NBA Free Agency 2012: 10 Teams That Must Fill Massive Voids in Free Agency
As fun as being an NBA fan is, it can be downright frustrating if your favorite team is poorly managed, particularly from a financial standpoint. Take it from me, a New York Knicks fan. Isiah Thomas polluted the team's salary cap for over five years and even though he's long gone, the team still has its fair share of heavy contracts on the payroll.
That being said, I have one lesson for any potential GMs out there: if your team has a lot of cap space, USE IT WISELY. Just one small signing can turn a franchise around and instantly make you a legend.
Many GMs have that chance this coming summer, particularly those of these 10 teams that have enormous holes to plug.
10. Houston Rockets
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The Rockets' salary cap isn't that bad in terms of big contracts, but the team has a gaping hole at center that Luis Scola is just too small to fill. At 38 years old, Marcus Camby helped the team at that position late this season, and while he is still effective, he isn't a long-term option, and neither is Samuel Dalembert.
Fortunately for Houston GM Daryl Morey, Camby and his $11.2 million salary will be off the books this summer. At that point, the Rockets need to pursue a center like Chris Kaman, who can put some points on the board as well as play tough defense.
9. Miami Heat
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Does Miami have many needs? No. Do they need to make some moves this offseason? You bet your sweet LeBron jersey, they do!
Sure, the Heat don't have a lot of cap space thanks to their Big Three, but they still have enough that they could make a move this summer. With guys like bench scorer Jason Terry considering a trip to South Beach and the same coming from Steve Nash, Pat Riley would be a fool to not upgrade his team to a Big Four, or maybe even a Big Five, depending on how the situation played out.
8. Orlando Magic
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The Magic could find themselves in store for a very busy offseason. From Dwight Howard's rumored trade demand to key players Jameer Nelson and Ryan Anderson hitting free agency, Otis Smith (pictured) needs to prepare himself to break out the checkbook.
Call me crazy, but he still has a shot at keeping Howard. By letting Nelson walk and bringing in a pass-first point man, Orlando could easily have the potential to become Lob City, Jr. and maybe then, Howard will be content to stay in the Sunshine State.
7. Cleveland Cavaliers
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Ever since LeBron James flipped Cleveland the bird and ran away to Miami, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has been on a mission: win again without LeBron's help.
He already made two great decisions in drafting Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson last year, but it's obvious that another scorer is needed, particularly one not named Antawn Jamison and one who isn't an aging veteran who makes $15 million a year.
Fortunately for Gilbert, his team will have a little more breathing room this summer when the 35-year-old Jamison hits the open market and a bevy of scorers like Eric Gordon and Jason Terry join him. Either one could help bring the Cavs back to the postseason.
6. Dallas Mavericks
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The Dallas Mavericks need so many holes plugged, they might as well call a plumber. Last offseason, they lost two key pieces of their championship team in Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea. This summer, they're probably about to lose two more: Jason Kidd and Jason Terry.
Regardless of how the situation with those two pans out, the front office will have a lot of money available to start bringing in new players to help bring the team back to prominence. Deron Williams has already shown interest in returning to his hometown, and having him on the team would only spell good fortune for the Mavs.
If not him, the team could also pursue a dominant and durable center like JaVale McGee or Roy Hibbert, though both are restricted free agents. Still, either of those men would do a great job manning the middle in the Lone Star State.
5. Philadelphia 76ers
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The Sixers may not appear to have many needs, especially since they're just one win away from eliminating the top-seeded Chicago Bulls, but they have one fatal flaw: They don't have one player who can step up and take over in a close contest.
That being said, the front office needs to prepare for the growing likelihood that Elton Brand and Lou Williams will both opt out. Those two leaving equals about $22 million off the books. That money can be used to bring in a scoring forward to help complement point forward Andre Iguodala and blossoming point guard Jrue Holiday.
4. New Orleans Hornets
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The Hornets have a new owner in New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, and a new owner usually means a new influx of cash.
That said, GM Dell Demps (or whoever has the GM's job by the time free agency rolls around) has two items on his to-do list once he's allowed to start talking to players: bring back shooting guard Eric Gordon or re-sign Chris Kaman, if not both.
3. New York Knicks
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Up until Jeremy Lin burst on the scene this winter, the Knicks' greatest need was at point guard. Given Lin's emergence, GM Glen Grunwald is going to have to get creative this summer.
Does he use his mid-level exception to retain Lin, or does he move some players around and pursue a time-tested option in an aging Steve Nash? Or does he pursue neither and take huge risks like his former boss, Isiah Thomas?
Either way, no matter how you look at it, the Knicks' greatest need is at point guard and with what little cap space they have available, that need must be addressed promptly.
2. Phoenix Suns
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The Suns are entering rebuilding mode next season, and that means letting longtime point guard Steve Nash leave via free agency.
About $22 million is coming off the books and that cash needs to be used toward bringing in a new floor general who will continue what Nash started in the desert: an era of positive leadership highlighted by a balanced attack of passing and scoring.
Be it through the draft or free agency, that is a void that Phoenix must fill as soon as possible in order to stay in contention.
1. Brooklyn Nets
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Dwight Howard threw a monkey wrench into the Nets' offseason plans at the trade deadline, when he signed an opt-in clause to remain with the Orlando Magic for next year. Because of that, GM Billy King needs to do everything he can to keep star point guard Deron Williams from going to another team.
The problem is that the Nets have so many voids to fill besides those at center and potentially point guard, so there is only one option: gut the team and hope that what is received in return is enough to make Williams stay. Howard's requesting a trade at the end of the season is something for King to work on as well, seeing as how the All-Star center supposedly wants to come to the Nets quite badly.
Regardless of how everything plays out, one thing is for certain: the Nets are going to be very busy this summer as they prepare for their inaugural season in Brooklyn, particularly since they'll be little more than an expansion team if they lose out on both Williams and Howard.