NBA Teams Already Planning for Next Offseason

Daniel O'Brien@@DanielO_BRFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2013

NBA Teams Already Planning for Next Offseason

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    It's never too early to start planning for next offseason, and that's exactly what several NBA teams are doing as they look ahead to the summer of 2014.

    Some of these forward-thinking squads are done with their 2013 shuffling and will still have flexibility a year from now.

    Other clubs didn't have the freedom to make moves this offseason, so they're already examining their 2014 options.

    What kind of plan are the Los Angeles Lakers putting together to sign an A-list superstar? Who is Mark Cuban targeting for the Dallas Mavericks? Which Eastern Conference cellar-dwellers will be active next summer?

    Find out as we break down the teams that are already planning for the 2014 offseason.

Dallas Mavericks

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    The Dallas Mavericks' 2013 offseason didn't pan out exactly as planned, but they did add some respectable pieces in Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon, who are both signed beyond 2014. They'll struggle somewhere between 35 and 45 wins again in 2013-14 and hope to be a legitimate competitor after the 2014 offseason.

    Entering 2014-15, the Mavs hope to re-sign Dirk Nowitzki to an affordable contract so as to maintain cap space for another marquee free agent.

    Shawn Marion's $9 million contract comes off the books in 2014, and they hope to replace him with young legs.

    Potential 2014 Targets

    DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Greg Monroe, Dirk Nowitzki (re-sign)

    Realistic 2014-15 Projections

    Nowitzki will take a substantial pay cut to remain with the club past 2014, leaving the Mavs room to pursue big names in free agency. However, they could realistically end up with someone like Derrick Favors or Larry Sanders, who are solid big men but won't get them to the conference finals.

Detroit Pistons

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    Joe Dumars and the Detroit Pistons might not have an ultra-specific plan yet for the summer of 2014, but one thing they are planning on doing is throwing a farewell celebration for Charlie Villanueva and Rodney Stuckey.

    The two mediocre contributors will earn in excess of $17 million this season, and that burden will be lifted entering 2014-15.

    The Pistons brass can't wait to acquire a couple of players whose on-court production will match their paychecks.

    Potential 2014 Targets

    Greg Monroe (re-sign), Thabo Sefolosha, Eric Bledsoe, John Wall

    Realistic 2014-15 Projections

    Depending on how Monroe plays in 2013-14, he could see lucrative offers as a restricted free agent, and the Pistons could let him walk. But it would be beneficial for both sides to come to a mutual agreement, because he's a highly compatible player.

    The return of Monroe would offer the kind of stability necessary to make a playoff run in 2014-15. 

Los Angeles Lakers

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    When Dwight Howard gave the Houston Rockets the nod, the Los Angeles Lakers' roster concerns immediately shifted to the 2014 offseason.

    Mitch Kupchak could have up to $48 million in free cap space to work with next summer to re-sign Kobe Bryant and bring aboard the leader of the future.

    Bryant will likely ink a hefty short-term deal, but one that will allow L.A. to chase megastar free agents with max-contract dollars.

    The Lakers are a championship-or-bust group, so they will pursuing the cream of the crop in order to bring glory back to the Purple and Gold.

    Potential 2014 Targets

    Kobe Bryant (re-sign), LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe

    Realistic 2014-15 Projections

    The Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers are viable options for James' future, so Los Angeles will probably be his third choice. And Carmelo Anthony dismissed the idea of joining the Lakers in a recent interview with TMZ, so that gives the club slim odds to catch one of the top two fish.

    In addition to courting a premiere scorer, the Lakers will aim to bolster their frontcourt with a young talent such as Cousins, Monroe or Derrick Favors.

Charlotte Bobcats

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    Slowly but surely, the Charlotte Bobcats are getting better.

    In 2011-12, they suffered a dreadful .106 winning percentage and improved to .256 in 2012-13. It's not far-fetched to think they can climb to the .400 range next year. The addition of Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller will make the frontcourt infinitely more productive.

    In order to continue the upward trend in 2014-15, the Cats will need to upgrade the roster even more. Fortunately, they'll have the resources to do it, with more than $20 million in available cap space.

    Potential 2014 Targets

    MarShon Brooks, Thabo Sefolosha, Austin Rivers, Quincy Pondexter

    Realistic 2014-15 Projections

    From a depth and production standpoint, shooting guard will be Charlotte's biggest need beyond 2014, so it will make a run at several candidates. For the right price, an experienced wing like Sefolosha could be theirs.

    Kemba Walker could also use some help facilitating the offense, so the Bobcats will try to sign an under-the-radar point guard whose stock rises during the 2013-14 campaign.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    First, the Philadelphia 76ers lost Nikola Vucevic and Andre Iguodala in the 2012 Dwight Howard trade, while gaining the injured Andrew Bynum. Then they shuffled things up more in a 2013 draft trade that saw Jrue Holiday head to New Orleans.

    Now that the roster has been stripped down to a small nucleus, the 2014 offseason will mark the club's first notable growth since 2010.

    Potential 2014 Targets

    DeMarcus Cousins, Danny Granger, Derrick Favors, Chris Bosh

    Realistic 2014-15 Projections

    Unless Michael Carter-Williams has a phenomenal rookie year and Nerlens Noel maximizes his upside, Philly isn't going to be the most attractive team to join in 2014.

    However, the Sixers will likely get another lottery selection, which will be a nice boost if they make a good pick. In free agency, it's not impossible for them to convince someone like Chris Bosh that he can be their leader.

Utah Jazz

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    As the contracts of Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Marvin Williams expire in 2014, the Utah Jazz will have at least $28 million to spend next summer.

    The departure of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap marked a major transition for the franchise. So in 2014, the club will be embarking on the second year of its rebuilding process.

    Depending on who they land, that process could pay huge dividends in a hurry. But there's no guarantee that they'll acquire championship-caliber pieces.

    Potential 2014 Targets

    Derrick Favors (re-sign), Gordon Hayward (re-sign), Shawn Marion, Luol Deng, Brandon Rush

    Realistic 2014-15 Projections

    Utah will extend qualifying offers to Hayward and Favors, and will even match reasonable offer sheets from other teams.

    As far as outside free agents go, a player like Luol Deng would be interested in the Jazz because of the squad's financial flexibility and hard-working culture.