NBA: The Cleveland Cavaliers and 10 Teams in for a Long Rebuilding Process
It's a word that is horrific to the ears of fans, terrifying to an NBA front office and puzzling to the players.
Fans are horrified at the word rebuilding because it means that their team is entering uncertain times. These times are not defined by any specific time frame, which means that fans often begin to question spending their money to watch a losing team.
NBA front offices are terrified of rebuilding because there isn't an exact way to make the process go smoothly. Some teams have the right assets to make a rebuild last less than three years, while it can take a lot longer for others.
And players are puzzled by the thought of rebuilding because of their natural desire to win basketball games. They cannot come to understand why certain teams would rather play the younger players in order to see what they have at the time.
Rebuilding is not a fun process for anyone. Well, unless you are a guy like me who loves to cook up trade scenarios based on salary figures, team needs and draft picks.
But hey—we all have our caveats, right?
With the idea of rebuilding in mind, there are 10 teams in the NBA that are in for a long rebuilding process.
Some of them have recently had superstars leave them high and dry, while others have had superstar after superstar turn them down.
But no matter the situation, these 10 teams are sure to be in for a longer rebuild than the organization, and their fans, could possibly have wanted.
10. Denver Nuggets
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Carmelo Anthony is finally gone from the Nuggets, and he took his buddy Chauncey Billups with him.
While Denver fans may be thinking that this is the beginning of a long rebuilding process for them, I disagree slightly, which is why the Nuggets are No. 10 on this list.
It will take some time to get over losing a superstar like Carmelo Anthony.
His scoring and ability to take over a game will be greatly missed in Denver, but the team did a nice job of getting good assets in return.
And unlike the situation in Cleveland, the team has plenty of other assets to move.
Before the Anthony deal happened, the Nuggets already had the expiring contracts of Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith totaling over 20 million dollars to work with. And now that 'Melo is gone, the team can maximize these to their best ability.
This could allow them to trade for a young, promising big man or acquire more draft picks.
Or, the team could choose to allow the salaries to expire and have the cap room for the offseason.
But the Nuggets now lack a true starting small forward, and will need a replacement for Kenyon Martin at power forward after the season.
And as you have seen in Cleveland, it is not easy to replace a small forward who can score a lot of points.
9. Phoenix Suns
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
It is creeping around the corner for the Phoenix Suns.
The team will have to rebuild soon, and I don't see this process being easy for Phoenix.
They have a team of aging former stars, and very few young pieces to build on.
If the team decides to chalk it up and rebuild quicker, they could package Steve Nash or Vince Carter and possibly get young players and draft picks in return, but this thing will be ugly when they decide to blow it up.
As we have seen this year, the loss of Amar'e hurt the Suns big time.
The Suns have a roster full of role players, and an aging star point guard; it is going to get ugly soon.
My best advice to Phoenix is to wave the white flag, and start fielding offers for Nash, Carter, Grant Hill and any other veteran that still has value.
The time to rebuild is coming, and they need to infuse young talent to that roster.
8. Houston Rockets
The direction of this team really confuses me.
The team is playing poorly, they lost their star center for the season and they haven't made a move yet.
The Rockets have become a very poorly run team after making a couple of nice moves over the past couple of seasons.
They snagged a very talented Kevin Martin to pair with Aaron Brooks for the next couple of seasons, but they haven't done anything else with their assets.
With the trade deadline coming up, the Rockets need to take advantage of the expiring contracts of Yao Ming, Shane Battier and Jared Jeffries, and get a young big man or small forward with some upside.
It wouldn't hurt for them to grab some draft picks while they are at it.
Holding on to those expiring contracts will not do the Rockets any good if the new CBA lowers the salary cap next season, so it is time to try and make a move now.
If they continue down this path, not having a future small forward and center could really come back to hurt the Rockets in the long run of this rebuilding process.
7. Charlotte Bobcats
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Wrong Move No. 1: keeping Paul Silas as your future head coach.
Wrong Move No. 2: not trading Stephen Jackson to acquire some salary cap relief.
Wrong Move No. 3: giving Tyrus Thomas that huge contract.
The Bobcats are in for a long rebuild—even in the East.
I mean, why would you tab Paul Silas as your head coach for a rebuild? Didn't anyone see what happened when he was in Cleveland?
Charlotte has this idea stuck in their head that they can make a playoff run with this roster.
I told you guys it was bad when they made the playoffs last year!
Now the team is attempting to get value for veterans like Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace after turning down numerous trade offers in the past few seasons, and they just aren't finding a market for those guys.
The Bobcats also allowed the young and talented Raymond Felton to leave town for more money and decided to hand the reins over to D.J. Augustin.
The only positive for this team is that in three years, the only player under contract is Tyrus Thomas.
This means the team will have a plethora of expiring contracts and movable pieces to rebuild quicker than the rest of the teams on this list.
My only hope is that the franchise can save itself soon, because I heard there are a couple of cities looking for a team.
6. Sacramento Kings
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
It's sad to see a player of Tyreke Evans' potential wallow away in Sacramento.
Many people were picking this team to be a potential playoff sleeper this season—but I knew better.
And to make matters even more confusing, instead of locking up a promising big man like Carl Landry, there have been reports that the Kings are trading him to the Hornets for Marcus Thornton and David Anderson.
The Kings have a couple of nice, young pieces in Evans and rookie DeMarcus Cousins, but they lack veteran leadership across the board.
And the one thing that slows a rebuilding process more than anything—well, except for having David Kahn as your GM—is not having veteran leaders to show the young guys how to win.
So until the Kings decide to make a move and get some veterans to go alongside their youth, expect a long rebuild.
5. Detroit Pistons
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Being from Cleveland, I never thought I could actually feel bad for a team from Detroit.
But as a basketball fan, it is hard to see a once-proud, intimidating franchise in this much trouble.
The Pistons were once known as the enforcers of the NBA. If you came inside on them, you were getting knocked on your butt.
Now, they have potentially the softest frontcourt in the league.
Ben Wallace is way past his prime, and Charlie Villanueva is up there with Chris Bosh as the league's weakest big man.
And to make matters worse, the Pistons threw a bunch of money at Villanueva and Ben Gordon as the "saviors" of their franchise.
Yeah—that didn't work out too well, did it?
In addition, they are alienating Piston legends Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince by not trading them out of that mess.
If the Pistons were attempting to build a winner, that would be one thing. But they have no clue what is going on up there.
It seems like they have eight power forwards on that roster, and rotate them all around between power forward and center.
Detroit needs to find some takers on any of their veterans to infuse some young talent on that roster.
They need to allow their young players to grow together, and create an identity for that team again.
Unfortunately, it is not going to happen any time soon.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
Here we go—this is where the readers will get mad.
I can already predict what will be sad.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were historically bad this year, they had the longest losing streak in NBA history and they have no star players.
These things are all true, and Cleveland is still experiencing the "LeBron hangover" from this summer.
And while the Cavaliers could have very easily been No. 1 on this list, they will not take the longest to rebuild.
If you look at their salary numbers, players like Antawn Jamison, Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, Leon Powe and Joey Graham will all have had their contracts expire within the next two seasons.
And that's assuming they don't get traded before that.
In fact, I thought about putting the Cavaliers around No. 10 or No. 9 on this list—but then you guys really would've gotten angry.
The Cavaliers have proven this year that the worst is behind them, and history says that Byron Scott's rebuilding teams are normally really bad in year one, but have turned it around within the next two years.
The Cavaliers have some good, young prospects in J.J. Hickson, Manny Harris, Ramon Sessions and Christian Eyenga on their team.
Put those players with playoff-tested veterans Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao and Daniel Gibson, and the team is just a few draft picks/free-agent signings away from being a playoff contender in the East again.
But the one thing that will make this rebuild tough is finding the replacement for LeBron James at small forward.
Many of these players flourished with a superstar at the helm, and as long as the Cavaliers lack that 20+ points per night from their small forward, this rebuild will go slowly.
And not to mention, they lack a LOT of interior defense.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves
I feel bad for Minnesota fans.
Yes, I know you are performing better than the Cavaliers—but as long as David Kahn is at the helm, you are screwed.
I mean, for no apparent reason, he got involved in the 'Melo deal to ship out Corey Brewer for Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph.
I understand the rationale behind snagging Curry's huge expiring contract, but Anthony Randolph? Really?
Randolph has been dubbed as a kid with a lot of upside for a long time now, and has yet to explode.
So what makes you think that will change in Minnesota?
Not to mention Kahn GAVE Al Jefferson away for picks and Kosta Koufos.
The team has young stars in Love and Flynn, but will those players ever really lead Minnesota to the playoffs with the rest of the roster?
And the answer is: not while Kahn is running the show.
Minnesota may trip and stumble into a winning season in the next five years, but I highly doubt it.
2. Toronto Raptors
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
It's like this never-ending bad dream for Toronto.
They couldn't get the job done with their star, star leaves town and the team is forced to rebuild all over again.
Vince Carter, T-Mac, and now Chris Bosh have all played their own roles in leaving Toronto and putting the team into a constant rebuild.
Now the Raptors are a team that was forced to give Amir Johnson big money to keep him in Toronto.
The roster is muddled with underachievers, veterans that need to be moved and youngsters that have yet to prove themselves.
There is not one star on the roster and I honestly cannot decide who could possibly be one in the future.
The Raptors need to clean house and attempt to do something big with all of their draft picks over the next few years to build something good.
But that means not missing on lottery picks, and not wasting first-round picks on veterans that were recently playing in the D-League.
Oh wait—they did that today by acquiring James Johnson from the Bulls.
This team is in for a long rebuilding process, and I project they won't be relevant again until 2014 at the earliest.
1. New Jersey Nets
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
When formulating this list over the past couple of days, I had an asterisk next to the Nets.
It read: "If they get Carmelo Anthony, put them at No. 10. If they don't get Anthony, they are No. 1."
This may come as a shocker to everyone, especially since they aren't as bad as last year.
But no team in the NBA is in worse shape than the Nets. Let me tell you why:
It all starts with the high-profile tandem of Avery Johnson and Prokhorov. These guys were supposed to be the saviors of basketball for the Nets.
Prokhorov was supposed to flash his billions and lure in anywhere from one to three big-name free agents this offseason.
If it wasn't LeBron James, it was supposed to be Chris Bosh. If not Bosh, then D-Wade or Carlos Boozer.
If the team missed this year, they were going to lure Carmelo Anthony into coming back and moving with the team back to Brooklyn.
But a funny thing happened: Everyone said no.
Then the Nets did something stupid: handed out a majority of their cap room to role players.
They gave overpriced contracts to Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw, Anthony Morrow and Johan Petro.
Here's something you may not know: The Nets have a salary of $58 million this year!
And their two future building blocks—Brook Lopez and Derrick Favors—only account for $6.5 million of that.
And now there is word on the street that starting point guard Devin Harris wants off this sinking ship.
Once the Nets trade Harris, this team will essentially have no backcourt.
So while I could sit here and give you more reasons as to why the Nets are so bad, let me finish with one last thing:
The Knicks have Carmelo and Amar'e, while the Celtics have Rondo, Garnett, Pierce and Allen.
What does New Jersey have that can compete with that in their division?