With the 2012-13 regular season winding down, a number of NBA teams should already be looking ahead to July 1, 2013 —the day that free agency officially kicks off.
Considering that nearly half the league's teams are already jostling for ping-pong balls, this year's free-agent class should have no shortage of bidders.
Even certain playoff-bound teams face highly uncertain fates after this season wraps up. While Chris Paul and Dwight Howard appear likely to stay on their respective Los Angeles teams, nothing's ever 100 percent until the ink dries on their new contracts.
To see which squads need to make noise during free agency this summer, I looked at the rosters and salary-cap situations of every team in the league. Some teams featured here are so deplorably awful that they need to make moves in free agency if only to cheer up their otherwise depressed fans.
Others either face major looming free-agent decisions of their own (see: Paul and Howard) or need to add a few final pieces to become true championship contenders.
Which teams can't afford to rest on their laurels this summer? Nine in particular rose to the top. They're presented here in alphabetical order.
Note: Each team's "projected cap space" figure assumes that the team renounces rights to all unrestricted free agents (except where otherwise noted), thereby eliminating cap holds for those players.
For teams with fewer than 12 players under contract in 2013-14, the "incomplete roster charge" is applied to their projected cap-space figure. Rookie salary figures for 2013-14 come from Larry Coon's Salary Cap FAQ. Information about draft picks owed comes from RealGM.
You can see a "projected cap-space calculation" at the bottom of each team's slide. The projected salary cap is set at $60 million. Any player with a team option gets automatically picked up in these cap figures; players with player options are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
All team records/draft-pick projections are current through games played on March 27.