This summer figures to be a busy one as far as free agency and trade rumors go.
There are many trades that have been rumored, and many acquisitions that could fall through.
Dwight Howard has been a main topic of these rumored deals. It's crazy to think that he still has one more season in Orlando, because the way everyone is talking about him, he might as well be out of there tomorrow!
In the following slides I will address these rumors and questions that everyone has been asking. Think of this as a main question guide for the coming months.
With that in mind, thanks for reading!
Jamal Crawford played for $10.8 million this season as a member of the Atlanta Hawks.
He averaged better 20 points per contest in the Hawks' 12-game playoff run, and became the go-to shooter in the final minutes. For the most part, Crawford filled the role beautifully and should be given another chance by Atlanta.
He is a free agent this offseason, and he might command very familiar numbers.
I hope the Atlanta Hawks, for their own sake, will sign him to a similar contract. That way everyone is happy in Georgia.
Now that the Boston Celtics' playoff struggles exposed perhaps the end of their dominant four-year run, the team will be looking ahead for the future.
Although Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green figure to be integral parts of that success, they might also find salvation in 25-year-old J.R. Smith. Smith would provide long-term help at the two once Ray Allen's declination hits its' peak.
They might be a player to trade up for draft picks, too, as they are in need of youthful depth, but acquiring Smith for a first-rounder is almost completely feasible.
Chris Paul surprised the basketball world over a month ago when he stated that he was considering Charlotte as a free agency option for the summer of 2012.
"To have a personal relationship with him now and for him to be a mentor of mine, it's something when you're growing up as a kid in North Carolina you would never expect." Paul stated, before ultimately turning everyone's heads once more by remarking, "I think guys do and will want to play for MJ. Who better to learn from?"
And just like that, one of the best point guards in the league gave a city with little basketball history a glimpse of hope.
Unfortunately, the Bobcats will have to give up D.J. Augustin and maybe cut ties with Tyrus Thomas or Stephen Jackson in order to execute the trade. First-round picks will be a given.
We heard it all season long-- if the Chicago Bulls have a true shooting guard, they would become the automatic favorites for the NBA Finals.
O.J. Mayo has been the guy the Bulls have been looking at for quite some time now.
The Pacers made him look easy to get when they nearly gave up Josh McRoberts and a first-rounder.
Otherwise, they can find another solid fit in the Rockets' Courtney Lee.
Once the draft lottery concluded last night, the Cleveland Cavaliers left as the big winners, having acquired the first overall pick.
It seemed to some like salvation for LeBron James' departure, and with the pick they might be able to snag the city's next savior in Kyrie Irving.
Irving is a great point guard whom everyone would love to have, and even though the Cavs still have Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions they will probably still make him their number one man.
Tyson Chandler and Caron Butler are worth a combined $20 million per season.
Is all that money worth it to the Mavericks?
Chandler is an integral part of the team's playoff run, and at 30 Butler still has several years left in the tank.
These two defensive demons might be headed elsewhere, but in all honesty I believe they'll sign with the Mavs for a little less than they are currently making.
In executing the Carmelo Anthony deal at the trade deadline, the Denver Nuggets left several questions still on the table.
One of these lingering questions has to do with what they will do with all of their free agents.
Nene, Wilson Chandler, Arron Afflalo, and J.R. Smith are just a few of the guys who Denver needs to resign for next year and beyond.
So will they sign them? All we know is that this summer the Denver Nuggets will be a main reason for this summer's busy offseason.
The first thing the Detroit Pistons can do in rebuilding their program to its' previous relevancy is by selecting a solid player in the draft.
They have the eighth overall pick, and there's reason to believe that Kemba Walker will still be available when their selection rolls around.
Walker is a player who will help restore all that is lost in Michigan, and if the team deals Rodney Stuckey they could receive a respectable player or two for much less.
Let's face it: Epke Udoh and Andris Biedrins aren't exactly the cream of the crop when it comes to centers.
So what will the Warriors be looking for this offseason?
In Nene, Tyson Chandler, and Samuel Dalembert, there are some real viable options at the center position and the Warriors figure to join in on the lottery, and I wouldn't be surprised if Golden State gets in on the good stuff.
Yao Ming has been about as injury-proned as they come in the NBA.
He has played five games in the last two seasons combined, and I'm not so sure any team will want to bestow upon them his medical bills.
Will Houston give him one more chance or will their be a problem?
The 7'6" Ming might ask the Rockets for an eight-figure annual salary, but in all honestly he might be worth half that.
As previously mentioned, the Indiana Pacers nearly struck gold at the trade deadline when they gave up Josh McRoberts and a first-rounder for O.J. Mayo. However, the trade happened just after the deadline and it fell through.
My question is, well, can it happen again?
Or will the Pacers doomed for another year of Mike Dunleavy?
Whatever the case, expect Indiana to be on top of all things free agents this summer.
The Los Angeles Clippers struggled mightily at the small forward position this season.
Jamario Moon and Ryan Gomes didn't seem to cut it on either side of the ball.
A good fit for Los Angeles' other team might be Josh Howard, a guy who hasn't seemed to find a niche in the nation's capital but is still fully able to perform at a high level.
He might be attainable for one of the two aforementioned players and another role player.
If he signs, he shouldn't be worth too much.
There is no doubting that Dwight Howard is the best center and the most physically dominating athlete in the league.
When his contract is up in the summer of 2012, he will undoubtedly become the NBA's most talked-about player. For now, teams like the Los Angeles Lakers ponder whether they are able to stand a chance in acquiring the 6'11" Atlanta native.
As for the Lakers, the popular trade seems to be 23-year-old Andrew Bynum and a few first-round picks. Many people think this in itself is a solid trade, but honestly-- where would those picks the Magic would be receiving end up? It's not like the Lakers would get worse as a team with Dwight Howard on the roster.
This offseason will be filled with trade scenarios like this and others will bring about a new dimension of different ways to acquire Dwight.
Pau Gasol might be another Laker who will be on his way out, and he could prove valuable in a trade for a superstar point guard, something the Lakers desperately need if they are to return to the promised land. Chris Paul could be their man in 2012.
Marc Gasol made about three and a half million dollars this season, his last in his four-year deal with the Grizz.
If Memphis wants to retain Gasol they will need to pay him about twice that, because in the last year alone he has gone from Pau's brother to a top-five center in the NBA.
If the Grizzlies aren't willing to pay a hefty sum for the 7'1" Gasol then he might be headed elsewhere.
The one thing that haters normally bring up when bashing the Miami Heat is the fact that they do not have extraordinary depth.
One player that could bolster that is Detroit's Tayshaun Prince. Since Miami has a plethora of bigs and the Pistons do not, the Heat could send Big Z (or another generic big like Jamaal Magloire) and a second-rounder up to Motown in exchange for the versatile 31-year-old.
Prince would help out the team immensly and it would be only worth a small price.
Michael Redd has played a whopping 61 games over the last three seasons.
The Milwaukee Bucks will undoubtedly be shopping him this summer, and even though they already have a shooting guard in John Salmons they will still be looking a solid role player to come off the bench.
One player that comes to mind is Tayshaun Prince, a free agent who will be looking dearly to get out of the brutal situation that lingers in Motown.
A Prince-for-Redd swap is a plausible deal, and it makes sense on both sides.
With the 2011 NBA Draft selection now in order, once more the Minnesota Timberwolves will be picking after they were projected to do so.
Since Cleveland will obviously grab hold of Duke point guard Kyrie Irving now, that brings up a few interesting points for the Wolves.
Since the team isn't in need of a guy like Derrick Williams, would it make sense to trade down and perhaps acquire a star in the process?
And what is to happen to Ricky Rubio now?
My guess is that he'll be the featured point guard when he comes to the Land of 10,000 Lakes this summer.
This offseason in New Orleans will likely feature more specials than a Wal Mart on a Black Friday.
The Hornets will be shopping the likes of David West, Carl Landry, and Chris Paul (who isn't technically a free agent until 2012, but he will still be looking) this summer.
The most important priority is probably signing West, who has a $7.5 million option for the 2011-12 season.
I've said this in the past, I'll say it again: Marc Gasol would be a perfect fit in the Big Apple.
We know the Knickerbockers are willing to spend the money, so why not put big ones on Gasol? They are in need of a defensive-orientated center, and Gasol practically has defensive-orientated written all over him.
If not Gasol, then look for the Knicks to draft a guy like Bismack Biyombo or Kenneth Faried instead, both undersized centers who fit the New York bill perfectly.
In my opinion, Dwight Howard would be suited better as a New Jersey Net, rather than a Los Angeles Laker.
If all the pieces align and the Nets are able to resign Deron Williams next summer, there's no telling what could happen with Superman. Trades will be proposed, picks will be sacrificed, and money will be offered, and in the end it's a real possibility for Brooklyn's future team.
The Oklahoma City Thunder look like a formidable force to reckon with in the future.
So does that mean they need to make any moves?
I'd say not; the team looks solid for the next few years without doing anything too detrimental. The only starters over 22 are Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha, and they're not exactly fossils themselves.
I'll bet you're just so sick of seeing Dwight Howard pictures and reading about his upcoming future.
Oh, you're not?
Well then, what are the chances of the center actually remaining in Orlando, a place where he has said he wants to retire?
The over/under is one. If the Magic acquire a superstar, he'll be on the fence about leaving. If they snag two, it's a foregone conclusion that he will stay in the town that's more famous for a set of amusement parks.
The 2011 draft's most unknown and perhaps most intriguing prospect can be found in the form of a 6'9" Congolese.
Bismack Biyombo has sprung onto the draft scene within the last two months, and he could be a lottery pick.
If he's not, expect the Philadelphia 76ers to pounce on him and hold tight. Spencer Hawes isn't exactly top-tier when you talk about true centers.
One of the greatest passing point guards of all-time, Steve Nash, at 37 years young, is playing out of his mind. It will be a darn shame if the 6'3" Nash goes through the entirety of his career ringless.
Coming off a season where he averaged better than 14 points and 11 assists per game, Nash's trade value will be sky high.
I could honestly see the Los Angeles Lakers making a deal to have Kobe and Steve play the final years of their career together in the city of angels. What a perfect fit that would be.
The Portland Trail Blazers have a solid young nucleus of players to work with in the coming years.
One thing they do not have is long-term insurance at the center position.
In a potent free agent class at the five, Tyson Chandler could become a good fit due to his intensity on both sides of the floor, and his unselfishness fits in perfectly with Portland's demeanor.
If the Blazers are going to find a center this offseason, they need not look any further than Chandler.
This is all assuming, of course, that Greg Oden will be on his merry way.
The Sacramento Kings were foolish in offering center Samuel Dalembert over $12 million this season, and they would be foolish not to deal him as he will be asking for a similar price.
A few teams that might be interested include the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers, the same team he spent his youthful NBA days with.
Both teams will need to offer a viable big in return-- the Raps have Ed Davis (although there's no chance they'd give him up) and the Sixers have Spencer Hawes.
Chris Kaman isn't exactly young, but he might fit the bill perfectly for the San Antonio Spurs.
The 29-year-old would shift 6'7" DeJuan Blair to his more natural position at power forward, a place where he would back up the legendary Tim Duncan. That way when Duncan retires the Spurs would still have a viable second big man down low in Kaman.
The seven-foot Kaman hasn't exactly proved himself as first on LA's depth chart this season (DeAndre Jordan has), and a change of scenery might be nice for the former first-rounder.
Kaman could be acquired for as little as the struggling Richard Jefferson and a second-rounder.
Much has been made over the Toronto Raptors' intent to draft center Enes Kanter, a Turkish center who is a perfect mold of the position.
However, luck did not fall Toronto's way as they fell to the fifth overall pick, a position that might be too low to obtain Kanter. They might need to trade with Utah, who has the third overall pick, in order to grab the seven-footer.
If a Kanter trade is not set up properly, they may find salvation in a guy like Samuel Dalembert, who at 30 can still play but the Kings won't need much in return.
After Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams will be most likely selected with the first two picks of the draft, there will be many questions about what the Jazz should do with their first selection.
Enes Kanter might be the consensus pick, but for now Utah has a lot of frontcourt depth with Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, and Paul Millsap. Perhaps they should trade the pick to a team like Toronto who is in need of a big.
As for the second pick, Jimmer Fredette would be the perfect selection.
The Washington Wizards were disappointed last night in finding out that they will be selecting sixth in the 2011 draft, after posting the fourth-worst record last season.
John Wall and Co. have a nice nucleus to work with in the nation's capital, but do they really have what it takes to make it anywhere in the next few years? Only time will tell I guess.
Anyways, one potent option that might help out the Wizards is Derrick Williams, but there's no chance he won't be drafted by the time David Stern calls their name at the podium.
The Timberwolves should be up to trading their second overall pick since Williams is basically a carbon-copy of Michael Beasley, so why not give David Kahn a ring?
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.