One Player Every NBA Team Should Part Ways with This Summer
Despite the level of talent present on every NBA roster, there is no team where every player is essential.
Each roster has its share of fat that needs to be trimmed, and whether that comes in the form of a bloated contract or a player who only leaves the bench to congratulate his teammates, no professional ball club can claim they can go 15 deep on any given night.
In today's NBA where things like cap room are crucial to a team's success, every organization must be willing to get rid of a player if it will benefit the long-term prospects of their franchise. Whether a guy has been on the team for a decade or he is just another journeyman, the decision must be based solely on what the player can do for their team.
From disgruntled superstars to over-the-hill veterans, draft busts and everything in between, let's take a look at one player that each NBA team should be willing to part ways with once the offseason rolls around.
Atlanta Hawks: Kirk Hinrich
The Atlanta Hawks traded for Kirk Hinrich at the 2011 trade deadline, hoping he could finally be the point guard that the team needed to push them from a playoff team to a legitimate contender.
However, Captain Kirk injured himself in their first-round win over Orlando, and his inability to suit up created a golden opportunity for point guard Jeff Teague to shine against the Chicago Bulls and steal the role of starting point guard.
Hinrich did not adjust well to a role off the bench, averaging a paltry 6.6 points and 2.8 assists per game. Obviously part of that was Hinrich recovering from his injury, but at $8 million a year, that is not the kind of production a team expects from their lead guard off the bench.
He is still a solid defender and perimeter shooter, but he will not be worth the price he will command from teams desperate to add a veteran player to their backcourt rotation.
Atlanta will need to find another guard to direct their second unit, but they can do that through free agency or the draft. With the 23rd overall pick, the Hawks could look at Vanderbilt's John Jenkins, a two-guard prospect with a deadly outside shot, or Kentucky sophomore Doron Lamb.
Though Hinrich could very well go back to being the productive player he was during his time with the Chicago Bulls, Atlanta's backcourt of Teague and Joe Johnson is set in stone, and there are much cheaper options to fill Hinrich's role.
Boston Celtics: Marquis Daniels
The return of Marquis Daniels to the Boston Celtics was one of the nicer stories of the 2011-2012 NBA season, as the veteran swingman returned to Boston after a terrifying spine injury sustained during a game with the Orlando Magic.
At the time, it seemed Daniels may never play professional basketball again, but he was able to make a successful return and resume his role on the Boston bench.
While Daniels had some decent moments this season, including Game 3 against Miami where he played key minutes and was a big defensive factor, the Celtics should part ways with the 31-year-old when his contract expires.
Boston needs to get younger on the wings. The team will likely take a shooting guard or small forward with one of their two first-round draft picks, and the ball club also has the young and talented Avery Bradley, who is a lockdown defender at the two spot.
Mickael Pietrus is a better shooter and defender than Daniels and has expressed an interest in returning to the team. He should be able to absorb Daniels' minutes on the court.
The Boston Celtics simply have to add youth and athleticism, and letting Marquis Daniels walk will open up minutes on the wing for someone who can hopefully blossom down the road.
Brooklyn Nets: Johan Petro
The decision for the Nets came down to Shelden Williams, DeShawn Stevenson and Johan Petro.
The only reason Stevenson isn't on here is because he is still a decent perimeter defender and is reportedly Deron Williams' closest friend on the team, making him someone the Nets should re-sign for the veteran's minimum if possible.
Williams actually gave the team decent minutes in the middle, averaging 4.6 points and six boards per contest to go with nearly a block per game. Though he isn't the most gifted interior defender, he plays hard and aggressively whenever he's on the court, at least making his presence felt.
That left Petro, who was the team's third-string center and averaged 4.2 points and 3.8 boards in just 15.6 minutes of playing time per night. For a seven-footer, he does not use his size well and is not a player that the Nets need in their rotation.
The team should be looking to keep Brook Lopez, a restricted free agent, in Brooklyn while adding another dynamic big man. Kris Humphries, who was the glue guy for the Nets' patchy frontcourt, is an unrestricted free agent and will be fielding plenty of offers on the open market.
Petro is owed $3.5 million next season, and that is money he just does not deserve relative to what he contributes on the court.
The Nets used their amnesty clause on swingman Travis Outlaw, meaning they must find some team that will trade for the French big man. If any NBA ball club is looking desperately to add size, the Nets should pull the trigger.
There is not a single Nets fan who wants to see Petro wearing the team's new black-and-white uniforms when next season starts.
Charlotte Bobcats: DeSagana Diop
There are plenty of players the Charlotte Bobcats don't need to bring back next season, but DeSagana Diop is easily the most useless player on their roster.
Diop was a lottery pick of Cleveland over a decade ago because of his size and athleticism, but he never developed the skills to thrive in the league and has bounced around from team to team with varying levels of success.
Diop played just 12 minutes per game for the Bobcats, averaging 3.1 rebounds and just over one point per game. Diop has a player option for $7.3 million last season, and considering the kind of offers he'll receive as a free agent, there is no reason Diaw won't exercise his option despite Charlotte's lack of success.
As an NBA team, though, you simply cannot allow yourself to pay that kind of money for someone who averages one point per game.
No team is going to trade for Diop even if they need to add height badly, so the only option for the Bobcats is to amnesty the center.
The team already has Bismack Biyombo, who they are grooming as their center of the future and who needs minutes to improve, as well as Tyrus Thomas, who has shown he deserves some time on the court as a shot-blocking presence.
The Bobcats could also potentially acquire a big man through the draft like Thomas Robinson or Andre Drummond, making Diop's services even less necessary.
Charlotte is still nowhere near playoff contention, but the organization cannot, in good conscience, continue paying him to be a non-contributor.
Chicago Bulls: Brian Scalabrine
This slide would be very different if Derrick Rose were not slated to miss the early portion of the season, where I might be inclined to say that Chicago could let C.J. Watson walk and make John Lucas III their primary backup point guard.
However, the Bulls need all the point guards they can get due to Rose's ACL tear, making Watson a necessity going into next season.
The Bulls have a pretty well constructed roster. They have dynamic defensive bigs in Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik, All-Stars in Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng and three talented shooting guards in Rip Hamilton, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver.
The one player the team really has no use for is Brian "White Mamba" Scalabrine, one of the league's most popular players.
He earned $1.3 million last season, and while that is hardly a large salary, it does not make sense for Chicago to re-sign the 34-year-old small forward for another year.
Rookie Jimmy Butler could easily assume what minutes Scalabrine was able to get in the rotation and will help open up money to bring back players like Asik and Lucas, who will be very important for the Bulls next season.
It'll be heartbreaking for Chicago fans not to see Scalabrine hop joyously off the bench to high-five the starters at every timeout, yet parting ways with Scalabrine is a small move, but a potentially important one, that the team should make this offseason.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Antawn Jamison
After averaging 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds while playing in all but one game for the Cavaliers last season, Antawn Jamison proved he has plenty of good basketball left to play.
However, the sharpshooting stretch 4 is not a part of Cleveland's rebuilding plan, as evidenced by the team drafting power forward Tristan Thompson with the fourth pick in the 2011 draft.
Jamison would make an excellent sixth man or even starter for a championship contender that needs some veteran leadership and long-range shooting, but the Cavs are still a ways away from being a playoff team.
Though Thompson struggled at times during his rookie season, he still has a great motor and tremendous upside. He is the kind of aggressive post player that is well worth waiting on.
Cleveland has shown it is committed to rebuilding through the draft, owning two first-round picks this season and looking to add more young talent to the core of Irving and Thompson. Jamison may help them win a few more games next season if they were to keep him, but Cleveland is focused on adding long-term pieces and the 35-year-old Jamison does not fit into that category.
The Cavaliers should not part ways with Jamison because he can no longer contribute on the court, but because, despite his skills and his leadership abilities, the team needs to preserve cap room and look to add players to the roster who can grow together.
Jamison's best days are behind him, and it would be pointless to see him waste his last productive years on a non-contender.
Dallas Mavericks: Jason Terry
After being swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder this season, it became clear that the Dallas Mavericks need to make some major changes to their roster, and that includes letting fan-favorite and sixth man extraordinaire Jason Terry go in free agency.
Terry was instrumental in the team's championship run, but as they look to rebuild for one more run in the Dirk Nowitzki era, the team needs to add young pieces with upside who could potentially take the reins from Nowitzki in a few seasons.
Dallas has the 17th pick in this year's draft and has been linked to Washington's Terrence Ross, Syracuse's Dion Waiters and Duke's Austin Rivers, three extremely talented shooting guards who could take Terry's role off the bench and be groomed into starting guards with a few seasons under Rick Carlisle.
In addition, if Dallas is still committed to bringing in Deron Williams and even Dwight Howard, they must open up cap room and the 34-year-old Terry will still command a hefty payday on the open market.
There are plenty of teams that will be looking to add a guard who can run their offense and stroke it from anywhere on the court. Terry averaged 15.1 points and 3.6 assists last season, working well as both the leader of the Mavs' second unit and a crunch-time scorer in the fourth quarter.
Unless he is willing to resign with the Mavs at a significant discount, it does not make sense for Dallas to use their cap room on Terry when they can draft a replacement or use that money to bring in another superstar.
He will be remembered as one of the all-time greats in Dallas Mavericks basketball history, but Jason Terry's run in Dallas should be over.
Denver Nuggets: Chris Andersen
Not too long ago, Chris Andersen was a valuable part of the Denver Nuggets' rotation, being a presence defensively and on the glass off the bench. His bizarre demeanor and off-court antics not withstanding, Andersen provided the team with an inside presence that they needed.
However, Andersen fell out of the rotation this season because of the slew of athletic, talented big men on Denver's roster and his own inability to make much impact on the court.
He averaged a decent 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game but made only 32 appearances and played just 15.2 minutes per game.
The team has Kenneth Faried, a revelation in his first year in the league as a gritty player in the post, along with Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos, both of whom have great size and were solid rotation pieces for George Karl's ball club. Then there's JaVale McGee, the hyper-athletic center who played excellent basketball in the postseason and is a restricted free agent this summer.
If Denver keeps McGee and Faried, they have their frontcourt starters in place for years to come. Mozgov and Koufos can play solid minutes off the bench, and this rotation would leave little room for a fifth big man to receive any significant minutes at all.
Denver could amnesty Andersen and free themselves of the two years and $9.3 million remaining on his contract while using some of that money to tender an offer to McGee. The Nuggets have their young, athletic core in place, and there is just no reason to retain a player like Andersen to round out the bench for a decent chunk of the salary cap.
I fully expect Denver to amnesty the Birdman; it makes too much sense not to.
Detroit Pistons: Charlie Villanueva
Charlie Villanueva has been the guy for the Pistons to get rid of essentially since he signed a five-year, $35 million contract with the team three years ago. With two years and over $16.5 million remaining of that deal, the Pistons must look to get rid of the former UConn standout as they continue their rebuilding process.
In under 14 minutes per game last season, Villanueva averaged seven points and 3.7 rebounds while shooting just 33.3 percent from three-point range. For a 6'11" power forward he shows no aggression on the glass, preferring to camp out at the three-point line and fire the ball from distance.
The emergence of Greg Monroe has given the Pistons their man at either the 4 or 5 spot, making Villanueva's services unnecessary. The team is looking to add another forward or center to pair with Monroe through the draft and should be looking to avoid bringing a rookie into an environment with a player like Villanueva, who has struggled with coaches and caused much drama in his career.
It's not Villlanueva's fault that he is on such a bad contract; it was the Pistons' mistake to offer a high paying deal to a glorified role player. Still, Detroit's cap is clogged with bad contracts (Ben Gordon, Tayshaun Prince), and the team should look to amnesty Villanueva, the least valuable of those three players.
The Pistons are trying to move away from the negative culture that has plagued the team for the past few seasons, and getting rid of players like Charlie Villanueva will go a long way towards that goal.
Some team will be willing to pay Villanueva to fill out their roster, but that team should not be the Detroit Pistons.
Golden State Warriors: Andris Biedrins
The Golden State Warriors have been searching for what seems like an eternity for a dominant center, and that search has finally led the team to defensive stalwart Andrew Bogut, who the team traded for last season.
However, along the way they gave an absolutely ludicrous contract to Andris Biedrins, a contract that still owes him $18 million over the next two seasons.
Prior to receiving the contract, Biedrins played extremely well for the Warriors, peaking in 2008-2009 when he averaged 11.9 points, 11.2 boards and 1.5 blocks per game.
Since then, he has been a shadow of his former self, bottoming out last season when he averaged 1.7 points and 3.8 boards, both career lows. Biedrins only played 15.7 minutes per game, his lowest since his second season, and looked lost out on the court.
The Warriors are hoping Bogut can be their center for the future, but they also have Jeremy Tyler and Mickell Gladness to consider, both of whom are still young and have some upside.
The team also holds the seventh and 30th picks in the draft. They will undoubtedly be adding size to their roster with one of those selections.
The only way the team can get rid of Biedrins is by finding a trade partner or simply cutting him and absorbing the cap hit.
The NBA is a league where confidence is essential, and Biedrins seems to have lost his over the past few seasons, making him a complete non-factor on the basketball court. All trade possibilities for Biedrins should be explored, because there is just no reason that Golden State should continue to pay the seven-footer to woefully underachieve.
Houston Rockets: Marcus Morris
Obviously, it is difficult to give up on a rookie former lottery pick, but Marcus Morris struggled mightily in his rookie season, and the team should look to deal the young power forward if some team is willing to give him another shot.
Believed at the time of the 2011 draft to be the better of the Morris twins, Marcus did not adjust well to the NBA, while his brother Markieff had an impressive rookie campaign for the Phoenix Suns.
Morris played in just 17 games last season, averaging 2.4 points and one rebound per game. He barely saw time on the floor, averaging just 7.4 minutes per game. Morris spent time in the D-League but showed little growth during the course of the season.
Houston has Patrick Patterson and Chandler Parsons at the 4 spot, both who showed serious potential in the 2011-2012 season.
Houston will be looking to add size through the draft with its pair of first-round picks and has been linked to talents like Kentucky's Terrence Jones, Illinois' Meyers Leonard and North Carolina's Tyler Zeller, all of whom can play both the 4 and 5 positions.
Perhaps Marcus Morris will reinvent himself with a different team, but he simply did not show that he could be a part of the Rockets' future, and the team would be better off seeing if they could get anything of value for him this summer.
Indiana Pacers: Jeff Pendergraph/No One
The Indiana Pacers, like the Chicago Bulls, have a very well built roster and few players who are really a burden.
Leandro Barbosa, Danny Granger and David West are the only players making significant money, as no one else on the team is even earning $3 million per year. Barbosa is not an essential part of the team's future, but he played well in stretches, and they could use some instant offense off the bench, which Barbosa can provide in spades.
Jeff Pendergraph, meanwhile, was a standout at Arizona State but has failed to catch on in his two NBA seasons.
He played in only 20 games last season and played just over five minutes in them, averaging 1.7 points and 1.7 rebounds. He was an athletic big man in college and a good defender, but he is not an elite talent and will likely continue to see mainly spot duty as a professional.
The Pacers need to open up as much cap space as possible as the team prepares for the impending free agency of Roy Hibbert and George Hill, both restricted free agents who will command hefty paydays.
Every dollar available would help, and if the team can find someone to take Pendergraph's $1.5 million for something like a second-round draft pick, they should do it.
The team already has Louis Amundson and Tyler Hansbrough as high energy backups at the 4 and 5 spots, leaving little work for Pendergraph anyway. He will never get much opportunity in Indianapolis, and though he isn't a big drain on the Pacers, he is really the only player worth getting rid of.
Los Angeles Clippers: Nick Young
The Los Angeles Clippers had plenty of offense last season, thanks to the presence of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, as well as veterans Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups. Scoring was never supposed to be an issue for the Clips in their first season after trading for Paul.
However, the midseason Achilles injury sustained by Billups left the team with a hole at the 2-guard spot, and they made a deadline-day trade for former Washington Wizards sharpshooter Nick Young.
Young has been able to produce offensively since he came into the league, but he has garnered a reputation as a bit of a handful for his coaches and teammates.
Young averaged a solid 9.7 points for Los Angeles but shot just 39.4 percent from the field. He had one great game in the playoffs, Game 1 against Memphis, where he hit three consecutive threes in the team's furious rally. However, he was never that effective for the rest of the stretch run.
Young earned $3.7 million last season and is due for a pay increase next season due to his offensive talents.
The Clippers do not need a player like Young as their starting 2-guard. As a bona-fide title contender, Los Angeles should be trying to add a player like Ray Allen or Kirk Hinrich, who can impact the game in ways beyond just jacking up ill-advised jump shots.
The Clippers need to convince Paul and Griffin that L.A. is in good shape for the future as both will be free agents soon. Therefore, they need a player with playoff experience and one who can contribute to a winning culture,
Lob City brought Nick Young in out of need prior to the playoffs, but now that the offseason has rolled around and they have better ways to fix that need, they should be willing to let Young walk and find a new home.
Los Angeles Lakers: Metta World Peace
Metta World Peace played well in the postseason for the Lakers, but as the team looks to retool around Andrew Bynum and get younger, they should also try to rid themselves of World Peace's burdensome contract. MWP is owed nearly $15 million over the next two years and, at age 32, should see his skills continue to decline.
The Lakers have been exposed in the past two conference semifinals for their lack of athleticism on the perimeter, which is why they must deal the former Defensive Player of the Year. Devin Ebanks had a solid second season and showed that he could become the answer at the 3 spot if given the opportunity.
During the regular season, MWP was nearly a non-factor on offense, averaging just 7.7 points on 39.4 percent shooting the field while hitting under 30 percent of his three-point attempts. Though his defense is still good, it is not the same airtight D that he hung his hat on in Indiana.
The Lakers could use their amnesty clause on World Peace, but there is likely a team looking for a veteran perimeter defender that would be willing to trade for him, as long as his reputation does not get in the way.
He still has some good basketball to play but is not a part of the Lakers' long-term equation, and the team should look to move him instead of someone like Pau Gasol this summer.
Memphis Grizzlies: Dante Cunningham/No One
Memphis may have the best constructed roster of any team in the NBA. After scouring their roster looking for a weak link, the best I could find was Arenas, and even he has a role.
The team has their stars in Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol; an improved point guard in Mike Conley, who is a quality facilitator and defender; and an excellent crop of bench players.
Ultimately I settled on Dante Cunningham, the 6'8" forward who has two years and $4.2 million left on his contract for the Grizzlies. Cunningham actually provided some nice minutes for the team due to the injuries to Zach Randolph and Darrell Arthur, but with both players likely healthy for next season, he may be a luxury Memphis does not need.
Arthur showed great promise before going down with an Achilles injury prior to the 2011-2012 season, and Randolph is on a four-year contract and has cemented his status as a franchise player for the Grizz.
The team also has Marreese Speights, a gifted offensive big man who is a restricted free agent, that they should look to keep on the roster if possible. Speights averaged 8.8 points and 6.2 rebounds while demonstrating a smooth midrange jump shot that can help spread out a defense.
The Grizzlies would have one of the best big-man rotations with Randolph, Gasol, Arthur and Speights if they can keep them together, making Dante Cunningham unnecessary.
Still, with his meager contract, it is hardly a poisonous deal to have on their salary cap. Hats off to Memphis for constructing a roster where everyone plays a role, even Gilbert Arenas.
Miami Heat: Eddy Curry
I'm not sure this one needs much explanation: There is no reason to use an NBA roster spot on a professional basketball player who can barely play professional basketball.
Though Curry slimmed down to a svelte 295 pounds, he was barely able to get on the court and is nowhere near the player the Knicks once mortgaged their future for.
Miami undoubtedly has holes in the middle, but the team found success starting Udonis Haslem alongside Chris Bosh at the 4 and 5 spots and should look to retain Ronny Turiaf, who has given them some decent minutes since coming aboard.
Obviously none of these are ideal options, but the Heat have to work within the constraints they have made for themselves, and there is just no sense in keeping Eddy Curry on the roster. Even Joel Anthony had his nice moments defensively this season and can hold his own in the paint.
In 14 games for Miami, Curry played under six minutes per game and averaged just two points and a rebound. Obviously not everyone on an NBA roster will be playing, but they need to field players who will be able to play at any time when called upon, and Curry, due to his conditioning and heart conditions, simply cannot do that.
It's sad to see what has happened to Curry, who was once one of the league's most promising big men, but there is just no reason for Miami to retain the seven-footer for another season.
Milwaukee Bucks: Kwame Brown
This may be a bit of a cop-out, because Kwame Brown never actually suited up for the Bucks due to his season-ending pectoral injury, but despite their lack of size Milwaukee does not need to keep the former first overall pick on their roster for next season.
The Bucks acquired Brown as a part of the Andrew Bogut-Monta Ellis trade along with promising big man Ekpe Udoh, and he is simply not the kind of player a team should have on their roster.
Brown has been criticized for his laziness and lack of work ethic throughout his career, something that will not mesh with Scott Skiles' coaching style and system, which stresses fundamentals and hard work. There would no doubt be issues between the two, just like there were between Skiles and Stephen Jackson earlier this past season.
The team does need size after trading Bogut, but Drew Gooden played some excellent basketball down the stretch and Udoh still has tremendous talent and upside. In addition, the team will undoubtedly be looking at adding a 4 or 5 through the draft with the 12th pick, whether it is North Carolina's Tyler Zeller or Illinois' Meyers Leonard.
In short, the Bucks have better options than to pay someone like Kwame Brown, coming off a major injury, significant money to underachieve and not use his sheer size to dominate a game.
Milwaukee is trying to take the leap into playoff contention, and there is no room for Brown on a team that must fight and claw through every possession and every game of the upcoming season.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Darko Milicic
The emergence of Nikola Pekovic for Minnesota was the most unexpected development in the NBA this season this side of Linsanity.
After barely playing in his rookie year, "Pekcitement" became a force for the Timberwolves down low, averaging 13.9 points and 7.4 boards while shooting a blistering 56.4 percent from the field. He emerged as the banger that Minnesota needed alongside Kevin Love.
In the process, Pekovic made Darko Milicic, the team's starting center at the beginning of the year, obsolete.
Milicic is widely considered one of the biggest busts of all time after being selected second overall by Detroit in 2003 ahead of Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade. He bounced around for the beginning of his career, playing sporadically in Detroit, Orlando, Memphis and New York before winding up in Minneapolis.
He actually had a decent 2010-2011 campaign, averaging 8.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and two blocks in just over 24 minutes of playing time. However, he could not stay healthy and stay on the floor for the T-Wolves this past season.
With Pekovic poised to become the long-term starter and the presence of players like Anthony Randolph, Anthony Tolliver and even Love on the roster, they have plenty of options in the middle.
Milicic has two more years and nearly $11 million left on his contract, making him a candidate for Minnesota's amnesty clause or a trade if one should present itself. The Timberwolves are believed to be looking to get Milicic off the roster, and they would be wise not to have the Yugoslavian center suiting up for them this fall.
New Orleans Hornets: Chris Kaman
The New Orleans Hornets are in as enviable of a situation as any lottery team, holding the No. 1 pick in this year's draft and the opportunity to pair Kentucky's Anthony Davis with dynamic shooting guard Eric Gordon as their core for the future. After a bleak season following Chris Paul's trade to Los Angeles, things are looking up for Hornets basketball.
One decision the team has to make is whether to tender a new contract to power forward Chris Kaman, a former All-Star who had a very solid year for New Orleans after being injured for most of 2010-2011. Kaman averaged 13.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game while providing the team with a veteran presence.
Personally, I think the team should let Kaman walk. This is a club that has veteran presences in Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, who can help bring up the young players, and there are plenty of teams that will be overbidding for Kaman's services this summer.
In addition to Davis, who it has to be assumed will be the team's selection with the first overall pick, New Orleans has a few other young players at the 4 and 5 positions that have shown some promise.
Gustavo Ayon, who came to the team from Mexico last season, played well down the stretch, asserting himself in the paint and providing a nice interior presence for Monty Williams' team.
Jason Smith, who signed a contract extension last offseason, had a career year, averaging 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 52 percent from the floor.
Both of these players are young and still improving. With the addition of Davis, New Orleans could have an extremely formidable frontcourt in a few years.
Kaman simply does not fit with the youth movement of the Hornets, and if teams are making offers anywhere near the $14 million he earned last season, there is no reason the Hornets should enter the bidding war.
New York Knicks: J.R. Smith
The Knicks brought in J.R. Smith to be the go-to scorer of the team's second unit and provide them with an offensive punch that the team seemed to be lacking in the early part of the season.
Smith did this to some degree, averaging 12.5 points per game and connecting on 34.7 percent of his three-point attempts. He did all this on a $2.5 million deal because he signed midway through the season after being granted release from his Chinese team.
However, Smith is likely to opt out of his contract and look either for a long-term deal with New York or a lucrative deal with another team in need of a scorer.
There's no question Smith is a talented player, but for a team like the Knicks who are struggling to stay under the salary cap, they can't go pay an underachieving 2-guard $7 million a year to jack up too many threes and play matador defense.
The Knicks played Smith as a point guard for stretches last season, which clearly did not work. Smith has a tendency to dribble himself into trouble and be a little too hesitant to give up the ball. The Knicks will be looking to not only re-sign Jeremy Lin, but also to add a reserve point guard due to Baron Davis' gruesome knee injury and Mike Bibby's age.
Decisions have to be made about whether the team will be retaining Steve Novak, Landry Fields and Jared Jeffries as well as Lin, and they need all the money they can scrounge together.
Obviously if Smith exercises his option and stays on board at his current salary, the team should keep him, but he is not a player that a team in this kind of precarious situation should overpay for.
Smith is extremely talented, but considering he shot 31.6 percent from the field and under 18 percent from three in the playoffs, he should not be a part of the Knicks' future.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Derek Fisher
Signing Derek Fisher made plenty of sense this season for Oklahoma City, but on a very well constructed roster, he is a player the team does not need to bring back for next season.
Fisher was brought in due to the season-ending ACL injury sustained by backup point guard Eric Maynor, but with Maynor healthy next season and Boston College product Reggie Jackson having some solid moments this season, it is not necessary for Fisher to suit up for the Thunder in 2012-2013.
Fisher's value went beyond just what he could do on the court, as he brought the young Thunder a veteran presence who knew what it took to win a championship (or five), but with Oklahoma City just a win away from the Finals and proving they know how to get it done in the postseason, his wisdom is less essential for the future.
Fisher has never been an elite player, and while he has had a few good games in these playoffs where he's shot the ball well or come up with a key steal, a healthy Eric Maynor can do those things as well and is easily one of the best second-string point guards in the entire league.
It is unclear if the 37-year-old Fisher will even want to return for another season, but even if he does, the Thunder are not the place for this former Laker to sign.
Inking Derek Fisher midseason was a move that made perfect sense for 2012, but resigning the veteran is a move that would make no sense for 2013 and beyond.
Orlando Magic: Dwight Howard
Do I really need to explain this one? It doesn't matter how talented you are as a player: No one who puts a team and a city through what Dwight Howard did deserves to remain with that ball club.
Howard is still the league's premier center, and as long as he is healthy enough to command interest on the trade market, Orlando should push as aggressively as possible to get rid of the All-Star big man.
Whether they can snag Andrew Bynum from the Lakers, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng from the Bulls or even a package of Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks and draft picks from the Brooklyn Nets, the Magic should do everything in their power to make sure Howard is not wearing an Orlando jersey when next season tips off.
Howard made LeBron James look like a class act in handling free agency, changing his statement seemingly every day and putting his teammates, coaching staff and the Magic's fans through hell all season.
Though he agreed to exercise his option for the 2012-2013 season, he continued to cause internal strife, which led to GM Otis Smith and Stan Van Gundy, one of the NBA's best coaches, leaving the team.
There will be a tough season or two ahead of Orlando, but they have some talent on their roster that should make the transition bearable. If they can nab an impact player and a draft pick or two, it will be worth the immediate difficulty.
That being said, I'm pretty sure at this point, the Magic would trade Howard to Milwaukee for Kwame Brown and a case of Miller High Life.
Philadelphia 76ers: Jodie Meeks
This season was a success for the Philadelphia 76ers by all accounts as they went 35-31, made the playoffs for a second straight year and made it to the Eastern Conference semifinals before bowing out in seven games to Boston.
During the team's phenomenal run, second-year shooting guard Evan Turner had his coming-out party, using his athleticism to push the pace and score the basketball as well as make an impact on the glass.
Turner, who had a slow start in his rookie year, appears to have finally turned the corner and become the player the Sixers expected when they took him with the second overall pick in 2010 out of Ohio State.
Jodie Meeks, who was the team's starting 2-guard for most of the year, saw his minutes decrease exponentially with the emergence of Turner. After averaging 24.9 minutes per game in the regular season, he averaged just 7.8 in the postseason and shot a mere 23.1 percent from three.
Meeks is an excellent shooter and is a great option to stretch the floor, but the team needs to use their cap space to keep sixth man Louis Williams and sign him to a long-term deal.
The combination of Williams, Turner and Andre Iguodala is more than enough to cover 48 minutes at the shooting guard position, and the team could even draft an Austin Rivers or Dion Waiters if they feel the need who can impact in the game in more ways than just long-distance shooting.
Meeks will no doubt find a team that needs his offensive production, but Philly needs to open up minutes for Turner and conserve money to sign Williams, making it unnecessary to re-sign the former Kentucky Wildcat this summer.
Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash
This may be hard for Suns fans to hear, but there is simply no point in bringing star point guard Steve Nash back for another season.
Though he had yet another stellar year, averaging 12.5 points and 10.7 assists per game while finishing just behind Boston's Rajon Rondo for the league lead in assists, the team as constructed simply cannot be a true title contender.
Phoenix needs to look to the draft for answers, potentially grabbing someone like Kendall Marshall or Damian Lillard who could be their point guard of the future, or signing one of the many quality guards who are available in free agency.
Nash still has a few more quality years in him and will be an elite facilitator until he retires, but this is a team that needs to get worse before it gets better, and hovering around the ninth or 10th seed for another year will prevent them from getting the high draft pick that could secure them a franchise-caliber player.
Aaron Brooks is still a restricted free agent and is not too far removed from a Most Improved Player campaign where he averaged 19.6 points and 5.3 assists per game as the Rockets' starting point guard. Obviously, he is not the transcendent talent Nash is, but Phoenix needs to see if he could be a possible answer at the point, and those minutes will never be available with Nash on the roster.
Beyond Nash deserving another shot at a championship on a true title or contender, it makes sense for Phoenix to let him walk and begin to rebuild.
It will be rough for a few years, but it is better to begin rebuilding now than in another two or three years when Nash retires from the league.
Portland Trail Blazers: Raymond Felton
The Portland Trail Blazers traded for Raymond Felton on draft night 2011, and many fans, including myself, thought the team had finally found a viable starting point guard that could replace Andre Miller and take advantage of the athleticism Portland has on their roster.
One year later, Felton proved to be a bust as the Blazers' starting point guard, spending the majority of the season woefully out of shape and putting up pedestrian numbers throughout the year. Felton's averages of 11.4 points and 6.5 assists look decent, but for a player of his talent, they simply will not do.
Felton showed little confidence running the team's offense throughout the season. He had almost no chemistry with LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews, even being benched at times for scoring guard Jamal Crawford.
Portland has two lottery picks in this year's draft and is looking at either of the two elite point guard prospects, North Carolina's Kendall Marshall and Weber State's Damian Lillard at either the sixth or 11th spot in the draft.
The team also has enough cap room to look at adding someone like Goran Dragic, who showed he could be a true starting point guard during his time filling in for the injured Kyle Lowry in Houston, or Felton's former teammate D.J. Augustin, who emerged as a viable starter these past two seasons despite Charlotte's lack of success.
Not only was Felton a disappointment, shooting the ball poorly and not being the spark plug he was for the Knicks and Bobcats, but bringing him back would only further enrage the Blazers' faithful.
One of the first moves new GM Neil Olshey should make is to let Felton walk and bring in a new point guard of the future.
Sacramento Kings: Jason Thompson
Jason Thompson was considered an intriguing prospect coming out of college thanks to his size, athleticism and ability to dominate a game with his scoring and rebounding presence.
Thompson was selected by the Kings with the 12th overall pick in the 2008 draft, but he has regressed as a player since his second season and is no longer a part of the Kings' plan for the future.
The team appears committed to DeMarcus Cousins, who, despite his attitude problems, is poised to be a dominant big man in this league for a long time to come. They also signed Chuck Hayes, a talented but undersized interior player, to a multi-year contract last offseason.
The team is selecting fifth in this year's draft and will have a shot at landing a player like Thomas Robinson, Andre Drummond or Perry Jones III that they can pair with Cousins to form their frontcourt of the future.
Thompson can still be helpful to a team in need of a big man who can make an impact on the glass and score in the post, but his growth was stunted due to the dysfunctional culture of the Kings, and he won't be getting the opportunity he deserves in Sacramento.
The Kings need help at the small forward spot beyond just Tyreke Evans and if they can turn Thompson into a 3-man that can replace John Salmons and Travis Outlaw, the team should do it without batting an eye.
Salmons and Outlaw are not exactly essential to the team's future success, but Thompson is their best shot at bringing in an impact player, and they should be willing to part ways with him this summer.
San Antonio Spurs: Stephen Jackson
The San Antonio Spurs brought back Stephen Jackson at the trade deadline in order to bolster their depth at the shooting guard and small forward positions heading into the playoffs. An 11-year veteran, Jackson won a championship with San Antonio in 2003 and is very familiar with the team and Greg Popovich's system.
However, after this season, the Spurs will have some major questions to answer about their roster, and it just doesn't seem to me like Jackson fits well into the equation going forward.
Though he has played well in stretches, particularly on defense and hitting the three ball, the team has several other players at his position that make Jackson's presence unnecessary going forward.
As he proved in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, Manu Ginobili is still an elite talent offensively and will continue to be the Spurs' main option at the off-guard spot until he retires or leaves the team.
In addition, rookie Kawhi Leonard has had some excellent moments this season playing both the 2 and the 3. His length and athleticism allow him to cause havoc defensively, while he has improved dramatically as a scorer as the year has gone on.
The Spurs will likely look to keep Danny Green, a deadly three-point shooter with a nice all-around game, and they still have James Anderson, who deserves his chance in the NBA and could be a rotation piece for them down the road.
While Jackson has caused his share of headaches during his time in the league, some playoff team with a winning culture would likely consider his talents worth the risk.
San Antonio is looking to get younger and more athletic, and Stephen Jackson is simply the odd man out. He was a positive contributor for the Spurs this year, but the team should explore trading options once the offseason starts.
Toronto Raptors: Amir Johnson
It's not that Amir Johnson is a particularly bad player. He averaged 7.1 points and 6.4 boards last season as Toronto's hustle guy and one of their man interior presences.
The problem is that the Raptors have a player in Ed Davis who does the exact same things and, at only 23, still has plenty of room to grow.
Davis averaged similar numbers, 6.3 points and 6.6 boards, but comes cheaper than Johnson and is not done improving at the NBA level. He has an excellent motor and good size at 6'10" with long arms. He is more athletic than most players at his position and can run the floor well, ideal qualities in a power forward playing alongside a finesse center like Andre Bargnani.
There are plenty of teams that need size and toughness on the inside, meaning that plenty of teams would be eager to make a trade for Johnson should the Raptors part ways with him.
The team also needs to free up minutes for Jonas Valanciunas, their first-round pick in the 2011 lottery. Valanciunas is a legitimate seven-footer who plays aggressively in the paint on both ends of the floor and deserves decent minutes once he joins the Raptors' roster.
Amir Johnson is a solid player, but the Raptors already have someone very similar in their rotation and will be adding another this offseason. If a team has three players who all play the same style, the one with the least upside must be dealt, and in this case that is Amir Johnson.
Utah Jazz: Raja Bell
When the Utah Jazz were a legitimate championship contender a few seasons ago, it made sense to have a player like Raja Bell on the roster. Deron Williams was the team's offensive engine, but Bell would be the team's best perimeter defender and have the task of stopping the Kobe Bryants and Carmelo Anthonys of the Western Conference.
However, once the team traded Williams, they went into rebuilding mode. They missed the playoffs in 2011 and were swept by the San Antonio Spurs as the eighth seed in 2012. They also drafted Alec Burks out of Colorado, a tremendous athlete who seems poised to be the team's long term answer at the 2-guard position.
As currently constructed, the Jazz are in desperate need of some youth and depth at the guard positions, something Bell does not give them. He's a good three-point shooter, connecting on 39.1 percent of his attempts last season, but this is not a team that needs a veteran presence like Bell when it is still a few pieces away from contending.
With two years remaining on a fairly reasonable deal, Bell could be packaged along with one of the Jazz's many young big men to acquire a young guard that could grow with the core of Burks, Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward under coach Ty Corbin.
Raja Bell still has decent basketball left to play, but his particular style of ball just isn't what the Utah Jazz need at the moment.
Washington Wizards : Andray Blatche
The Washington Wizards made several moves last season to try and change the culture and reputation of their team, dealing Nick Young and JaVale McGee as well as firing coach Flip Saunders and promoting assistant Randy Whitman, who had success down the stretch of the season.
One piece of the, as Charles Barkley would say, "knucklehead" Wizards that still remains is power forward Andray Blatche.
Blatche has plenty of talent. He averaged 16.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in the 2010-2011 season.
But since he arrived in Washington out of high school, he has never shed the image of being a me-first, stat-driven player. He takes shots outside of the flow of the offense and simply does not seem as concerned with winning basketball games as he does with bolstering his numbers.
Washington traded for Nene, who can play both power forward and center, and is in position with the third overall pick to acquire someone like Kansas' Thomas Robinson or Connecticut's Andre Drummond to fill their hole in the frontline.
The Wizards also have Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker, a pair of high energy forwards who had some nice moments for the team last season, that they could work to develop for the future.
Blatche was benched down the stretch of the season and is reviled by Washington fans. Hhe averaged a paltry 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds last season in just 24.1 minutes of playing time per game.
Still, at 6'11" and with a nice skill set, Blatche will get another shot in the NBA on some other team. Even if they don't get anything great in return, the Wizards must deal Blatche before they can finish their rebuilding project.