Last season: 44-38, lost to Hornets 3-1 in first round.
So what does Grant Hill have left? It is hard to remember how great he was after almost two seasons out. But if Hill begins to regain his game and Horace Grant doesn't break down, the Magic, with Hill and Tracy McGrady, can replace the Celtics as the best two-man team in the East. They question is: Can they rebound enough with Grant and Pat Garrity on the front line?
Last season: 49-33, lost to Nets 4-2 in Eastern Conference finals.
They are going to miss Kenny Anderson. Has that ever been written before? Their personnel moves were curious, in particular picking up the lethargic Vin Baker, letting Rodney Rogers go and trading Anderson. Tony Delk, the only leftover from the Joe Johnson deal with Phoenix, is not a true point guard, which leaves Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce handling the ball and shooting all the time. That cannot be a good thing, as USA Basketball discovered with Pierce in the world championships.
Last season: 37-45, missed playoffs.
Michael Jordan off the bench? Larry Hughes at point guard? Jerry Stackhouse reunited with Christian Laettner? Charles Oakley reunited with Doug Collins? Somebody walked though a mirror. Hard to believe this is going to stay together, or that Jordan will. Everyone says he will cut his minutes, but Jordan isn't that patient. Stackhouse is in his free-agent season. They were close to the playoffs with lesser talent last season until Jordan was hurt, and who knows in the weak Eastern Conference?
New York Knicks
Last season: 30-52, missed playoffs.
It is just like the early '90s again with the Bulls and Knicks battling it out, but this time for 30 wins. At least the Bulls are headed upward. The Antonio McDyess injury was a major setback, and it's anyone's guess what Latrell Sprewell has in store next, though everyone will have to temper criticism because he is suing critical media now. No point guard, too many shooting guards and no center. Are they lining up for those $1,400 courtside seats yet?
Last season: 36-46, missed playoffs.
The lineup, with youngsters Caron Butler and Malik Allen getting big minutes at forward, suggests rebuilding, but Pat Riley doesn't rebuild. He was out of the playoffs for the first time in 20 years last season. But he has Eddie Jones and Brian Grant, and no one drives players day to day like Riley. It's doubtful Alonzo Mourning will ever play again, and Miami is talking about adding free agents after the season. But it has to get rid of Grant or Jones. The New York-Miami rivalry is now a battle for the Atlantic basement.