One Genius Adjustment for Every NBA Team to Make Before 2012-13 Season
No matter how much any fan or executive may try to sell it, there is no such thing as a perfect basketball team. If that were the case, teams like the Miami Heat or Oklahoma City Thunder would win 70-plus games on a regular basis.
The fact is that winning teams are built by taking a base idea and adjusting it over the course of 82 games so that the best result may be achieved. In the end, the team whose adjustments work best is usually the one that takes a championship ring home.
As we approach the 2012-13 season, it's clear that many NBA teams out there are just one switch away from strongly contending, or at least getting back on the right track to doing so.
One case that has been the talk of the town for months comes out of New York Knicks' camp, where the question remains: can Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire play together? Well, why not eliminate the problem entirely and have one of the two be the sixth man, thus eliminating any potential chemistry issue?
Of course, the Knicks' issue is practically nothing compared to some of the adjustments the rest of the NBA teams should make. In fact, it could very well be the smallest of all.
Atlanta Hawks: Put John Jenkins in the Starting Lineup
The Hawks lost a key member of their offense this summer when they traded Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets for a handful of role players.
As of now, the expected starter at shooting guard is Anthony Morrow, who averaged 12 points per game last year and is an average scorer. Sure, the man is talented, but he won't be able to replace the 18.8 points Johnson put up last season.
Thus, the best thing that coach Larry Drew can do if he wants to keep his team in the playoff hunt is to take a chance on rookie John Jenkins, who Atlanta drafted in the first round of this year's draft. The former Vanderbilt star averaged 15.6 points in the Summer League and showed that he can do more than just shoot and make three-pointers, which is key to his NBA success.
If he can bring his Summer League efficiency into training camp and earn a starting job, then his natural scoring touch should easily keep the Hawks in contention.
Boston Celtics: Get Brandon Bass More Involved
Kevin Garnett isn't getting any younger at age 36 and with the Celtics needing to get younger in the low post, it is essential that coach Doc Rivers get the 27-year-old Bass more involved on both ends of the floor. Last season, his first in Boston, the former LSU Tiger averaged 12.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while shooting 48 percent from the floor.
Bass may seem a bit undersized for power forward at 6'8", 250 pounds, but consider this. In Game 7 of last season's Eastern Conference Finals, even as it became more and more apparent that the Miami Heat would win the game, Bass continued to play hard. That's the type of attitude of which coaches dream about.
Also, while his numbers may not seem impressive, it should be noted that Bass was a decent scorer in college. In two seasons at LSU, he averaged 15 points, 8.2 boards and 1.8 blocks while shooting 53 percent from the floor.
His potential is clearly there, so now it's just a matter of Garnett passing the torch and accepting a lesser role. Once that happens, the Celtics will once again look like legitimate contenders and not so much like aging veterans looking for a last hurrah.
Brooklyn Nets: Start Marshon Brooks over Joe Johnson
Nothing against Johnson, but he's a scorer and the Nets already have two in the starting lineup in point man Deron Williams and center Brook Lopez.
I understand that team owner Mikhail Prokhorov wants to win immediately, but having a lineup of Williams, Lopez, Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Yes, Johnson is phenomenal at what he does, but his shot selection tends to be hit or miss.
That said, it would be beneficial for coach Avery Johnson to start second-year man Marshon Brooks at the 2 while relegating Johnson to a sixth man role. Brooks averaged 12.6 points per game last season while shooting 43 percent from the floor, not bad by any means. Overall, he showed that he can compete on the professional level and in time, could become a solid scorer.
Thus, Brooks should be in the starting lineup because he is just not done learning the game. He started 47 of the 56 games he played in last season, so he knows what is expected from significant minutes. To just put him on the bench in favor of a more experienced Johnson would be a tremendous step back in his development.
Charlotte Bobcats: Start Kemba Walker at the Point
The Charlotte Bobcats went 7-59 last year, so this season is one in which the team must improve. That said, it's hard to understand why ESPN has Ramon Sessions penciled in as the starting point guard over second-year man Kemba Walker.
Don't get me wrong. Sessions has more experience and is a talented floor general in his own right, but Walker is a born leader despite still having a lot to learn about being an NBA point man. Let's not forget that he carried the UConn Huskies on his back to both a Big East and National Championship in 2011, as his clutch scoring and toughness made him stand out from the rest of the players.
More importantly, it should be noted that current Bobcats' coach Mike Dunlap was an assistant for St. John's that year and saw Walker's talent first-hand.
Thus, while he needs to be less of a scorer and more of a passer and defensive pest, Walker simply must start at the point for the Bobcats in 2012-13. His leadership skills speak for themselves and on a team as young as Charlotte, he needs to show that he is capable of getting his scorers the ball before simply taking over himself.
All he needs is the chance to do so.
Chicago Bulls: Give Taj Gibson More Minutes
With Derrick Rose out for most of the season, the Bulls are going to need multiple players to step up.
While Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer should be able to take care of most of the scoring duties, coach Tom Thibodeau needs to add some toughness so that everything balances out. With the leader of his team on the trainer's table, that means giving Gibson an extended role.
The former USC Trojan is a more than capable inside presence and if Boozer struggles early in the season, maybe benching him and replacing him with Gibson is an option to consider. He can pull down rebounds and also has a decent jump shot, so it only makes sense that his minutes be increased from the 20.4 per game he received last year.
Simply put, Gibson is the type of player who could very well be a star in the making. He's just the type of player who needs to actually play in order to show his potential.
This season, with a return to the top of the standings anything but a certainty, it is essential that Thibodeau use him to keep the opposition at bay.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Cut Omri Casspi
The Cavaliers are headed in the right direction with Kyrie Irving running the point, but some dead weight needs to be cut first. This weight comes in the form of Omri Casspi, whose numbers in all major statistical categories have gone down in each of his three NBA seasons.
Yet, if Casspi is indeed released, just who will play small forward in Cleveland?
Coach Byron Scott doesn't have many options at that position, unless he of course moves Tristan Thompson from the 4 to the 3, slots Anderson Varejao at power forward and starts rookie Tyler Zeller at center.
However, no matter how you look at it, Casspi isn't doing the Cavs any favors by sticking around. The sad truth is that while he may have been fun to watch at first, he is slowly phasing himself out of the NBA and if Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert is serious about making his team a contender again, he'll start cutting the dead weight.
Dallas Mavericks: Don't Always Go to Dirk
The Dallas Mavericks are only two years removed from an NBA championship, but last season was enough of a wake-up call for them that they need to make some major adjustments headed into the new campaign, the first being establishing an offensive game beyond star forward Dirk Nowitzki.
The 7'0" German and 2007 NBA MVP averaged 21.6 points (his lowest since 2004) and 6.7 rebounds (lowest since 2000) in 2012.
Nothing against Nowitzki, as his talent is unquestionable, but he isn't getting any younger at 34 years old. If Dallas wants to get back into title contention, coach Rick Carlisle needs to find a scoring option outside of his usual go-to guy. Otherwise, the Mavericks' approach will become predictable and a descent into mediocrity will become inevitable.
Whether it's in the form of newcomers O.J. Mayo and/or Chris Kaman or that of electrifying small forward Shawn Marion, Dallas has the tools to establish a viable isolation offense.
Carlisle just needs to ensure that his scoring isn't too isolated, and then the Mavericks will find themselves going up rather than plateauing.
Denver Nuggets: More Passing for Ty Lawson
In averaging 16.4 points and 6.6 assists for the Nuggets last year, Lawson established himself as a fine scoring point guard in the making. Yet, given how different his team looks going into the new season, it would benefit him and the Nuggets as a whole if he adjusted his game.
You see, in the aftermath of the trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver now has All-Star forward Andre Iguodala, who has made a name for himself as a swingman and point forward.
That now gives Lawson a go-to guy besides Danilo Gallinari and thus he is no longer under pressure to be a top contributor in the scoring department.
More importantly, Lawson has other teammates who are more than capable of putting points on the board, such as Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler.
If he can become more of a Steve Nash-type point man and less of a Damian Lillard, then the Nuggets could very well become a team to beat in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
Detroit Pistons: Make Greg Monroe the Face of the Offense
Monroe played college ball at Georgetown, a school known for producing Hall of Fame-caliber centers like Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. Each of those three players were fine defenders and could also hold their own in the scoring department, and thus enjoyed long and successful NBA careers.
Monroe's game with the Hoyas was very similar, and thus the Detroit Pistons drafted him seventh overall in 2010.
The 6'11", 250-pound center has gotten his professional career off to a decent start, averaging 12.1 points and 8.4 rebounds while shooting 53 percent from the floor over his first two seasons. Yet, when it comes to being truly aggressive on defense, he seems to always hesitate.
Unlike other Georgetown centers, his shot blocking game is virtually nonexistent on the professional level.
That said, coach Lawrence Frank should have one goal once training camp begins: establish Monroe at center. Yes, the team just drafted Andre Drummond to handle the shot-blocking duties, but just imagine how deadly the team's defense could be if it had two stellar big men on the floor at the same time.
Together, they could both carry the Pistons on their backs and back into the postseason.
Golden State Warriors: Create a Balanced Attack
The Golden State Warriors have been known as a team with a fast-paced offense the past few years, but Don Nelson is no longer the coach and former NBA point guard Mark Jackson is now running the show.
As one of the best passers in league history, he should completely abandon Nelson's approach and instead apply a balanced attack that relies more on team play and less on shooting the lights out.
He already has a talented scoring point guard in Stephen Curry, who has a great work ethic and could easily make the transition from hot-shooting passer to floor leader. On top of that, David Lee and Klay Thompson should prove to be fine go-to guys as rookie Harrison Barnes learns the system.
Most important of all, though, is the presence of center Andrew Bogut, who could prove to be an incredible defensive force should he stay healthy.
Simply put, the Warriors' theme for 2012-13 should be simple: out with the old, in with the new. This is a team with a long history in the NBA and it's time that it starts re-establishing itself as one ready to write some more positive history.
Houston Rockets: Embrace Linsanity
The Rockets managed to pry Jeremy Lin away from the New York Knicks this offseason, but have yet to establish just what kind of system they'll use now that he's on the team.
Coach Kevin McHale uses a hard-nosed defensive style that has potential, but does he really have the roster that can employ it? GM Daryl Morey used the team's three first-round picks on guard Jeremy Lamb and forwards Terrence Jones and Royce White, all of whom could be phenomenal in an up-tempo offense.
That said, as much as McHale may not want to do it, the Rockets need to let Lin run the show on offense if they want to win games. The Harvard grad flourished in coach Mike D'Antoni's run-and-gun system and so did some of his Knicks' teammates.
By bringing a modified version of that to Houston, the Rockets could easily launch right back into contention.
Indiana Pacers: Bench George Hill for D.J. Augustin
The key to any successful offense is a point guard who does a fine job of getting the ball to the stars, as well as chipping in on his own whenever necessary.
Though the Pacers were the surprise of the NBA last year in rocketing all the way to the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, their representation at the point in George Hill wasn't exactly elite. While talented, Hill is little more than a shooter and averaged just 9.6 points and 2.9 assists last season.
Thus, if last year's success is to be repeated, coach Frank Vogel would be wise to bench Hill (in spite of his new five-year, $40 million contract) and instead start D.J. Augustin. The former Texas Longhorn was a starter for the Charlotte Bobcats each of the past two seasons and while his scoring touch is inconsistent, his passing game is respectable enough.
Between him and the shoot-first Hill, it's pretty clear as to who is the better man to run the point and get the ball to stars Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert.
Los Angeles Clippers: Give Lamar Odom Big Minutes
Last season was one to forget for Lamar Odom, as he averaged career lows in all categories for the Dallas Mavericks and thus the Clippers were able to easily acquire him in a three-team deal that also sent guard Mo Williams to the Utah Jazz.
Seeing as how the Clippers are the team with whom Odom became a household name, coach Vinny Del Negro's goal with the 2011 Sixth Man of the Year should be simply to get his confidence back. To do that, Del Negro must give Odom significant minutes off the bench.
Look at it this way. Last year, the Clippers were the toast of the NBA after Chris Paul was traded there and bonded with big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to form a fast-paced, dunk-friendly offense known as Lob City. As a result, the team made it to the playoffs and advanced to the conference semifinals.
This year, the team is in a prime position to make an even bigger statement in the West due to added depth in Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill and, of course, Odom. Seeing as how Odom is the type of player who can score from anywhere on the court as well as one who can play some incredible defense, it's up to Del Negro to make him feel like he's back on the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he won two championship rings.
Given how he knows the Los Angeles fans well, it's a battle that is Odom's to lose.
Should he win it, his story could be one of the most inspirational of the season.
Los Angeles Lakers: No Adjustments Necessary
The Lakers have had the offseason of the century, having acquired both Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to play point guard and center, respectively.
Combined with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace, the team now has the most deadly starting lineup in the league.
That said, no major adjustments need to be made. At least not now.
Memphis Grizzlies: Re-Establish Zach Randolph
In 2011, when Rudy Gay was out with an injury, Zach Randolph proved to be a saving grace for the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 20.1 points and 12.1 rebounds per game.
The former Michigan State Spartan was also instrumental in leading the team into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed and by nothing short of a miracle, Memphis eliminated the top-ranked San Antonio Spurs in the first round.
Last year, however, Randolph took a step back. Injuries limited him to 28 games, only eight of which he started, and he only averaged 11.8 points and 8.1 rebounds. Memphis improved as a whole, but Randolph's performance was disappointing given how team management signed him to a four-year, $71 million deal the season before.
That said, though Gay and Marc Gasol have become a formidable 1-2 punch thanks to the ever-improving point guard Mike Conley, the two alone cannot take Memphis to the top.
Coach Lionel Hollins needs to bring Randolph's scoring back into the game, especially now that O.J. Mayo has left for the Dallas Mavericks.
With Gay, Randolph and Gasol becoming Memphis' own version of a "Big Three," don't be at all surprised if the Grizzlies climb in the standings yet again.
Miami Heat: Get Everyone Involved
Though the Miami Heat just won an NBA championship, the team was not without flaws.
For the past two years, the team has overly relied on the Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. This isn't a bad thing by any means, but it eventually could become a problem as opposing teams pick up on coach Erik Spoelstra's approach.
That said, in order for more championships to happen, Miami just needs to get everybody involved. Their second unit for the upcoming season includes names like Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Udonis Haslem and many other talented players.
By giving these guys limited minutes off the bench and not allowing them to shine, Miami robs itself of becoming one of the deadliest teams in NBA history. Starters are all well and good, but the bench is there for a reason.
By simply using it for more than a few minutes a game, the team basically guarantees itself of becoming a dynasty.
Milwaukee Bucks: Find a Buyer for Drew Gooden
Drew Gooden is not a bad player by any means, having averaged 13.7 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Bucks last year. However, he has three years remaining on a five-year, $32 million deal he signed with the team in 2010 and given the emergence of Ersan Ilyasova and drafting of John Henson, Gooden just isn't worth the money anymore.
Seeing as how Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles employs a tough defensive system that works great with young players, Bucks GM John Hammond should probably start making some calls to other teams and ask if any are interested in Gooden's services.
To be perfectly honest, despite being just 30 years old and very talented, I'm surprised that the man wasn't amnestied.
Simply put, the Bucks have a team capable of contending right now. Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings are a fine 1-2 punch on offense and Samuel Dalembert is a more than capable center.
Yet, at power forward, it's just a mess. It doesn't make sense financially to keep Gooden on the bench while Ilyasova gets significant minutes, so the sooner a deal is made the better.
At that point, the Bucks can stop looking back and start looking forward towards a bright future.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Start Brandon Roy Immediately
Prior to last season, three-time All Star Brandon Roy raised some eyebrows when he announced his retirement at age 27 due to chronic knee issues.
Yet, this summer, the former Washington Husky announced his plans to make a comeback and in the end, he signed a two-year deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves. At this point, ESPN has Roy in a bench role with fellow newcomer Alexey Shved starting at shooting guard.
However, though having Roy on the bench would be a good idea at the start of the season due to his knee problems, coach Rick Adelman should strongly consider inserting him right into the starting lineup. Not only would this get Roy back into the swing of things, but also consider this: while talented, Shved is little more than a shooter.
Seeing as how Adelman's system calls for the shooting guard to be someone who can make clutch shots as well as play tough defense, Roy is clearly the better option.
Thus, if Minnesota is serious about getting a good start out of the gate, this is a move that should be discussed once training camp opens.
New Orleans Hornets: None...for Now
The Hornets are about to begin what will probably be a long rebuilding phase, with first-round picks Anthony Davis (No. 1) and Austin Rivers (No. 10) as the building blocks of the new team.
That said, seeing as how GM Dell Demps traded away veterans Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to the Washington Wizards before the draft, the only real veterans who can contribute next season are Eric Gordon and the newly acquired Ryan Anderson.
Thus, seeing as how this new core group has yet to play one single game together, to suggest any adjustments at this point would just be silly.
Let them play together for a month, and then the adjustment discussion may be had.
New York Knicks: Make Amar'e Stoudemire the Sixth Man
As I mentioned at the start of this piece, the burning question coming out of New York is whether or not Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony can play together.
They obviously can, as both flourished in coach Mike Woodson's isolation offense once the former Atlanta Hawks' coach took over at midseason of last year. However, if both Woodson and team management are worried about team chemistry, the answer is simple: move Stoudemire from the starting lineup into a sixth man role.
Look at it this way. While talented, Stoudemire isn't your typical power forward. Yes, he has great size at 6'11", 260 pounds, but defense isn't his strongest suit. Rather than stand and bang under the basket, he prefers to work on the perimeter and do most of his damage with his jump shot.
That being said, why not move Anthony to power forward and let Stoudemire come off the bench and do what he does best? The sixth man's job is to be someone who comes off the bench and puts up starter-like numbers, so who is to say that Stoudemire couldn't do that?
This move is anything but definite and in all likelihood, it probably won't come to be. Yet, should Coach Woodson by chance peruse this slideshow, it is definitely an option to consider.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Make James Harden a Starter
The Oklahoma City Thunder are a team destined for greatness, but head coach Scott Brooks seems to be cheating himself in that he starts Thabo Sefolosha at shooting guard over reigning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden.
The former Arizona State Sun Devil averaged 16.8 points per game last season while shooting 49 percent from the floor (39 percent from long range) in 62 games, of which he only started two.
Seeing as how Harden averaged 31.4 minutes last year, the question presents itself. Why not just put him in the starting lineup? Sefolosha is better suited as a silent assassin anyway, so why keep him as a starter?
Harden is more than capable of being a starter and seeing as how he is due for a big raise come his restricted free agency next offseason, perhaps Brooks should give him some extra incentive to stay in OKC.
Orlando Magic: Start Al Harrington over Glen Davis
With Dwight Howard now a Los Angeles Laker, the Magic are certainly a new-look team and while they will certainly be a lottery team in 2013, that doesn't mean that they should back down from competing. That means putting points on the board and staying in the game no matter what, no ifs, ands or buts.
That said, new coach Jacque Vaughn should make an unconventional decision and pencil in the newly acquired Al Harrington as the starting power forward. Harrington has good size for the position at 6'9", 250 pounds and averaged 14.2 points and 6.1 rebounds for the Denver Nuggets last year.
Yet, there is the underlying issue that Harrington is more of a scorer/shooter than a conventional power forward. That may be, but he moves in the paint quicker than Glen Davis and would add an electrifying presence to Orlando's starting lineup.
Seeing as how the Magic will need all the help they can get next year, it's a decision worth considering.
Philadelphia 76ers: Establish "The Guy"
For most of the first half of last season, the Sixers looked like they could be the surprise team of the season.
In embracing coach Doug Collins' defense-oriented style of team play, with no man outshining the other, Philadelphia sat atop the Atlantic Division for a good amount of time before their lack of a go-to guy ultimately led to their collapse.
This season, in order to get back to the top of the division and stay there, the Sixers only need to do one thing: figure out who will carry them in crunch time. Fortunately, Coach Collins has plenty of options, from the newly-acquired Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson to point guard Jrue Holiday.
All it's going to take is one man to step up for Philly, and then they'll easily be back in contention.
Phoenix Suns: Make Markieff Morris the Sixth Man
Now, I know that this may seem like an unconventional adjustment, but hear me out. Though his rookie year wasn't much to write home about, to the tune of 7.4 points on 40 percent shooting and 4.4 rebounds over 19.5 minutes per game, Markieff Morris should be a prime candidate for sixth man of the Phoenix Suns.
Why? Well, consider this. The team is known for playing a fast-paced offense made popular under Mike D'Antoni a decade ago, and Amar'e Stoudemire was the starting power forward on that team.
Morris won't start with Luis Scola on the team, but his NBA Summer League performance this year is proof that he is capable of being a good scorer in the right system. In five games, he averaged 19.8 points and 9.8 rebounds.
Simply put, coach Alvin Gentry should just give Morris a chance at getting significant minutes off the bench this season. He has good size at 6'10", 245 pounds and if he is effective in a sixth man role, he could very well become a solid starter in the very near future.
Portland Trail Blazers: Start Lamarcus Aldridge at Center
Nothing against rookie Meyers Leonard, but he just isn't ready to be a starter in the NBA.
So, if new coach Terry Stotts wants to get the most out of his new team, he would be wise to move Aldridge from power forward to center and let J.J. Hickson start at the 4.
This adjustment may seem a bit off, but it could easily work. Aldridge has good size for center at 6'11", 240 pounds and averaged 21.7 points and eight rebounds last year while shooting 51 percent from the floor. He'll still get plenty of high percentage shots at his new position, so it isn't as though his scoring will take a hit.
Similarly, after being acquired by Portland last year, Hickson flourished in 19 games, averaging 15.1 points and 8.3 boards.
By making this slight switch, Portland could very easily establish a dominant frontcourt with two consistent producers, thus getting them back into contention.
It's an odd decision, but one just crazy enough to work.
Sacramento Kings: Start Aaron Brooks over Isaiah Thomas
After a disappointing 2010-11 season, Brooks spent last year playing in China before signing a two-year deal with the Sacramento Kings this summer. He has proven that he can be a good scoring point guard on the NBA level, as has his teammate Isaiah Thomas, who averaged 11.5 points and 4.1 assists while shooting 38 percent from long range in his rookie campaign last year.
Yet, while Thomas certainly has the potential to play a key role in the future of the Kings, the team is young and needs an experienced leader. In this case, that title should go to Brooks seeing as how he has experience running an offense and could build positive relationships with go-to guys DeMarcus Cousins and Marcus Thornton.
Sure, his last NBA season may be something of a red flag, but this is still a man who averaged 19.6 points and 5.6 assists en route to being named the NBA's Most Improved Player in 2010.
With his experience (albeit a brief one), how can he not start in Sacramento?
San Antonio Spurs: Gradually Introduce the Youth Movement
The Spurs are a great team, but their core producers are getting old. That said, while the team will most definitely contend for a title once again this year, coach Gregg Popovich should start preparing for the future in letting some of the younger guys get more significant minutes.
Sure, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili still have some gas left in the tank, but they certainly can't play forever. By giving good playing time to younger players like Patty Mills (pictured), Daniel Green and Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs could continue their top production without having to go through a shocking rebuilding phase once Duncan and Ginobili retire.
On top of that, guys like Mills and Green proved extremely fun to watch last year. The fans ate them up and to deny them such great basketball seems almost criminal.
By gradually working them into the system, they will become better acquainted with the future of the franchise and thus not resent team management later on.
Toronto Raptors: Trade Jose Calderon ASAP
For the past few years, Calderon was the starting point man in Toronto and proved to be a solid passer as well as a good shooter. Yet, he was soft on defense.
Thus, this summer, Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo acquired versatile and dynamic point guard Kyle Lowry from the Houston Rockets. With the former Villanova Wildcat expected to start next season, Calderon asked to be traded.
As of now, Calderon is still with Toronto and slated to begin the season as Lowry's backup. Simply put, Colangelo must trade him before the 2012-13 campaign starts.
Calderon has made it clear that he wants out of Toronto and if no move is made before the season starts, this could be a case of clubhouse cancer waiting to happen.
Given how much the Raptors could improve this coming year, it is critical that any potential distractions be dealt with sooner rather than later.
Utah Jazz: Significant Minutes for Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors
The Utah Jazz stumbled into the playoffs last season and this year, it is time for the team to look towards the future. In this case, that means giving more playing time to young big men Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors.
Acquired from the Nets in the Deron Williams trade, Favors was drafted third overall in 2010 and averaged 8.8 points to go with 6.5 rebounds last year. He showed improvement throughout the season and averaged 11.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in the playoffs.
Drafted third overall by the Jazz in 2011, Kanter's rookie year was fairly uneventful. He only averaged 4.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per contest, as both he and Favors were stuck playing behind big men Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson.
However, Millsap and Jefferson both hit free agency next summer and in all likelihood, the Jazz will not be able to retain both of them. Thus, why not prepare for that possibility and give solid playing time to both Favors and Kanter? Both players were drafted high enough and unless they get the playing time they deserve, they just end up looking like busts.
Washington Wizards: Make Nene John Wall's Go-To Guy
John Wall has only been in the league two years, but is slowly starting to establish himself as an elite point guard. His game isn't fully developed yet, but his willingness to learn and passion to succeed make him a fine player to have on any team.
Unfortunately, over his first two seasons, Wall has been on a Wizards' team without an identity, nor a leader. As a result, the team has not lived up to its potential despite having some fine young players on it.
The additions of Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza will certainly help, but Wall still needs a go-to guy so that he is not the only one carrying the load.
Thus, coach Randy Wittman needs to open training camp and drive home the fact that in the offensive 1-2 punch, power forward Nene is going to be Wall's better half. The 6'11" Brazilian averaged 13.7 points and 7.5 rebounds last year and has proven to be capable of putting a good number of points on the board from time to time.
If he and Wall can work together on the court and find a way to incorporate rookie Bradley Beal as well as Ariza and Okafor, then the Wizards will finally take a step in the right direction and look like a cohesive team rather than a bunch of immature youngsters.
All that has to happen is this pairing, and the rest of the gears should fall into place.