With free agency in full swing, all 30 NBA franchises have placed themselves in the market for future-altering signings. While every squad may have dreams of landing a star, there are few with the genuine ability to make such a drastic improvement.
Certain teams are better off drafting help.
Whether fair or foul, there are franchises and cities that have been unable to draw top-line free agents in recent seasons. As the 2013 period of free agency takes shape, it appears as if that trend is set to continue for certain organizations.
When it's all said and done, it will be a case of specific teams needing to draft their stars before they sign them.
2012-13 W-L Record: 21-61
Key Free Agents: N/A
Needs: SG, C, Shooters
The Charlotte Bobcats have two franchise players in Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. They also have a starting big man with supreme offensive upside in Cody Zeller and a high-quality two-way player in Jeff Taylor.
They're also a consistent bottom-feeder that few free agents would agree to join.
If the Bobcats are to improve their roster to the point where they contend for the postseason, they'll need to add at least one more star via the draft. If they can build up their core in such a manner, they could potentially attract high-quality role players.
Walker, Kidd-Gilchrist and Zeller are an attractive core, but they're hardly a developed enough group to bring on a star free agent.
Fortunately for Charlotte, if its poor luck continues during the regular season, it could be in line to land players such as Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Julius Randle in 2014. That could be the launching pad the team needs to making an impact in free agency.
Until then, it's far more likely that we see Charlotte settle for the free-agency leftovers.
2012-13 W-L Record: 24-58
Key Free Agents: N/A
Needs: SF, C, Shooters
The Cleveland Cavaliers have an excellent young core with Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson. With this in mind, it's hard to imagine a free agent looking at Cleveland's roster and walking away with anything less than interest.
With that being said, we should acknowledge the elephant in the room—if LeBron James' presence couldn't lure in free agents, Irving's won't either.
Cleveland is a dedicated sports town that endlessly supports its teams. Nevertheless, all of its franchises have experienced a long history of lackluster results during their respective periods of free agency.
The Cavaliers are no different in that regard.
Cleveland may find the shooters it needs via free agency, but when it comes to its void at center, the team will need to go through the draft. While some have projected the Cavaliers as a playoff team in 2013-14, they're coming off of a season in which they won 24 games.
Building through one more draft is hardly something to frown upon when you think of the endless possibilities.
2012-13 W-L Record: 38-44
Key Free Agents: Monta Ellis, UFA & Brandon Jennings, RFA
Needs: PG, SG, SF
The Milwaukee Bucks have one of the NBA's premier shot-blockers in center Larry Sanders. Depending upon how free agency plays out, they also have a legitimate franchise point guard in Brandon Jennings.
Anything else they're hoping to add will need to come through the draft.
Milwaukee has never been a hot-bed for free agents, but it has drafted well historically. Selecting small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo suggests the team is building for the long term, but that doesn't mean it can't strike gold in 2014.
With a deep class of draft picks, Milwaukee must capitalize on its opportunities.
Pairing Jennings and Sanders with head coach Larry Drew should help Milwaukee continue to contend for a postseason berth. With John Henson displaying upside at the 4, the intrigue is legitimate in Milwaukee.
The only way to truly build a title contender in Milwaukee, however, is to use the draft to perfection.
2012-13 W-L Record: 31-51
Key Free Agents: Andrei Kirilenko, UFA; Nikola Pekovic, RFA
Needs: SG, C
The Minnesota Timberwolves have a star tandem in place with point guard Ricky Rubio and power forward Kevin Love. They also have an abundance of facilitators, a promising young small forward in Shabazz Muhammad and a strong defensive presence in Gorgui Dieng.
Until they turn talent into victories, however, Minnesota will struggle to make an impact via free agency.
For all of their promise, the T-Wolves continue to battle injuries and managed just 31 victories in 2012-13. While re-signing players such as Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko would help, there's an undeniable truth.
The T-Wolves will not sign a high-profile name until they prove that they can contend for a title.