The 1 Dire Need for Every NBA Team Heading into 2013 Offseason
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Upon the conclusion of the 2013 NBA Finals, it's time to start talking about the offseason.
There is not a single team in this league that can afford to not make improvements this summer, and generally, each ballclub has one pressing need that it must address.
The problem with many organizations is that they don't tend to those needs. They fail to plug the holes that plagued them throughout the previous season, and they ultimately end up with similar, lackluster results.
This year's free-agent market is teeming with talent, particularly in the frontcourt, and we all know how many squads can use some size down low.
It's times like this when you wish your favorite team made the necessary moves to clear enough cap space to make significant improvements.
Atlanta Hawks: Rebounding
Despite the fact that Al Horford averaged 10.2 boards per game in 2012-13 and Josh Smith put up 8.4 himself, the Atlanta Hawks ranked 23rd in the NBA in rebounds.
While the Hawks' main focus will likely be on acquiring one of (if not both of) Dwight Howard or Chris Paul, they shouldn't lose sight of the fact that they certainly have holes to fill regardless. The probability of Smith changing addresses puts Atlanta in an even bigger hole when it comes to rebounding, and that is something it must rectify this summer if it wants to make the playoffs next season.
Fortunately for the Hawks, there are plenty of big men out on the open market, and they have the cap space to land one. If general manager Danny Ferry strikes out on Howard, look for him to set his sights on bigs such as Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and David West.
Horford is easily one of the most underrated players in the game today, and giving him another productive forward/center down low could make Atlanta a pretty dangerous foe.
Boston Celtics: Clarity
The Boston Celtics' biggest needs lean heavily on which way GM Danny Ainge decides to go this offseason. If he decides to bring Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce back, then Garnett will need some help in the frontcourt. If he decides to blow it up, then the Celtics' needs expand tremendously.
Right now, the most pressing need Boston has is clarity.
We have been hearing the constant chatter about KG and Doc Rivers heading to the Los Angeles Clippers, but the possibility of such a deal occurring appears to become more and more doubtful by the day. For Ainge, is it either he makes this trade or he brings the band back together?
You have to think that retirement will be on Garnett's mind if Ainge isn't able to surround him with the appropriate pieces to make the C's a legitimate contender, and KG would probably like to know soon just what Ainge's plans are.
Also, assuming the Clippers trade does not go through, how does Rivers possibly return to the Celtics? After all, based on what we have heard, it does not seem like Doc's heart is in Boston any longer.
What we currently have in Boston is a mess that Ainge must sort out promptly.
Brooklyn Nets: Bench Scoring
At this point, it seems safe to say that MarShon Brooks is a bust, and there is a very good chance that Andray Blatche signs elsewhere for more money. Plus, C.J. Watson can (and likely will) opt out. That would potentially leave the Brooklyn Nets with Kris Humphries as their primary bench scorer. Yes, that means the Nets will need to address their pine.
You can generally always find those types of guys on the free-agent market, but given the fact that Brooklyn is pretty strapped cash-wise thanks to the zillions of dollars (okay, maybe not zillions, but an awful lot) it has invested into its starting lineup, it is not going to be that easy for GM Billy King.
What King can hope for is that Blatche re-signs with the Nets for far below what his market value will be, and given the fact that Blatche is still owed $16 million by the Washington Wizards over the next two years, there is a chance that can happen. A slim chance, but a chance, nonetheless.
Also, let's remember that Brooklyn made a draft-day trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2011 for Bojan Bogdanovic, a 6'8" Croatian who could come over to the NBA next season. The Nets plan to use their mid-level exception to sign him this summer, meaning there will be even less money for Brooklyn to make other moves (like re-signing Blatche, for example).
Charlotte Bobcats: Frontcourt Scoring
Let's be honest: Not many free agents are going to be all that interested in going to Charlotte, so the Bobcats (soon-to-be Hornets) are going to need to hit on their first-round draft selection.
Although Michael Jordan has been ridiculed for the picks he has made over the course of his tenure as a front-office guy, the last two Bobcats drafts have actually been pretty solid. They landed Kemba Walker in 2011, and last year they picked up Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a player some feel is actually going to end up being the best member of the 2012 draft class.
Given that Charlotte already has a nice backcourt scorer in Walker and a talented wing to accompany him in Kidd-Gilchrist, it now needs to work on its front line, particularly on the offensive end. Bismack Biyombo is solid defensively, but he is all but useless as a scorer. That's where someone like Anthony Bennett would really help the Bobcats.
Bennett is undersized, but he is very talented offensively. If he is on the board when Charlotte picks at No. 4, you'd have to think he'd be the selection.
If the 'Cats fail to land Bennett, then they will have to try their luck in free agency, an area which they will find it hard to be successful. First of all, Charlotte is obviously not an ideal destination for the best free agents on the market, and second of all, the Bobcats do not have much cap room to begin with (thanks, Ben Gordon and Tyrus Thomas).
Chicago Bulls: Any Kind of Offense
Obviously, a huge reason why the Chicago Bulls ranked 29th in the NBA in scoring this past season was due to the fact that Derrick Rose missed the entire season, but even when Rose was healthy in years past, the Bulls offense was nothing to write home about.
This summer, Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli, two of Chicago's key backcourt scorers, are going to be free agents, so the Bulls have two decisions to make right off the bat. The problem is, Chicago does not have much cap room to begin with, so logic dictates that it will not be able to keep both of them. Heck, the team may not be able to bring back either of them.
All of this makes Chicago's first-round draft choice all the more important, but whether or not it can truly pick up an impact player at No. 20 is debatable. Of course, the Bulls can also get creative and try to make a trade. They do have assets, after all, such as Taj Gibson and Marquis Teague.
Chicago will certainly be better in 2013-14 with Rose back in the lineup, but will it have enough firepower to challenge for a title? That's something the Bulls need to work on.
Cleveland Cavaliers: A Small Forward
The Cleveland Cavaliers certainly recovered from "The Decision" much quicker than anyone could have imagined. They have built a very nice young nucleus consisting of Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters and have some solid frontcourt depth in the way of Tyler Zeller and Marreese Speights. If Anderson Varejao can just stay on the floor, the Cavaliers might even challenge for a playoff spot next season.
That being said, it's very evident that Cleveland is lacking at the small forward position. Alonzo Gee is not a starting-caliber 3, and it's not like Omri Casspi (who is a restricted free agent) supplies him with that much support off the bench.
Outside of Josh Smith, there aren't many great small forwards on the market, but a player like Corey Brewer or Mike Dunleavy could suffice for now. However, the Cavs are apparently in talks with the Dallas Mavericks for Shawn Marion, so they may not even need to make a signing at that position.
On top of that, the Cavaliers have the No. 1 overall selection in the draft.
The future is looking very bright in Cleveland.
Dallas Mavericks: A Point Guard
When you go through most of the year with Derek Fisher and Mike James as your starting floor generals, you know you have issues at the point guard position.
A point guard isn't the only thing the Dallas Mavericks need, but it is surely the biggest hole on their roster. With Dirk Nowitzki coming up for free agency next summer, it would behoove the Mavericks to make some moves to satisfy their future Hall of Famer, and with Mark Cuban at the helm, you have to assume that Dallas will make every effort to do that.
Of course, the best floor general on the market is Chris Paul, and the Mavericks have been mentioned as a possible destination for the superstar. Paul and Nowitzki would certainly make one heck of a duo and should get Dallas back to prominence.
That being said, signing CP3 is probably a bit of a long shot, given the fact that Paul would be leaving $30 million on the table if he decided to bolt from Los Angeles. Also, if the rumors from Chris Broussard of ESPN The Magazine about Paul and Dwight Howard wanting to team up are true, that wouldn't be able to happen in Dallas, as the Mavs just don't have the cap room to sign both.
Fortunately for the Mavs, there will be cheaper alternatives available, such as Jeff Teague and Jarrett Jack.
Denver Nuggets: Low-Post Scoring
The Denver Nuggets are built to get out in the open floor and score in transition, and as you can tell from their playoff failures, that type of offense doesn't work in the postseason. You need to be able to consistently score in the half-court set, and that is where adding a big who can score in the post would help the Nuggets greatly.
JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried are both very talented big men, but they rely on their athleticism to score points. While McGee has shown flashes of a post game, he doesn't go to it enough. That's not necessarily his fault, either, as former head coach George Karl did not make that a part of Denver's offense. Regardless, McGee has a long way to go to be reliable in the paint anyway, so he could sure use some help.
Carl Landry is one name whom the Nuggets can look at, but whether or not they would be able to afford him is debatable.
Fortunately, Denver has a ton of assets it can put together to form a nice trade package. If the Nuggets can't reel in a low-post scorer through free agency, they should certainly try to deal for one.
Obviously, the Nuggets need defense, too, especially with Andre Iguodala opting out, but let's take it one step at a time.
Detroit Pistons: Wing Scorers
Whenever I tell people that the Detroit Pistons are going to be a very good team in a couple of years, people look at me like I have three heads. They fail to look at Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond up front and Brandon Knight (his nightmarish 2012-13 aside) at point guard.
The Pistons just need to add a little more offensively, particularly on the wings.
Rodney Stuckey has regressed over the years, never living up to the potential many felt he had. Then, at the small forward spot, Kyle Singler and Jonas Jerebko do not exactly strike fear into the hearts of their opponents. Solid bench players, yes, but not guys whom you can count on to consistently get you buckets.
Fortunately for Detroit, it has a nice amount of cap room to go after free agents this summer.
One player that could pique the Pistons' interest is O.J. Mayo. He would add some much-needed scoring to Detroit's starting lineup, and he would also make Stuckey a solid role player rather than a go-to guy.
The Pistons have the eighth overall pick in the NBA draft, too.
With the right moves this summer, Detroit could challenge for a playoff spot as soon as next season.
Golden State Warriors: Veterans
The Golden State Warriors are one of the most—if not the most—talented young teams in the NBA. They remind one a bit of the Oklahoma City Thunder from a few years back, boasting an outstanding perimeter attack of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes.
With the right moves, the Warriors can definitely ascend to "title contender" status, and that first move should be providing these youngsters with some more veteran leadership.
Golden State had a couple of "veteran" guys in 2012-13, namely Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack. However, Landry is probably going to opt out of his contract, and Jack is an unrestricted free agent. Given that re-signing both would force the Warriors to take a rather significant luxury tax hit, you have to think that they will only be able to retain one of them at the most.
Golden State does have the mini-MLE to use, so it's very possibly that it can replace one of the two with a capable player in free agency.
If Landry does depart, that will also make low-post scoring a need for the Dubs, as Landry is one of the more underrated interior scorers in the business.
All of that being said, the Warriors are in a very nice place. They have great young guards and wings, a very good paint defender in Andrew Bogut (assuming he can stay healthy) and a walking double-double named David Lee.
Let's also not forget that Golden State will be getting Brandon Rush back from injury.
Houston Rockets: Low-Post Scoring
The Houston Rockets certainly have some frontcourt talent in the way of the already-proven Omer Asik and the young Greg Smith, Thomas Robinson and Donatas Motiejunas, but none of them provide much in the way of low-post scoring.
If the Rockets can get someone whom they can rely on for some interior offense, it will make James Harden all the more dangerous, not to mention the fact that it would open up Houston's perimeter shooting even more.
With Harden, Chandler Parsons and point guards Jeremy Lin, Patrick Beverley and Aaron Brooks already in place, the Rockets have more than enough offense from their wings and guards. Imagine just how deadly Houston will be on that end of the floor with a big man who can do work in the post?
Clearly, the Rockets' top target is Dwight Howard, but in the event that they cannot reel him in, they can turn to bigs like Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and David West.
Houston could be that next ballclub that takes the ascent from decent playoff team to legitimate contender.
Indiana Pacers: Backcourt Offense
While the Indiana Pacers' top offseason priority will be to re-sign David West, there are other areas they can stand to improve, and backcourt scoring is one of them.
We all know how great Indiana's frontcourt was this past season with West and Roy Hibbert, but the guards left something to be desired. Lance Stephenson improved, but he is still wildly inconsistent, and while George Hill is solid, he really isn't a starting-caliber floor general; he is more of an undersized 2-guard.
There has been speculation about a Danny Granger-for-Brandon Jennings swap, and that could be an outstanding move for Indiana. Granger has been supplanted by Paul George, making him expendable. Acquiring Jennings would give the Pacers a much-needed boost in the backcourt, and while a duo of Jennings and Stephenson would be volatile, it could ultimately get them over the hump in the Eastern Conference.
This potential move would also relegate Hill to the bench, giving Indy some much-needed bench scoring and killing two birds with one stone.
Los Angeles Clippers: Interior Offense
Outside of Blake Griffin, the Los Angeles Clippers did not have a single double-digit scorer in the frontcourt during the 2012-13 campaign, and Griffin's offensive game is limited as it is.
Obviously, the Clippers' first two orders of business will be finding a coach to replace Vinny Del Negro and re-signing Chris Paul, but to keep Paul happy, they are going to need to add more "oomph" to the roster.
While Los Angeles is an incredibly deep team, it feels like what it has is more quantity rather than quality. Lamar Odom was simply awful for them this past year, and DeAndre Jordan, Ronny Turiaf and Ryan Hollins are hardly what anyone would consider threats to put the ball in the hoop.
We all know about the incessant Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett-to-the-Clippers rumors, but it just does not look like such a trade is going to happen. L.A. will likely be forced to look elsewhere for some interior offense, but the problem is, if it re-signs CP3, it is not going to have much cap space to work with.
Fortunately for the Clips, they do have some tradeable assets, particularly in the way of guard Eric Bledsoe. However, the Clippers refused to give him up in the Rivers-Garnett deal, so perhaps they view him as untouchable?
One thing is for sure: Los Angeles needs to do something to assure Paul's return.
Los Angeles Lakers: Dwight Howard
Say what you want about Dwight Howard's limitations and his lack of maturity, but the fact is that the Los Angeles Lakers need him to re-sign.
The Lakers endured one of the most disappointing and nightmarish seasons we had ever seen in 2012-13, and yes, Howard contributed to the collective shame. However, he is still the best big man in the game when he is right, and perhaps a summer off will allow him to get healthier.
Especially considering Kobe Bryant is recovering from a torn Achilles, Los Angeles will need Dwight to keep the team afloat early on in the season. Bryant is aiming for a November or December return, but who knows? This isn't a sprained ankle we're talking about.
All kinds of talks have been swirling about Howard's interest in Houston, how he wants to play with Chris Paul, etc., but at the end of the day, will he turn down the extra $30 million L.A. can offer him? It seems somewhat doubtful.
The assumption here is that Dwight stays. Of course, that would eat up basically all of the Lakers' available spending money, but it's not like they're going to replace Howard with a better player if he leaves, anyway.
Memphis Grizzlies: Perimeter Scoring
Can you imagine how lethal the Memphis Grizzlies would have been in this past postseason if they would have had some perimeter scorers to take the load off of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph down low? Heck, imagine if they would have kept both Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo? They'd probably be NBA champions right now.
The Grizzlies obviously need more scorers, but filling that need is going to be a bit of a problem this offseason. First of all, they traded away Gay because they couldn't afford him, so it's not like they are going to be willing to go overboard in paying free agents. Second of all, their very own Tony Allen is on the open market, so they will also have to worry about bringing him back.
Not only that, but Memphis is now preoccupied with finding a coach after deciding not to retain Lionel Hollins.
Overall, the outlook for the Grizzlies in free agency is not very bright. They don't have all that much cap space, so the best they can hope for is to either re-sign Allen or replace him with a similar player.
Memphis can always look to make a trade, but does it have any pieces other teams would want other than Gasol and Randolph?
It stinks, because the Grizzlies are so close to a title. They just don't seem to have the resources to get there.
Miami Heat: Size
Back-to-back champions or not, the Miami Heat have holes that they need to fill, and it all starts up front.
The Heat ranked last in the league in rebounding this season, and you saw how their lack of size nearly cost them their series against the Pacers and the San Antonio Spurs. Ultimately, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade prevailed, but with Wade's health steadily deteriorating, you have to wonder just how much longer Miami can get by without having much of an inside presence.
As talented as Chris Bosh is, he is more like a small forward in a power forward's body. He is not much of a rebounder and has little-to-no low-post game to speak of. Rumors are already circulating about the Heat looking to deal Bosh, via Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, but the issue there is that they may have a difficult time finding a team that will be willing to take on his contract.
Fortunately for Miami, players have been willing to sacrifice money to sign with the Heat for a shot at a title over the past couple of seasons. Pat Riley has to hope that trend continues this summer and that a capable big man decides to take up residence in South Beach. Samuel Dalembert, perhaps?
If not, the Heat may have a difficult time three-peating.
Milwaukee Bucks: A Small Forward Who Can Score
Believe it or not, the Milwaukee Bucks are not as far off as you think. They have a ton of young talent up front in the way of Larry Sanders, John Henson, Ersan Ilyasova and Ekpe Udoh and could have a pretty nice backcourt if they are able to hang on to one of Brandon Jennings or Monta Ellis.
You have to figure that one of Jennings or Ellis will go, as both are free agents. Jennings is of the restricted variety, meaning the Bucks can match any offer made to him. Ellis, on the other hand, is going to opt out of his deal, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Strangely enough, there is a belief that Milwaukee actually prefers keeping Ellis to Jennings. While they are very similar players, Jennings is 23, four years younger than Ellis, making this news seem a bit odd. Regardless, the Bucks will likely keep one of the two and then try to re-sign J.J. Redick. A backcourt of Ellis or Jennings and Redick is a much better fit than Ellis and Jennings, so that's already an improvement.
What Milwaukee really needs, however, is a scorer at the small forward position. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is a very good defender, but he doesn't provide much in the way of offense. Plus, sharpshooter Mike Dunleavy is a free agent, so there is a good chance he walks.
That's why the previously mentioned Jennings-for-Danny Granger swap makes a ton of sense for the Bucks if they decide to hold on to Ellis. A lineup consisting of Sanders, Ilyasova, Granger, Redick and Ellis looks very solid on paper.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Backcourt Scoring
The Minnesota Timberwolves thought they had filled their gaping hole at shooting guard when they signed Brandon Roy last summer, but he sadly missed the entire season due to his knees.
Now, the Timberwolves will search for backcourt scoring once again, as having Luke Ridnour play the 2-guard spot just didn't cut it in 2012-13.
There have already been rumblings that Minnesota will pursue O.J. Mayo this summer, and that comes as no surprise. Mayo is a very good scorer, and he would complement Ricky Rubio very nicely. You would have to think that someone like Kevin Martin could potentially be an option, too, and the Wolves also have the ninth overall pick in the draft to look forward to.
The Timberwolves also need to re-sign restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic to maintain their impressive frontcourt duo of Pekovic and Kevin Love. Getting a reliable shooting guard to use as an outlet for those two bigs will greatly improve the efficiency of Minnesota's offense.
New Orleans Pelicans: A Small Forward Who Can Score
The New Orleans Pelicans are set up front with Anthony Davis, and they have a very nice backcourt with Eric Gordon (if he stays healthy) and the underrated Greivis Vasquez. However, they lack a scorer at the small forward position, and even though Al-Farouq Aminu stepped his game up a bit in 2012-13, the Pelicans declined his fourth-year option way back in October, so he will be a free agent this summer.
While the chances of New Orleans landing someone like Josh Smith are fairly slim, there are some cheap yet effective options on the market. Corey Brewer is available, for example, as is Mike Dunleavy.
The Pelicans own the No. 6 pick in the draft, but whether or not there will actually be any small forwards worth taking at that spot is questionable. Otto Porter and tweener Anthony Bennett will likely go earlier, Victor Oladipo is a bit undersized to consistently play the 3 at the NBA level, and Shabazz Muhammad would be a bit of a reach at that selection.
It looks like New Orleans will be forced to sign a Brewer-type player. But hey, that's still better than what it had this past year.
New York Knicks: Another Scorer
The offensive-minded New York Knicks need more offense. How about that?
While the Knicks were able to score 100 points a contest in 2012-13, their offense was largely smoke and mirrors, relying heavily on the three-ball and isolations to win games.
Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith were really the only two New York players who could consistently create offense for themselves, and if Smith's disappearance in the playoffs taught the Knicks front office anything, it's that they need to add another scorer.
The problem with New York is that it is very limited in terms of what it can do in free agency. If the Knicks re-sign Smith, then all they'll have available to use on free agents is the taxpayer MLE (and the veteran's minimum, but who are you really going to get with that?).
It looks like the Knicks will have to turn to the draft to find another productive player, and that's asking a lot out of the 24th overall pick. Perhaps someone like Tim Hardaway Jr. will be around at that spot.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Low-Post Scoring
The Oklahoma City Thunder are going to find it hard winning a title as currently constructed. They have absolutely no dependable offensive threat on the interior, leaving them to rely on their jump shots falling and the refs blowing their whistles to win games.
The predicament for the Thunder is that they don't have much flexibility in terms of cap space, so there may not be much they can do to solve their biggest problem.
Oklahoma City does have the MLE, though, and it may be able to land a player like Carl Landry with it. Landry would be an outstanding fit in OKC, as he would provide Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook with a security blanket in the post. Andray Blatche is another possibility.
The Thunder are very, very close. They just need one more piece to put themselves over the top, and that piece must be down low.
Orlando Magic: Wing Depth
The Orlando Magic actually have a solid young core consisting of Nikola Vucevic, Glen Davis, Tobias Harris, Moe Harkless and Andrew Nicholson. In a couple of years, they are going to be a decent ballclub. However, they definitely lack some depth at the wing spots.
Some of the names that they should consider have already been mentioned a couple of times throughout this article, particularly Corey Brewer and Mike Dunleavy. Martell Webster could be another option.
Of course, the Magic pick second in the draft, and most mock drafts have them going with Ben McLemore. That would be my choice if I were running Orlando, as he provides them with a great outside shooter and would give them some flexibility at the wing spots with Harkless and Arron Afflalo.
The good thing about the Magic is that they have some quality bigs, and that is always imperative when you are trying to rebuild.
Orlando is certainly on the right track.
Philadelphia 76ers: A Big Man
The Philadelphia 76ers are in a very precarious position. Do they take a risk and re-sign Andrew Bynum, or do they play it safe and let the injury-prone center walk? It's basically Russian Roulette. If they give him a lucrative contract, they take the chance of his knees going out on him. If they choose not to retain him, there is always the possibility that he gets healthy and averages 20 and 10 elsewhere.
The thought here is that, unless Bynum is willing to take a huge hometown discount (and it's hard to see why he would, as he's never even played a game for the 76ers), Philadelphia will let him go.
That obviously re-opens up the need for frontcourt help, as Spencer Hawes is just not cutting it on the interior. Not by himself, anyway.
Assuming the Sixers don't re-sign Bynum, they would have a decent amount of cap room to go out and land another big man. Maybe someone like Paul Millsap or J.J. Hickson? They could also try for Al Jefferson, but he could very well be out of their price range. Nikola Pekovic could be an option, as well.
Honestly, Philadelphia is in such shambles right now that it needs a whole lot of things, but first, it should look to shore up the frontcourt. And that doesn't mean giving Bynum $12 million a year.
Phoenix Suns: A Small Forward
Seems like a lot of teams need small forwards, huh? Well, add the Phoenix Suns to that list.
Thanks to the major disappointment that is Michael Beasley, the Suns spent much of the season running out P.J. Tucker as their starting 3, and if you want to be taken seriously as a ballclub, P.J. Tucker probably should not be in your starting five.
The Suns have the cap room to go out and make a nice signing, so Josh Smith could be a possibility. Whether or not Smith would want to go to Phoenix is debatable, but the Suns definitely could pursue him. If not, they can always fall back on the Corey Brewers and Mike Dunleavys of the free-agent market.
Phoenix has the fifth pick in the draft, but it may be better off going with some frontcourt help at that selection, as Otto Porter and Anthony Bennett will likely be off the board by then. Perhaps Nerlens Noel falls to them?
For now, the Suns front line of Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola is perfectly capable, though, so their main focus in free agency should be on acquiring a small forward to complement Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown.
Portland Trail Blazers: Interior Defense
Despite the fact that their bench needs a massive overhaul, interior defense should be the first area the Portland Trail Blazers address this summer. It doesn't matter how good of a bench you have; if you rank last in points allowed in the paint per game like the Trail Blazers did in 2012-13, you aren't going anywhere.
Assuming Portland lets J.J. Hickson walk, it will have a nice sum of cap room to sign free agents. One player that immediately comes to mind is Samuel Dalembert, a true center who brings rebounding and defense to the table. There is a chance he comes fairly cheap, too, given the large amount of good big men on the open market.
The Blazers can also use their draft pick (10th overall) on a big like Steven Adams to help shore things up inside.
With LaMarcus Aldridge, Meyers Leonard, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and the 2012-13 Rookie of the Year, Damian Lillard, in the fold, the Trail Blazers certainly have a nice foundation to build upon. They just need to get tougher inside and scour the market for bench scorers. If they can do that, they will challenge for a playoff spot next season.
Sacramento Kings: A Small Forward
Yet another squad that needs a small forward.
The Sacramento Kings have been using players such as John Salmons, James Johnson and Travis Outlaw at that position. They tried Tyreke Evans there, as well, and Evans wasn't too thrilled about it.
The Kings are a rather interesting wild card this summer. They can use the amnesty clause on Salmons, and if they do, they would probably have enough cap space to sign a max free agent (Josh Smith, anyone?). Also, DeMarcus Cousins' agent recently came out and said that Cousins wants either a max contract from Sacramento or a trade. That definitely complicates things a bit for the Kings.
Let's also not forget to mention that Evans is a restricted free agent. After winning the Rookie of the Year award during the 2009-10 campaign, Evans has regressed considerably. Sacramento would probably be better off letting him walk and putting that money toward Cousins and other free agents.
If the Kings can pick up a good small forward, they will be on their way to becoming relevant again. After all, any time you have arguably the most talented young big man in the game on your team, you're in good shape for the future.
San Antonio Spurs: Wings
After a crushing NBA Finals loss, the San Antonio Spurs enter a summer that could represent the end of their Big Three.
Manu Ginobili is a free agent, and after his poor performance against the Heat, you have to wonder if the Spurs are going to be willing to sign the soon-to-be-36-year-old to a new deal. There is also the chance he seriously considers retirement.
Whether or not Ginobili is a Spur for 2013-14, San Antonio needs to add more depth to the wing spots. The only "true" wings it currently has under contract for next season are Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, as Gary Neal's lack of size is exploited far too much on the defensive end.
Someone like Corey Brewer would look awesome on the Spurs, and Mike Dunleavy or Martell Webster would give them yet another outside shooting threat.
San Antonio could also use some extra help in the frontcourt, and Tiago Splitter is an unrestricted free agent. Will the Spurs give him what he wants after his horrific showing in the finals?
No matter what, the Spurs are the Spurs, and they'll probably be in good shape next season regardless of what happens this summer.
Toronto Raptors: Big Men
The Toronto Raptors need frontcourt help in the worst way.
It's time to admit that Andrea Bargnani is a bust, and let's be honest: he is basically a 7' small forward. As far as the rest of their front line goes, Jonas Valanciunas is young and talented and Amir Johnson is a good defender, but then you're left with Aaron Gray. Not exactly what I would call sufficient.
The Raptors are in a pretty bad spot in terms of free agency, though. They don't have any cap space, so it's not like they can go out and sign someone who will have any sort of an impact. Not only that, but Toronto doesn't have a draft pick.
The good news is that the Raptors do have quite a few tradeable assets, as they are absolutely loaded at the wing spots. They could try and move DeMar DeRozan for a big man, and that would give Terrence Ross the opportunity to start next season.
In the weak Eastern Conference, Toronto can absolutely compete for a playoff spot in 2013-14. It just needs to make some roster adjustments.
Utah Jazz: A Point Guard
The Utah Jazz went through the 2012-13 season with Mo Williams, Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson manning the point guard spot. While the Jazz certainly had depth at that position, they really didn't have anyone, well, good. Plus, all three of those guys are now unrestricted free agents.
With both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, not to mention numerous other players, coming off the books, Utah will have a ton of cap space to play with this summer. That doesn't mean the Jazz will be realistic players for Chris Paul, as it's hard to see why he'd want to leave the Clippers for Utah, but they can definitely make a splash elsewhere.
One floor general to keep an eye on is Jeff Teague. Teague is one of the most underrated point guards in the game, averaging a robust 14.6 points and 7.2 assists this past year. He also shot a respectable 45.1 percent from the floor.
Teague would be a very nice acquisition for a Utah squad that is already teeming with teeming with young talent in the way of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks. The Jazz also own the 14th overall pick in the first round of the draft.
Washington Wizards: Wings
The ballclubs in need of small forwards never end.
With Martell Webster hitting the free-agent market and Trevor Ariza not being all that effective, the Washington Wizards could certainly use a 3. They could also use some shooting guard depth behind Bradley Beal.
The Wizards don't exactly have much in the way of cap space, so they'll have to resort to some of the cheaper options on the market. They could also always use their No. 3 overall draft pick to find their starting small forward, as at least one of Otto Porter and Anthony Bennett will likely be on the board at that point.
With a healthy John Wall comprising an explosive backcourt tandem with Beal and a rather deep front line, Washington has all the makings of a sleeper playoff contender in 2013-14.
With improvement from their young players and some shrewd offseason moves, the Wizards could be a plus-.500 team.