7 NBA Teams That Need to Go Back to the Drawing Board
In the NBA, teams can be placed into three categories.
First off are the contenders, those that are regulars in the playoffs and could feasibly win a title in the near future with the roster they've put together.
Next are the rebuilders, the teams who have sold off the veterans in favor of high draft picks and salary cap relief. They may not be enjoying a very pleasant present, but the future remains bright.
Category three is the absolute worst. This is the purgatory of basketball, those teams that are too good not to get a high lottery pick yet too bad to make any kind of noise in the playoffs.
The purpose of this article is to identify those teams in group three, in the hopes they may realize the path they are headed and seek help immediately.
These are the NBA teams that need to go back to the drawing board.
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Reason for the Revamp: Unbalance on the roster
Solution: Find a true point guard
The Jazz have one of the NBA's best and deepest frontcourts with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors.
The problem remains in the backcourt, where Devin Harris disappointed last season before being traded to the Atlanta Hawks for Marvin Williams.
Currently the Jazz have Mo Williams slated to start at the point, when really his skills are best suited for the shooting guard position.
Behind Williams lurks 34-year-old Jamaal Tinsley and 33-year-old Earl Watson. Not exactly cause for excitement for Jazz fans.
Jefferson and Millsap are both scheduled to hit free agency next offseason, and if an extension cannot be reached it would be wise for Utah to ship one or both stars for a true answer at point guard.
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Reason for the Revamp: Trying to rebuild with veterans
Solution: Get rid of the loaded contracts
Orlando has to be one of the most questionably run franchises in the NBA today.
When it looked like they might finally have some cap space for the first time in years, the Magic instead decided to give Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick $30 million and trade for the large contracts of Al Harrington and Arron Afflalo.
What exactly is Orlando's plan?
With a star in Dwight Howard, it makes sense to load up the payroll with as much talent as you can.
Without Howard? It would be best to shed the veterans and their large contracts and try to load up with draft picks and young talent.
The Magic do have some nice young pieces in Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson and Gustavo Ayon, but none is going to be a superstar to build a team around.
Orlando needs to get rid of Hedo Turkoglu ($24 million/two years), Al Harrington ($21 million/three years), Jameer Nelson ($24 million/three years) and others to fully begin the rebuilding process and get a few high draft picks to fully rebuild.
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Reason for the Revamp: Too much young talent, too few roster spaces
Solution: Find a trade partner(s)
The Rockets were no doubt trying to land either Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard via trade this summer, but instead ended up signing Omer Asik instead.
With nearly 20 players currently on a roster that will eventually need to be trimmed down to 15, Houston has 13 players who are 25 years old or younger.
Obviously, some changes to the roster need to be made before opening day.
The good news for Houston is that there are plenty of NBA teams that are always searching for young talent, and they should be able to easily find a trade partner.
Even though Howard and Bynum are now off the board, the Rockets could turn their eye to other stars such as Al Jefferson, Pau Gasol, Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, Zach Randolph or others.
The Rockets have a nice young core with Jeremy Lamb, Royce White, Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin, Donatas Montiejunas and others, but with so little experience on the roster Houston will still struggle to produce a winner without pulling off a major trade.
Reason for the Revamp: Deciding who they want to be
Solution: Trade Josh Smith or commit to build around him
Atlanta was stuck in basketball purgatory with their core of Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Al Horford, but did the wise thing by unloading Johnson's contract on the Brooklyn Nets.
Now with Smith, Horford, Lou Williams and a collection of expiring contracts, Atlanta needs to decide what they want to be.
They do have enough talent on the roster this season to make the playoffs, but certainly won't go far when they get there with the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets likely above them.
Smith is the wildcard in all of this, as he's still young and packs a ton of talent and potential. He would likely be the Hawks best trade piece should they choose not to re-sign him in the offseason.
If they do build around him, they run the risk of falling back into the same team they were before, paying big money just to keep their own players.
Trading Smith for young talent and then cashing in with cap space in the offseason may be their best bet. The Rockets would likely have interest in an established star like Smith and have plenty of young talent to offer as compensation.
Atlanta has a better future now than they had a year ago—they just have to capitalize on it now.
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Reason for the Revamp: A roster regressing
Solution: Move Zach Randolph
In the 2010-2011 playoffs the Grizzlies pulled off one of the most shocking upsets in NBA history, beating the No. 1 seed San Antonio Spurs in the first round of their Western Conference match-up.
This was a tremendous accomplishment for the young Grizz, as their core of Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley seemed to be one of the best in the NBA.
Last years playoffs weren't so kind, however, as Memphis was matched up with the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round.
Up 24 points with less than eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter of Game 1, Memphis watched as the Clippers went on a 28-3 run to end the game with a 99-98 win. The Grizzlies never recovered, eventually losing the series and getting knocked out in the first round.
With this regression, Memphis should look at making a change to what once appeared to be a very promising core.
The first to go should be Randolph, the teams highest paid player.
At 31, Randolph is exiting his prime and battled injuries most of last season. His 11.6 points per game were his lowest mark since 2002-2003.
Owed nearly $51 million over the next three seasons, the Grizz would be wise to move Randolph and free up his contract in order to add additional talent for future playoff runs.
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Reason for the Revamp: Not enough talent to compete in the West
Solution: Find a second star for Dirk
The Mavericks whiffed on Deron Williams in the offseason, but made some nice rebound moves in acquiring Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo, Elton Brand and Chris Kaman.
People will point to their additions as a sign they'll be in title contention again, but this just isn't the case.
As nice as some of these players are, there's a reason they all ended up in Dallas late in free agency: other teams simply didn't want them.
Collison lost his job as a starter in Indiana, Mayo has been on the decline for years in Memphis, Brand was amnestied by Philadelphia and Kaman is now in his 30's and only landed a one-year deal.
Dirk Nowitzki needs help, and fast.
The Mavs do stand to hold some cap space in the summer of 2013 that they can use to help lure a star, but the roster that Dallas currently has probably won't even be enough to make the playoffs in a stacked Western Conference.
New York Knicks
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Reason for the Revamp: Poorly constructed roster
Solution: Trade Amar'e or bring him off the bench
Amar'e Stoudemire was once the shining star in New York, the prize of the free agency summer of 2010.
While he still remains an elite talent when healthy, his role as second fiddle to Carmelo Anthony is still very much a work in progress.
Love or hate Jeremy Lin, the Knicks were a better team when he was on the court. Losing Lin in favor of Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd is a definite downgrade anyway you look at it.
The Knicks do have a nice collection of talent, it just doesn't work as well as it should right now. Bringing Stoudemire off the bench would balance the lineups much better and allow Stoudemire and Anthony to each be "the man" when each is in the game.
A Stoudemire trade is also something that should be considered, as he's owed over $60 million the next few years. Moving the veteran forward may be tough with that kind of money owed, but might be necessary for this team to overtake the Heat in the East.