NBA Free Agents 2011: 5 Teams That Must Make a Big Signing This Summer
While the NFL's labor dispute has come to an end, the NBA on the other hand, hasn't been so lucky. Some of its biggest stars, from Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose to Deron Williams have explored options overseas, playing in exhibition games or agreeing to play in other countries until the lockout ends.
So while fans in the Philippines for instance, are able to enjoy alley-oops from Kobe Bryant to Derrick Rose, fans here stateside, are left to only ponder and hope for the NBA to make its triumphant return.
Until then however, halted league activity has not seemed to squash trade speculation for when teams return however.
As players keep in shape in tournaments, practice and exhibitions outside of NBA boundaries and in foreign countries, it is still inevitable that the NBA will be back, and when activity is finally allowed, you can bet there are going to be plenty of moves made.
In the midst of the lockout, many tend to overlook the aftermath that will seemingly carry over from the last season—arguably the greatest coach of all time retired, the new "Big 3" weren't able to win a ring and the aging Dallas Mavericks led by the "now a champion" Dirk Nowitzki won an NBA title.
Add to this the new possibilities of the new collective bargaining agreement (once it happens) and look for teams to be radically altered.
So for now, here are five teams that must make a big signing this summer.
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For the Houston Rockets, the announcement of Yao Ming's retirement is bittersweet.
On one hand, the Rockets lost their franchise center who, arguably, had the potential to be one of the greatest big men to ever play the game.
On the other hand, Yao's retirement gives the Rockets the peace of mind that they can finally move on and look towards rebuilding the franchise's future.
Drafting forward Marcus Morris was a start, but the team is in dire need of a star player—not only to help the size challenged team, but to also assist what could turn into a struggling franchise post-Yao Ming.
The Rockets have cap space and some decent parts to play with, but they don't necessarily have anyone to garner enough interest in order to trade for a big name, regardless of how much cap space they have.
The Rockets could use some fresh new talent to lead the team in the right direction. However, the biggest question is how they can acquire it.
Golden State Warriors
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The Golden State Warriors potentially could have been one of the more promising teams in the league last season, especially with the emergence of Stephen Curry as the team leader, the signing of David Lee and the near-constant offense of Monta Ellis.
However, they were unable to make the playoffs and as a result head coach Keith Smart was let go.
Now heading into a new season under new head coach Mark Jackson, it couldn't hurt for the team to go through a bit of change.
With all the rumors circulating about a possible Monta Ellis trade, the possibility of a Warriors' face lift is more plausible.
As much as they'd like to make it work, the Ellis/Curry duo just hasn't lived up to its expectations and Ellis' vocal desire to be on a contender, coupled with his borderline ball hog style of play, can't be making it easier for the Warriors to keep him.
Add to this their drafting of guard Klay Thompson and the possibility of trading Ellis for possibly a much-needed center becomes more and more likely, especially if Andris Biedrins' name keeps coming up in trade rumors.
Los Angeles Lakers
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In a post-triangle offense, it's questionable how an older Kobe Bryant and a not-getting-any-younger Pau Gasol would fare.
However, the new Mike Brown-led Los Angeles Lakers have stated an intent on keeping the "core" of the team intact.
This doesn't stop them from moving other pieces to make room for another big name perhaps.
The Lakers suffered a tough sweep at the hands of the eventual NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks and are now in a stage where Bryant only has so many good years left in the tank; making a big signing even more crucial to the team if they want to make another championship run or two before the Bryant era ends.
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Regardless of whether Steve Nash continues on with the Phoenix Suns, the team is most definitely in a stage of rebuilding.
Undoubtedly still a top level point guard in the league, Nash is nonetheless well past his 2005 and 2006 MVP seasons, and at 37 years of age is approaching the end of his career.
So it makes it even more of a priority to make a splash in the market and make a big move.
The Suns have suffered since the departure of Amar'e Stoudemire and surrounded Nash with a productive, but nonetheless aging, Grant Hill and a dilapidated Vince Carter to carry a good share of the offensive load, which says a lot about the state of the team.
If the Suns do decide to keep Nash, they'll at least have one of the best point guards to welcome a big name and a decent squad to make a run in the playoffs.
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As likely as it is that Dwight Howard will be out of the Orlando Magic's reach soon enough, it likely won't be until he's become a free agent, mainly because the only way he'd be traded is if he took Gilbert Arenas' massive contract with him.
If that's the case, the Magic at least have some time to make a signing to keep Howard in Orlando.
The Magic have a ton of movable pieces from Jameer Nelson to Arenas, if anyone is willing to take him.
The city of Orlando desperately wants to keep Howard in their city, but the only way to do that is to surround him with a team that can actually make a solid run at the title, and bringing back Hedo Turkoglu clearly wasn't enough.
A Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook might be enough to entice him to stay and a player of that caliber is definitely enough to make a run in an Eastern Conference loaded with the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony.