Eastern Conference Needs
Center: Al Horford has been playing out of position for his entire career and it is time for that to stop. He is their best player so having him out of position is hurting his value and therefore hurting the team. A real starting center is needed for the Hawks to become a better team going forward. There are a few good ones available for free agency in Nene, Marc Gasol, and Tyson Chandler but with their cap situation none are a really a possibility. Not having a first round pick loses them the chance to take a project center, so the only chance they have is to make a trade. Despite what the Clippers are saying, Chris Kaman could probably be had for the right package, so Atlanta should be making daily phone calls to the Clippers management team.
Trade Josh Smith: Smith is a very good player in this league and is one of the better two way players that the NBA can offer but his welcome in Atlanta has grown dim. It is probably best for both sides to move on. Also furthering this cause is that he and Horford are both fours even though he can play some three. He has value around the league and has a fair contract for someone with his skills, so he is extremely movable. Trading him for center Chris Kaman like previously stated could work for both sides since their salaries are extremely similar. Regardless it is time for the Hawks to part ways with Smith as his style is not right for the team. This would be best for the Hawks.
Do not Resign Jamal Crawford/Keep Hinrich/start Teague: Just one year removed of winning the sixth man of the year award, free agent Jamal Crawford believes that he deserves a lengthy contract. The Hawks simply do not have the cap space to resign him and even if they did, it would be a mistake. He is a thirty year old volume scorer who has seen his athleticism and production decline. Paying him big money in his mid thirties would not be a good idea. Luckily for the Hawks they have a great sixth man already on the roster in Kirk Hinrich, who is best suited for the role. This would move point guard Jeff Teague who was a disappointment for the first two years of his career until he took off in the playoffs to the starting lineup. He is a legitimate starter in the league and should be the Hawks starting point guard next season.
Youth: Rajon Rondo is young and one of the best players in the league and if they keep forward Jeff Green as expected they have a young post big three foundation in place. They just need to keep drafting well and adding pieces to extend their title window. They also have the talented yet unproven Avery Bradley at guard, but beyond those three their young talent pool is near nonexistent.
Keep core together: Every day the big three keep getting older and older, but their title window is still open as they are all still fantastic players. Having Rondo with them and the aforementioned added youth could keep the Celtics contenders for at least two more years. The age of the Celtics big three has been blown out of proportion as they all have skills and styles of play that could keep them playing for more seasons than expected. Allen will not lose his shooting stroke, Garnett will not lose his ruggedness and Pierce never relied on athleticism, so they can all remain productive players, although not superstars for at least the next 3-5 years, even if they just remain as role players.
Center: With Nenad Kristic and Glen Davis free agents and the retiring of the Big Shamrock, the Celtics have very little depth upfront and have only the ancient and brittle Jermaine O’Neal at center signed for next season. This is a rich free agent crop of centers but they do not have the cap room to sign any big names. They will most likely take the best available big with their first round pick, which would give depth, but would not fix the problem. Their best chance is to find one or two ring chasing veterans who would be willing to play for the minimum veteran pay.
Talent, Talent, Talent: The Bobcats one massive need counts for all three of my usual picks. Simply, the Bobcats are the least talented team in the NBA. After trading team captain and only ever all-star Gerald Wallace at the trade deadline their roster will cause them to be one of the worst teams in the league. Stephen Jackson is the only player on the team that would start for most any other teams and the talent pool is extremely dry. Guards DJ Augustine and Gerald Henderson and forward Tyrus Thomas are the only young talent on the team with potential. All three have their strengths but the truth is that not one would start on any other team. All three will be asked to play heavy roles next year, but all could easily be upgraded. They also have nothing at center as Diop is useless and Kwame Brown is a free agent. If they do not resign Brown then they will have a serious problem in the middle. The Bobcats have two picks in the first round and must draft the best talent available regardless of position, simply because every player could be upgraded. Since they are in a rebuilding process, they must draft productively or else the process will take many years. Right now it is easy to say that Michael Jordan has his work cut out for him. A couple positives are that they seem to have the right coach in Paul Silas and GM in Rich Cho. Bobcat fans are definitely going to be suffering for the next few years but having a good draft this month could help ease the pain some.
A starting shooting guard: Keith Bogans, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer are all valuable role players, especially the later two, but a starter is desperately needed. The Bulls feel that they can win a championship as is, but they do have one glaring need; a scorer at the two guard. Lucky for them there is a rich crop of talent this free agency. The problem is that the Bulls do not have enough cap space to get a true difference maker. There are two real options out there though, singing Jason Richardson or trading for OJ Mayo. If the MLE exists after the new CBA agreements then they could sign Richardson, because his shooting ability and slashing talent would work will in the lineup. He would be a fantastic forth option and coming off a down year after being traded to Orlando he could come cheap. OJ Mayo would also be a good fit, as he could grow with the young core. He could also play some point guard which would help. He could start but could also be a sixth man which is another need for the Bulls.
Sixth man: Like previously stated Mayo would be a great addition as a starter, but would do even better leading the second unit. Rose is the only player on the roster who can create his own shot and adding Mayo could change that. If he accepted a bench role he would be a great fit. But the gist is that wherever he would play Mayo would become a valuable player for the Bulls. If Mayo cannot be had than there are other options out there. Regardless the Bulls need a scorer in the second unit, this would also allow Luol Deng more rest as he had to play the scorer’s role leading the second unit, which is not his best skill. Deng cannot continue to play over forty minutes a night and a better scorer off the bench would help.
Continuity: Besides getting that starting shooting guard and or sixth man the only thing that the Bulls needs is to resign their veterans and keep growing together. Rose and Noah will both be even better next year and Boozer will be more accustomed to the team. Boozer and Noah will both be healthy which will help since neither was one hundred percent during the playoffs. Resigning Kurt Thomas and Brian Scalabrine would be wise as they are both fantastic locker room teammates and the former gives valuable big depth off the bench. He was extremely valuable to the Bulls when Noah was out as Omer Asik is not ready to be a starter if needed. The Bulls are a great team but keeping things mostly the same would be wise.
Draft Well: The Cavaliers have the first and fourth picks in the draft and they must make them count. It is widely assumed that they will take Duke point guard Kyrie Irving first overall, which would be wise since he is most likely the draft’s best player. Word is that they are pushing hard for the second overall pick as well, which would land them the other top player in the draft in Arizona’s Derrick Williams. Assuming this does not happen, their best option would be to take Turkish Center Enes Kanter to be their new center as he measured in as a legit 6’11 player at the Chicago Combine.
Trade Baron Davis and or Antwan Jamison: The Cavaliers are in a full rebuilding period and having those two top four picks is a great start, but a necessary part of any rebuilding process is purging all bad contracts if possible. Baron Davis still has a lot of years and money left on his contract and with is lethargic attitude and bad ego it will be extremely hard to get rid of him. Jamison on the other hand is still a very productive player and has an expiring contract. Getting rid of Jamison would also open up more minutes for the up and coming JJ Hickson and the extra cap space will come in handy. If they somehow find a taker for Baron Davis and also deal Antwan Jamison then they will set themselves up well for the future.
Develop Talent: With the two lottery picks and a team filled with young talented players including Hickson, Christian Eyenga and Manny Harris among others the Cavaliers must be patient and must slowly develop their young roster. Each player has a lot of potential and giving them a year or two to develop could turn them all into solid players overall. The Cavaliers will not make the playoffs anyways for at least a few years so they have the time to wait patiently and develop their new talent.
Get a coach: The Pistons finally fired John Kuester who proved to be a horrible fit. They need a proven coach who can push them through the inevitable youth movement. A tough defensive minded leader would be best.
Fire Joe Dumars: Dumars went from the genius of the NBA to a bumbling mess who seems to have no clue what he is doing. The new owners need to find their own man. Ever since the Billups-Iverson trade the team has completely fallen apart. He has drafted well but has blown all their free agent money on mediocre talent. They are getting a new coach and now it is time to get a new GM.
Rebuild Roster: The Pistons roster is a complete mess, with overpaid veterans and average young talent. They all believe that they deserve playing time and it is time for them to rid themselves of the veterans and go for a full on youth movement. The problem is that they do not have the talent to rebuild as of right now. They do have a promising center in Greg Monroe who is their only legitimate building block and their lottery pick this year should add to this. They need to keep on adding more younger players for the rebuilding procedure. They should commit to this by first getting rid of Richard Hamilton, Tracy McGrady, Jason Maxiell and Ben Wallace. They must also find someone to take away Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva who are both overpriced and poor fits on the team. They should also decide to not resign Tayshaun Prince since it is time to move on, as well as Rodney Stuckey who has proved that he is not a point guard. This will take a few years but the roster needs to be completely rebuilt, minus Greg Monroe and maybe Jonas Jerebko.
Do not Trade Granger: There are always rumors in the NBA, some true and some are ridiculous. The Pacers trading Granger is somewhere in the middle, as it could happen but it should not. He is by far the team’s best player and one of the best scorers in the league. They have built some solid pieces around him and although he will never be a superstar they should continue to build around him as he is legitimate all- star caliber player. Yes Paul George is a promising young player, but it is doubtful that he will ever be the player Granger is. Granger would best be suited as a Robin to another player’s Batman, but finding a Batman is very difficult. The Pacers should not trade Granger unless an offer blows them away.
Spend wisely: The Pacers come into the offseason with more cap space than any team not the Kings and should spend it very carefully. They have a very solid young core and a lot of potential on the roster. They could use a an upgrade at shooting guard and power forward, but should not overspend for mediocre talent, like the ’09 Pistons did. The best course of action would be to plug in a few holes, unless there is a player they truly value.
Develop the young core: Now that it appears that Frank Vogel is going to be retained as the coach of the Pacers, he should continue developing his young talent, which is one of the reasons they overachieved. Darren Collison, Tyler Hansbrough, Paul George and Tyler Hibbert along with Danny Granger form a fantastic core for the future. Each player has significant room for improvement. If the Pacers hope to rise amongst the east’s elite they will need continued improvement from each player.
A point guard: Miami of course has the big three but they need to add pieces around them for continued success. Mario Chalmers is a fine player and Mike Bibby is still serviceable but they need an upgrade to get the team to another level.
A center: The Heat have five centers on their roster but most are past their prime except for the undersized Joel Anthony, who should not be a starter in this league. They need a tough center who has good size and will play defense, rebound and possibly have a few low posts moves. Bosh is a very good big but they need a bruiser to match up better.
Athletes: Besides the big three, most players on the roster are past their prime and are just chasing a ring. What the team needs is young, athletic players who can run the court with Wade and James. The Heat are at their best offensively playing fast, so players who can add to this would be extremely helpful.
Unload bad contracts: Fresh off a surprise run to the fifth seed and a near upset of the Hawks in the first round of the 2010 playoffs GM John Hammond felt he needed to make a few tweaks to the roster to make them true contenders. To do this he resigned John Salmons, signed Drew Gooden and traded for Corey Maggette. All three players had down years and all proved to be poor fits for the roster. All should be expected to bounce back next year but it would be smart to rid themselves of at least two. Of the three they should keep Salmons since he is the best fit and his shooting should come back, but regardless their cap must be fixed and they must unload some bad contracts.
Keep Brandon Jennings: Rumors have been buzzing that the Bucks have been listening to offers for the talented guard. It is true that he has his weaknesses most notably his low shooting percentage and reckless ways, but he is a legitimate franchise point guard and those are hard to come by. These are only rumors, but they should not trade him unless a they receive a substantial offer from some team. Him and Andrew Bogut are the foundation of the team and should be considered the building blocks for the team
Young Talent: Like just written, Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings are the heart of the Bucks, but more young talent is needed. They have the tenth pick in the draft where they will receive a talented player but the Bucks would be wise to add younger talent to grow with the talented duo for the long term.
New Jersey Nets:
Add talent: The Nets are in a very difficult situation where they must convince newly acquired all star point guard Deron Williams to stay long term and so they must add more talent to the roster that could help that process. If they do not become better this offseason and remain a bottom feeder they will lose him.
Spend Wisely: The Nets are one of the teams with the most cap space this offseason and they would be wise to add a difference maker. They have their point guard in Deron Williams and their center in Brook Lopez, but they could use an upgrade at the wings and at power forward. They could spend the money on the ever improving Kris Humphries, but they would be wiser to spend it on a true difference maker.
Listen to Williams: One way to keep Williams is to keep him in the loop in regards to all offseason moves and the Nets need to listen to his input. Make him feel wanted and needed and it will increase the chances of him staying beyond next season.
New York Knicks:
A center: Amar’e Stoudemire is simply not a center and it is not good for him or the Knicks to continue to go through the punishment that comes with the position. After picking up Billups’ option they have little cap room so getting a center may be difficult. The Knicks have enough offense but need a legitimate center to play defense, rebound and get dirty. They will not be able to address this in a draft void of any real center prospect so free agency is their only option. They can forget about Nene, Gasol and Chandler, but Dalembert seems to be their best option. If they can muster up the cap space, he would be a good fit.
Depth: The Knicks have almost all of their cap space tied into, Anthony, Stoudemire and Billups and have little talent throughout the roster. The allure of New York and playing with two superstars could entice veterans to come for the minimum just like the Heat. They must fill out the roster with solid veterans instead of the mediocre talent they had this season.
Forget about 2012: The Knicks have big dreams of landing one of Chris Paul, Dwight Howard or Deron Williams next summer but the chances of them having the cap space to accomplish this will be difficult. They have already gutted their roster once and cannot afford to do this again. They should fill out the rest of the roster with solid talent that plays to the strengths of their stars.
Unload Contracts: The Magic are filled with ridiculous contracts that will be extremely difficult to unload. The monstrosity known as the Gilbert Arenas contract will be hard to move, as will the Hedo Turkoglu contract, but they must create cap space to improve the team.
Get talent: The Magic do have talent on the roster but most is overpaid and aging. The core and team as assembled is good, but not good enough to contend for a championship. The Magic are desperate for talent in order to appease Dwight Howard and convince him to stay, which is why they need to listen to Dwight.
Listen to Howard: Much like the Nets, with their Deron Williams situation, the Magic must listen to Howard and get his input on all moves and ideas. If they want to keep their franchise player they must listen to him and make him happy.
Finish sale: The team is in the middle of attempting to sell the team, and they cannot make any major decisions without completing this. If they wish to improve the team, the sale must be improved quickly.
Trade Iguodala: Apparently the team wishes to trade Iguodala because ridding the contract off their roster will help them sell the team. But he should also be moved for basketball reasons. The team is filled with talented wings and Iguodala is the best, but he could return a legitimate big, which is their biggest need. This will also move the talented Thaddeus Young to the starting lineup and would give potential star Evan Turner more playing time. He had a disappointing rookie season but was the second pick just one year ago and all he needs is time to develop. The rumored trade for Clippers center Chris Kaman would be beneficial for both sides. One way or another this must happen this offseason.
Big depth: The 76ers started Spencer Hawes throughout the season which is unacceptable and an upgrade is needed. That is why trading for Kaman would be wise for the team. Besides a center, overall depth is needed since Hawes is a free agent and the rest of the players are very mediocre.
Keep Bargnani: Most Toronto fans would like the Raptors to trade Bargnani since he is not a normal center. He cannot play defense and is a poor rebounder, but the simple fact is that he should be a power forward and he is playing out of position for the team. This means that a tough center would be needed. Marc Gasol would be a great fit, although it will be tough to pry him from Memphis. Big men who score twenty plus points a game are hard to come by so keeping him would be in the best interest of the team.
Develop Youngsters: The Raptors are filled with talented young players all with immense potential. Jerryd Bayless is a fine player, but should be developed as a sixth man. Ed Davis is a very good player but with Bargnani on the roster could be the first big off the bench. The cream of their young crop is shooting guard Demar Derozan. He has all star potential and teamed with Bargnani gives them two potential twenty point scorers. They also have the fifth pick in the draft, which will give them another fantastic young player and in my opinion they should draft Kemba Walker who would give them a franchise point guard and a leader which is also a need.
Defense: The Raptors are filled with fantastic young players, but most of them specialize in offense. More defense is needed, which is why a defensive minded and tough young center is needed.
Improving youngsters: The Wizards have their franchise player in point guard John Wall, two solid shooting guards in Jordan Crawford and Nick young and a duo of talented young bigs in Javalle McGee and Andre Blatche. Besides those core players they also have Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker and even the still unproven Yi Jianlian. They must continue to develop these players because they make up a talented young roster with room for improvement. In a few years this could become a playoff roster if they continue to get better.
Veterans and leaders: The only real veteran on the roster is Rashard Lewis who at this point in his career will not be happy sitting on the bench. They need a couple solid veteran locker room presences to help the kids become better players and people. Few veterans will want to go to a rebuilding team, but a few solid older players would help the team grow later on.
Small Forward: The Wizards have a point guard, a couple of shooting guards and two solid bigs, but are seriously lacking at small forward. This can be easily fixed in the draft if they draft Kawhi Leonard who could be another piece to their already solid nucleus.