Ladies and gentlemen, I've been waiting along time to say this, but...the NBA lockout is over!
It took over three months of nothing happening and then another month of meetings going into late hours of the night, and it has seemingly cost us the 2011 part of the 2011-12 season, but the damn thing is finally over.
There will be a lull of any action for a few days while the lawyers draw up all the paperwork and the two sides meet to sign the new contract, but essentially, we are out of the woods.
The next step, of course, will be an ultra-abbreviated offseason and a quick period of free-agent signings, followed by a short preseason and finally, real live basketball.
However, the thing I'm most interested in right now is the flurry of free-agent signings that is going to be happening as soon as the "offseason" starts up.
Who is the top priority for each team, you ask?
Well, you came to the right place to have that question answered, my good friend.
RIght now, the Hawks have quite a wonky lineup.
They have Al Horford playing center when he is more suited to be a power forward and Josh Smith playing power forward when he is more suited to be a small forward.
If Atlanta signs Samuel Dalembert (who could be had for the price of a mid-level exception, which means he will be making many appearances over the next 30 slides), they can move Horford down a position and trade Josh Smith away with no worries.
See, I told you he would be hanging around a lot in this slideshow.
Samuel Dalembert isn't going to set the world on fire racking up points, but he is a physical big man and can rebound the ball.
He could be big man the Celtics missed having beside Kevin Garnett since they traded away Kendrick Perkins.
Arron Afflalo is two things. He is a young shooting guard with tons of potential and a cheap, yet effective option at the 2-guard spot.
Afflalo is more than just a defender who can shoot the long ball form time-to-time; he's also an extremely efficient scorer.
He may be had for a price just over the mid-level exception, but the Bobcats could lock him up to be a member of their future with a few more dollars.
If he's looking to go to a contender where he will start right away, Arron Afflalo can sign on with the Bulls at the mid-level exception and never look back.
However, if he's looking to get paid, this isn't a great option for Afflalo.
The Bulls need a legitimate starting shooting guard, or at least an upgrade over their backup, so Michael Redd, Anthony Parker and Jason Richardson could also be decent options.
It's unlikely that Marc Gasol leaves a team that looked like one of the most promising young teams in the league last season, but that doesn't mean the Cavs can't offer him some money.
Offering Gasol fistfuls of money could get him through the door, and if he doesn't like the idea of going to Cleveland, then they're no worse than they were before they asked him.
The Dallas Mavericks should be determined to keep their championship team together before trying to bring someone new in.
Caron Butler, JJ Barea, Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson, Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic are all free agents this year, and the Mavericks should take a swing at bringing them all back.
The Denver Nuggets are in shambles right now after Kenyon Martin, Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith signed with China, therefore keeping them out of the league until their contracts run out in China.
So, that means the thing they need to focus most on is the players they can still re-sign, namely Nene.
Some may view him as a notch or two below a franchise center, but there is no doubt that he is a good player at the most desirable position in the league.
Tayshaun Prince is out in Detroit, and odds are they will end up trading Rip Hamilton or just waiving him altogether, so they need a veteran presence on their team.
Caron Butler could come in and take over the team immediately and lead them to a rousing 25 wins this season. Honestly, they should just wait until next year to do anything big.
If the Golden State Warriors could steal DeAndre Jordan away from the Los Angeles Clippers they could end up being a very good team this season.
Jordan is a restricted free agent, so it would take buckets of money to get him to Golden State, but bringing over a real center, especially one that can play defense, would make them a force in the West.
The Rockets lost Yao Ming early on last season and now that he has retired and Chuck Hayes, who started the majority of their games at center, is a free agent, they are rather barren at the 5.
Tyson Chandler would fit right in with this physical, ragtag bunch of misfits who just seem to find ways to win.
The Pacers are looking like a good team with an impressive backcourt, but right now they are barren in the frontcourt.
Their frontcourt consists of Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert, which isn't a great combo, but adding the offensively-gifted David West might put this team into the top six in the East.
The Clippers worst position last season was by far the 3-spot and bringing in the very productive Caron Butler would give them a much-needed boost at that spot.
Their current depth chart consists of Ryan Gomes and WIlie Warren, who don't exactly strike fear into the hearts of opponents.
The Lakers don't have much money to throw around (they're limited to the mid-level exception), and the spot they most need to fill is at the point.
However, with so few good yet cheap point guard options abound, the best bet they have is taking a gamble on the oft-injured, yet possibly great Michael Redd.
Los Angeles should look at filling their point guard role through a trade.
The smartest thing the Grizzlies can do when the flurry of free-agent signings start off is put the team that they had last season back together.
Most likely, this will mean giving Marc Gasol whatever he wants and seeing what it will take to re-sign Shane Battier.
This will allow them to keep their physical force down low and their sturdy defender coming off the bench.
I still think that Samuel Dalembert is worth more than just a mid-level exception, but if he goes for the MLE, the best team he could think to go to would be Miami.
This would give the Heat a legitimate starting center and it would give Dalembert a shot at winning a title.
The Milwaukee Bucks are teetering between being a playoff-contending team and wallowing in the middle of the lottery, but a single player could put them over the edge.
For Tayshaun Prince, going to a team that is actually in contention for some sort of postseason berth could be just what the doctor ordered in his career.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are looking like they could be a good team this year if everything falls into place; the only thing they are missing is a guy who can step into a leadership role on offense.
With Derrick WIlliams and Ricky Rubio coming in, Darko Milicic actually looking halfway decent and Kevin Love still hanging around, the T-Wolves could sign Crawford to play some shooting guard and then trade Michael Beasley for a future draft pick.
Another team that could use the veteran presence of a potentially rejuvenated Tayshaun Prince is also a team that needs to prove they can win immediately.
New Jersey needs to do whatever they can to show Deron Williams that re-signing with them is a good idea.
The fact that they are moving to Brooklyn is going to help their argument, but it's going to be a hard sell if they don't at least come close to making the playoffs this year.
The New Orleans Hornets are in the same boat that the Nets are in, but they are in much worse shape.
The first thing they need to do (among many things) is re-sign David West, who has been and will stay a cornerstone of their franchise should he stick around.
However, I still don't see them keeping Chris Paul unless they actually find a buyer for their team who has a plan for the future.
The thing the Knicks need more than anything is cheap depth that will keep them good this season, but won't eat up their cap space as they try to lure another big name free agent next summer.
Chuck Hayes will come at just a few million bucks this year, and he will play physical defense and be able to keep pace with the Knicks. He won't be much on offense and he's incredibly short for a center, but he knows how to play the position.
Sometimes that's enough.
The Oklahoma City Thunder don't need much right now, as they look to be favorites to dethrone the Mavericks coming out of the West, so adding anyone is icing on the cake.
If they could add a veteran defensive stalwart to back up Kevin Durant, then the Thunder could be the number one team in the conference.
Another destination for Arron Afflalo would be the Magic, who need any kind of productive player to team with Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson.
Adding Afflalo would show Dwight that the team is both planning for the future and serious about playing defense on the perimeter, as well as on the interior.
The Philadelphia 76ers are a few players away from being a very good team, and adding Shane Battier could jump-start that process.
This addition would finally allow them to trade Andre Iguodala for a player like Monta Ellis or another good, young talent while keeping them viable enough to make the playoffs in the spring.
The Phoenix Suns need to focus on the future now more than ever, and they should start by trying to poach some young restricted free agents from other teams.
Nick Young would provide them a young offensive prodigy at shooting guard who they could pair with Aaron Brooks, should he turn into a good point guard.
With Marcus Camby getting older every second, LaMarcus Aldridge playing out of position at center from time-to-time and Greg Oden's knees being a ticking time bomb, the Trail Blazers need some depth when it comes to their big men.
Chuck Hayes would be the perfect backup, able to play either position and play the style of team-emphasized basketball that the Blazers play.
The Kings have a great up-and-coming point guard and two young big men that look like they could have very good career, and after adding John Salmons to play small forward, they're looking like a team that could be interesting.
Add Jamal Crawford to the 2-spot in their starting lineup and you have a team filled with offensive talent that could play just enough defense to make things interesting.
Just like any other team with a weak frontcourt and a bit too much money on the books, Samuel Dalembert looks like a good option for the Spurs.
San Antonio has Antonio McDyess at center—who is getting older and could conk out at any time—along with DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter and Matt Bonner as their other big men, but throw Dalembert in there and you have a pretty good handful of guys.
The Toronto Raptors have probably the weakest 1- and 2-guard depth in the league; they could make themselves a decent team with an upgrade at either spot.
There aren't any great point guards out there, so the next best thing would be an upgrade at shooting guard, which would mean Jamal Crawford.
The Utah Jazz are looking like they could be a terrific young team with the addition of Enes Kanter and Alec Burks, but their depth at shooting guard is just a bit weak with Raja Bell and C.J. Miles ahead of Burks.
Adding Afflalo would give them a starting lineup that would be great two years down the road and it gives them plenty of pieces to trade away to make them a player for Chris Paul or Steve Nash.
Why not bring Caron Butler back to the Wizards, right?
They are looking for a veteran to come in and lead their team, and the Wizards have a huge hole to fill at small forward.
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