Tracking the Biggest Storyline for Every NBA Team So Far This Offseason
With not a lot of progress made in completing a new labor agreement, the NBA season now hangs in the balance as a consequence.
Since the lockout has occurred, there hasn't been many notable news stories happening as of late. However, there are plenty of storylines that are well worth following in the mean time.
A large quantity of teams have remained silent during the offseason, but there are a few making noise with crucial decision-making and possible franchise-altering issues.
After a 2010-11 season with a heavy amount of drama and action, the following season could be just as memorable.
Let's check out what teams have been up to lately.
Atlanta Hawks: Josh Smith Being Rumored in Trade Scenarios
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Before the lockout became official, it was reported that power forward Josh Smith was having his availability asked about for possible trades. Atlanta has passed on offers for now but don't be shocked to see him traded right after the lockout is over.
Although the Hawks won a playoff series last season, they have shown signs of weakness and could to make a move to shake things up. Trading Smith would allow Al Horford to move down to the power forward position to utilize him better.
Smith should come with a high price tag for serious suitors. He is one of the most versatile players in the game and one of the best stat-sheet fillers around. His excellent defense and leaping ability will give any team a game changer and could be well worth a deal.
It isn't a must for Atlanta to trade Smith. The Hawks are still a lock for playoff basketball, so unless a deal overwhelms them, don't bank on anything to happen.
Boston Celtics: How Long Can They Remain a Championship Contender?
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If the NBA season is shortened due to the lockout, count me in as a believer that this team could win the East. However, the window of opportunity for this club could be closing at an increasingly fast pace.
With age playing a bigger factor every year, don't be surprised to see this team going through a rebuilding stage sometime soon. Four of the five members of the starting squad are past their primes, all heading towards the back-ends of their respective careers.
Boston should look for All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo to carry a load heavier than ever to put this team in a position to compete come playoff time. His young age and high energy will give the Celtics the boost they need throughout the year.
Boston also has two key free agents hitting the market in Glen Davis and Jeff Green. While Green was acquired in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder at the trade deadline, the Celtics should look to keep him in Boston green as part of the team's future.
Another issue constantly facing Boston is how long head coach Doc Rivers will remain on the team. After speculation hit last season that Rivers could be retiring, there's a good chance that this could be his last run to add another championship to his collection.
As long as the Celtics remain healthy, they will be a threat to the elite teams in the league. With that said, don't expect Boston to fight for the top seed in the East. This is a veteran team that can win on the road and would benefit more from limiting the stars during the regular season.
Charlotte Bobcats: Can Michael Jordan Build This Team into a Playoff Contender?
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We know he is the greatest player to ever play the game, but it will be interesting to see if the same man who drafted Kwame Brown with the first pick in the 2001 draft can make the Bobcats elite.
After gaining Kemba Walker on draft day, Jordan once again took a chance on a risky choice to build a team around. The main difference between Kemba and Kwame would be Walker has shown he can be a true leader.
Jordan has been active on the trading block during his time in Charlotte, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him have a busy offseason post-lockout.
Most importantly, Charlotte needs some serious scoring options after trading Stephen Jackson. Walker will most likely take time to develop into his potential and Corey Maggette dropped off considerably last season for Milwaukee.
The Bobcats have a few options for trade bait including D.J. Augustine, Gerald Henderson and Boris Diaw that could come up in possible deals.
Other than that, consider the Bobcats a project that could be a disaster or success depending on how things are ran.
Chicago Bulls: Will They Secure a Valuable Shooting Guard To Help Rose?
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Give Derrick Rose and the Bulls a lot of credit for their underdog season last year. After a ton of focus on solid contenders like the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, it was actually Chicago that swooped in and stole the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Rose was instrumental in leading a hobbled Bulls team through the season, but it became apparent in the Eastern Conference finals that he needed another valuable scoring option to take the load off him.
While Luol Deng was solid for Chicago last season, it was the wealthy signing of Carlos Boozer that was considered a flop. Boozer was injured in a freak accident before the season started and didn't do much to help when he came back. Actually, he found himself on the bench often times during big-game situations.
However, the biggest problem the Bulls faced was from the shooting guard position.
Keith Bogans? Really, Keith Bogans? That's who you come up with?
OK, I'll say that he's a pretty good defender, but he's not a starting quality shooting guard.
Roses' lack of backcourt help was a large part of why the Miami Heat upended then in their playoff meeting. Miami was able to focus solely on Rose while the rest of the team didn't step up.
There are plenty of free agents this season that are meant to be great role players. Expect the Bulls to make a change coming up soon.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving Selected with the First Pick in the Draft
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After a season of whining and moaning about LeBron James from Cleveland fans, it did have a promising outcome.
"With the first pick in the 2011 NBA draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select...Kyrie Irving."
Based of his quickness and fundamental ball-handling skills, Irving not only has what it takes to be a stud in the NBA, but give the city of Cleveland hope too.
Irving only played eight regular-season college games in his Duke career, so saying it will take some time to grow is by means no stretch. However, he will be someone to build a team around when he does.
Cleveland also selected another project with the fourth pick in the draft in Tristan Thompson.
During his lone season for the Texas Longhorns, Thompson proved that he had the potential to play effectively at a higher level. He was an efficient scorer for a big man and also played solid defense, averaging 2.4 blocks a game.
Both of these young players have much room to improve, but when they do, Cleveland could be a contender once again.
Dallas Mavericks: Will Tyson Chandler Stay or Go?
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Since winning the first NBA championship in franchise history, it has been rather quiet in Dallas. However, post-lockout, Mark Cuban and company will have a cornerstone to their championship team hitting the free-agent market.
Tyson Chandler is coming off one of his best seasons in the NBA, along with having the luxury of being one of the few worthy free agents this offseason. His athletic ability allows him to play stellar defense at times, as well as being one of the better centers when it comes to throwing down with authority.
While the center position is the weakest in the NBA, Chandler could be the beneficiary of some large contract offers depending on salary cap issues. With notable players J.J. Barea, Caron Butler, and DeShawn Stevenson also likely to test free agent waters, Cuban could be inclined to keep Chandler in Dallas for the next few years.
If you don't think he is worth the money, just remember he was the enforcer that helped propel the Mavericks' defense and shut down Miami inside.
Denver Nuggets: How Far Will This Team Fall Post Melo?
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Consider the Denver Nuggets in a serious rebuilding stage. After acquiring most of the New York Knicks' role players, Denver now has seven players hitting the free-agent market this offseason.
So just where should Denver go from here?
Arron Afflalo seems like the most coveted free agent they should re-sign. He has improved on his scoring and rebounding every year he has played, along with developing nice shooting range. His confidence as a player is growing and could be a centerpiece for the Nuggets to build around.
Other than Afflalo, it would be surprising to see any of the other free agents return.
The Nuggets will most likely lose Nene Hilario to a higher bidder or team that could contend now. While he is a valuable player to lose, it makes plenty of sense to let him go financially.
Expect to see the Nuggets go through a complete transition in order to return to contending status, but don't expect immediate success.
Detroit Pistons: Was Lawrence Frank the Right Hire as Head Coach?
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Lawrence Frank started his NBA coaching career with a bang for the New Jersey Nets. After taking over for Byron Scott, Frank won his first 13 games as head coach. However, Frank was released after an abysmal 0-16 start in 2009.
Frank was chosen over potential candidate Mike Woodson in August to coach the Detroit Pistons.
Helping coach the veteran Boston Celtics team over the last year should have a huge impact on Frank and his future success. Being an assistant to one of the better NBA coaches in Doc Rivers should only help Frank develop into a solid leader both on and off the court.
Frank truly deserved a second chance at a head coaching job but has a long road ahead of him to help improve the once glorious Pistons.
Golden State Warriors: Why Mark Jackson?
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Mark Jackson has been a quality NBA point guard and commentator, now he will try his luck in coaching. At one time, Jackson was rumored to be the next head coach of the New York Knicks, but now, he faces a much different situation in Golden State.
Given has basketball smarts, it's overdue that Jackson would get a crack at a coaching gig. He's being handed two extremely talented guards that could use Jackson's insight and teachings to be elite players.
While being one of the better ball-handlers in the NBA during his time, look for Jackson to help Stephen Curry become more comfortable at the point guard position. If not, this is when a trade involving Monta Ellis could really look like an option.
Don't expect immediate success for Jackson and the Warriors, but he could be the start of a upwards trend in Golden State.
Houston Rockets: End of the Ming Dynasty
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Yao Ming is one of the biggest attractions in NBA history. He helped open up a whole new global market, as well as being one of the most towering players to ever play. After playing just eight seasons in the league, the the center out of China has decided to retire.
You have to wonder just how good Yao could have been if it wasn't for constant injury, but his inability to stay healthy eventually forced him to call it quits. He wasn't the greatest athlete in the world, but he possessed great basketball IQ, along with a high-quality finesse game.
Now that he's gone, it leaves Houston with giant shoes to fill, while also clearing up major salary space to help out. Targeting players like Tyson Chandler or Marc Gasol are not out of the question as they need an extra piece to be a legit contender. However, they could wait to spend that money next offseason on a star-studded free agent class.
Yao's contributions to the NBA will always be remembered, but there is no question that it was his time to retire.
Indiana Pacers: George Hill Acquired on Draft Day
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This was a sneaky trade that really helped out Indiana. George Hill can come in and play either guard position while putting up worthy scoring numbers. Not only will he be a solid contributor, but he gives Indiana a consistent player who can help either off the bench or in a starting role.
After giving the Chicago Bulls a fight in the opening round of the playoffs, Indiana has a lot of potential to move up a seed and possibly knock off a team in the process. Hill only makes a stronger case for Indiana to improve.
Los Angeles Clippers: When Will Blake Griffin Be the NBA's Best Power Forward?
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If you look closely, I didn't say can he be the league's best power forward. That's because it's only a matter of time before he takes the throne.
Blake Griffin had one of the best rookie seasons ever witnessed, and he's only getting better. After missing his initial rookie campaign due to injury, Griffin put any theory claiming that it would affect him to rest.
Averaging 22.5 points and 12.1 rebounds a game, Griffin had a statement season putting himself in talks for the best power forward in basketball. While many of the great forwards in the NBA are declining based on age or other issues, Griffin will only get better and be one of the faces for the next generation of great players.
His ability to finish strong at the rim and assert himself as a powerhouse were just glimpses of his potential.
If future All-Star Eric Gordon can remain healthy, there isn't much keeping the forgotten LA team to be more than just a punchline. Together, these two are bright spots in the future of the NBA and can do big things for years to come.
Los Angeles Lakers: Will Mike Brown Be a Suitable Replacement for Phil Jackson?
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After having possibly the best coach of all time in Phil Jackson patrolling the sidelines, it's fair to say that Mike Brown won't be as effective.
Brown made questionable decisions during his time in Cleveland and never really asserted himself as a leader. After being given a second chance by a current contender, Brown should find success and comfort in LA.
A lot of Brown's ability to make an impact will depend on just how well he meshes with star Kobe Bryant. After initially being silent on the signing of Mike Brown, Kobe eventually opened up and had good things to say about the new coach.
I was personally shocked when Brian Shaw was passed up as head coach. After serving on the bench since 2004, many fans considered him the successor the "Zen Master." Jerry Buss' decision to look elsewhere will be a heavily covered story this season.
Brown isn't going to be a Hall of Fame coach, but he's a great motivator and deserves another opportunity to prove his worth.
Memphis Grizzlies: Should They Pursue Restricted Free Agent Marc Gasol?
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Maybe it just me, but I don't think Marc Gasol can be a star in the NBA. However, he can thrive in the role he had last year in Memphis.
Gasol was crucial in the defensive efforts to help upset the San Antonio Spurs and threaten the Oklahoma City Thunder in last year's playoffs.
While being an efficient scorer, Gasol is also a powerhouse down low and runs the floor well for a man of his size. Surrounded by other good players, he can contribute well in efforts to improve the team.
Gasol is considered a hot name in the rather weak free-agent class. Memphis should be careful to not let him go for cheap but also not overpay for the European.
Many teams are looking for a force down low, but Memphis already has a solid team and could risk losing Gasol to pursue other options.
Miami Heat: LeBron James Seeks Help from the Dream
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It didn't take long for King James to hit headlines after a disappointing NBA Finals loss. However, this story will only make him a bigger threat in the league.
After having his ability to be effective in post play, James has been working with former NBA great Hakeem Olajuwon to become a more complete player.
James has to learn to use his size and quickness to abuse defenders in the post position. Demanding the attention in the post will give him better scoring opportunities along with opening up more chances for role players.
LeBron has lead the NBA in scoring in the past, but touching up his post game will only make him a scarier player than he already is.
Milwaukee Bucks: Draft Jimmer Fredette, Swing Trade for Stephen Jackson
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This trade could be an under the radar type deal for Milwaukee. After making the playoffs in 2010, the Bucks just didn't have things together the following campaign, eventually missing out on the postseason.
Adding Stephen Jackson really opens up things for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Jackson is on the back-end of his career, but still possesses the the size and scoring ability to give the Bucks exactly what they need. Averaging 18.5 points a game for Charlotte last season, Jackson showed that he had plenty left in the tank to help a team make a run to the playoffs.
Paired with Brandon Jennings, these two could be one of the highest scoring backcourt duos in the Eastern Conference.
Averaging just 91.9 points a game last season, it was clear Milwaukee needed to make a move. Adding Jackson won't give them long-term success, but he can score in many way and could also take a lot of pressure off the maturing Jennings.
With a healthy Bogut, the Bucks could be primed to return to postseason play in 2011-12.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Rick Adelman To Lead Up-and-Coming Team
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That's right, after a few years of suffering, the Minnesota Timberwolves look like they could be on an upwards trend. With Kevin Love leading the way, Minnesota has a core of talented players who are only getting better.
Love and Michael Beasley both had their best career seasons in 2010-11. Now with newly drafted Derrick Williams added to the mix, we could see Minnesota climb out of the sewers and enjoy some success.
Throughout his veteran coaching career, Adelman is most known for his stint with an exciting Sacramento Kings team, helping them make it to one of the best Western Conference finals series in history. Even though Adelman most likely wanted to coach a contender, he has a lot he can bring to the table for the young Timberwolves.
New Jersey Nets: Deron Williams Becomes the First Star To Sign Overseas
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Consider Deron Williams the start of a domino effect. After being the first notable star to sign an overseas contract, many others eventually followed suit and ventured elsewhere.
The interesting concept for Williams will be to see just how much success he has in his time with Turkey. It's unclear if Brooklyn is in his future, but he could surprise the basketball world and decide to stay overseas.
This is an issue that could come into play post-lockout, especially with a lot of change coming to the Nets franchise in the next few years.
Williams is a top-five point guard in the NBA, but his future is uncertain.
New Orleans Hornets: Are They in Turmoil?
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Let's see what's going on in New Orleans recently.
Chris Paul has shown interest of being traded. They currently are owned and operated by the NBA. It's unclear if they will stay in New Orleans for long. Oh, and they are most likely going to lose their second best player to free agency.
With all that said, the future doesn't look promising for the New Orleans Hornets.
New York Knicks: Donnie Walsh Steps Down as General Manager
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When Donnie Walsh took over the Knicks, it's a known fact that they were a mess. After years of not being a true contender, Walsh leaves New York in a much better situation.
The Knicks haven't had a true star to build around since Patrick Ewing in the 1990s. A decade later, stars Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony give this team much more hope thanks to Walsh.
For now, Glen Grunwald will take over as the interim general manager until they find a replacement. Rather he will be the permanent solution will have to be seen, but it will be hard to replace Walsh.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant Tears Up Exhibitions
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After hard-fought Western Conference playoffs, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder were eliminated by the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks.
It didn't take long for Durant to start putting in work as he has tore up exhibition games. The most memorable game so far has been Durant's 59-point explosion against LeBron James and company.
If you haven't seen the highlights, check it out here.
Orlando Magic: How Will They Keep Howard?
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When you have the best big man in the NBA, you damn sure better do what it takes to keep him on your team. For the Orlando Magic, they could have one more year to convince Dwight Howard to stay in town.
Every since losing in the 2009 NBA Finals, things haven't went so smooth for Orlando.
Year after year, they continue to make questionable transactions to build a better team but continue to fall down the power rankings in the process. With so many bad contracts on the team, it could be hard to swing deals to give Howard some help.
However, Orlando was one of the teams inquiring about Josh Smith. The duo of Howard and Smith could be the most dominant defensive tandem in the NBA, along with a tandem that could put on a highlight reel season full of slams.
It's a positive sign to see the Magic pursuing possibilities. However, if they can't make magic happen they could be saying bye-bye to th emost dominant big man around today.
Philadelphia 76ers: Is Andre Iguodala on the Trading Block?
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As a franchise, the Philadelphia 76ers are actually sitting pretty comfortably right now. They have an impressive young point guard in Jrue Holliday, a resurging role player in Elton Brand and an interesting scenario with Andre Iguodala.
Iguodala is a great asset for Philadelphia for two main reasons: He's a great player if they keep him or great trade bait if they want to move him.
Being versatile is the things that stands out most about the former Arizona Wildcat. He's got great lockdown defense along with an offensive game that can provide a big night.
A trade for Iguodala makes sense if they decide to re-sign Thaddeus Young. While he has watched his minutes and production decrease with the 76ers, he's still got plenty of talent to be a valuable role player.
Golden State's Monta Ellis would be an option that makes great sense for Philly. He's an elite scorer that has All-Star potential on the right team.
The 76ers were a middle of the pack offensive team last season, but they have to upgrade the scoring options based off Elton Brand leading the team with 15 points a night.
Philadelphia is a current playoff contender now, but there is a lot of merit when it comes to dealing off Iguodala.
Phoenix Suns: Rebuild or Restock?
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It's safe to say that any team would be a playoff-caliber team with Steve Nash, but that just wasn't the case last season. After a run to the Western Conference finals in 2010, the Suns failed to even make a postseason appearance the following year.
It's almost guaranteed that many contenders will inquire about a trade involving former MVP Steve Nash. While Phoenix can still grab a playoff spot next season, they could look to rebuild if not in great position come All-Star break.
Nash has been one of the best point guards in league history and still has plenty to offer teams for a few more seasons. If the price is right, it might be the smart move to part ways with the dime dropper.
Phoenix will have eight players eligible for free agency over the next two years—a few being nice pieces for a trade. Possible names like Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and Robin Lopez could be tossed around for teams needing extra help for a playoff run.
It's not certain Phoenix will rebuild, but it could be the best move for the future. It would be great for fans to see Nash retire in a Suns' uniform, but in the end, basketball is a business.
Portland Trail Blazers: Raymond Felton Acquired from Nuggets
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Raymond Felton will now join his fourth team in three years with the Portland Trail Blazers. After stints with the Bobcats, Knicks and Nuggets, Felton will help make Portland one of the biggest contenders in the West.
Coming off his best season in the NBA, averaging 15.5 points and 8.3 assists a game, Felton will open up a lot more options that veteran point guard Andre Miller.
I have been adamant in saying we will see a Thunder and Trail Blazers Western Conference finals in the future, but a move like this makes it look a lot more realistic to be sooner than later.
While Miller is the ball-handler of the two, Felton's ability to score and create for his team could make him a key part of a deep playoff run. At just 27 years old, Felton would be well worth locking up for a long-term deal to pair with future All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge.
Sacramento Kings: Team Set for at Least One More Year Before Moving
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The Kings could have a new hometown in the next few years, but for now, they remain Sacramento's own. For the capital of California to keep an NBA team there, they will have to provide a new arena for the Kings who were a contender during the 2000s.
While former NBA All-Star and current Mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson is putting in great effort to keep a franchise in place, the temporary stay doesn't mean much.
The Maloof family could opt to move the team in-state to Anaheim if a deal cannot be reach. For now, Sacramento fans have at least one more year to enjoy a team, but it's out of their hands to keep them local.
San Antonio Spurs: What To Do with Tony Parker?
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The San Antonio Spurs have been one of the best NBA teams of the last decade. A large part of that has to be credited to Tony Parker's ability to run the point effectively.
Alongside Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, Parker and the Spurs have won multiple championships, most recently in 2007. After a stellar regular season in 2010-11, San Antonio faced a shocking upset to the improving Memphis Grizzlies.
Shortly after the season ended, Parker's name was shopped around to lottery teams in the NBA draft. While it was George Hill that was eventually traded, that doesn't necessarily mean Parker will remain a Spur.
Given the right situation, it's completely understandable for the Spurs to continue looking for possible Parker suitors. He's only 29 years old and still remains one of the best point guards in the league.
San Antonio could be a team on the decline with Tim Duncan showing steady signs of wear and tear. If they are not in position for a top seed in the Western Conference, look for Parker to once again be talked about in trade scenarios.
Toronto Raptors: Jeff Bower or Ed Stefanski?
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If you aren't familiar with the two names mentioned, they are serious candidates for the Toronto Raptors' general manager.
Bower is a former head coach and GM of the New Orleans Hornets who left the team in 2010. He was crucial in helping rebuild the Hornets' franchise, being responsible for the drafting of All-Star Chris Paul.
Stefanski has been the GM for Philadelphia since 2007 and isn't a sure thing to return after his contract expires next season.
Bower seems like the smarter option based off his work in New Orleans, but they could take the risk with Stefanski to help rebuild the team.
Utah Jazz: What Do They Do with the Frontcourt Depth?
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With the selection of Enes Kanter in the 2011 NBA draft, the Utah Jazz could look to unload one of their big men to acquire a valuable small forward or shooting guard.
Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap would be the most likely candidates to help land a worthy player in a package deal. Both are young players who are solid both offensively and defensively and could draw a lot of interest.
The other option that they could part ways with would be dangerous shooter Mehmet Okur.
While seeing limited minutes last season due to the emergence of Millsap and injury, Okur can still contribute well in a bench role for a team. He's got great range for a center and also shows the ability to be an above average rebounder.
Utah could decide to keep all four of their options, but a trade would help patch up holes in the team's roster.
Washington Wizards: Will Jan Vesely Help John Wall Lead Them to the Playoffs?
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Washington has had two great drafts in a row. First, they draft a franchise point guard who is soon to be an NBA All-Star. Now, they land a 6'11" European in Jan Vesely.
The 21-year-old Vesely has enormous potential and a lot of upside. He can hurt you many ways offensively but is sure to have plenty of highlight reel dunks in his career. Vesely also contains an improving jumpshot, which makes him dangerous anywhere on the floor.
Defensively, Vesely will use his long arms and athleticism to contest shots and guard many positions on the floor. He's going to be a mobile player, but bulking up his skinny frame would do wonders for this kid's career.
He was a risk to draft, but he has more potential than almost anyone in the draft. Paired with Wall, this could be a dynamic duo for years to come.
When it comes to next year, don't expect a playoff run. This team has many young talented players, but they are an up and coming team that still needs a few years of experience.