NBA Free Agents 2011: Player Each Team Should Pursue with Their Cap Space
As the 2011 NBA Playoffs continue to progress, more and more teams are joining the ranks of those sitting at home, looking ahead to the changes they will have to make in the offseason.
And even though there is no new collective bargaining agreement in place, these franchises are undoubtedly assessing their financial situations, while starting to target members of the 2011 free-agent class.
Therefore, this slideshow will set out to pinpoint which players would best fit the needs of each team, while also taking into account their respective likelihoods of landing these targeted players.
Atlanta Hawks: Jamal Crawford
Without a doubt, the Atlanta Hawks' top priority during the 2011 offseason will be to re-sign soon-to-be-free-agent guard Jamal Crawford.
A year removed from his Sixth Man of the Year season, Crawford continued to provide the Hawks with essential contributions off the bench in the 2010-11 campaign.
Moreover, his combination of scoring and ball-handling are indispensable for a team without a star point guard.
Therefore, look for Atlanta to retain his services early on, locking the 31-year-old guard down at a decent price for what could be the rest of his career.
Boston Celtics: Glen Davis
After trading away Kendrick Perkins during the regular season, the Boston Celtics frontcourt became noticeably weaker.
Moreover, as the soon-to-be 35-year-old Kevin Garnett continues to age, it's obvious that his decreasing contributions will further drain the Celtics' interior.
Consequently, Boston must re-up 25-year-old Glen Davis in the offseason, in order to shore up their frontcourt for the future.
And given the drastic improvements he made this past season, the young big man certainly seems to be up for that job.
Charlotte Bobcats: David West
By the end of the 2010-11 season, the Charlotte Bobcats sat 14 games under .500 and in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
What's more, only a year after making the playoffs, the Bobcats traded away star forward Gerald Wallace, leaving a gaping hole in their lineup, making it clear that Charlotte is going to need some help inside.
So where better to look than to one of the most talented free-agent forwards, who just happens to have played some of his high school ball in the Bobcats' home state of North Carolina?
Therefore, David West obviously makes sense for Charlotte, although their biggest concern will be convincing him to join a franchise without a great track record.
Chicago Bulls: Jamal Crawford
Despite earning the NBA's best record in the regular season, the Chicago Bulls still have a few noteworthy holes in their lineup.
However, if they were able to convince Jamal Crawford to sign with their team for the mid-level exception, Chicago would become a truly frightening team.
This is because Crawford would be able to fill the team's scoring void at shooting guard, could alleviate some of the scoring and ball-handling pressures on MVP point guard Derrick Rose, and would bring some veteran leadership to a young team whose three oldest players are set to become free agents.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Wilson Chandler
Despite their abysmal showing in the 2010-11 season, the Cleveland Cavaliers, trapped under the contracts of Baron Davis and Antawn Jamison, still won't have a much, if any, cap space this offseason.
Therefore, their best bet would be to target a less expensive, young player who could contribute at the wing, where their rotation is the thinnest.
And Wilson Chandler could very well be such an option, since he will be a restricted free agent, with a $3.1 million qualifying offer from the Denver Nuggets.
And since the Nuggets will likely be worried about re-signing Nene, they may elect to let Chandler walk to a higher bidder, like the Cavs.
Dallas Mavericks: Tyson Chandler
Tyson Chandler has been one of the most critical players to the Dallas Mavericks this season, providing them with a relentless source of defense, rebounding and athleticism around the rim.
Therefore, Dallas must do everything within their power to make sure that they are able to re-sign Chandler this offseason.
So while that may not seem like the best idea for the long run, seeing as though they already have fellow Maverick center Brendon Haywood locked down in a long, expensive contract, it's certain that Chandler gives them the best chance to win right now.
And with Dirk Nowitzki getting up there in age, the team should certainly try to win while they still can.
Denver Nuggets: Nene
Although Denver Nuggets center Nene has a player option on his contract for next season, most sources are reporting that he will opt out and test the free-agent market.
However, given that the Brazilian center was a critical factor to the team's post-Melo success, Denver will need to do their best to re-sign him.
And with Kenyon Martin's massive contract coming off the books, they will have a lot of money to throw at him as they look to make him one of the faces of the new-look Nuggets.
Detroit Pistons: Rodney Stuckey
Ever since the Detroit Pistons traded away Chauncey Billups and then signed Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to massive contracts, the team has been among the NBA's bottom-feeders.
Nevertheless, with Tayshaun Prince's $11 million contract coming off the books, the team will have room to make a fairly high-profile move.
And while it would be nice to bring in a big name, Detroit will still be handcuffed by a few bad contracts, giving them limited mobility.
Therefore, their safest bet would be to re-sign 25-year-old restricted free agent Rodney Stuckey, locking up a key contributor for the future as they continue to rebuild.
Golden State Warriors: Tyson Chandler
The Golden State Warriors have had a rough few years, but behind the play of young guards Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, their future has the potential to be bright.
So should the Dallas Mavericks decide that re-signing Tyson Chandler would not be a sound business investment, then he could very well be the one to help the Warriors put it all together.
After all, Golden State needs a true presence at center, and a freak athlete like Chandler would fit perfectly into their system.
And with him finishing lobs inside and playing solid defense, the Warriors could turn the corner and make the postseason for the first time since 2007.
Houston Rockets: Caron Butler
After sitting out much of the year while his team still managed to succeed, it's clear that Caron Butler has become expendable for the Dallas Mavericks.
Nevertheless, there is definitely still a market for a player of his caliber, and the Houston Rockets would be smart to pursue him.
The 31-year-old, two-time All-Star forward would be able to fill the hole left in the Rockets' lineup after their trade of Shane Battier, and moreover, he could come at a reasonable price at this point.
And with Yao Ming's contract off the books, the team could afford to go after more than just Butler.
Indiana Pacers: David West
With the contracts of Mike Dunleavy, TJ Ford, Jeff Foster and Josh McRoberts all expiring, the Indiana Pacers will have a ton of money to throw around in the offseason.
Therefore, they should pursue one of the offseason's top free agents, someone like David West.
West would be able to do more than compensate for the losses of Foster and McRoberts inside, while providing the team with an All-Star-caliber scoring punch.
Moreover, he could help the team improve upon their already impressive playoff performance in 2010, as a core of West, Darren Collison, Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert could be an up-and-coming force in the Eastern Conference.
Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Jordan
While the Los Angeles Clippers only won 32 games in the 2010-11 season, it's hard not to look at the year as a success.
Blake Griffin emerged as a physically dominant force, Eric Gordon broke out with a 22-point average and young center DeAndre Jordan finally put it all together and showed the world what he can do.
However, seeing as though Jordan is a former second-round draft pick, he is now an unrestricted free agent.
And as a long and athletic 22-year-old center, he will have no shortage of callers.
But with Chris Kaman entering the final year of his contract, then the Clippers will need to re-sign Jordan in order to shore up one of the NBA's best young frontcourts for years to come.
Los Angeles Lakers: Aaron Brooks
After a disappointing end to the Los Angeles Lakers' season in 2010-11, it's clear that they need to make some changes.
And while some have advocated for blowing the team up and starting over, the Lakers still do have the talent to compete for a few more years.
So should they decide to make another push at a title, they may need a big-time free-agent acquisition to rejuvenate their squad.
And a player like Aaron Brooks could do exactly that, as he could pick up some of the backcourt scoring load while serving as the team's primary threat from deep.
Memphis Grizzlies: Zach Randolph
With Rudy Gay going down midseason, Zach Randolph has been the heart and soul of the Memphis Grizzlies.
He has carried the squad on a deep playoff run, but after it ends, he will become an unrestricted free agent.
But it won't just be him, as the contracts of Marc Gasol and Shane Battier will also expire, leaving Memphis with some tough decisions to make.
However, the Grizzlies must do everything possible to convince Randolph to stay, since without him, they would likely fade back to oblivion.
Miami Heat: Tyson Chandler
After stumbling numerous times throughout the regular season, the Miami Heat looked like the real deal down the stretch and into the playoffs.
But what's even more impressive is the fact that they managed to do this with no serious threat at the center position, as they relied upon the aging Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Erick Dampier.
However, these two will both be free agents at the season's end, and the Heat will definitely need some more help inside.
And who would be a better option than Tyson Chandler, who would provide the team with some much-needed defense and rebounding at center.
Milwaukee Bucks: Caron Butler
After a disappointing 2010-11 season, where they were hindered by injuries to their stars, the Milwaukee Bucks will finally be out from under the massive contract of Michael Redd.
And while they still won't have a ton of money to spend, the Bucks could still pursue a target like Caron Butler.
In Milwaukee, Butler would help to solidify the small forward position since Chris Douglas-Roberts and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute are both going to become free agents.
Moreover, he would be able to serve as another reliable, go-to scorer for the team, which was so balanced in that area this past season.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Samuel Dalembert
While the Minnesota Timberwolves struggled to the NBA's worst record this season, there were still one notable bright spot, named Kevin Love.
However, with his only real support inside coming from the likes of Darko Milicic, Nikola Pekovic, Anthony Tolliver and Anthony Randolph, it's clear that he could use some help.
Therefore, the T'Wolves ought to target a defensive-oriented big like Samuel Dalembert, who could board, block shots and provide the length and athleticism that Minnesota needs on the interior.
New Jersey Nets: Kris Humphries
Kris Humphries put together a breakout season for the New Jersey Nets in 2010-11, but unfortunately for them, his contract is set to expire.
And with Brandan Wright also becoming a free agent, then it's clear that the Nets will need to retain someone inside to help out Brook Lopez.
Consequently, it would be in the team's best interest to re-up Humphries.
And by doing so, New Jersey likely wouldn't break the bank, still allowing the team some financial flexibility for 2012.
New Orleans Hornets: David West
After making the playoffs and pushing the Los Angeles Lakers to six games before being sent home, the New Orleans Hornets certainly showed some promise this season.
However, former All-Star David West is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and franchise player Chris Paul will be the year after that.
Therefore, if New Orleans has any hopes of ultimately retaining Paul, they must go all-out when attempting to re-sign West this offseason.
New York Knicks: Samuel Dalembert
While the New York Knicks made headlines over the past year by bringing in Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, the team still has many glaring weaknesses.
Most evident among these flaws is that the Knicks don't really have a true inside presence at the center position.
Therefore, they should target a player like Samuel Dalembert, who would be able to defend opposing bigs and rebound, all while allowing Amar'e to log more time at his natural power forward position.
Oklahoma City Thunder: David West
After trading away Jeff Green, the Oklahoma City Thunder were able to shore up their defensive interior, but their offense became even more reliant upon the play of their two stars, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
But with a decent amount of space under the salary cap entering the offseason, the Thunder would be smart to pursue a legitimate frontcourt scoring option, like David West.
In Oklahoma City, West would form a deadly offensive trio with Durant and Westbrook, while the team would also be supported by their many standout defenders.
So in all, this move could easily push the Thunder over the top, making them one of the NBA's best teams.
Orlando Magic: Jason Richardson
After another disappointing postseason appearance, the Orlando Magic will have to make some serious moves in order to convince star center Dwight Howard to stay with the team for the long run.
So to do this, first Orlando needs to re-sign Jason Richardson.
And while doing this would be a good start, the cash-strapped Magic will likely need to do some more, either making trades or just hoping for an increased level of play come next season.
Philadelphia 76ers: Thaddeus Young
The Philadelphia 76ers managed to put together a rather impressive 2010-11 season, especially when one considers how low their expectations initially were.
Yet one of the reasons for their great play was the resurgence of Thaddeus Young down the stretch.
Nevertheless, Young will soon become a restricted free agent, and if the Sixers would like to continue to improve they ought to re-sign the 22-year-old forward, keeping together their talented, young core.
Phoenix Suns: Aaron Brooks
After trading for Aaron Brooks midway through the 2010-11 season, it was clear that the Phoenix Suns were setting him up to be to be the successor of Steve Nash at the point guard position.
Consequently, with Nash now at 37 years of age, Brooks should expect a larger role with the Suns in the upcoming year.
However, before that can happen, Phoenix must retain Brooks' services, seeing as though he is a restricted free agent this offseason.
And while his qualifying offer is rather low, the 26-year-old guard is one of this free-agent class's premier points, so he will certainly get his fair share of offers.
Therefore, the Suns must match all of these if they hope to bring him back and be competitive when Nash finally retires.
Portland Trail Blazers: Samuel Dalembert
The Portland Trail Blazers struggled with consistency from the center position throughout the 2010-11 season, due in large part to Marcus Camby's age and injury woes, Greg Oden missing another season and the trade of Joel Przybilla.
And with Camby continuing to wear down ad Oden becoming a free agent, there is no end to this problem in sight.
However, should the Blazers pursue a player like Samuel Dalembert, they could provide the team with interior relief, while allowing LaMarcus Aldridge to move down to the 4 and Gerald Wallace to move down to the 3.
Sacramento Kings: David West
After carrying the league's lowest salary during the 2010-11 season, the Sacramento Kings will lose an additional $12.2 million with the expiration of Samuel Dalembert's contract.
Consequently, their team salary will be less than half of this past season's salary cap, which should allow them to pursue any free agents they want.
And with very few set pieces on their team (other than Tyreke Evans and maybe DeMarcus Cousins), the Kings could go any number of ways.
However, one smart pick-up would be David West, who could more than make up for the loss of Samuel Dalembert, should the team fail to re-sign him.
San Antonio Spurs: Kenyon Martin
The San Antonio Spurs were dealt a disappointing first-round playoff exit in 2011, and consequently, they will need to make a few adjustments.
First of all, they will need to address their weaknesses in the frontcourt, with Antonio McDyess excepted to retire and Tim Duncan getting up there in age.
Consequently, they could target a player like Kenyon Martin, whose tough, interior style would fit nicely with the Spurs' style of play.
And while they would have to talk him down to sign with the team, veterans often choose proven squads like San Antonio to make a final push at the title.
Toronto Raptors: Marc Gasol
The Toronto Raptors had a terrible 2010-11 campaign, only winning a total of 22 games.
However, they will have a considerable amount of cap space in the offseason, and what's more, the Raptors have needs in many areas.
Therefore, they will have many options, but one interesting target would be center Marc Gasol.
As a Raptor, Gasol could join the lineup as the starting center, allowing Andrea Bargnani to bump down to the four, while giving the team some much-needed size inside.
Moreover, Gasol could be lured to Toronto for a variety of reasons, including the fact that he would be reunited with Spanish teammate Jose Calderon and that he may be attracted to the city's European feel.
Utah Jazz: Andrei Kirilenko
After trading away Deron Williams, the Utah Jazz suffered greatly as the season wound down.
However, with the young players and draft picks they received in return for Williams, their long-term future has some potential.
Nevertheless, rather than entering into a full-on rebuilding mode, the team ought to re-sign forward Andrei Kirilenko this offseason, albeit at a reduced rate, thereby allowing him to finish his career in Utah, while the team could still be in playoff contention.
Washington Wizards: Nick Young
While the Washington Wizards had their struggles in 2010-11, the talent that their young roster put on display was certainly promising.
Rookie point guard John Wall had a solid rookie campaign, big men Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee continued to develop, Jordan Crawford played great when given an opportunity, and Nick Young led the team in scoring.
However, Young will be a free agent at the end of the season, so the Wizards would be smart to re-sign the 25-year-old restricted free agent, helping to solidify the team's impressive, young core.