With the uncertainty of the looming lockout hanging over the NBA, teams having the daunting task of using this offseason to position themselves for success in whatever direction the new CBA takes them. We are doing a division-by-division break down of what teams should be aiming to do this offseason. We will analyze each team’s current situation, free agents, draft prospects, and whose contract the team would drop if the new CBA includes a new amnesty rule. GMs, no need to worry. We’ve got you covered.
Boston Celtics: 2010-11 record: 56-26 (Atlantic: 13-3)
Do the the Celtics have enough in the tank to go for one more title? Doc Rivers is staying put, but Shaq (the Kendric Perkins replacement) is retiring. They will need to add size and scoring to their bench this offseason. Honestly though, the Celtics window of opportunity may have already closed.
Free Agents: Glen Davis, Jeff Green (restricted), Nenad Krstic, and Delonte West are the key free agents. They will want to keep Davis because of his scoring and energy. Green didn’t provide the scoring punch they were hoping to get with their trade so they may look elsewhere. The Celtics don’t have much payroll flexibility so their hopes of adding an impact player is slim, but they have to improve their scoring off the bench and their defense in the post. Jamal Crawford would be ideal but he is probably too expensive. Maybe they should gamble on Yao Ming if he’s cheap.
Draft: The Celtics have the 25th pick. They should focus on getting a high energy rebounder ala Kenneth Faried or Trey Thompkins.
Amnesty: The only upside to the abhorred bench of Band-Aids for temporary solutions is that they all come off this year. In stead of wiping someone of the roster, they need to focus on adding to it.
New Jersey Nets: 2010-11 record: 24-58 (Atlantic: 3-13)
I don’t see Deron Williams staying with the Nets past this upcoming year and Brook Lopez is about to get a lot more expensive. So New Jersey may try to make a splash by spending big in the offseason while everyone else waits for another year when the big names enter the free agent pool.
Free Agents: Kris Humphries, Brandon Wright, and Dan Gadzuric. Humphries was a bargain last year but he will now be a lot more expensive. The Nets need a big guy who can cover Brook Lopez’s soft defense and rebounding. They also need someone who can actually score off of William’s passes. Tyson Chandler will be available but he will also be a wanted man. Tracy McGrady may find the Nets appealing and it could be a project that could rejuvinate him. Jason Richardson could excel here as well. Reggie Evans would be a good backup plan if they can’t get the bigger names.
Draft: New Jersey has the 27th pick (another reason they should try to win now). They should try to get a guy who can contribute right away like JaJuan Johnson or Chandler Parsons.
Amnesty: Dropping Travis Outlaws’ mistake of a contract (4 years; $28 million) certainly won’t hurt when trying to create a supporting cast around their new star.
New York Knicks: 2010-11 record: 42-40 (Atlantic: 10-6)
Did the Carmelo trade really help them that much? They have the star power but they don’t have the pieces that you need to win a championship. Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo are two of the biggest egos in the game and neither of them excel in defense. If New York can find the unselfish defenders to surround them like Memphis did with Zach Randolph, they may be able to eventually compete for a title.
Free Agents: Jared Jeffries, Anthony Carter, and Ronny Turiaf among a large number of unimportant players. Chauncy Billups’ contract doesn’t give the Knicks much flexibility for this year. They will probably try to sign players to one year contracts so they can spend a lot of money the following offseason. They are just hoping Amare still has knees by then.
Draft: They have the 17th pick and should use it to try to get a lock down defender like Chris Singleton.
Amnesty: The only option is Renaldo Balkman (2 years; $3.5 million), who was a throw-in by Denver in the Melo trade who doesn’t play. Every bit counts.
Philadelphia 76ers: 2010-11 record: 41-41 (Atlantic: 9-7)
The 76ers overachieved last year and now have a solid core of young players. They lack a true go-to scorer but they have a lot of guys that can catch fire for short periods of time.
Free Agents: Spencer Hawes (restricted), Thaddeus Young (restricted), and Jason Kapono are the most important FAs. They will most likely match any offer that Young is given unless someone overpays him. They may try to move Igoudala over the offseason to clear up space, but even if they don’t, they should try to get some wings that score. Jason Richardson would be an interesting match as would Jamal Crawford. They may want to wait a year before spending big as Elton Brand’s contract will come off the books. This will be the strategy for a lot of teams because of the diluted free agent pool.
Draft: They have the 16th pick. A potential scorer like Marshon Brooks or Klay Thompson would be ideal.
Amnesty: While Elton Brand (2 years; $35 million) is finally fitting in, shedding his salary would put the team under the cap. Iggy would be the other option, but he still has trade value.
Toronto Raptors: 2010-11 record: 22-60 (Atlantic: 5-11)
The Raptors have some intriguing pieces in DeMar Derozan, Jerryd Bayless, and Ed Davis to build around. Unfortunately they are overpaying Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani for the next several years so this project may take a while.
Free Agents: Sonny Weems (restricted), Leandro Barbosa (player option), Reggie Evans, and Julian Wright (restricted). Barbosa will likely exercise his option but the Raptors could still spend some money if they wanted to. There aren’t many free agents that can stick around for the rebuilding process unless they wanted to outspend Portland for Greg Oden or gamble on a player like Earl Clark. Carl Landry could provide some low post scoring, but they need big guys who can score and rebound.
Draft: Toronto has the 5th pick. It’s not a good year to have the 5th pick. They may gamble on one of the huge foreign guys to develop into an NBA scorer. They won’t have any sure future all-stars to choose from so picking an unproven European center with potential may be a good move.
Amnesty: For some reason the team is sold on Bargnani (4 years; $41.5 million) so look for them to shed either Calderon (2 years, $20 million) or Amir Johnson (4 years; 25 million). The best talent that will likely be available for the 5th pick will either be a big or a point guard, which happen to be the same positions as those two guys. So it depends on who they draft.