April represents the conclusion of the regular season and offers up the latest batch of NBA rumors focusing on the impending postseason and offseason. After the final stretch of games, almost half of the league will be on vacation, while the other 16 franchises will begin the playoffs in hopes of winning a championship.
The final month of the season offers opportunities for young players, as non-playoff teams tend to give more minutes to developing talent.
A plethora of players are also finishing out their current contracts this month, so the remaining regular-season games will play a major role in future moves.
With the postseason on the horizon, playoff teams have to make their final preparations. This includes tightening rotations, getting healthy and putting the final touches on what is almost a finished product.
The remaining games will help to shape this summer's free-agency market, which means NBA fans cannot afford to relax.
Andrew Bynum's Future
The Philadelphia 76ers parted with valuable assets in order to acquire Andrew Bynum in the Dwight Howard mega-deal and have been utterly disappointed.
Bynum will not appear in a single game this season and is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. It's difficult to pinpoint Bynum's future market, but the 76ers are far from a lock to re-sign him.
If Bynum does leave in free agency, GM Rod Thorn would have given up Andre Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic and Maurice Harkless for nothing. That's the type of move that gets general managers fired, as the trade may have sent the 76ers back a couple of years.
Will Andrew Bynum ever play a game for the Philadelphia 76ers?
In an interview with Jack McCaffery of The Delaware County Times, Thorn addresses Bynum's future as a free agent and how the 76ers will attack the situation. In the interview, Thorn responded to whether or not he regretted the Bynum trade with the following:
You know something? When we did it, we didn't have any regrets about it. It just hasn't worked out because Andrew hasn't been able to play. So hindsight is always 20-20. But I go back to when we did what we did, everybody was on board with it and there were no second thoughts about it.
Thorn would never publicly say he regretted the trade, but he doesn't appear to be enamored with the thought of bringing Bynum back at all costs.
Whether or not Bynum ever plays a game for the 76ers is a mystery, but the decision will define Thorn's legacy as the team's general manager.
This situation will be interesting to monitor this summer, with early indications pointing to a different NBA franchise taking a major risk and offering Bynum a hefty contract.
The future of the Dallas Mavericks
While the Dallas Mavericks are still in contention for a playoff position, this season has not turned out the way Rick Carlisle would have hoped. Dirk Nowitzki missed the first 27 games, and the collection of veterans the front office brought in last summer hasn't completely panned out.
The fact that Nowitzki is 34 years old cannot be ignored, as the German sensation will not be able to play at an elite level forever. That makes the upcoming two seasons vital, as that's a safe projection for how long Nowitzki will be able to hand being the team's first option offensively.
The Mavs will have to improve rapidly in order to contend before Dirk's window closes, which puts a lot of pressure on GM Donnie Nelson. That pressure has only been ratcheted up recently, in part because of some comments made by Nowitzki.
In an interview Nowitzki did with NBA.com, Dirk responded with the following when asked about whether or not he believed the front office could build a contender again:
I think sometimes you just need to gamble a little bit. You need to take chances. You may have to take a contract that people may say is not a good contract. But the great thing is if you have cap space, you can do that. I think with cap space you can still turn a franchise around pretty quick. So, yeah, we're just gonna go for it this summer and see what's out there in free agency. If not, maybe sign and trade, or trades.
The remarks from Nowitzki can be summarized as a plea for management to challenge the status quo and to think outside of the box. Based upon Dallas' current situation, it's sound advice.
The Mavs will continue to fight for the eighth seed in the Western Conference, but have no chance at contending for a title this season.
This summer may very well define how the final few seasons of Nowitzki's career plays out, but his comments all but assure that rumors regarding what moves Dallas will make in the offseason will start to circulate in earnest.
Will postseason results dictate Vinny Del Negro's future with the Los Angeles Clippers?
After looking like a legitimate contender to come out of the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Clippers took a step back since the All-Star Break. At one point the Clippers sported a 32-9 record, but are just 17-17 since.
Ultimately, how the Clips play during the second half of the regular season will be irrelevant. In order to live up to expectations, they will have to make a deep run once the postseason gets underway. While limping into the playoffs is not an admirable position, the games that really matter are still on the horizon.
How far will the Clippers advance in the playoffs?
With Chris Paul set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, it's imperative for the Clippers to convince the league's best point guard to re-sign with the team. A strong playoff performance would go a long way in wooing Paul, which puts tremendous pressure on the postseason.
Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro is in the final season of his contract and would likely be used as a scapegoat if the team fails to perform well in the playoffs. According to a rumor on NBA.com, Del Negro's future is likely to be decided by the team's postseason success.
Whether or not Del Negro coaches the Clippers next season is a mystery, but the rumors circulating around the situation should make him feel a little uncomfortable about his job security.