Monday, May 2, 2011

Summer Plans- No Vacay for the Weary

All but 8 teams are no longer playing basketball and it is up to their GMs and owners to make some decisions about their future. This will be a multi part post, starting with the bottom teams that didn't make the playoffs -

Minnesota Timberwolves - 17-65 (ouch)

Notable free agents - Eddy Curry's $11 million dollar contract.
Core players still on contract - Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson

Recap: Well, we've heard it time and time before, "This was a rebuilding year." The light at the end of the tunnel is workhorse Kevin Love and is historic season of rebounding, and Michael Beasley staying out of trouble and having a solid season. Both are on contract for the next two seasons.

Caught in the middle of the Carmelo Anthony trade, Eddy Curry's expiring contract somehow landed in Minnesota. That's $11 million the Wolves can use this summer to sign their high draft pick and a free agent or two. They have a very low payroll, but then again, they are not that rich of a team that can push the salary cap to the limits like the Lakers or Knicks.

Look for them to: 1. Try and get Ricky Rubio over here from Europe! Again!
2. Draft high, build with young players.

The problem is that they have their core starting lineup all on contract for the next few years, but they're simply not good. Besides Love and Beasley, they have Milicic and Ridnour at center and point guard. And rookie Wesley Johnson started to start near the end of the season. They have these young players who will probably need... yes... ANOTHER rebuilding year to get good. By the time Love is a free agent, will he want to stay?

Cleveland Cavaliers 19-63 (including a 26 game losing streak, yet still not worst record in history)

Notable free agents - Ryan Hollins with player option (can opt out of 2.4 million)
Core players still on contract - Antawn Jamison (last year), Baron Davis, Anderson Varejao, JJ Hickson

Recap: They beat the Boston Celtics in their home opener. Things were looking up in the post LeBron era with new coach Byron Scott leading a... kinda weird lineup of veterans and young guys. Then a couple losses, couple wins here and there, and then injuries, trades, the 26 game losing streak. It was to be expected though, this team is rebuilding.

Look for them to: 1. Draft high and twice. 2. See if JJ Hickson is their guy. Possibly trade Antawn Jamison's expiring contract.

They have their own draft pick and the Clippers' in the Mo Williams/Baron Davis trade. Giving them a little more chances for the number 1 pick but 2 lottery picks guaranteed. Along with those young draftees, they're gonna continue to work with Hickson who's a great athlete with little basketball IQ. They have to decide whether to build aroudn him or to start somewhere else, which would depend on who they get in the draft. Along with those new draftees, they could find a team trying to shed some salary and trade Jamison's contract which is valued at $13.3 million and get a solid player in return-hopefully, for them. We will in fact see if Dan Gilbert's guarantee that they would win a championship before LeBron James holds true.

Toronto Raptors 22- 60 (thought they'd have worst record in league this season-off by 5 wins)

Notable free agents - Leandro Barbosa (player option for 7.6 million), Reggie Evans
Core players still on contract - Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson, Demar Derozan

Recap: Nothing too notable happened with the Raptors this season. They lost Chris Bosh and worked with what they had- Demar Derozan took a step in the right direction and looks like he could possibly be an all star someday. Andrea Bargnani is their franchise guy as he's on contract for over $10 mil a year until 2014-2015. Like the Wolves, they have the guys set in place as far as starting rotation goes, it's just they're not that good. Bargnani is the center, Jose Calderon the PG, DeRozan probably the only solid player at SG, but Amir Johnson at PF on contract until 2014-2015? They'll probably have to adjust that and possibly make him a bench player.

Look for them to: 1. Also draft high. 2. hit the free agency market and possibly look for a small forward upgrade to replace James Johnson and Sonny Weems if they don't do so in the draft.

This team is also in rebuilding mode as most of these last place teams should be and are in. Jose Calderon is a great distributor but not a great point guard. He's not good defensively and a lot of his assists come in transition. Andrea Bargnani has been improving year after year but just not a back to the basket kind of center. He's a 3 point shooter. I'd rather him play SF or PF and for the Raptors to get a low post presence- but hey, that's me.

Washington Wizards 23-59 (Gilbert Arenas era is ova)

Notable free agents - Josh Howard (remember him?)
Core players still on contract - John Wall, Rashard Lewis, Andray Blatche, Nick Young, Javale Mcgee

Recap: The Wizards were the worst road team this year winning 3 out of 41. But this is the first worst team of the league that is already on the upswing with #1 pick John Wall having a fantastic rookie season and Javale McGee coming into his own as a huge, defensive, freak of nature-still raw though, but looks to be improving (and got robbed at dunk contest).

In the beginning of the season, they had three starter quality point guards in John Wall, Arenas and Kirk Hinrich and ended with John Wall and Rashard Lewis, hey- Rashard may be overpaid, but at least they're overpaying for a power forward and not a back up PG or undersized SG.

Look for them to: 1. Surprise surprise-draft high. 2. Re-sign Nick Young to a bigger contract, hopefully not a max contract.

They got a good core and a GREAT point guard in John Wall (fast as Westbrook and Rose). They gotta build around him and have the pieces and draft possibility to do so. Finally out of Caron Butler-Antawn Jamison-Gilbert Arenas mode.

Sacramento Kings 24-58 (Staying in Sacramento)

Notable Free Agents - Samuel Dalembert, Marquis Daniels, Marcus Thornton
Core players still on contract - Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins

Recap: Tyreke teamed up with another high profile rookie in DeMarcus Cousins, both of whom had good seasons. Samuel Dalembert had a good season as well and it's up to the Kings to decide whether or not to re-sign him. A lot of the Kings season had been over shadowed by the possible move to southern California, but this team has some good pieces in Evans and Cousins.

Look for them to: 1. RE-SIGN MARCUS THORNTON. When they traded for Marcus Thornton, they got a great scorer who will go along great with Evans who can create for him. 2. They will also draft high and address needs such as a big man if Samuel Dalembert leaves town. But first things first, they gotta re-sign Marcus Thornton.

I'm going 5 teams at a time so next post will be in a couple days and I'll cover New Jersey, Detroit, LA Clippers, Charlotte, and Milwaukee.

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