Tuesday, June 27, 2006

NBA Team Needs--Pacific Division

*--You will notice the two parentheses next to the team name. The first one will either have "MLE" or a dollar amount in it. This just states if the team has the Mid-Level Exception (which is roughly $5 mil this year) that is rewarded to every team that is over the salary cap. If a dollar amount is shown that means the team is under the salary cap. There are only a handful of teams under the salary cap (which has yet to be finalized, but should be around $50-52 million), they are as of right now: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Clippers, NO/OK, & Toronto; Utah might be slightly above the MLE, but that is not finalized at this point. The dollar amount is a rough estimation at this point, and can change to a degree for a myriad of technical things like cap holds, renounced rights, player options and the yet undetermined exact amount of this year's salary cap. The second parentheses just states the draft picks that each team presently owns

GOLDEN STATE (MLE) (#9, #38): SF; Center
-- The Warriors should just be called "the Knicks of the West Coast" from now on. The Warriors are locked into about 9-10 players for a couple more years and they don't seem to play well together, sort of like the Knicks. For a bottom dwelling team, they don't have the requisite cap flexiblity that is usually accorded to a losing squad. The Warriors' front office have made some very dubious decisions the last few years and are stuck with bloated deals with multiple years left on them: Dunleavy, Murphy, Derek Fisher, and probably one of the worst deals in NBA history--Adonal Foyle. The consensus seems to be that they don't love Dunleavy too much, and he was definitely overrated coming out of Duke (Guys being overrated from Duke? Gee, that never happens.) I think they should target more of a role-playing SF with ball-handling skills to offset all ball-domination by Davis & Richardson. They could especially use a point-forward since Baron likes to look for his own offense so much. If he can play a little defense that would be nice, seeing as the Warriors are none too special on that end of the floor. At #9, Ron Brewer would be absolutely perefct if they want a SF. Gold State could also look for a center since you know they have to start Foyle right now. That's not good for anybody. It would not hurt if the player could block some shots and provide some low post scoring, two things the Warriors badly need. At #9, Pat O'Bryant has to be their main target and maybe Hilton Armstrong as their second choice. Besides that they might have to be careful dishing out their MLE cause of their aforementioned cap issues--they were actually one of the few teams that did not use their MLE last summer. I think the only way this team can make some serious progress is thru trades, but they have some pretty difficult contracts to move.

LA CLIPPERS ($6-8 mil) (#34, #52): Back-up 4/5; Shooter; PG
-- The biggest chore facing the Clips this summer is what to do with Cassell & Radmanovic. I know Sammy is looking to get paid, but how high should the Clips go & for how many years. I don't give him more than 2 years, maybe 2 with a team option for a 3rd. I am not sure about the yearly amount--maybe $8 per at the most. To tell you the truth, I don't think the Clips are going to have to give him much more than the MLE, because I highly doubt Sammy will want to play for any of the teams with cap space. The other player to decide on is Vlad Radmanovic. This is a tougher call. You have Maggette at the same position, but the Clips seemed to be shopping him hard for about a year now. I have sort of a love/hate relationship with Corey's game. Sometimes he really impresses me with his strong drives to the rim which often lead to him making a living on the foul line. The great defensive rebounding from the SF position wins high marks from me as well. But he can infuriate you at the same time with incredibly boneheaded turnovers and horribly misguided shot selection. In the space of the same game you can go from proclaiming him an all-star to the next minute saying the Clips need to deal him as quick as possible. Vlad provides great outside shooting that the Clips could use and he can play the 4 when the Clips want to downsize. It is definitely not an easy call--if you can get him for around the MLE, then you might want to keep him. The Clips definitely need to acquire a back-up 4/5 about 6-10 or bigger, because right now Zelly Rebraca is there only post player behind Kaman & Brand. At the #34, they can look for guys like Paul Davis, Pittsnogle, Alex Johnson or Leon Powe. Guys like Reg Evans & Kel Cato could make sense in free agency. If they can't resign Radmanovic, they could look to get a bench player who can shoot--Van Horn, Harpring, & Dev George could be availiable.

LA LAKERS (MLE) (#26, #51): PG; Post player; Back-up wing
-- First order of business for the Lakers is to identify a point guard to go alongside Kobe. Similar to the Cavs, the Lakers do not need a classic pure point cause you have such good ball-handlers in Kobe & Odom. Also, the triangle offense does not really require it. What they need to look for is a guard who can drill it from deep. The big problem with this years's point guard crop is that all of the top guys are poor shooters. The Lakers might be better off trying to trade up, cause at #26 nobody really makes sense for what they need. If they do stick there, they could go for a wing who can be a back-up to maybe fill the void that could happen if Devean George leaves. In free agency, the Lakers could possibly use their mid-level to entice guards like Mike James, Marcus Banks, Flip Murray and there's even rumors that Cassell might move across the hallway. They could also look for the best post player availiable at #26 if they are not impressed with the guards there.

PHOENIX (MLE) (#21, #27): Size; Rebounding; C; Back-up PG
-- They have to target someone 6-10 or bigger that can provide some interior presence defensively & on the glass. They seem to be high on guys like Sene, Boone, & Armstrong and each guy brings the requisite size, board work, defensive prowess & good athleticism to boot, which Phoenix loves. There also seems to be a push for a back-up point even before a big; I think they would not hurt themselves to target a PG with the other pick, its just not anywhere near as important as a big. They definitely need to cut down on Nash's minutes, although I don't think Barbosa can't handle the back-up minutes for time-being like most people are stressing. Here's the deal--anyone trying to sub in for Nash is going to look like a serious downgrade, Barbosa is not as shaky as people think covering for Nash. They do have the rights to Milos Vujanic over in Europe who happens to be one of the best guards over there with legit NBA athleticism, so they have options. But you do have to look at guys like Farmar & Kyle Lowry because Barbosa's contract is ending soon. The Suns also have to make a call on Tim Thomas. Tim did a wonderful job in the playoffs and he seems to thrive the Suns' system where he's perfect cause all he wants to do is chuck up 3s & there's no requirement to play defense. But its a tough call because you could have a very crowded frontcourt with Amare, Kurt, Diaw, Marion & possibly Tim fighting for minutes plus whatever big they bring in thru the draft. Also, its tough because the Suns are soon to be bumping up close to the luxury cap and they still have to decide on Diaw & Barbosa's deals, which are ending in the next year or two.

SACRAMENTO (MLE) (#19): Back-up PG; Back-up defensive 4/5; Wing Shooter
-- This team should be better off the bat defenesively just because having Musselman there and having Artest at the start of the season. I like the hire of Musselman because this team needed a coach who demands tough team defense. But they could still use some good individual defenders to bring off the bench. At the #19, Kyle Lowry could be a very good fit as a back-up for Bibby. Although, I am not a huge Lowry fan and think many people have him overrated. I think he can have a long career as back-up in a sort of Lindsay Hunter role. But his main calling card is defense and that is badly needed at the point for the Kings since Bibby makes Jason Williams look like a 1st team defender. Rondo's also a strong candidate if he falls, & should be taken ahead of Lowry if he does. At the other bookend, the Kings have to get someone who can defend on the frontline and hopefully block a couple shots. Someone athletic would be nice like Hilton Armstrong, Boone or Sene, and all might be there at #19 as well, so the Kings might have to make a tough choice between a PG or a big. Their decision might be made easier if the rumors of Bob Jackson wanting to return back to Sacto are true. They could use some or all of their MLE on Jackson, then they could take a big at #19. Another option the Kings have in their arsenal is the expiring contracts of Corliss Williamson & Potapenko. They equal about a combined $10 Mil, and could be turned into a big or PG, or they could maybe exchange them for a wing shooter to replace some of Peja's lost marksmanship.