NBA Free Agents 2011: 5 Teams That Need To Make a Big Splash After the Lockout

Chris CiprianoCorrespondent IIOctober 6, 2011

NBA Free Agents 2011: 5 Teams That Need To Make a Big Splash After the Lockout

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    With reports surfacing that the NBA Lockout might be coming to close, it’s time to stop talking about decertifying and revenue sharing. It’s time to start talking about the impending offseason, mainly free agency.

    If it’s anything like it was in the NFL after the NFL Lockout ended, get ready for a free-agent frenzy.

    Without knowing what the salary cap will be in the new CBA, it’s hard to gauge exactly how much money teams will have to spend, but we have a decent idea.

    What we do know is that there will be teams out there with money to spend. Here are five teams that need to make a splash during the free agent period. The inclusion of an amnesty clause could add more teams to that list, but as of now we don’t know if it will be included. 

Los Angeles Clippers

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    The Los Angeles Clippers were relevant for the first time in a long time thanks to Blake Griffin's performance last season. He sparked a young Clippers team that has loads of potential. 

    Before we get too carried away, we need to remember that the Clippers only won 32 games last season. They need to improve a great deal if they want to be a serious playoff contender. With the cap space to do so, the Clippers have a great opportunity to add some quality depth and experience to a team that desperately needs it.

    With a key signing, the Clippers could be the Los Angeles team we are all talking about in May and June, not the Lakers. 

New Jersey Nets

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    The New Jersey Nets stunned the NBA at February’s trade deadline when they pulled off a trade for Deron Williams. The Nets mortgaged their future on Williams and now need to ensure that he is a part of it.

    Williams has a player option after this year and if the Nets don’t experience an increase in the win column, he could leave the Nets empty-handed.

    Other than Williams and Brook Lopez, the Nets don’t have much. They need to improve elsewhere without throwing money at average players like they did last year with Travis Outlaw.

Denver Nuggets

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    As of now the Denver Nuggets have less than $29 million committed to players for next season. This leaves them with plenty of cap space. A good chunk of that could be spent on re-signing Nene, and even if they do they still have a decent amount.

    Signing a power forward to replace Kenyon Martin will be prudent as is deciding what to do about Nene.

    The Nuggets proved last season that their team was more than just Carmelo Anthony. With a solid core of players, the Nuggets can do some serious damage in the Western Conference next season.

New Orleans Hornets

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    The New Orleans Hornets find themselves in a similar situation as the New Jersey Nets. They have a point guard who is the face of the franchise, Chris Paul, who can opt out of his contract at the end of the season.

    David West, their second best player, opted out of his contract and the Hornets have to decide if they can trust him to stay healthy. A Paul-West one-two punch led the Hornets to within a game of the Conference Finals in 2008.

    If they want any chance of retaining Paul, they need to make some shrewd moves in this offseason or else Paul will be a goner. 

Chicago Bulls

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    The Chicago Bulls surprised even their own fans last season. The Bulls climbed above the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, claiming the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

    Losing in the Conference Finals put a damper on the season, but not all was lost as it exposed their weaknesses. 

    The Bulls need for a shooting guard who can stretch the floor. More help for Derrick Rose was never more apparent than it was in the series against the Heat.

    While the Bulls might not have the cap flexibility like some of the other teams on the list, they should be able to attract guys who want to play for a contender. If they could add someone like Richard Hamilton, the Bulls would position themselves as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.