NBA Trade Rumors and Free Agency: How Each Team Should Use Its Cap Space
There are ways for absolutely every team in the NBA to improve upon its current situation.
One way that improvement can be made easier is through free agency, and the ability to have cap space to sign more expensive players.
In the following slides I will discuss a move or signing that would help every team with its respective cap space.
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While it's obvious that the Atlanta Hawks have some money to throw around, the fact remains that they need a center. Al Horford is not a prototypical center, so perhaps they should shop centers around the league. Zaza Pachulia and Jason Collins just don't cut it as the top two on the franchise.
A few that step out immediately are free-agents Tyson Chandler, Nene and Marc Gasol, but I'm not so sure Atlanta can afford any of them without giving up a core player or two.
One thing the Boston Celtics are eager to do right now is finish the postseason, but beyond that they're trying to keep all their main players together for at least a couple more years.
Jeff Green's qualifying offer should be signed since they traded for him in February, and beyond that there's nothing much to do here other than re-sign Ray Allen.
As unrealistic as it seems, there is a likely possibility that Chris Paul may go to the Bobcats in the summer of 2012, a season that will ultimately end up like the crazy one we saw in 2010.
In order to have a better chance of snagging CP3, the team might want to think about dumping a few of their money-guzzlers.
If 2012 is to be as kind to Charlotte as everyone thinks it can, the Bobcats might be in for a big surprise. However, 2011 is going to be another boring offseason for a team that has lost three of its best players in the last year.
The one thing the Chicago Bulls need to do this offseason is so eminent that I hardly even need to explain it to you.
A solid shooting guard is badly needed in the Windy City. The team tried dealing for O.J. Mayo at the trade deadline but it was shot down.
There are some good 2-guards in this year's class, such as Arron Afflalo, Jason Richardson and Jamal Crawford, all of whom would fit in nicely with the Bulls.
Desperate to return from mediocrity, the Cleveland Cavaliers are full of cap space, meaning they should go after a big free agent or two.
A few guys they could go after include Yao, Nene and J.R. Smith. Regardless, they will most likely be big spenders this offseason.
One way the Dallas Mavericks can use up their cap space is by building for the future.
If the Mavs want to have younger players mentored by their seemingly endless supply of proven veterans, they can always look toward the draft.
On the flip side, however, they are in need of a point guard because, let's face it, Jason Kidd isn't going to play forever. Mark Cuban has had his eyes on Ricky Rubio. If they can work a sign-and-trade for him for a cheap price it would be an absolute steal.
In dumping Carmelo's huge (emphasis on huge) contract, the Denver Nuggets got a monkey off their back, and got a bunch of solid players in return.
Their No. 1 offseason priority should be re-signing these guys, and possibly dealing Nene to a deserving suitor.
Who knows? The Nuggets themselves might find an upgrade at center!
As previously mentioned, the Denver Nuggets are shopping and re-signing a plethora of players.
The Detroit Pistons should go for a guy like Kenyon Martin or Nene—a low-post guy who can body around anyone if he so pleases. That player could be cheaper if the Pistons give away a solid player or two.
Golden State Warriors
Andris Biedrins, who is only 25, is not even worth a fraction of the $9 million the Golden State Warriors annually pay him.
The team will be looking for a solid player to replace him, and where better to look than an all-around guy like Marc Gasol?
Gasol will be looking at just around eight figures per year, and in all honesty it isn't much different than what the Warriors are paying Biedrins.
In all honesty, the Houston Rockets aren't necessarily flawed in too many positions.
At the same time, they should ensure themselves of a solid draft selection, and Alec Burks of Colorado would be a nice addition to the Houston roster.
The Indiana Pacers undoubtedly will be one of the summer's biggest spenders, and it all starts at the shooting guard position, where Mike Dunleavy and Paul George struggled all season long to produce consistently.
The Pacers need to shift their focus to Jamal Crawford, who would be worth the low eight-figure total he would collect.
They could immediately consider themselves contenders if they had one more solid player.
Los Angeles Clippers
Since the whole "we don't have a real starting small forward" experiment didn't work out to the Clippers' liking this season, they need to take another look and realize there are some decent options at the 3 in the free-agency pool.
Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons is a good option, and he would provide depth in addition to being worth the buck.
Another way Los Angeles' other team can rid itself of future cap space is by dumping Chris Kaman.
Los Angeles Lakers
It's likely that the Los Angeles Lakers will make some moves this summer, as they prepare to shop for a superstar in 2012.
It will be then that you will hear the names Dwight Howard and Chris Paul tossed around more and more frequently, but for now they won't do much other than perhaps upgrade at the point guard position.
The Memphis Grizzlies success this year hinges on the fact that they work so well together as a squad.
Marc Gasol, an integral part of the team's success, will need to be re-signed this summer. Rather than collect free space, they should use a chunk of it on the 7'1" Gasol.
If last summer was an indicator of anything for the Miami Heat, it was that they were big spenders, but now?
There is no chance they sign a guy much bigger than Tayshaun Prince, who would improve all-around depth.
If the Milwaukee Bucks want to return to the playoffs in 2012 after a terribly disappointing season, they need to acquire some sort of offensive presence.
Since they won't be huge spenders, it's not all that unlikely that they do nothing this offseason. But at the same time, they need it. A guy like C.J. Miles will be available, so why not take a shot at him?
The Minnesota Timberwolves, as usual, will have a lot of cap space this offseason.
If they finally want to make a move (as they are usually extremely reluctant), this might be the summer.
They should look at the center and shooting guard positions, and Tyson Chandler is an example of someone they should go after.
New Jersey Nets
Just like the Los Angeles Lakers, the New Jersey Nets will be awaiting "The Decision" of Dwight Howard in the summer of 2012.
The Nets, however, are a better fit in my opinion. The main thing the Nets can do this offseason is open up cap space so that they can acquire another superstar like Howard to play alongside D-Will.
New Orleans Hornets
The New Orleans Hornets have some cap room and might be able to trade for a more well-known player, which in turn would help out their entry in the Chris Paul sweepstakes next summer.
David West should also be re-signed if this is to happen. West has a player option of $7.25 million for next season, and it will be interesting to see how he plays it out.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks have eight unrestricted free agents including a player option (Ronny Turiaf) and a restricted free agent (Derrick Brown). Unless they sign about half of these members, it is likely that they will have some cap space available.
The most important player they should re-sign is Ronny Turiaf, but being the one player option, he might not sign his qualifying offer of $4.6 million for the 2011-12 season.
Come the summer of 2012 this team will be huge spenders, but for now they'll wait.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Since Nazr Mohammed is the only key free agent on the Thunder, I'd say signing him has to be the No. 1 priority.
In signing Kevin Durant last summer, Oklahoma City established itself as a team for the future, so why mess with that now?
Nick Collison's salary will take a huge dip after this season, so he might be headed out, but everyone else will most likely stay.
Don't look now, but if the Orlando Magic get rid of Dwight Howard they will have a lot of cap space.
At the moment the 6'11" big is earning $17 million per season, but if the Magic trade him they could be in for some big bucks.
As for 2011? I don't expect anything other than the expiration of Jason Richardson's contract.
Yet another potential destination for Nene, Philadelphia is in need of a big man because Spencer Hawes just isn't cutting it in the City of Brotherly Love.
I expect the Sixers to be in that sweepstakes, as well as in the running for Marc Gasol and Tyson Chandler.
They might also make a move for Samuel Dalembert, who might even be able to swapped straight up for Hawes.
As soon as the team (as predicted) doesn't sign Vince Carter's option, it will have a lot of cap space with which to do a big move or two.
There is a slight chance the Suns will deal Steve Nash and his $11 million annual salary. If this is the case, the Phoenix Suns will become one of the offseason's biggest spenders, putting them in play for a guy like Arron Afflalo at the shooting guard position, or Mario Chalmers at the point.
Portland Trail Blazers
The one thing the Portland Trail Blazers might need in the coming years is a point guard for the future. Andre Miller is 35 and the team is looking and shopping for options.
Jonny Flynn of the Timberwolves is a guy who fits Portland's bill nicely and he won't be terribly expensive.
Is there another team that has more cap space right now than the Sacramento Kings?
One player they can potentially use some of that space on is Shane Battier, an incredible defensive stopper who is also a great teammate.
I'm not sure there can be a much better fit for Battier.
San Antonio Spurs
Other than signing Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs aren't very high on anyone's list of teams to make a move this summer.
They already have a solid nucleus of players and not a lot of cap room, so don't expect anything too big.
At best they could sign themselves a role player, but that's about the limit.
Like so many other teams on this list, the Toronto Raptors are in desperate need of a center.
Since they have a lot of cap room, they might be able to afford 22-year-old Greg Oden, who in turn would become a staple on both sides of the floor in Canada.
I'm sure his medical bills would be worth it, as long as he gives his all.
The Washington Wizards are a team that has a solid nucleus of players but could do better.
A veteran presence is needed, and Tyson Chandler could fit the bill if he doesn't re-sign with Dallas this offseason.
He would provide defensive intensity as well as leadership to the youthful Wizards.
Joseph Fafinski is currently a freshman at the University of Missouri. Originally from Chaska, Minnesota, Joseph is an NBA and Minnesota Timberwolves Featured Columnist and a frequent writer on all things NBA, NFL and MLB. You can email Joseph at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JosephFafinski.