Coach: Terry Stotts
Starting five: PG Mo Williams, SG Michael Redd, SF Bobby Simmons, PF Charlie Villanueva, C Andrew Bogut
Off the bench: PG Steve Blake, SF Ruben Patterson, C Dan Gadzuric
Most underpaid: After passing on the chance to play sidekick to LeBron James in Cleveland, Michael Redd re-signed with the Bucks and was their leading man last season. He proved his worth as a maximum contract player and finds himself on a team headed in the right direction. Redd quietly had the best season of his career, averaging 25.4 points and shooting nearly 40 percent from 3-point range. He would have been perfect for USA Basketball, as well, but declined to play in Japan because he was getting married. Redd was a $19.31 million player who made $12 million.
Most overpaid: The opportunity will be there for Dan Gadzuric that wasnt last season, when the Bucks had Andrew Bogut, Jamaal Magloire, Joe Smith and Toni Kukoc all fighting for minutes at power forward and center. Magloire, Smith and Kukoc all have departed, leaving Gadzuric as the primary backup big man. He averaged only 5.2 points and 12 minutes in the regular season and barely got off the bench in the playoffs. Gadzuric was a $1.12 million player who made $4.8 million.
Outlook: The Bucks have all the makings of a sleeper team, with Charlie Villanueva arriving from Toronto and Bogut now a full-time center. They added two great bench players in Steve Blake and Ruben Patterson and should compete for the No. 5 seed (or more) in the East. Now if only they could get a new arena.
New Jersey Nets
Coach: Lawrence Frank
Starting five: PG Jason Kidd, SG Vince Carter, SF Richard Jefferson, PF Jason Collins, C Nenad Krstic
Off the bench: PG Marcus Williams, SG Eddie House, PF Clifford Robinson
Most underpaid: How many Eastern Conference centers would you take over Nenad Krstic? Shaquille ONeal and Ben Wallace, of course, but theres no clear-cut No. 3 after that. In only his second season, Krstic averaged 13.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and started 80 games. He has yet to establish himself as either a rebounder or shot blocker, but Krstics game will grow as he is only 23. Nearly half of all shots Krstic took last season were jumpers as well. The Nets can start talking contract extension with him next summer. He was a $9.53 million player who made $1 million last season.
Most overpaid: Rookie Josh Boone would have had every chance to be the Nets primary power forward this season until he injured his left shoulder in summer league play and underwent surgery. That should keep Boone out until December and cedes the job to the unremarkable Jason Collins. Although the Nets do play better with him on the floor than off, Collins barely shows up in the box score most nights despite averaging 27 minutes a game. He was a $2.94 million player who made $5.5 million last season.
Outlook: This could be the final season for Vince Carter, Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson to play together in New Jersey. Carter has a player option for 2006-07 and could find major free-agent money in Charlotte and Orlando. The Nets have gone 84-59 since acquiring Carter, although it is hard to see a path for them deep into the playoffs.