Team Needs (Central)
(Check here for Atlantic Div. Needs)
The Central still should be the most competitive division in the East next year with 3 teams who should contend for the conference title. The Eastern Champs, Cavs, still should be dangerous, but obviously have to do something to improve their subpar offense. The Bulls have great depth & a very talented perimeter-oriented attack, but still have to address a glaring need for more frontcourt help, specifically someone who can score down low. Pistons could still be a heavyweight in the East, but Dumars has some tough decisions to make this summer, specifically how much money will he shell out to keep free agent Billups. Sort of hard to get a good read on the Pacers with a newly-hired coach and with Jermaine O'Neal heavily involved in trade discussions & Jamaal Tinsley really not wanted in Indy. All I know is the Bucks look like they are pulling up the rear in the Central once agin next year. The Bucks only have 5 rotation players currently under contract and have multiple holes to fill this summer.
*--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 awarded 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 $53-55 million). 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.
CHICAGO-- (MLE) (#9, #51): Post scorer; Size
Draft Targets: Hawes; Noah; Jianlian
Same refrain as last summer: their primary need is a low-post scorer. If they do decide to keep their #9 pick, Spencer Hawes would be the most ideal fit, though he will probably will not have much of an impact for the next few years. But he could be scooped up at #7, so the Bulls might just have to settle for the best player available. They could always use more size with Ben Wallace currently being their tallest player, so if Noah is around, maybe you take him--even though his skills overlap with Big Ben. Could take a chance on Yi Jianlian, and supposedly Chicago is one of the few cities Yi & his reps approve of. Duhon's status looks to up in the air right now (has been mentioned as trade bait) and this makes some sense since he will have an $3 mil expiring deal. So a point like Chucky Atkins could be a target in free agency. Right now, the Bulls are heavily rumored to be the frontrunner to obtain Kobe if he is traded. If this goes down, this will definitely shake up the Bulls' roster & could their free agent/draft needs.
CLEVELAND--(MLE) (none): Shooting; Center
With the Cavs pushing within a few millions of the lux tax threshold, will see if they even use their full MLE. I really think they should wait on Gibson and see how he develops at the PG. A lot of people (even my collegue) is pushing for the Cavs to get a point who can push the pace. While I do think the Cavs need to look for more transition opportunities, as I've said before--the first priority of a PG playing next to LeBron is the ability to drill outside shots. The playoffs are still ultimately decided in the half-court, and if the Cavs don't have a PG who can shoot well, then it makes Bron's job very tough. Just look at how succesful the lineup of 3 shooters around Bron & Varejao worked druing stretches in the playoffs. Gibson can flat-out stroke the ball, so let him try to develop at the PG in the next few years. But I really think the Cavs need to try to deal Hughes. Never thought he was a good fit next to Bron when he originally signed in '05. Need someone who is a better spot-shooter next to Bron. Have some big decisions to make on Varejao & Sasha. Andy has to be the main priority, and the Cavs might have to match a fairly sizeable deal keep him. In Sasha's case, I am not really overly concerned with breaking the bank for him; he's probably better served as back-up if he's not gonna hit his outside shots like he did in the playoffs.
DETROIT-- (MLE) (#15, #27, #57): Back-up wings; PG
Draft targets: Law; Pruitt; Stuckey; Crittendon; T. Young; Koppenen
Already covered in-depth what the future could be for the Pistons. Looks like they are holding onto Saunders, and are making an effort to keep Chauncey. Right now, it looks like Dumars will only have to compete with the Bucks for the services of Billups (unless Chauncey requests a sign/trade). But even if they re-sign Chauncey, this team could still use a solid back-up PG. With the recent Delfino deal, the Pistons also need some bench help on the wings. Taking a big isn't out of the relm of possibility either since McDyess can opt out & CWebb's an unrestricted free-agent. If Acie Law is still around at the #15, think he would be a great fit because he can back-up at both guard spots, and even play alongside Billups when needed. Crittendon & Pruitt could be other options to fill the back-up role. They also could look to guys like Stuckey, T. Young, N. Young, R. Fernandez or Belinelli to fill Delfino's void. Though maybe Dumars should shy away from taking a PG at #15, so to avoid possibly alienating Billups before the signing period. The better strategy might be to look for a PG at #27 (a guy like Taureen Green);someone who projects as a career back-up who will not threaten Billups' starting role.
INDIANA--(MLE) (none): SG; PG
If they do hold onto Jermaine, the first order of business is to address the 2-guard spot. Though, the Pacers will have to do their free agent bidding with only their MLE this summer because right now they have no draft picks. This is why you could hear Indy in some trade discussions to mix up their roster. They really don't have a true 2-guard on the roster, and have to play Dunleavy or Granger there--both guys should not be expected to defend 2-guards. Also, need help at the PG--this team doesn't seem enamoured with Tinsley, but even if they keep him they have no quality back-ups. Free agent targets to fill the SG spot could be guys like Matt Barnes, Deshawn Stevenson, & Mo Peterson. Coach O'Brien is probably interested in a SG that can stroke the 3, and the Pacers could look to upgrade their deep shooting anyways. And there are slim pickings when it comes to PGs in free agency for the Pacers--maybe a guy like C. Atkins or Jason Hart could be had with the MLE or part of the MLE.
MILWAUKEE--($10-12 mil) (#6, #56): PG; SF; Back-up 4
Draft Targets: Conley; Brewer; Green; J. Wright; Noah; B. Wright
Basically this team has a myriad of things that need improvement: their defense was horrid in 06/07, rebounding was 3rd worst in the NBA, & they were dead last in shot-blocking. Not to mention there is very little depth across the board; The one thing going for them, is they are one of the few teams who some money to play with in free agency. Right now the PG spot is up in the air with Mo Williams an unrestricted FA. This is why you're hearing heavy rumors of the Bucks' flirtation with Billups. They also have some uncertainity surrounding their SF position with Simmons having injury issues the last 2 years, so at # 6 guys like Brewer, Green, Wright make sense. Think Brewer could be the best fit next to Redd, Redd can take care of the offense & Corey can provide the defense on the wings. Even with Bogut & Villaneuva this team could use some more help upfront. Not only were they a bad defensive team, they were also a poor rebounding team. Not a huge fan of Villaneuva, so if the Bucks look at a guy like Noah at #6, it could be warranted. Don't discount Conley at #6 either, basically the Bucks could go a bunch ways with their lotto pick. Basically, the Bucks should look to take anyone who's not a SG.