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NBA Makeovers: Rosters That Need a New Look

Joel C. Cordes@@bballJoelNBA Associate EditorMarch 10, 2010

BOSTON - MARCH 07:  Ray Allen #20 of the Boston Celtics celebrates his game winning three point shot with teammate Paul Pierce #34 in the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards on March 7, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Wizards 86-83. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Stuck in neutral.  Treading water.  Going nowhere.

Choose whatever phrase you want, but one of the worst feelings an NBA fan can have is seeing their favorite franchise listlessly drifting through another season.  What's worse is when the common consensus of fans' gut reactions all point to the belief that even if things might not get worse, they probably are not going to get better in the near future.

Being a Minnesota TimberWolves fan, I have endured this unfortunate realization during the Kevin Garnett era.  While he soldiered on amongst a roster annually restocked with retreads, failed draft picks, and bargain basement free agents, we fans certainly respected the effort on the floor and the decade of playoff contention and/or appearances.

Yet, we knew that another First Round exit was truly the usual ceiling for those teams.  We were disappointed each year when our gut reaction proved correct, but looked forward with little hope: what was going to be done to prevent the same old outcome from happening next year?

So without further ado, here is a list of teams that have reached a very similar glass ceiling with their current rosters.  Some of these might be bottom feeders, others might even be making the playoffs this year, but either way, these teams cannot expect better results than their current status quo, unless large-scale changes are made.

 

Boston Celtics

I'm sorry everybody.  I'll be a die-hard KG fan forever (and therefore I've been a defacto Celtics follower these past couple of years), but you and I all secretly know that the window has already closed. 

Bringing in Nate Robinson & Michael Finley's ghost won't change the fact that this team doesn't possess that extra gear necessary to move past a Cleveland, an Orlando, or an Atlanta in the East. 

They keep talking as if it's there, waiting to be unleashed at the right moment.  Then again, the Detroit Pistons talked that way after their one title too.  They talked about unleashing it for half a decade of Eastern Conference Finals appearances, but it was never there again.

Ray Allen is probably gone.  Rasheed Wallace has to be as well.  This team can build around solid pieces like Rondo, Perkins, Nate Robinson, & Glen Davis, but outside of Rondo, is there another budding star on this roster? 

Would KG and Paul Pierce accept rebuilding around those guys?  Pierce still has some mileage left as a number two player and a steadying veteran presence; he's worth keeping as a Celtics lifer.  KG however, has descended to being only a solid veteran starter.  There's a market for those guys with every contender.

If he wants to finish out with the Celtics, he has to be ready to rebuild.  If that's not the case, he needs to be moved in the offseason to another playoff team.

 

Philadelphia 76ers

Their record this year speaks for itself.  Off the top of my head, I don't have a sparkling answer for how they could turn things around quickly (If I try to solve it, I'll let you know, but I might die of an aneurysm first).  Either way, this is nothing more than an eight seed, even if they overachieved to a great extent.

The contracts are bad, the bench is non-functional, and the chemistry has been wrecked since their playoff appearance two seasons ago.

Still, there are some pieces to use.  Jrue Holliday, Marreese Speights, Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young, Jason Smith, and Rodney Carney all have varying amounts of usable upside.  Stripping the roster down to those pieces might seem like a horrifying step backwards for Sixers' fans, but let's be honest; would that group, plus a couple of other young players and a solid veteran or two, do much worse than the current concoction?

I think that it would be surprisingly similar, but at least the minutes would be spent building towards something.  Getting rid of Iguodala, Dalembert, Brand, and the other veteran parts has been a long-running implausibility for Philadelphia, but at this point I would be ready to sell them for 30 cents on the dollar and move on. 

 

Golden State Warriors

This high scoring, no defense disaster is probably just as much a result of Don Nelson's coaching indifference as it is related to roster deficiencies. 

Either way though, this is another outfit that has some young pieces to work with.  Again, they need to spend the minutes developing the young guys, while their expensive veterans should be moved on to other teams that are ready to contend right now (or are stupid enough to take on the overpaid contracts).

Monta Ellis, Steph Curry, Anthony Morrow, Andris Biedrins and Anthony Randolph are the building blocks of a team that absolutely could keep playing the "run and gun" style in a fan-friendly and athletically unparalleled manner.  The problem is that the team is still wasting minutes on used-up veterans and also-rans. 

This roster should be stripped down to its young core only, and rebuilt from there.  The potential is phenomenal, but a plan (and coach) must be put in place to utilize the young assets already there.

 

Indiana Pacers

They are in the process of rebuilding.  They do have some young guys who are being given adequate development minutes.  The problem is that this team is so deficient in overall talent, that middling veterans like Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Earl Watson, TJ Ford, & Dontay Jones all continue to see time, just so that they're not blown out every night.

This franchise will need a few more draft restocks to move forward.  Shouldn't those aforementioned vets be swapped for picks as soon as possible, so as to expedite the process?

 

San Antonio Spurs

This is their last season, and then the window will officially be closed, if it hasn't already.  In-stride roster restocking is no longer enough to move the Spurs past either the West's elite or its rising young teams. 

This might sound like heresy for Spurs fans, but here we go:  Parker and Duncan can continue to be starting lineup glue, but vets like Antonio McDyess, Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner, Keith Bogans, and Manu Ginobili are going to become unnecessary drains on developmental minutes.

If I'm R.C. Buford, I blow up this team next year (unless they miraculously win a title this year) and begin building around George Hill, DeJuan Blair, and the other youngsters stocked overseas.  Duncan, Parker, and Popovich would hopefully remain on board with this process. 

 

Dishonorable mention:

New Orleans Hornets, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors - These teams are already stuck in neutral, but for better or worse, large scale changes are already appearing on their horizons during the offseason.

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