I'm not saying the West is as powerful as it once was. San Antonio's window is barely open. It will be interesting to see how the Suns perform post-Amare (more on that later). But all is not lost. Utah may have lost Boozer, but they've been preparing for that for two years now (um, Paul Millsap got a huge deal to be his replacement last year).
The Lakers, in case you forgot, are the defending two-time champions. The core is still young enough to put together another run or two. The Nuggets were supposed to be the team that challenged the Lakers last year, but George Karl's battle with cancer took the life out of this team. Say what you want, but Karl is the perfect coach for that team of ... well ... interesting individuals. A healthy Karl could get them back on track.
Karl isn't the only "addition" to a team that was already there. Yao Ming will be back with the Houston Rockets next year. They fought most of the year for a postseason spot without Yao last season. Remember that this team added Kevin Martin during the season and has a nice group of role players. Blake Griffin missed his rookie campaign with a knee injury. He'll infuse some much needed bang with the Clippers.
Oklahoma City will be the next power out of the West. They have outstanding talent, a bona fide super star, a great front office and tons of flexibility to make changes to the roster when needed. Portland was supposed to be that team, and still could be. Dallas was the buzz team during the second half of last year.
The Warriors and Kings have some huge young talents (Curry, Ellis in G-State; Evans and Cousins in Sacto). Memphis has a formidable roster. New Orleans still has Chris Paul.
All I am saying is that the East hasn't taken the mantle of best conference. How about winning a title (the East has won just three of the past 12 titles) to prove me wrong.