Top Offseason Goals for Every NBA Team

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterApril 14, 2021

Top Offseason Goals for Every NBA Team

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Believe it or not, the 2021 offseason is only about a month away for some NBA teams.

    While it still seems like we just wrapped up bubble play, the chase for a new champion will soon kick off. As the playoffs rage, other teams will shift their focus to the draft and free agency.

    Every team will have different goals this offseason. There will be roster holes in need of plugging, contract negotiations with stars—incumbent or otherwise—and a need to identify trade targets. Even before we begin the playoffs, it's becoming clear where every team's priorities lie as soon as the offseason officially commences.

    These are the most important actions every NBA team can take this summer.

Atlanta Hawks

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Sign Trae Young to an Extension

    Young will be extension eligible for the first time this offseason and negotiations shouldn't take all that long.

    The 22-year-old point guard is third in the NBA in assists per game (9.5), joining James Harden as the only players handing out at least nine dimes while also scoring 25 or more points per game (25.4).

    Young will almost certainly get a max deal from Atlanta, even if he's among the league's worst defenders and hasn't improved his shooting efficiency from Years 2 to 3 (59.5 percent true shooting in 2019-20 to 58.7 percent this season).

    While the Hawks can push back a little bit, Sacramento Kings point guard De'Aaron Fox received a five-year, $163 million max deal last year despite never making an All-Star team. Young was a starter on the East squad in 2020.

    It's probably best just to keep an elite offensive talent like Young happy and under contract, even if it means paying a little more than they'd like.


    Re-Sign John Collins to Non-Max Deal

    The Hawks chose to keep Collins at the trade deadline, a sign they want to keep him in restricted free agency.

    In order to keep Collins, the Hawks will need to sign him to a new contract while fending off teams that may try to draw him away with a rich offer sheet. Collins will likely want a deal that exceeds the four-year, $90 million contract he turned down last offseason.

    The 23-year-old power forward made his case for the Hawks to keep him in an interview with The Athletic's Chris Kirschner just before the deadline.

    "I want to stay. I want my flowers here in Atlanta," Collins said. "I want to be true to Atlanta for my entire career, as corny or as cheesy as it may sound to whoever. As a basketball player and as someone who takes pride in their job, me being drafted in the organization and me living here and becoming a man and living my life in the NBA as a Hawk means something to me."

    Teams like the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder should have the cap space needed to sign Collins to a max offer sheet this offseason, one the Hawks would be forced to match or lose him for nothing.

    Atlanta should try to avoid this situation altogether, coming to an agreement to keep Collins around without having to max him out.

Boston Celtics

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Evaluate Kemba Walker's Future

    While Walker looked the alpha upon his arrival in Boston in 2019, ongoing knee problems and the emergence of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have pushed the four-time All-Star point guard to third in the pecking order.

    We haven't seen Walker's shooting dip this low (53.4 percent true shooting) since he was on his rookie deal, and a 6'0", 184-pound guard in his 30s with an ailing knee doesn't project as a great defender moving forward.

    Owed $36 million next year with a $37.7 million player option in 2021-22, Walker no longer lives up to his contract, at least not in Boston. The Celtics should probably explore the market while he still carries some value.


    Re-Sign Evan Fournier

    Fournier's Celtics career started with an 0-of-10 shooting performance, but he has since gone 16-of-27 (57.1 percent) while also cashing in 61.1 percent of his threes. He's become a valuable scoring option off the bench, though it's worth noting he can leave as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

    The Celtics only had to give up second-round picks in 2025 and 2027 to acquire Fournier, but losing over $17 million of their massive trade exception was the real kicker.

    It will certainly mean going into the luxury tax to re-sign Fournier, but Boston can't afford to let him go for nothing, either.


    Use Remainder of Trade Exception Wisely

    Boston still has just over $11 million of their trade exception remaining after the trade for Fournier, making it one of the largest still in the NBA today.

    The Celtics don't have to use it this offseason—it expires on November 29—there will likely be more trade opportunities to do before next season begins.

Brooklyn Nets

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Solidify the Center Position

    After trading Jarrett Allen, the Nets have shuffled the center position around. They've used DeAndre Jordan, Nicolas Claxton, Jeff Green, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and others to fill that role next to their three superstars.

    Going into next year with a defined starter would be best for everyone, especially since there's a clear leader.

    Even if Brooklyn will likely chase a veteran or two in free agency, Claxton, 21, should be the answer at center. Though he still needs to add muscle, Claxton is the best switchable defensive big man on the roster, one who gives the Nets quality minutes every night.

    Brooklyn is plus-11.6 points per 100 possessions with Claxton in the game this season, a massive 18.5 point improvement over Jordan (minus-6.9 points per 100 possessions).


    Re-Sign Spencer Dinwiddie

    Lost for the season with a torn right ACL, Dinwiddie could be a value piece off the bench for the Nets next season.

    Brooklyn chose not to use his contract as trade bait at the deadline, keeping the option to re-sign him this offseason. The 28-year-old guard carries a $12.3 million player option for next season, one the Nets should be happy to see him pick up.

    If Dinwiddie chooses to hit unrestricted free agency instead, the Nets should offer a fair deal, even if it means adding onto an already massive luxury tax bill.

Charlotte Hornets

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Find a Franchise Center

    Veterans Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo—both on the verge of free agency—aren't the long-term answers for the Hornets at center.

    The Hornets should be on the lookout for an experienced big man, one who doesn't need to be the star of the show. Charlotte already has plenty of star power with LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier around. Rather, the Hornets need a solid, role-playing big who can rebound and defend at a high level.

    With a projected $24 million in cap space, the Hornets could throw a sizable offer sheet at restricted free agent Jarrett Allen or settle on a more modest number for a player like Andre Drummond, Richaun Holmes or Nerlens Noel.


    Try to Bring Back Malik Monk, Devonte' Graham on Team-Friendly Deals

    It took four years but Monk has finally proven to be a valuable rotation piece on a contending team.

    His massive three-point jump (28.4 percent in 2019-20 to 42.4 percent this season) means he should get a decent contract offer from someone, especially since he's only 23.

    There's no need to overpay Graham, now the team's backup point guard when Ball is healthy. While he's been solid this season (14.0 points, 5.1 assists, 37.9 percent from three), any offer over $12 million a year shouldn't be matched.

    Bringing back Monk, Graham or both would be great if the terms are friendly to the Hornets.

Chicago Bulls

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Resolve the Lauri Markkanen Dilemma

    The Bulls have a core of Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, Patrick Williams and Coby White locked in for the foreseeable future, while Markkanen remains a big question mark moving forward.

    Set for restricted free agency, Markkanen has been demoted to a bench role since Vucevic's arrival. He's averaging just 10.9 points and 4.7 rebounds in 23.8 minutes per game since the trade deadline.

    While his shooting has spiked this season (career-high 62.0 percent true shooting percentage), Markkanen looks more like a solid starter than future All-Star, bringing his contract value in question.

    Bringing back Markkanen would be fine on a contract that hovers around $14 million annually, but anything over that seems like an overpay. Working out a sign-and-trade is a viable option as well.

    The Bulls can't afford to lose him for nothing, however, so finding common ground on Markkanen's next contract is a must.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Sign Collin Sexton to a Below-Max Extension

    Sexton will be extension eligible for the first time this offseason and has thus far outperformed his spot as the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 draft.

    A relentless worker, Sexton keeps making improvements to his game, as headlined by his 24.1 points per game and an improved passing game (career-best 20.9 assist percentage). At 6'1" he's undersized as a starting shooting guard, but Sexton's size and numbers are quite comparable to Donovan Mitchell's third season.

    He's probably not a max player, however, and the Cavs should be pointing to Jaylen Brown's four-year, $115 million extension ($28.8 million per season) as a fair deal.


    Find an All-Star in the Draft

    Sexton is already one of the top scorers in the Eastern Conference, Darius Garland looks like one of the best young point guards in the game and Isaac Okoro has all the tools to be a premier wing defender. Cleveland has drafted well given its positions, but the roster still doesn't have a bona fide All-Star to rally around.

    A player like Cade Cunningham or Evan Mobley would completely raise the ceiling for this team's potential if the Cavs can land a top pick or even trade up for one.


    Sign Jarrett Allen to Five-Year Deal Around $90 Million

    Allen is one of the best free agents on the market and Cleveland should be prepared to pay him whatever it takes.

    A terrific rim protector and strong rebounder, Allen should be eyeing a deal around $20 million a season. The Cavs should be happy if they can lock him in for slightly less.

Dallas Mavericks

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Sign Luka Doncic to Max Extension

    This isn't complicated. The Mavs need to sign Doncic to a five-year, max deal and hope he doesn't push for a player option in the final season. In the end, however, you give him what he wants.


    Use Cap Space While It's Still There

    Doncic's extension won't kick in until 2022-23, meaning the Mavs have one last shot at significant cap space this offseason ($34.5 million projected).

    They should be eyeing talent that can complement Doncic's game with outside shooting or defense, with everything but point guard and power forward up for grabs.

    Gary Trent Jr. is restricted, but at 22 looks like one of the best young shooting guards in the league. Duncan Robinson (also restricted) would provide plenty of floor spacing and Norman Powell (19.0 points on 42.9 percent from three) is in the prime of his career.


    Sign a Veteran Point Guard

    It may be a minor move, but bringing in a playoff-tested point guard should be a priority for Dallas. This kind of veteran could serve as both a mentor for Doncic and give Dallas' star some rest.

    Kyle Lowry and Mike Conley Jr. won't be interested in backup jobs just yet, but players like Goran Dragic (Doncic's teammate on the Slovenian National Team), Patty Mills or Derrick Rose would be nice options that won't break the bank.

Denver Nuggets

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Get Bol Bol Rotation Ready

    Bol is one of the most fascinating players in the NBA. His ceiling is that of a three-point shooting, playmaking 7'2" power forward whose 7'8" wingspan gives him insane defensive potential.

    His floor? Likely what we're looking at it now. A reserve big buried deep on the Nuggets' bench, one that bounces between DNP's and garbage-time performer.

    Asking Bol to make an impact like fellow draft pick Michael Porter Jr. would be unfair, but the Nuggets could certainly use him to at least play a backup center role behind Nikola Jokic next year.

    Whether it be adding muscle, improving his defensive awareness or whatever else the Nuggets feel is necessary, working with Bol this offseason to get him ready for a spot in the rotation should be a primary goal.


    Keep Will Barton

    With a $14.9 million player option for next year, it's unclear whether Barton will take his guaranteed money or choose to become an unrestricted free agent.

    The Nuggets could always work out a new multi-year deal with Barton, perhaps one that doesn't start quite as high as the nearly $15 million he could make next season but includes more money overall.

    Whatever the path may be, Denver should figure out a way for Barton remain its shooting guard next year, especially since backcourt mate Jamal Murray will likely miss a large part of the regular season in his return from a torn ACL.

Detroit Pistons

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Draft the Best Player Available

    Although the Pistons took Killian Hayes to be the point guard of the future, paid Jerami Grant big money to start at power forward and have Saddiq Bey as the presumed answer at small forward, Detroit can't afford to worry about positional fits in the draft just yet.

    Whether it be Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, Jalen Green or whoever else is available when the Pistons pick (which could be first overall), Detroit needs to take the best talent available and try to assemble as many young stars as possible.

    Hayes should theoretically be able to share a backcourt with Suggs or Green. Mason Plumlee certainly isn't going to stop a team from drafting Mobley and Cunningham has the size (6'7", 220 pounds) to play a number of positions.


    Don't Give Up on Sekou Doumbouya

    The 15th overall pick in 2019, Doumbouya has been absolutely dreadful now after a promising rookie season.

    Shooting just 34.6 percent overall and 24.1 percent from three while only playing 13.1 minutes a night, Doumbouya certainly looks like he's headed toward bust status.

    Why should Detroit stick with him?

    While his outside shot needs a ton of work, he's actually been a solid finisher around the rim (62.7 percent within three feet) and Doumbouya won't even turn 21 until just before Christmas.

    His 77.8 percent mark from the free-throw line is a good sign the three-point shot should eventually come around, as well.

Golden State Warriors

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Acquire Another Star

    As good as James Wiseman could be in a few years, the Warriors simply can't bank on his potential given Klay Thompson's injury history, Draymond Green's declining offensive game and Stephen Curry's age—the two-time MVP recently turned 33.

    It's time to go star hunting.

    This is easier said than done, of course, but Wiseman and the Minnesota Timberwolves first-round pick (top-3 protected in 2021, unprotected in 2022) should be enough to interest opposing teams.

    Bradley Beal will continually be a name to monitor as the Washington Wizards slowly waste another year of his prime. Pascal Siakam and Domantas Sabonis have played well for disappointing teams this year and could be players to monitor as well.

    Keeping Wiseman and the pick essentially mean another year fighting for the playoffs instead of a championship, even if Thompson returns to full strength. The Warriors need win-now help.


    Re-Sign/Don't Lose Kelly Oubre Jr. For Nothing

    Oubre shook off a terrible start to the season but still hasn't been the player the Warriors thought they were getting when they traded for him in November. So why run up the tax bill to re-sign him?

    Golden State is so far over the salary cap that it simply can't afford to go out and sign a player of Oubre's caliber in free agency, making the 25-year-old wing the best it can possibly get.

    Even if he re-signed just to use a salary match in a future deal, that's still better than losing Oubre for nothing. Working out a sign-and-trade with another team is also an option for a Warriors team that can't afford to let healthy, serviceable talent walk.

Houston Rockets

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    Win Draft Lottery (or finish in the Top 4)

    While this goal is completely out of the Rockets' collective hands, nothing else this offseason will matter more.

    Houston owes its 2021 first-rounder to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a pick swap, only keeping the selection if it falls in the top four. With a 14-39 record (second-worst in the NBA), the Rockets currently have a 52.1 percent chance of keeping the pick.

    The Rockets desperately need a new face of the franchise, a young star who can join Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr. to form a promising trio to build around.


    Explore John Wall's Trade Market

    Houston may not like what it finds, but it's at least worth exploring Wall's value around the league (if there is any at all).

    While the 30-year-old point guard is no longer the All-Star talent he was a few years ago, he's still capable of filling up the box score (20.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.1 steals) following a devastating Achilles injury.

    There would be a handful of contenders likely interested in Wall if his contract was slashed in half from the $44.3 million he's scheduled to make next season. Of course, Wall's $47.4 million player option in 2022-23—something he's unlikely to turn down—is a tough pill to swallow for any team.

    The Rockets should at least ask around the league, even if it means swapping Wall for another bad contract.

Indiana Pacers

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    Doug McSchooler/Associated Press

    Explore Myles Turner Trade Market

    In danger of missing the playoffs for just the second time in 11 years, the Pacers seriously need to consider a shakeup of their core.

    As good as Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis are individually, the fit has never been great. In 1,038 minutes together this season, the duo actually has a negative net rating (minus-1.8) despite Sabonis being named an All-Star and Turner leading the NBA in blocked shots.

    Turner's value around the league should never be higher. He's on a team-friendly contract ($18 million per year until 2023), only recently turned 25 and offers a combination of terrific defense and outside shooting ability.

    Teams needing defense and floor-spacing (staring directly at you, New Orleans) should be willing to give up multiple first-round picks for Turner. Should that kind of offer materialize, it's something the Pacers should strongly consider.


    Re-Sign T.J. McConnell

    McConnell has become one of the league's best reserve guards and leads all backups in assists (6.7 per game, 17th overall) and steals (1.7 per game, fifth overall) this season.

    While he's not a three-point threat, the 29-year-old plays his role perfectly by taking high-efficiency shots inside the arc and almost always makes the right read to set up teammates.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Re-Sign Kawhi Leonard

    After Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James and Paul George all signed extensions, Leonard became the biggest name on the free-agent market by a wide margin, assuming he doesn't pick up his a $36 million player option (he won't).

    While teams with cap space like the Miami Heat and New York Knicks will certainly make a pitch, the Clippers can't afford to let Leonard even think about leaving Los Angeles.

    Now with 10 years of experience, Leonard can sign a max deal worth up to 35 percent of the salary cap, which puts him around $39 million in the first year with increases each year. The Clippers can offer the full five-year max, meaning the total value will easily exceed $200 million. Per Sam Amick and John Hollinger of The Athletic, he is "widely ... expected to re-sign."


    Re-Sign Serge Ibaka and Nicolas Batum

    After Leonard re-signs, the Clippers' next order of business will be to keep the band together.

    Ibaka, who can opt into a $9.7 million player option, will almost certainly want a raise. Batum has rehabbed his value enough to pull in more than a veteran-minimum deal.

    Things are going to get pricey in LA, especially with Luke Kennard's extension kicking in. However, the Clippers can't afford to lose talent in a loaded West and keeping their proven contributors is their best options for restocking the roster for next year.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Match Offer Sheet for Talen Horton-Tucker

    With Andre Drummond, Montrezl Harrell, Alex Caruso, Ben McLemore, Markieff Morris and Wesley Matthews all able to become free agents this offseason, the Lakers will have to pick and choose who they want to spend on.

    One player they can definitely keep? Horton-Tucker, given the 20-year-old wing is a restricted free agent.

    He's shown enough promise to draw interest around the league (8.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists in 19.3 minutes) but not enough to warrant a huge payday yet.

    Keeping youth around for the future is important for a team that's so veteran heavy, but it would also give the Lakers a trade chip to use if necessary.


    Re-Sign Dennis Schroder

    The other impending free agent not yet mentioned is Schroder, the Lakers starting point guard.

    Third on the team in scoring behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis and second in assists behind James, the 27-year-old floor general is an important piece to LA's chances of a repeat.

    Able to get under the skin of opponents defensively, Schroder has also helped James drop his nightly minutes to 33.9, a career-low. Having another ball-handler around keeps James from playing point guard full time, a move that should ultimately help extend his illustrious career.

    If the Lakers have to spend money on one of their own unrestricted free agents this offseason, it should be Schroder.

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Find a Better Contract for Justise Winslow

    While Winslow once looked like a bargain at $13 million annually, injuries have killed his production and ability to stay on the court.

    The 25-year-old is averaging 7.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.8 steals in 16 games with the Grizzlies while only shooting 34.2 percent overall and 12.2 percent from three.

    Memphis carries a $13 million team option for Winslow next season, putting it in a predicament. Winslow's production clearly isn't worth that much, but the Grizzlies shouldn't want to cut ties entirely just yet.

    Memphis should try to work out a one-year deal at a lower number, keeping Winslow in town on a cheaper deal that would allow him to try to prove himself and salvage his value.


    Sniff Around the Star Market

    The Grizzlies could be perfectly satisfied letting their young core grow up together slowly. However, they also remain a sneaky star destination should one become available.

    Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. should be the only untouchables on the roster. Memphis has plenty of other young, talent players and draft picks available to dangle in front of a team looking to move a disgruntled veteran.

    Even if the final asking price ultimately proves too costly, Memphis should be taking the temperature of any team that may have a star player for trade.

Miami Heat

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Sign Kyle Lowry

    Miami was wise not to part with any significant trade assets for Lowry at the deadline, given that it can open up $28 million in cap space this offseason.

    Lowry, a six-time All-Star with championship experience who now won't cost any assets to acquire, would be the perfect fit for a core that includes Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro.


    Explore a Bradley Beal Trade…

    If Beal ever comes on the market in trade talks, Miami should be the first team that makes a call.

    Giving up Herro for the 35-year-old Lowry at the deadline would have been too much, but including him in a deal for the 27-year-old Beal would be worth it.

    Butler, Beal and Adebayo would be among the NBA's best trios, with all three able to generate offense for themselves and others.


    ...or Re-Sign Victor Oladipo at a Discount

    If Beal and Lowry are both off the table, Oladipo wouldn't be a bad consolation prize.

    Oladipo has struggled in his four games with Miami thus far, but he is still a high-upside two-way shooting guard who shouldn't demand anywhere close to a max contract anymore.

    Assuming he can prove he fits between now and the end of a potentially long playoff run, Oladipo should be Miami's bronze medal.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Keep/Rebuild the Bench

    With a new four-year, $135 million extension (up to $160 million with bonuses) for point guard Jrue Holiday, the Bucks now have their Big Three all under contract until 2024.

    The focus can now fall on filling out the rest of the roster, including re-signing key reserves like Bobby Portis ($3.8 million player option), P.J. Tucker, Bryn Forbes ($2.5 million player option) and Jeff Teague.

    While Portis has been the bench MVP (11.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 47.1 percent from three), he'll likely be seeking a raise and possibly a starting job elsewhere.

    If the Bucks should lose out on Portis or others, there's a number of quality veterans still available.

    Guys like Paul Millsap, Wayne Ellington, Nicolas Batum and Patty Mills would all be strong free agent targets, especially since they likely wouldn't break the bank.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Figure Out the Guard/Wing Rotation

    While injuries have kept the Wolves backcourt from becoming overcrowded, Minnesota is going to have to balance out the roster more effectively at some point.

    With D'Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, Malik Beasley, Jarrett Culver, Ricky Rubio and Josh Okogie all needing minutes, there's no way all can properly develop without stealing playing time from each other.

    Edwards is now the alpha of the backcourt, averaging 23.8 points on 44.3 percent shooting over his past 18 games. Russell still seems like the franchise point guard, given how much the team had to give up for him.

    Culver, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 draft, is likely the odd man out. The Wolves should probably look to move him for an upgrade at power forward or get back into the first round should their own 2021 selection (top-3 protected) indeed convey to the Golden State Warriors.


    Add Some Veteran Leadership

    With an average age of just 23.9, the Wolves are the third-youngest team in the NBA.

    Rubio and Ed Davis are the only players on the roster over 27, with the two only combining for 44 total playoff games.

    It's safe to say the Wolves need some additional vets in the locker room to help this core, especially some who have tasted postseason success.

New Orleans Pelicans

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    Sign Lonzo Ball to a Team-Friendly Deal

    Not trading Ball at the deadline likely means the Pelicans are prepared to sign him to whatever offer sheet he accepts, even if it feels like an overpay.

    The New York Knicks are really the only team with significant cap space and a need at point guard, with the Oklahoma City Thunder possibly making a sneaky run as well.

    At 23 year old, Ball has become an above-average three-point shooter (38.4 percent overall, 41.5 percent off the catch), should be one of the best defenders at his position for years to come and is a good enough distributor to run a team's offense.

    Signing him for $20 million or less per season would be ideal, but even a contract that averages under $25 million is something the Pelicans simply have to match.


    Pursue Myles Turner Via Trade

    Defense is holding the Pelicans from reaching their ceiling and the poor spacing of a Zion Williamson-Steven Adams frontcourt was a mistake from the start.

    Simply put, the Pelicans need to trade for Turner, the NBA's league-leader in blocked shots and career 35.3 percent three-point shooter.

    The Pelicans have plenty of future first-round picks from the Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday trades, along with young talent up and down the roster.

    While the Pacers may not want to part with Turner just yet, the Pelicans need to make them an offer they can't refuse.

New York Knicks

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Find a Franchise Point Guard

    Derrick Rose, Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina are all set to become free agents this offseason, meaning the Knicks will be forced to address the point guard position either via free agency, the draft or trade.

    Likely selecting in the middle of the first round, the Knicks could target guards like Davion Mitchell, Jaden Springer or Josh Giddey to fill the role. New York also owns the Dallas Mavericks' first-round pick from the Kristaps Porzingis trade, giving it two chances to select a high-upside floor general.

    The Knicks could also throw a hefty offer sheet at Lonzo Ball or try to lure a veteran like Chris Paul, Mike Conley Jr., Kyle Lowry or Spencer Dinwiddie using their $53 million in projected cap space—a number Keith P. Smith provided.


    Look for Value in Free Agency (After Finding a Point Guard)

    The Knicks haven't had much luck in recent years trying to sign stars in free agency. This year, they should instead be smart with their spending and look for younger guys with upside—a la Julius Randle—after the point guard position has been filled.

    Talen Horton-Tucker, Gary Trent Jr. and Kendrick Nunn are all young guards that fit nicely alongside RJ Barrett, especially with a rim protector like Mitchell Robinson covering for any defensive deficiencies.

    Trying to land a bigger name like DeMar DeRozan or Victor Oladipo may be tempting, but the Knicks should be looking for smaller, value signings instead.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Find a Trade Partner for Al Horford

    With Horford away from the team while the Thunder go full rebuild, it will be tricky (but not impossible) to move the veteran center this offseason.

    Horford, 34, is owed $27 million next season and $26.5 million in 2021-22, though only $14.5 million of that 2021-22 salary is guaranteed.

    He was a solid starter for the Thunder this season, putting up 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and shooting 36.8 percent from three. Even if he's overpaid, Horford can help a contender.

    The Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks should all have interest if the two sides can make the money match.


    Look for Young Talent in Free Agency

    Outside of Horford, no player on the Thunder roster is set to make over $5.5 million next season, meaning OKC could have over $50 million in salary cap space.

    While they shouldn't be chasing some of the top vets on the market, the Thunder could cause teams with restricted free agents to match offer sheets well above their comfort level.

    Whether it be John Collins, Lauri Markkanen, Lonzo Ball, Jarrett Allen or Gary Trent Jr., the Thunder should be on the lookup to swipe a young star from an opposing team or at least force that team to overpay.

Orlando Magic

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Get the Roster Healthy

    Yes, every team should be wishing for a clean bill of health, but perhaps no franchise needs it more than Orlando.

    Jonathan Isaac looked like a future Defensive Player of the Year before back-to-back knee injuries have wiped out most of his last two seasons. Still just 23, he should be completely healed from his torn left ACL before the start of the 2021-22 campaign.

    Markelle Fultz played in just eight games this year before tearing his left ACL, and at 22 was showing real promise as an NBA starter.

    Wendell Carter Jr. is off to a strong start to his Magic career (13.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 blocks per game on 55.3 percent shooting), but he's struggled to overcome injuries in his brief three-year career.

    If the Magic can get a healthy core together next year, the combination of Isaac, Fultz, Carter, Mo Bamba, Cole Anthony, Chuma Okeke and R.J. Hampton could be one of the better young groups in the league.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Re-Sign Danny Green

    Already over the salary cap, the Sixers should turn their attention to re-signing Green rather than looking for outside help.

    Green is still a strong contributor to a contender at age 33 and has started all 53 of his games for Philly. The Sixers are 4.9 points per 100 possessions better with Green on the floor, primarily thanks to his versatile defense and 41.4 percent mark from three.

    The Sixers can't afford to lose Green for nothing this offseason, even if it means paying a higher tax bill.


    Fill the Backup Center Spot

    Joel Embiid is an MVP candidate when healthy, but injuries have plagued his seven-year career. With Dwight Howard set to become an unrestricted free agent, the Sixers need to ensure they have a quality backup in place.

    Veterans like Nerlens Noel, Robin Lopez or JaVale McGee would all be ideal and in the Sixers' price range.

Phoenix Suns

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Explore Contract Options with Chris Paul

    It was widely assumed that Paul would opt into his $44.2 million player option next season given his age (35), but the Suns should be exploring all options to keep their starting point guard in town even longer.

    Paul could always choose not to opt in and sign a multi-year deal instead—two years, $75 million?—to net him more money overall while creating some cap space for Phoenix next year.

    The 11-time All-Star has been absolutely brilliant this season while leading the Suns to a 38-15 record. Phoenix should be eager to extend him.


    Sign Mikal Bridges to an Extension

    Bridges is another player that the Suns need to keep around. He's an all-world-caliber defender who has grown his offensive game over the past three years.

    Averaging a career-high 13.2 points and shooting 40.9 percent from three, Bridges is the perfect player to put next to guys like Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. His improved play is a major reason the Suns are near the top of the West.

    Phoenix should offer an extension starting around $15 million a year and hope he commits.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Re-Sign Norman Powell

    Trading for Powell may have been a small upgrade over Gary Trent Jr. in the present, but it also makes free agency a lot more dangerous for Portland.

    Trent was a restricted free agent, someone whose future Portland could at least partially controll. Powell will almost certainly opt out of his $11.6 million player option, meaning he can leave the Blazers as an unrestricted free agent.

    Now the team's starting small forward, Powell is an important third scorer for Portland. He's a player the Blazers simply can't afford to lose, especially after parting with Trent.


    Add Passing, Defense

    Scoring the ball has never been an issue for a Portland team when Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are both healthy, as evidenced by a sixth-ranked offense this season (115.9 rating).

    Unfortunately, stopping others teams has continually been a problem.

    The Blazers are next to last in defense this year (116.0 rating), a mark far worse than bottom-dwelling teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets.

    Portland is also dead last in assist percentage (50.2 percent), so bringing in a veteran backup point guard who can spread the ball around would be a good idea as well.

Sacramento Kings

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Get Best Value Possible in Buddy Hield Trade

    We're well past the time to move Hield out of Sacramento and the arrival of Tyrese Haliburton only makes his presence more unnecessary.

    Hield can still be a really, really good outside shooter when surrounded by the right talent, with plenty of teams—the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Philadelphia 76ers to name a few—offering him an environment to thrive.

    The Kings should firmly place Hield on the trade block, take the best offer available for the 28-year-old and hand the starting shooting guard job to Haliburton.


    Re-Sign Richaun Holmes

    One of the most underrated upcoming free agents, Holmes has put together a fine season as the Kings' starting center (14.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 64.1 percent shooting overall).

    Though not a floor-spacer, Holmes takes smart, efficient shots around the basket, plays good defense and improved Sacramento by 8.9 points per 100 possessions when he was in the game.

    Lots of teams should have interest in the 27-year-old center and the Kings should do everything they can to keep him around.

San Antonio Spurs

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Explore DeMar DeRozan Sign-and-Trade Options

    DeRozan is one of the biggest names in free agency, a four-time All-Star who is averaging a career-high 7.1 assists to go along with his 21.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.9 steals.

    At 31, DeRozan still has plenty of good years left even if he's not suited to be the No. 1 option on a championship team.

    If the Spurs want to continue their youth movement and don't plan on re-signing DeRozan, they should at least try to work out a sign-and-trade. The thought of getting nothing back for DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge would be a huge blow to the franchise, one that's in danger of missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in its history.


    Upgrade the Frontcourt in Free Agency

    The Spurs are loaded in the backcourt and on the wing with young talent, although the frontcourt is in desperate need of some added bodies.

    With Aldridge now gone and Rudy Gay set to become a free agent, the Spurs should be looking to spend their significant cap space on power forwards or centers.

    John Collins, Montrezl Harrell and Lauri Markkanen are all young big men that could grow and complement San Antonio's guards and wings.

Toronto Raptors

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Re-Sign Gary Trent Jr.

    Trent has been a scoring machine since he arrived in Toronto, averaging 18.4 points on 41.1 percent from three in his 10 starts.

    At 22, he could be a staple in the Raptors lineup for the next decade-plus, finally getting the playing time he deserves after years of backing up CJ McCollum.

    Toronto has the right to match any offer he receives  and should be more than comfortable paying $15 million a year or more for Trent.


    Sign-and-Trade Kyle Lowry (If he wants to leave)

    Was keeping Lowry at the trade deadline a mistake? It definitely feels like one, especially with Toronto falling to 21-33 overall on the year.

    Lowry will be an unrestricted free agent with teams like the Miami Heat, New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs all possessing the cap space necessary to make a huge offer for the six-time All-Star.

    If Lowry wants to move on from a reloading Raptors team, he can do so while leaving them with nothing in return. That's a potential slap in the face for Toronto given the packages they likely could have received at the deadline.

    The Raptors should try to work out a sign-and-trade—maybe with Philly?—if Lowry indeed plans to leave. If he's comfortable signing a short-term team to stay in Toronto, the franchise should more than welcome him back for as long as he likes.

Utah Jazz

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Re-Sign Mike Conley Jr.

    If the Jazz do nothing else this offseason, they need to bring back Conley.

    An All-Star this season, the 33-year-old has been brilliant while helping guide Utah to a league-best 40-14 record.

    Shooting a career-high 41.4 percent from three, Conley is improving the Jazz by a whopping 11.2 points per 100 possessions when he's on the court. He ranks first on the team in assists (5.4), first in steals (1.3) and third in scoring (16.6 points).

    Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert have already signed their extensions, Bojan Bogdanovic is under contract until 2023 and Jordan Clarkson's new deal keeps him in Utah until 2024.

    Conley is the glue that holds the entire team together, however, and should be looking to sign one last, big deal.

Washington Wizards

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Explore Russell Westbrook Trade Market

    While the Wizards should probably consider trading Bradley Beal while his value is at an all-time high, it's worth examining the market for his backcourt mate first.

    Westbrook certainly has his faults. He turns the ball over way too much (5.0 per game, the most in the NBA), has never been a good three-point shooter (30.5 percent for his career) and Washington is just 20-33 this season, even with him and Beal.

    So why would any team want to trade for Westbrook, especially with the two years and $91.2 million left on his deal?

    The 2017 MVP is averaging 24.0 points, 12.4 rebounds, 12.4 assists, 1.2 steals and shooting 44.3 percent over his past 18 games. Those are numbers few in the NBA can match. When Westbrook is in attack mode and not settling for jumpers, he's still one of the most devastating offensive weapons in the NBA.

    The Wizards should be calling contenders who look to be desperate for a point guard upgrade after the playoffs (Los Angeles Clippers?) just to try to get off Westbrook's contract.