NBA Lockout Ends: What It Means for All 30 Teams
Rejoice NBA fans! For the lockout has ended after nearly 150 days and basketball will be here on Christmas Day.
Can the Dallas Mavericks repeat as NBA champions in 2012? Will Derrick Rose take home league MVP honors again? Where will the heavy free agents fall and when will a season-altering trade happen? So many questions are waiting to be answered.
A shortened, 66-game season brings hope to all 30 teams, and should produce more fireworks than ever before.
Finally, the discussion is not about the terms of a new CBA, or revenue split. We are talking free agent signings and potential trades.
Join Bleacher Report as we take a peek at what the end of the lockout means for all 30 NBA teams' free agent prospects, trade possibilities and salary cap issues.
The Hawks again fell short in the conference semifinals last spring, leading many to believe some major roster changes are in store in Atlanta.
Talented scorer Jamal Crawford is an unrestricted free agent and could flee for more money in this shortened offseason, because of the lockout, obviously.
Crawford is critical for the Hawks off of the bench and would leave an enormous void if lost.
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard has been mentioned as a potential free agent for the Hawks. Howard is an Atlanta native and could very well come over via a trade in mid-season.
Big man Josh Smith is a potential trade piece for Atlanta this season. He is due to make $12.4 and $13.2 million in the next two seasons, and at age 25 he has plenty of promise for an up-and-coming franchise to take a shot on.
Atlanta has the sixth-highest cap in the league, and is paying Smith, Joe Johnson and Al Horford most of it for good reason. Johnson's salary will likely haunt the Hawks for the next five years, and Kirk Hinrich's ridiculous $8 million salary this season might lead to him being traded away for relief.
The Boston Celtics are getting older by the day, and this lockout has likely benefited them by providing some rest and time away from basketball.
The C's must button down unrestricted free agents Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Delonte West. Jeff Green is a restricted free agent and another key extension that Boston must pin down in 2012.
It's hard to imagine the Celtics shaking up their roster with a mid-season trade, but they have been known to add helpful pieces at the right time.
With superstars Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett climbing the age ladder, don't be surprised if the C's front office waves goodbye to one of them in a package exchange for Dwight Howard.
Garnett's 2011-12 salary is the fourth-highest in the league at $21.2 million, and the Celtics have the fourth-highest team payroll for the upcoming season. Both Garnett and Allen will be free agents at season's end, so Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo are the only guaranteed long-term prospects in Beantown.
With a $47 million payroll for the upcoming season, the youthful Charlotte Bobcats seem in desperate need of some star power if they are to challenge in the East.
Charlotte is hardly a desirable destination for a big name free agent like Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. The hidden talent on the roster can't carry the Bobcats consistently over the course of a season.
Unrestricted free agents Kwame Brown and Joel Pryzbilla are the only real options for Charlotte at center, so Brown is likely to get a deal, and should if the Bobcats are to have any chance at all.
Gerald Wallace was shipped to Portland last season, and the Bobcats received little in return. Given their tiny payroll and lack of sexy trade pieces, it seems they would be best suited making moves in the free agent market.
Corey Maggette is a decent trade piece, but he is one of the only long-term contracts on Charlotte's book—and one of its better scoring options.
As already mentioned, the Bobcats have plenty of cap space to offer a superstar free agent a lucrative deal, but the small market will likely fail to produce any real bites. No stress money-wise for Charlotte, but the losses are likely to add up.
The Bulls lacked the firepower to contend with the Heat in last season's ECF, but there is no question Derrick Rose and company have the talent and star power to challenge in 2012.
Chicago is in no danger of losing any key pieces to free agency, but they would be smart to pick up one or two in this mini offseason. The Bulls were in the hunt for a scoring 2-guard late last season and never found one.
Chicago needs a Ben Gordon type scorer on the perimeter to take some pressure off Rose, otherwise the Bulls will fall again this season.
Chicago doesn't need a huge trade to shake things up, as they have all the pieces to win a title. Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng are vital and shouldn't be on the block unless they play poorly this season.
A trade would have to be minor for the Bulls, someone who can provide scoring while buying into Chicago's defensive mentality.
The Bulls have some cap space to work with, and they are going to need it next year when they up Derrick Rose's deal and give him a lengthy extension.
LeBron James is long gone and the Kyrie Irving era is finally set to begin now that basketball is back.
The Cavs are paying a lot of people this season, but notably Baron Davis. The uninspired PG is set to make $14 million this season—yikes. The brand new amnesty clause will likely allow Cleveland to release Davis and not have to pay his contract.
Thank you new CBA.
Anthony Parker is an unrestricted free agent and could be let go of considering his climbing age.
Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert could potentially head after Dwight Howard to fill the paint for Cleveland. Antawn Jamison is still solid on the perimeter and around the rim, providing a possible trade piece for the Magic if such a wild card deal were to go down.
Despite the plethora of names on the Cavs roster this year, they have cap space for the future to sign some pieces and even break the bank on a East-altering mega trade.
The World Champion Dallas Mavericks will look to repeat behind the near flawless play of Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki in 2012.
Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea and Caron Butler are three big name free agents that Dallas must decide on this offseason. Because of Nowitzki and Jason Terry's mammoth deals the Mavs have little cap space and will struggle to sign everyone.
The Mavs have been to the top of the mountain and will attempt it again without making waves via a trade. The veteran ball club has the plan in place to win on their terms, and the defensive talent to do it consistently.
Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion are both set to make something in the ballpark of $8 million this year, and that tightens up the cap for the Mavs. They will be banking on Nowitzki and Terry to ball out in this shortened season if they are to repeat.
The high-octane Nuggets will look to take their make-shift roster back to the postseason in 2012, without the help of Carmelo Anthony.
Hit or miss scorer J.R. Smith is a free agent and will likely be balling somewhere else this season given many team's need for quick scoring off the bench.
Nene and Kenyon Martin are also unrestricted free agents. The Nuggets absolutely must re-sign Nene, and you can bet that they will.
Unless Denver is truly content with Andre Miller running the show, they are in need of an upgrade at point guard. Steve Nash is one such possibility, but it would likely cost the Nuggets some of their young talents like Timofey Mozgov and perhaps Wilson Chandler.
Oh do the Nuggets have cap space. Denver has the money to spend on a big name free agent, and it's not a bad destination for a superstar looking for a fresh start. Cap struggles shouldn't be a problem for Denver in the future with 'Melo gone.
Long gone are the days when the Detroit Pistons were a consistent contender. The talent is gone and the future looks bleak.
Detroit would be smart to part ways with unrestricted free agent Tracy McGrady, but Tayshaun Prince? That's an entirely different story. Prince shot 47 percent from the field and was Detroit's third-leading scorer behind Rodney Stuckey and Richard Hamilton.
Detroit's losing ways will hurt their ability to land a star free agent—no question.
Hamilton is a unique trade piece because he can still provide a unique talent to a contending roster, but his age is a concern.
Ben Gordan and Charlie Villanueva are amazing trade pieces, but they are Detroit's future and the only thing keeping them respectable. A pivotal trade is tough to consider given the Pistons' lack of roster flexibility at the moment.
The Pistons are sitting at roughly $48 million for the 2011-12 season, which means they have some money to toss around, but they will be stuck with the McGrady's and Allen Iverson's of the world.
The best bet for Detroit is to follow the Thunder's approach to rebuilding—through the draft.
Golden State Warriors
The future looks bright for the Warriors now that they will be led by former NBA point guard Mark Jackson.
Golden State has just a few minor free agents in Al Thornton, Acie Law and Vladimir Radmanovic that they likely wouldn't mind losing. The three combined for 16.2 points per game in 2010-11.
It's all about defense for the Warriors in free agency, however. They need a big who can defend the paint better than Andris Biedrins and David Lee and a guard who can defend opposing PGs better than Monta Ellis.
Monta Ellis is a very good trade piece for the Warriors, as he is young and super talented. Ellis is set to make just $11 million each year for the next three seasons, which makes him a superb option on the trade block this season.
The Warriors can maybe land some D in return.
Lee, Ellis and Biedrins are all rolling in the dough for the next few seasons, but the cap is looking friendly to Golden State at the moment. Stephen Curry still needs a new deal at some point in the future.
The Houston Rockets were in the thick of things out West last season all the way up until the end, and expect much of the same in 2011-12.
The loss of Yao Ming was to be expected, but the repercussions are that Houston needs some help down low. The vertically-challenged Chuck Hayes plays bigger than most in the paint, but he is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
The Rockets have made tons of trades and roster changes lately, and that should continue this season under new head coach Kevin McHale.
Kevin Martin and Luis Scola will continue to be Houston's best trade pieces, but the loss of just one would damage the Rockets' scoring capabilities considerably.
Houston has plenty of room to get creative in free agency and offer a few sweet extensions to overachieving players. With $47 million on this season's payroll, expect the Rockets to make some roster splashes.
The Pacers made strides last season and even challenged the top-seeded Bulls in the first round of the Eastern Conference.
There are a few notable free agents that Indiana must bring back in order to compete this season. Most notably are former Duke Blue Devils Mike Dunleavy and Josh McRoberts.
Both combined to average more than 18 points per game in 2010-11 and would help tremendously this season.
The Pacers did little to their roster last year and may have found a stud in point guard Darren Collison. Collison is an excellent young trade piece, but the floor general duties would then be placed in the shaky hands of PG T.J. Ford—unless, of course, Indiana brought over another point guard in the deal.
Danny Granger is the only real notable long-term contract on Indiana's book for the future. Granger is the Pacers' best player and top scorer, so an inside presence would be the route to take for the quiet franchise as far as offseason roster moves go. They have the money to do just about anything.
Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin and the Clippers won the Dunk Contest in 2011, but that was it.
The Clippers will be dealing with restricted free agent DeAndre Jordan this offseason and will likely be bringing him back with an extended contract.
Leaper Jamario Moon is an unrestricted free agent and will likely walk considering he was a minimal piece for L.A. last year after coming over from Cleveland.
Who wouldn't love to play alongside Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin? Likely no one, but the hype surrounding the young superstar should give the Clips some hope of landing a solid free agent or keeping a superstar they land via trade.
They will likely be shopping center Chris Kaman around given that his contract runs up at season's end.
With close to $45 million on their payroll this season, and Baron Davis' huge deal out of the picture, the Clippers can look to rebuild around Griffin and Jordan in the paint. Eric Gordan is a strong perimeter piece and should only get better.
Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe can stop flirting with China now that the lockout is over, and start focusing on improving the Lakers.
Shannon Brown is the one unrestricted free agent that the Lakers should look to re-sign this offseason. Brown is an excellent talent off the bench for L.A. and could even be used as a trade piece this season.
Dwight Howard is the one name Lakers fans want to hear when it comes to free agency, but there isn't any room for the big fella in Hollywood at the moment.
Howard could very well be involved in a trade to the Lakers considering his contract runs up very soon. His name will be the subject of endless rumors this season, and Chris Paul is an unlikely option for the Lakers given Kobe Bryant owns that back court.
The Lakers have the highest payroll in the league and the highest paid player in Kobe. Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest) are all set to reel in some dough in the coming seasons. The Lakers reluctance to save could very well come back to bite them.
Memphis made an improbable run through the postseason last year, and the young Grizzlies are on schedule to do the same this year.
Free agents Marc Gasol and Shane Battier were huge for Memphis last season, and expect Gasol to get his money this December.
There aren't a whole lot of glaring needs for the Grizzlies right now. They have the right mix of veterans and young guys, as well as offense and defense. If anything, they need a better facilitator to get them better looks more consistently.
Rudy Gay is finally healthy, but he has missed some significant time and would remain a good-looking trade piece for a number of interested teams.
Trading Gay for Steve Nash would give them a proven hand at point guard but at the same time hinder the development of Mike Conley.
The Grizzlies will have to pay Randolph after his dominant 2010-11, but should still have the necessary bucks to compete and contend with top talent on their roster.
The Miami Heat have a long, long road ahead of them if they are to quiet the critics and claim the elusive hardware.
The Heat will likely watch a good number of their veteran free agents walk this offseason, as they hope to retool around LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
The formula was unsuccessful last season, and Miami simply cannot win by throwing solid basketball players onto its roster.
Dwight Howard would be the deciding piece for the Heat and would make them a lock to win it all for the next five years. The salary cap would disagree, but the move makes perfect sense.
Steve Nash is another trade possibility that would likely force the Heat to sacrifice youth for winning now. Mario Chalmers would likely be a Phoenix Sun, but Miami would have a creator and another superstar to ride in crunch time.
Miami has a hefty payroll, but nothing like that of the Lakers. The Heat will need to shell out some more cash if they are to challenge for the title again in 2012, and they can afford to right now.
The young Bucks missed the playoffs in 2010-11 but they have the energy to return this season behind the play of Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut.
Michael Redd is the arguably the most interesting free agent this offseason. His recent knee problems make him a shaky take, but if it pays off, one GM will look like a genius.
Milwaukee has a few other pieces flirting with free agency, but they are in no danger of losing anything significant, their core is very much intact.
The Bucks need scoring, and plenty of it. Jennings is a point guard and struggles to get a good shot every time down the floor.
Another rebounder would be hugely helpful for Milwaukee as well. They are nowhere in the running for Dwight Howard, but a guy like David West would be ideal.
Milwaukee doesn't have a lot of cap space to play around with, but they can maneuver as they wish given their $52 million payroll for the upcoming season. David West is the one guy the Bucks should pursue this December.
The superstar-less T-Wolves got their superstar with the second pick in the NBA draft, Arizona's Derrick Williams.
Sebastian Telfair is the only free agent Minnesota could lose this offseason, but they should have their sights set on a few others.
Perimeter scorers like J.R. Smith and Jamal Crawford would be ideal pickups for the Wolves now that they have Williams playing a unique big man outside-inside role.
The T-Wolves have a handful of young talent to offer any team looking to shop a superstar. Draft pick after draft pick is on Minnesota's 2011-12 payroll and should provide ample opportunity to acquire a big name mid-season.
Kevin Love and Michael Beasley have the paint under wraps, a perimeter star is on the to-get list now—and, no, not another point guard.
With a friendly salary cap situation, the Wolves are in the best position since trading away Kevin Garnett of getting another superstar to help revive the franchise.
New Jersey Nets
The Nets missed out on LeBron and then 'Melo, but they have Deron Williams for a full season this year.
New Jersey will have an incredible amount of cap space if they let some of their free agents walk this offseason. Deron Williams is making his money, but outside of that the funds are being broken up between a number of mediocre talents.
With 'Melo and LeBron out of the picture, Dwight Howard seems like the last great free agent for the Nets to chase. They have a franchise point guard, so that eliminates Chris Paul.
Deron Williams is literally the only worthy trade piece on New Jersey's roster at the moment outside of Brook Lopez. They aren't going to get any better through trades this season—free agency is their best shot.
The Nets have money to spend, and their owner has made it clear he will do just that. Expect the Nets to be heavy hitters in the free agent market the next few offseasons and be very much in play for Howard in the near future.
New Orleans Hornets
Now that the lockout is over, Hornets fans hope Chris Paul doesn't pull a LeBron on them in 2012.
New Orleans better get to work on their free agent signings this December. David West is the most notable unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Other than West the Hornets must sign Carl Landry and Willie Green, who were crucial to the Hornets' success last year.
Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza are both excellent trade pieces that the Hornets could very well shop this season, but for who?
How about Dwight Howard. Howard loves playing with Chris Paul, and the Magic aren't so sure that their big man is going to sign a long-term deal with them in the future. Okafor and another young talent would be enough to send Superman to New Orleans.
There is cap right now for the Hornets, but they have several key pieces left to sign, and a big name trade could potentially cost them a little more.
New York Knicks
The latest Big Three looked overwhelmed by the original Big Three, and work is left to be done in the Big Apple this season.
The Knicks need to re-sign Shawne Williams this offseason if they can't re-sign anyone else. They need more size inside to do the work Amar'e Stoudemire can't always do.
David West would be an intriguing free agent piece, but Nene would be even better even though it looks bleak that he'll end up outside of Denver.
Chauncey Billups is an interesting trade piece for New York. His contract runs up at season's end and the Knicks are in search of a creating point guard who can keep their offense moving.
Steve Nash should remain the key trade desire here given his perfect fit in Mike D'Antoni's style. The lockout has given him fresh legs and a new start with a contender would produce fireworks.
New York's cap isn't too large. Stoudemire, Melo and Billups make up most of it, and there would be plenty of space for another superstar to join in to replace the aging Billups, who is a tough fit with the Knicks.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The youthful and ready-to-win-now Thunder have been itching for the lockout to end, and now that it has they should be instant title contenders in the West.
The Thunder's roster is completely intact, and there is no reason to experiment. Similar to the Green Bay Packers during the NFL lockout, Oklahoma City is in need of only another shot at the title rather than a bunch of new pickups.
The front office would be wise to stay patient with this current roster. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are superstars, and the trade for Kendrick Perkins last year bolstered their defense considerably.
Westbrook is a good trade piece considering his hard-headedness at times, but OKC would be sacrificing youth, which is their game.
The Thunder are sitting pretty under the cap and have some room to sign some extensions this offseason, as well as the next.
Dwight Howard is a wanted man, and he may not be long for the Magic Kingdom.
Jason Richardson is one of more notable free agents this offseason. Richardson wasn't amazing for the Magic since coming over last December from Phoenix, but he is a consistent NBA scorer who can continue to contribute to the Magic's cause.
Gilbert Arenas needs to go. He makes far too much money and produces far too little. The new salary cap rules under the new CBA will be brutal to Orlando if they continue to pay Arenas.
They may not be able to find anyone willing to take on his contract, but perhaps a package deal with Dwight Howard could ease their troubles.
The Magic are paying a lot of money to a few players. Hedo Turkoglu is making a $10 million with Orlando this season, which proves Orlando needs to make cap-friendly roster changes in order to contend again.
The 76ers gave the Heat a tiny scare in last season's playoffs, and they have what it takes to do it again.
Philly needs to re-sign restricted free agents Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes to keep their interior stable.
A scorer is needed to help the Sixers contend as well. A knucklehead like J.R. Smith has the firepower they need but not the attitude or trouble. Jason Richardson or Jamal Crawford would jump start the Sixers' offense in 2011-12.
Andre Iguodala has been shopped by Philly time and time again, and that likely won't change this season. Iguodala and Elton Brand make a combined $30 million next season, which is more than half of Philly's payroll and the salary cap.
One of these guys will be moved by season's end, like a trade that dumps a contract and adds young and unproven talent.
The cap is OK for the Sixers, and they will likely have to re-up point guard Jrue Holiday, who is playing lights out, and pay some free agents to fill out their full roster.
The Suns are in an awkward place following the lockout, and the future of point guard Steve Nash is uncertain heading into the season.
Grant Hill is a critical piece for the Suns, and if he doesn't flee for a contender or retire instead, the Suns will have the best shot at re-signing him.
David West, as well as Jason Richardson, should be on the Suns list of free agents. Richardson was superb in Phoenix's offense and wouldn't mind playing alongside Nash this season. West would be helpful on the boards.
Vince Carter and his $18 million will walk.
Steve Nash is the only piece the Suns can really use to get another superstar in return. Contenders want him and they will flaunt deals at the Suns' front office all season long. The Suns will likely be rebuilding through the draft and free agency, unless they ship Nash away for another supreme talent.
Once Carter's contract is cleared, the Suns have some money to spend. If Nash is traded, then they have enough money to pay two notable free agent superstars. Phoenix is a desirable landing spot for many players, and expect one of the noteworthy free agents to sign with the Suns.
Portland Trail Blazers
The future looks difficult and troubling for the Portland Trail Blazers, who do not benefit from the lockout.
Greg Oden is a restricted free agent for Portland this offseason and has a qualifying offer close to $9 million. The Blazers have no money to toy around with in free agency and will likely be going forward with their current roster, making minimal changes.
Expect to hear Brandon Roy's name mentioned in trade rumors this season. The injury-prone star can ball without a doubt, but his health concerns raise questions.
They picked up Raymond Felton at the end of last season and landed their man in Gerald Wallace via a trade with Charlotte, so their roster seems to be set.
Roy, Wallace, LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby are making a combined $45 million this season, so Portland can only do so much in free agency. Camby, Oden and Felton come off the books next season however and open up some space.
The up-and-coming Kings will make waves in free agency this December with plenty to spend.
Sacramento must re-sign some of its bigs, like Samuel Dalembert, and take care of gifted scorer Marcus Thornton, who is a restricted free agent.
Outside of that the Kings should offer some money to David West and Nene to bolster that interior even more. Grant Hill is a dark horse veteran free agent pick up.
Tyreke Evans is an excellent trade piece now that the Kings have drafted the Jimmer. Fredette will clog the Kings' back court now, and someone has to go.
Big man Jason Thompson is another valuable trade piece who could be packaged for a superstar talent who could provide consistent scoring for Sacramento.
The Kings are way below the cap, but they must sign some veterans to balance out their young roster. DeMarcus Cousins and J.J. Hickson are just two of the superior young talents who need some guidance in order for the Kings to be dominant.
San Antonio Spurs
Much like the Boston Celtics, age is an issue for the always talented San Antonio Spurs in 2011-12.
The Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have created a monster payroll for the Spurs this season. There will be no big free agent signing for San Antonio— that is for sure.
There are no notable unrestricted free agents the Spurs will have on their radar, either.
In order to get a next generation superstar for the future, the Spurs will have to part ways with one of their veteran champions.
Although Richard Jefferson is a solid trade piece, his contract is inflated and teams are wary of his drop-off.
The Spurs are over the cap, but that will change soon when Tim Duncan becomes a free agent and either retires or restructures his deal with the front office.
The Raptors are flying under the radar, and for good reason—they aren't very good again this season.
Sonny Weems is a restricted free agent and has a qualifying offer just over $1 million. Toronto will have money to spend after they take care of Weems, but no superstar player is going to want to play in Canada.
Chris Bosh left—and that about says it all.
Large sums of money and trades are the only way to lure quality players to Toronto, so that's what the Raptors should do this offseason.
The Raptors have an equal payroll this season, but it is closing in on the cap. They have the money to float around in free agency, but the quality of player will ultimately suffer because of their small market and lack of contention to offer.
The Jazz are in between rebuilding mode and contending mode heading out of the lockout and into the new year.
Ronnie Price and Andrei Kirilenko are two of Utah's more important unrestricted free agents this offseason. Kirilenko will likely find more money elsewhere and will hurt the Jazz's rebounding and defense.
Mehmet Okur is an interesting trade piece for Utah given his contract runs up and a team looking to avoid new CBA salary cap penalties might want to dump some contracts on Utah in exchange for an expiring one.
Utah is hardly a hot destination for many of the league's superstars, and Al Jefferson seems to be the go-to-guy for the Jazz at the moment.
The Jazz are under the cap at the moment and in position to keep their key free agent pieces intact. If Okur doesn't get re-signed, he'll free up $10 million for next season.
The Wizards are raw but on the upswing despite their recent struggles.
Restricted free agent Nick Young should be back with the team. He's a talented scorer who gives a lot of firepower to Washington's super athletic back court.
Despite Rashard Lewis' humongous contract that won't expire until 2013—unless, of course, the Wiz exercise the brand spanking new amnesty clause on him—the Wizards have money to offer free agents. David West would be a great target following the lockout.
West's injury has had plenty of time to heal, and he could provide stability in Washington's front court.
Rashard Lewis is the one guy the Wizards would love to dump on someone. His play has been subpar and his contract is a cap-buster. No intelligent GM would take that on, but still the Wizards have enough already in place to compete without a big time trade.
The Wizards have about $15-20 million to play with this offseason and potentially lure in a notable free agent who is given a disrespectful offer from their team.