While some teams are focused on the last stretch of the season, other teams have already accepted their fate and are looking for ways to enhance their roster. Regardless if it is a playoff team or not, there is always room for improvement.
The free-agent class of 2011 is nowhere near that of 2010, but there will be a good number of solid players available. Some teams might find their need in the backcourt or frontcourt from this class, while others have to dig deeper to make an impact.
Here are the top needs each team needs to address during the 2011 free agency period. Each team is in alphabetical order.
Nobody needs more size than the Hawks. They have been playing Josh Smith, Joe Johnson and Al Horford all out of their true position because they lack the size to complete their lineup.
The Hawks should take advantage of this year's big-man rich free agent class and land themselves a solid center like Marc Gasol or Tyson Chandler.
The Celtics need a backup point guard. They need a point guard that is able to direct the offense like Rondo and keep the team on track while Rondo rests. Although not as good of a passer, TJ Ford is just as quick as Rondo. Maybe with some training, Ford could be very productive for an already incredibly deep Celtics team.
The Bobcats have a very confusing roster. They do not have a quality point guard after losing Raymond Felton. They also don’t have a quality center. Their best forward, Gerald Wallace was traded out of the blue. Presently they are full of holes.
Their biggest concern in the offseason will be to obtain a point guard that can start the rebuilding process. Sadly, there are none of those in this year’s free agent class. They might need to try and retain Joel Pryzbilla to help the team out down low while they try and get their point guard through the draft.
The Bulls have had only one need throughout the entire season. They attempted to fill that need through trades, but were ineffective. This offseason, once again, their main focus will be to find a shooting guard.
The Bulls not only need a shooting guard, they need a sharpshooting shooting guard. This offseason, two of the best sharpshooters in the league will be available through free agency. The Bulls might want to think about giving former all-star Michael Redd as well as swingman Jason Richardson a strong look. Both players might be available for the mid-level exemption.
The Cleveland Cavaliers need help at the point guard position. They also need help at the wings and in the frontcourt. Basically, they need help in every angle of the game. Once Davis starts playing good basketball again, at least they will have a reliable point guard.
As for the free agency period, the Cavaliers will look to add a star to the team. Sadly, there will not be many available, and those who will be will likely prefer a different destination. Their best chance to improve is through the draft.
With that said, the Cavaliers should look to add relatively young veterans like Tayshaun Prince, J.R. Smith, Carl Landry or even Andrei Kirilenko.
The rebuilding process will be long for Cleveland.
Arguably the deepest team in the NBA, the Mavericks still have a deep hole at power forward behind Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavericks should try and use their mid-level exemption and sign someone like Troy Murphy to back up Dirk Nowitzki about 15 to 20 minutes per night.
Effort is greatly appreciated by the Mavericks, but Brian Cardinal is not a good enough backup for Nowitzki.
The first thing the Nuggets need to do is re-sign Nene Hilario. Hopefully they are able to do it before the team faces major competition in the market. Also, they need to try and find a player to replace Kenyon Martin. What other player would make more sense than Andrei Kirilenko?
As many other teams on this list, the Pistons need a point guard. Also, as many other teams on this list, they will likely have to get one through the draft. Besides that, if the team does indeed lose Tayshaun Prince to free agency, they will need a wing player.
Before the trade deadline, the idea of a Tayshaun Prince for Caron Butler deal was discussed. If the Pistons are still interested, Butler might become the player they need.
How many years in a row are the Golden State Warriors going to spend looking for a quality big man? Last year, they drafted Epke Udoh, who as of late is showing promise. They also traded for David Lee, who started the season slow but has picked it up.
Although their frontcourt is still a concern, the team should focus on their backcourt this year during free agency. Feelings are mixed regarding the effectiveness of Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis together. Perhaps the Warriors should give a good look at trading one of the two in a sign-and-trade deal for a free agent like Nene Hilario?
The Houston Rockets seem to have a roster filled with names that the average fan will not recognize, yet they always find a way to stay relevant in the tough Western Conference. The return of Yao Ming is uncertain, and the team needs size. They will have the money to get a top center this summer and they should go all out and grab a guy like Tyson Chandler or Marc Gasol.
Indiana is poised to make their first playoff appearance in years. They will do it with a very young team. This team looks very complete, but is certainly lacking some pieces. They still need a backup center, and they lack the one “tough guy” all good teams have.
Indiana is still rebuilding but it is more about developing than about tinkering with the roster. That being said, the team just needs role players. Their backup center could be Joel Przybilla, and their “tough guy” someone like Kenyon Martin.
Already one of the most exciting teams in the league, the Clippers will go into next year as the new OKC Thunder. They will be looked upon to greatly improve upon their success this season mainly with their current core. Although improvement will come solely based on in-house talent, some additions would greatly benefit this team as well.
When Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon leave the floor, the Clippers lack scoring. They do have good young pieces in Eric Bledsoe and Alfarouq Aminu, but they need another big man able to provide the second unit better spacing. This is where a solid big man like Troy Murphy would help.
By filling their big-man need with Murphy, the Clippers would add both frontcourt depth as well as a player able to allow for slashers like Aminu and Ryan Gomes to attack the rim more effectively.
The NBA defending champions do not have much room for improvements. They addressed their need for a point guard last year with the addition of Steve Blake. Although Fisher and Blake should handle the point, the Lakers should try and snag another point guard from free agency just in case Fisher and Blake do not pan out. Maybe TJ Ford could be an answer for the Lakers.
The problem with Memphis is that two of the biggest free agents in the market this summer will be their own Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. This team is good, and will get better. They should try and re-sign both players if possible and hope for improvement next year.
It is very clear that the heat need a center. People can argue that the team also needs a point guard, but a center is by far the team’s biggest need. The Miami Heat score with the best in the league, but are not capable of being the defensive team they need to be against legitimate contenders.
Adding a defensive force down low would help the team tremendously. Not only would it improve their defense, but it would also create more transition opportunities and easier shots down the stretch for LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. There are a few big names as far as big men go in the 2011 draft. For the money that the Heat can offer, can they convince Samuel Dalembert to join the team?
This season has been a huge disappointment for the Bucks. Coming into the season, they were expected to contend for the division championship, when in reality they are not even a playoff team.
The main problem with the Bucks is lack of scoring. Corey Maggette was supposed to fix this problem, but that did not work. Perhaps the team should try and land someone like Jason Richardson or Caron Butler to aid in that department.
Not many free agents consider Minnesota as a top choice for employment, especially not well established free agents. The chances Minnesota has to snag a free agent this summer are slim, but not quite zero. The Wolves desperately need help inside. They need a big man able to provide a defensive presence. They might find what they need in Marc Gasol.
With Ricky Rubio on the verge of finally coming to the NBA next season, Marc Gasol might just be persuaded to join the team. A lineup of Rubio, Johnson, Beasley, Love and Gasol is at least interesting.
The Nets are a work in progress. As of now, they have the hardest positions to fill in basketball taken care off with Deron Williams at the point and Brooke Lopez at the pivot. They have solid contributors in a surprisingly effective Kris Humphreys, and sharpshooters Sasha Vujacic and Anthony Morrow. Besides that, the team needs help.
Being a young team in rebuilding mode, the Nets need to find a veteran player that is still relatively young. They need someone like Caron Butler, Tayshaun Prince or even Andrei Kirilenko to solidify their wing positions as well as provide veteran leadership.
The Hornets need more shooting. They cannot rely on streaky Marco Belinelli on a nightly basis and Trevor Ariza is just pathetic shooting jump shots. Their only consistent shooter is actually their power forward, David West.
This year’s free-agent class has several shooters that the Hornets should try to acquire. The list includes, but is not limited to, Michael Redd, Jason Richardson, Caron Butler, Jamal Crawford and J.R. Smith.
The Knicks need a center. It is no secret and it is showing in every game they play. Amare Stoudemire is not a center, no matter what the NBA lists him as. The Knicks have the money at least for next year to land a big name free agent. This guy could be Tyson Chandler, if he chooses not to stay in Dallas.
Besides Chandler, the Knicks should look at Samuel Dalembert as a cheaper backup plan.
The Thunder are well-established at every position. They have a good duo at the point, Sefelosha and James Harden are solid contributors at the two-guard position, and Durant is an MVP candidate. In the frontcourt, Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison hold their own. Where can they improve?
Although the team is set to keep improving on just player development, an extra veteran would benefit. The team really does not have a true small forward behind Durant and a veteran small forward might be just what the team needs. A free-agent name that comes to mind is Caron Butler, who would be looking for his last big contract and perhaps accept a bench role.
The Magic are one of the deepest teams in the league, but like other deep teams, they also have a deep hole. The Mavericks hole is at center as they have no backup after trading Marcin Gortat. Since Howard will likely play the bulk of the minutes most of the night, the Magic can get away with signing someone like Nenad Krstic. Krstic is capable of providing what Gortat brought to the table, at least offensively.
The 76ers are yet another team in need of a center. Elton Brand has been holding his own, but he is a power forward. The team, whether they admit it or not, misses someone like Samuel Dalembert.
Depending on their playoff success this year, Philadelphia might become one of the most intriguing teams in the league, if they are not already. Perhaps this might catch the attention of someone like Tyson Chandler.
The Suns lost Jason Richardson, who averaged 20 points per game for them at the trade deadline. They have not been able to use Vince Carter that effectively. Also, Steve Nash is nearing retirement. They need a combo guard fast. They need Jamal Crawford.
One can only wonder what could have been had Portland been completely healthy in the last two years. Every year it is a different story and the team finds itself with a new hole.
As for this summer, they should go for a power forward able to spread the floor even more for their athletic players to operate. Troy Murphy is the kind of guy they need.
The Kings have solid pieces in their roster, but it does not seem to work well together. Tyreke Evans is one of the best young players in the league, while DeMarcus Cousins could become one as well. Other players like Omri Casspi and Marcus Thornton have great potential too.
In order to better solidify their roster, the Kings desperately need a veteran presence, specifically down low. They have the cash to sign a big fish this season and they should go after a big man. The name that makes the most sense here is Zach Randolph.
Randolph would provide the Kings toughness as well as an inside presence to make their strong wings even better. He would also make Cousins better by drawing attention from defenders. But of course, it could always blow up because of attitude issues. Thinking of a dispute between Cousins and Randolph would make any coach shiver.
The Spurs don’t really need any alterations to their roster. They are talented at every position and very deep. Perhaps their only problem is size, although they do have a good array of big men on their roster. The problem is that none of those big men are true centers.
The Spurs will not have much to offer to free agents but maybe someone like Joel Przybilla would take a pay cut to contend for a championship.
The Raptors need size. They have added young talent in the backcourt in Ed Davis, but they still need one more big man to solidify their center position.
Given that international players are somewhat of a common thing in Toronto, perhaps Samuel Dalembert or Joel Przybilla can land themselves a job with the Raptors.
It is a bit too early to clearly identify what Utah needs after the Deron Williams trade. They needed a center before the trade and did not fulfill that need. Perhaps, a center should be the teams main objective this offseason. There will be a few available out there, although it seems the number of soliciting teams is a bit higher than the number of available players.
As many other teams on this list, the Wizards are a young team in need of a few more veterans to aid them in player development. At the small forward position, they are very thin behind Rashard Lewis. Also, they need a backup point guard and center (assuming Javale McGee becomes a solid starter soon).
A few names that could fit into Washington and be effective are Joel Przybilla, Tayshaun Prince and former Wizard Caron Butler.