NBA Offseason Preview Part 1
by Matt (@MattEsposito_)
Exhale. The draft is over. The circus which is NBA free agency is set to begin. Some teams are in a favorable position to contend for a championship. Others are a piece or two away but ready to make the leap. Some teams are just drifting away into no-man’s land without a prayer or a vision. For this three part series, I will place every team into a category of either Reload, Reshuffle, or Rebuild. The Reload teams are the ones which were probably contenders last year and may only need minor changes to bring them to the Promised Land. Reshuffling teams were competitive last year but did not have enough fire power to advance deep into the playoffs. Also in this category are teams which disappointed but do not have to press the panic button just yet. Lastly, Rebuilding teams should just burn everything to the ground. I’m looking at you, Phoenix.
Today, we’ll start off with the Reloading teams.
Teams: Cavs, Raptors, Golden State, OKC, Spurs, LAC, Miami
Cavs: If the champs decide to not make any drastic changes, they’ll do just fine. If they want to move Love, depending in haul they bring back, they’ll still be just fine. The Cavs need to address some free agent dilemmas within their own team. JR is due for a nice pay day and Delly too. Mo Williams didn’t do them any favors by opting into his deal. JR should be the main target here. Delly will ultimately prove too expensive. Vets like DJ Augustin or even Captain Kirk Hinrich would be cheap fliers to take if Delly leaves. Also, adding a player like Darrell Arthur or Brandon Bass would bolster an already solid frontcourt.
Raptors: Winning two games in the Eastern Conference Finals looks more impressive considering their opponent went on to win the whole thing. The 6 is actually in a good position to push the Cavs for the East’s #1 seed. Lebron and company have spent the past two years battling injuries while playing close to 200 games. They’ll be tired and don’t be surprised if it shows during next year’s regular season. Assuming Toronto brings back its stars (Biyombo and Derozan) they’ll be pressed for cap space. They will certainly improve under a full year of max Biyombo production, so keeping the status quo suits them well. Yet, a sign and trade for Jared Sullinger of the Celtics makes a lot of sense here. JV and Biyombo on the same squad is a tad redundant. Ship him to a team that needs a rim protector and get back a bruising big man who can stretch the floor a little and replace JV’s post scoring.
Golden State: The most logical approach to their free agency is the best. They won a record setting amount of games. Bring back Barnes on the max and make him a focal point of the offense. The kid is young still and just needs the reps. They probably can’t afford to bring back Ezeli if they want Barnes. Let him walk and pick up a cheaper option like Cole Aldrich who played surprisingly well last year. Squeeze another year out of Curry’s insanely cheap contract and then begin to worry. For now, bring back the core and win a title, it’s that simple.
OKC: Hand Presti the GM of the year award now. Even if KD doesn’t come back, his team is ready for a rebuild because Oladipo, Sabonis and Adams are all under 25. But next year, a lineup of KD, Westbeast, Adams, Oladipo and Kanter is going to legitimately challenge the Warriors for the West’s top spot. The bench is fine too. The Oladipo trade means Waiters can walk. I would try to steal Mayo or Afflalo by convincing them to play on a contender for a minor discount. In all serious however, all the Thunder need to do is get KD back at any cost. The rest of their offseason needs have already been covered.
Spurs: The Spurs are really close to a crossroads. I believe Timmy and Manu come back for one more year on the cheap. As hard as it may be, I would consider trading Tony Parker if the team believes they can land Mike Conley. Getting Durant is realistic but the team would have to move a lot of pieces to free up the cap space for the type of deal KD wants. Make Conley the focus, he’s gettable. If you strike out on KD, then you’ll still have an awesome 2017 free agency class to try and find more star power. Go for the surer bet in Conley and make one more run at this. Also, it’s time to move on from Diaw.
LAC: Clippers gone Clip. Both on and off paper, this team really pushes Golden State. Keep everything together, don’t blow it up yet Doc. All this team needs to do is keep the bench guys (with the exception of Crawford) and bring in a small forward. If I was Doc Rivers, I would do whatever it took to land Luol Deng. Deng had a magnificent playoff run and demonstrated his ability to play the 4 in small lineups. If Deng can’t be gotten, then break the bank for Harkless or Dudley. I understand why some people think this team needs to be blown up, but they should give it one more year. They have a top 5 player at the 1, 4 and 5. JJ is right at his peak. Fix the small forward problem and remain a contender.
Miami: I debated with myself for a long time about putting this team in this category. Next year however, they will be one year older and that has more positives then negatives. Wade is aging nicely and if Bosh can stay healthy he should have his legs still. Winslow and Richardson will take the big steps forward we expect them to. Resigning Deng and Whiteside is huge but can be done. Riley is always creative when fitting his personnel under the cap. A cheap backup point guard would be a great addition. I like Tim Frazier a lot. Although he only played a small sample size of 16 games for the Pels, Frazier put up 13, 7 an 4 and shot over 40% from 3. Signing him would be so Riley it hurts. This team must bring its core back, then pray for health. Dragic, Wade, Deng, Bosh and Whiteside, with a stacked bench can push any team in the East.FOLLOW THE OPEN FIELD