Keep passing the open windows; The non-playoff team offseason preview

Notes before we start:
- NBA Salary Cap FAQ can be found here
- The maximum contract length could be changed to from seven to four in the new CBA
- I realize I'm probably overestimating the value of some guys based on how many teams have cap room, but... I overprice because I love!
- When I give a salary like $5.5, I'm obviously referring to 5,500,000 dollars, not five dollars and fifty cents

For every team that didn't make the playoffs, a few changes have to be made. This is the case for pretty much any team for any sport for any year. From the top, starting with the team that didn't win consecutive games all year.

Atlanta Hawks: 13-69 - Salaries
This team will be about $25 or so million under the cap. It's hard to predict what they'll do in resigning, as they might want to keep Lue and Crawford (if he's healthy) around. Or since they have so much cash free, maybe not, so my picks will not be counting them. Willis is probably done for (at least with them) and I doubt Ekezie finds more NBA work any time soon.

5 - Collier, Drobjnak
4 - Harrington
3 - J. Smith, Diaw, D. Smith
2 - Childress
1 - Delk, Ivey

Aside from getting a few pineriders, the team is fairly set from spots 2-4 with talented youngsters. Atlanta has the best odds of getting the top pick and will probably take Bogut if they get it. Bogut is said to be ready to compete right away, so they don't really have a big reason to grab a good five through free agency. They might want to pick up a decent one to back up, as Collier and Drobnjak aren't the most talented guys around. Delk isn't going to work as the starting PG on a very young team, so he'll need to be displaced. So the team needs a starting PG and a decent big man and has a ton of money to blow. What's available for them? At the point:

Earl Watson (Unrestricted) - This guy seems to be a pretty likely candidate for the ATL. He plays good D, is very quick, runs an offense well, has an assist rate of 31.5 and averages 4.5 APG (7.2 per 36) and averages 7.7 PPG (12.3 per 36). So that's a guy who'd average 12.3 and 7.2 at starter minutes, run the O nicely and play good D. Sounds like a perfect fit for the team. If I were Billy Knight, this would be who I would go for. Problem is, plenty of other teams will want him too.

Marko Jaric (Restricted) - Since the Clippers are the Clippers, they probably won't match on him. Even if they weren't the Clippers, he won't have a starting job there next year because of Livingston, so he probably wouldn't be matched anyway. So my guess is that he'll be readily available. Marko's big enough to play both guard spots and can feed the ball a decent amount, averaging 6.1 APG (6.6 per 36 minutes and an assist rate of 33.9). He won't score a ton (9.9 PPG, or 10.7 per 36) but he's got three point range (37.1%) and can score from many different spots. He'd be alright, but probably wouldn't fit in as well as he would another place, as he's not a pure point guard. I think the Hawks need a pure distributor as they already have some good scorers on the team in Harrington and Childress, along with the likely Bogut.

Antonio Daniels (Player Option) - His option is for only $2.2, so I'd say it's extremely likely that he opts out. His averages were 11.2 PPG (14.9 per 36) and 4.1 APG (5.5 per 36). His assist rate was only 27.0, reinforcing the fact that he is more of a scoring point guard than a distributing one. I believe the Hawks need a pass-first guy, so I wouldn't suggest that they go in this direction.

For the decent bigs, there isn't a lot in the $3-$4 range. Zaza/Zaur Pachulia would be an alright option, but Milwaukee sounds adamant about resigning him to a long deal. I recently said that Jerome James was just turning it up for the playoffs, but if he doesn't generate as much interest as he's hoping to, they could take a gamble on him. He might be for real after all. I wish there were more, but that doesn't seem to be the case. They could always drop to the "veteran's minimum stage" and pick up someone like Ervin Johnson or Jahidi White.

In general, the Hawks have a lot of money to spend and if they can find willing takers, they should probably spend right away. There's always a suggested course of action, but most guys don't want to come to Atlanta. Kenyon Martin opted for Denver. Jason Terry was really pissed off when Atlanta matched on the offer Utah gave him last year, but was happy when he was dealt to Dallas. Gary Payton bugged the team to release him upon being traded here. Antoine Walker didn't like going there. The list grows every year. Moral of the story is, beggars can't be choosers. If they can get Daniels or Jaric, they should go for it. Watson would be the best choice, but they don't have the option of being picky.

Charlotte Bobcats: 18-64 - Salaries

Expansion teams are always funny. Charlotte's cap isn't as high as the rest of the league's is, being that it will be their second year. According to the FAQ, it's 3/4 of the regular cap, which will be around $33.75. So they have around $23 in cap space. I don't know what to say here, Bickerstaff could go any number of directions. Let's take a look at what the roster is with the guys who still have deals. Note, I don't know what's up with Brevin Knight. Hoopshype says his deal runs out, but I've read other places that it doesn't. If it does indeed run out, he'll probably get offers too big for Charlotte to go after, so I'll ignore him.

5 - Brezec, Ely
4 - Okafor
3 - Wallace
2 - Robinson
1 - Hart

We're talking slim pickings, girl. They have good young guys at 1 and 3-5, but nothing at the two. Obviously there's plenty of improvement to be made with the record they have, but they have a nice young base, similar to Atlanta. They have the best shot at the #2 pick and I'm told that they want to get Chris Paul. Personally I'd go a different direction, but it's up to them. I'm not here to predict the draft. So I'm going to presume they get Paul and ignore getting a free agent PG. So, Charlotte's spot for major need is at SG. Let's take a look at their options. In the high priced range, where they probably won't go...

Ray Allen (Unrestricted) and Michael Redd
These two are the cream of the crop, of course. Charlotte's not going to bag either of them, even if they do shoot that high, so let's move on.

Larry Hughes (Unrestricted)
It's hard to say where he goes. I don't think he wants to head down to another (re)building case after being in Washington and Golden State for the four and a half years prior to this season. Thus, I don't think they have a shot at him either.

Joe Johnson (Restricted)
I think Charlotte should throw money at him. My guess is that Phoenix doesn't keep him around when they have to fork it over to Amare after next year, so I bet they wouldn't match. B. Colangelo says they're going to match any offer, but I find that hard to believe. Lots of teams will be trying to get him so Charlotte will be lucky if they can manage to bag him, but there's still a shot. This would be the best guy they could get ahold of, I think.

Bobby Simmons (Unrestricted)
He's not coming here. As much as his season screams "contract year", including that MIP award, there's going to be a ton of teams after him. Unless Bickerstaff throws a massive wad of cash at him, which the player/coach of the team won't, Bobby won't be coming to the Carolinas except for road games.

Kyle Korver (Restricted)
Not technically a shooting guard, but seeing as how he has the correct size and tends to just kick it in the corner and wait for the opportunity to gun, they can slot him here. Philly's said they're going to match any offer that he gets and on Korver, I'm inclined to believe him. Since he's so one-dimensional, unlike the five guys listed above, there probably won't be as much of a market for him. Thus, Philly resigning him to whatever is likely in my view. Charlotte would be smart to steer clear of this one.

Antonio Daniels (Player Option, very likely to leave Seattle)
Like Korver, because of his playing style and size, he could be slotted here. For the same reasons he wouldn't fit in Atlanta, he would fit here. They ought to make a run at him if Johnson gets priced out of their range.

Charlotte may or not be in a buyer's position, so it's very hard to say what they'll do. I think they ought to sign Johnson to a long deal (if possible) and then go wild in the summer of 2006. Obviously they need to pick up a pile of benchwarmers too, but that's not important.

Cleveland Cavaliers: 42-40 - Salaries
As I've said before, they're not going to resign McInnis. I'm guessing that they don't resign Zydrunas in an effort to go after Redd/Allen/Hughes. They'll be happy to get rid of Wagner and thus, they'll be about $19 million under the cap when it's time to go hunting. The roster, sirs (and madams?):

5 - Traylor, Diop
4 - Gooden, Varejao
3 - James
2/3 - Pavlovic, Newble, Welsch, Harris...
1 - Snow

If you couldn't tell, I put it the 2/3 because all of the guys listed there except Harris could play both spots. Now, for the needs. Despite the army of shooting guards, they desperately need to one up. Jackson could fit the spot, but he was hurt all year, so they'll have to presume. They need a point guard too, but that isn't as important as the SG because Lebron is such a ball handler. For the available SGs, basically look at what's listed for Charlotte, except change who is available. Basically, if they can get one of the big three listed, they have to do it. There was talk that Redd would go there all year... I still doubt that he stays in Milwaukee, despite his positive talk about it. Allen hasn't ruled it out. I haven't heard anything about Hughes going to Cleveland because the talk's been mainly focused on the guys who made their name big in Milwaukee. But if for some reason they can't bag the max money guys, he wouldn't be a bad plan C. As for whether Redd or Allen is a better choice... it's really hard to say. I value them as pretty much equal. If Cleveland has their pick, it has to be personal preference.

As for point guards, they could go a few ways. There's the guys listed for Atlanta, along with a bigger name like Knight. I don't think Knight would fit very well, again, as Lebron handles the ball so much. I think Jaric would be more fitting, as he could be a good complimentary player as he was in LA. They could also go for Ex-Piston Damon Jones, who might use his player option to get away from Miami. His slated salary for next year isn't listed on Hoopshype, but I bet it's not much more than the $2.5 her made this year. Thus, he might be looking to make more money. It's entirely possible he'll just stay in Miami for the stability and because he likes it so much, but if not, hanging out in the corner and getting dishes from Lebron could be an enticing opportunity. I haven't mentioned centre here because as I said in a recent post, I think they could get away with playing Varejao at the C in the East.

All in all, the Cavs have the pieces to go somewhere and might have a coach in the Zenmaster to help take them there. They have to make a big splash and I think there's a good chance that they pull it off.

Golden State Warriors: 34-48 - Salaries
Hee hee! Ah, always laugh inducing. While it's not officially listed on Hoopshype, Richardson's making around $11.67 and Murphy's making around $10 next year. Thus, their salary is something like $58 for next year. Needless to say, they're over the cap. Thus, they only have the mid-level exception to play with with people worth mentioning. Their roster:

5 - Foyle, Biedrins,
4 - Murphy, Cabarkapa
3 - Dunleavy, White
2 - Richardson, Pietrus
1 - Davis, Fisher

There's a lot of talk that they're going to deal Dunleavy in the offseason, so they could be shopping for an SF... so I'll focus on that. This SF will having to be willing to take the mid-level, so their options will be limited.

Glenn Robinson (Unrestricted)
The Warriors have a lot of bricklayers, so a consistent shooter would be beneficial to them. Big Dog doesn't play much D, but that could be masked by Foyle's shot blocking and Murphy's athletic ability.


There's not much here. Raja Bell, maybe? Korver, but Philly will match him at the mid-level. Small forwards who will take the mid-level from a team with multiple chuckers in the current market don't really exist. But maybe that's a good thing. With all of the stupid contracts Mullin's been taking on, it could be a blessing in disguise that there's nearly no one out there fitting for what little wiggle money he has to play with.

Los Angeles Clippers: 37-45 - Salaries
Always entertaining to ponder what Elgin and the gang will do. They're not on the books for much and in usual Clipper fashion, I don't think they resign their big free agents (Jaric and Simmons) so they'll probably sign some low level guys to fill out the roster. They're about $15 under the cap, but it's not like that matters. I hate to write a section that's so tiny, but unless Sterling suddenly stops running the team like a business and starts running them like a sports franchise, there's not much to say. I guess there was last year when they had to get off the salary floor, but there's no such trouble this season.

Los Angeles Lakers: 34-48 - Salaries
They're capped out for a few years. Their roster is unbalanced. They have no coach. Their best two players don't mesh well. A lot of teams don't want to trade with them. Their point guard is (an Ex-Piston and) pissed off at the team. Their second best player just had surgery on his shooting shoulder, so he'll be tough to trade, even though they're still trying. What's the bright side about this team? They have a bunch of pieces. Presuming they let stiffs Brown and Walton go:

5 - Mihm, Divac, Medvedenko
4 - Odom, Grant, Cook
3 - Butler, Jones, George
2 - Bryant, Vujacic
1 - Atkins

Like Golden State, they've mainly got the mid-level to work with. However, they have three talented small forwards with which to deal as well. If one of the three isn't moved by the time the summer is done, Kupchak should be fired. If they can pick up a good point guard in a trade involving some of them and maybe a pick or two, then the Lakers shouldn't add more to their big stack of current salaries. Or, I've heard that they might draft Raymond Felton or another late lottery-esque PG. If they do neither of these things, then a point guard for the MLE is what they have to find. What's available there?

Dan Dickau (Unrestricted)
The Hornets will probably want to keep him around, but he might want to head out to the bright lights. I think Chucky's better than him, but Chucky's definitely better off the bench, so having them split time at the PG wouldn't be a bad idea. Dickau can shoot the three (34.7%) and dish the ball... his assist rate is only 25.7, but he was on New Orleans all year, it's not like there's a bevy of talented scorers there. He'd probably be the best option for them to pursue, if they don't grab one through trades. Well, there are better guys like Watson they could go after, but Dickau's the most likely one for the MLE only teams.

There are a few more that don't really fit what they need at PG (that's someone to get Kobe and Odom the ball) like Damon Stoudamire or maybe they could bring back Tyronn Lue. As I said, I think Dickau is their best choice, but that's only if they don't acquire a point guard through other means. If they do get one some other way, I wouldn't suggest adding to their current over the cap salary structure.

Milwaukee Bucks: 30-52 - Salaries
Well, we all know what their main goal is this offseason... resign Michael Redd, of course. Not that they don't have side projects of resigning Gadzuric and Pachulia. It's really hard to say what their figure will be once they hand out the funds, so I'll just guess that they will be somewhere over the cap, thus only having the MLE. Note, roster doesn't include TJ Ford because I have no idea if he'll be healthy or not. Let's see the roster without him and without the various other guys like Kukoc and Strickland so that they have the low number of dollars spent.

5 - Gadzuric, Pachulia
4 - Smith
3 - Mason
2 - Redd, Gaines
1 - Williams

So they have a team that put up a record of less than 41 wins, may not even be able to retain their star and if they do retain him, will be over the cap for years. Not a good situation. On the bright side, they don't have much in the way of holes to fill. Could use a new PG and ought to play Mason at his normal position... but since they only have the MLE, they'll have to focus on just one. I think it'll be the PG one, but we'll see. For cheap SF's, see Golden State. For cheap PG's, see the Lakers. I think they should also go after Dickau... or maybe draft a PG (their most likely spot is 6th overall). Of course, all of this changes if they lose Redd. Then, they could spend on an expensive SF (see the Cleveland SG list, add Radmanovic and Marshall). If that happens, Radmanovic is probably their man. He shoots similarly to Redd and isn't as old as Marshall. I think he'd fit in well there. They'd have more cap room if they get him instead of Redd, so they might be able to go after one of the PG's on Atlanta's list as well. Like Atlanta, I think Watson would be the best for his distribution skills.

Minnesota Timberwolves: 44-38 - Salaries
As I've mentioned in the past, they're in trouble. Some guys want out, they have no coach, they're over the cap and supposedly their superstar could possibly want out. There's no way in hell they brig Sprewell back, for one. It's hard to say what they'll do with their other free agents. Eddie Griffin will probably return with a raise, Ervin Johnson might be done, Madsen will probably be back with a smaller salary, Carter back at a similar price... can't predict all of them. My guess is that Griffin, Madsen and Carter will be back with a combined salary of maybe three and a half million. Fittingly, added onto their other salaries for next year, their total salary will be at about $50. So, they're over the cap. Szczerbiak wants out, he might be moved. Similar to who they resign, it's hard to predict who they trade for. With my best guesses, their roster will look like...

5 - Olowokandi
4 - Garnett, Griffin
3 - Szczerbiak, Ebi
2 - Hassell, Hoiberg
1 - Cassell, Hudson, Carter

Let's see... they need a shooting guard that can do things other than sit in a corner or have no offensive talent at all. They need a centre who can play defense. They need a good small forward that wants to be there. Somehow, despite these needs, they're over the cap. They can bring in a guy or two with Szczerbiak, but they still have another hole to fill, but only the MLE to do it. C, SF or SG. Whichever of the three they can't fill, they need to sign a player of that spot. Their options for SF and SG are pretty much the same as Golden State's for SF, so they'd be doing well to trade for one of them. Thus, their pickup ought to be a C. Bigs that will take the MLE are...

Kwame Brown (Restricted)
Based on his recent trouble, this one's up in the air. Personally, I think he still has an opportunity to be great (he's averaged 12 and 8.2 per 36 this year) and the Timberwolves would be smart if they struck while the iron was hot with him. Presuming Washington lets him go and with the army of similar players they have (remember when I noted about how he, Etan Thomas and Jared Jeffries all averaged about the same numbers a game) they probably will, he ought to be available. I think he would be the best thing they could grab (presuming they don't get a big man in a trade).

Jerome James (Unrestricted)
I did say he was in the $3-$4 range earlier, but he could get as high as the MLE from someone, especially if he continues his excellent play in the playoffs against the Spurs. Again, I wouldn't suggest this, as I still think he'll return to his regular season form when next year comes. But, he could be worth a gamble if it's for the short term.

Darius Songaila (Player Option)
Songaila's option is for $1.76, so it's pretty likely that he'll opt out and go for more cash. Sacto will probably try to bring him back at a bigger price, but if not he'll be on the market. He'd make a nice combo with KG, as both can score from midrange and in the post. This would be their second best choice, I think... but that's only if he's available.

So there you go. Big guys are usually the hardest thing to trade for in this league (as the talented ones are few and far between) so they'll probably have to find one through free agency. Supposed bust Kwame Brown will be their best option and I think they have a good shot at getting him.

New Orleans Hornters: 15-67 - Salaries
First, meet the new home of Marvin Williams. Second wow, this team only has $16 in salaries on the books for next year. Granted, they'll likely resign a few of their guys (like Dickau, Nachbar, maybe Jacobsen). So let's presume that those three make maybe a combined $6 next year. I think that sounds plausible. So that would put their "under cap" figure at $23. Their roster would be...

5 - Magloire, West, Lampe
4 - Brown, Andersen
3 - Nachbar, Lynch
2 - Smith, Jacobsen
1 - Dickau, Claxton

As I noted, Williams would be the SF solution. This leaves them with a hole at SG (I know, lots of people love JR Smith, I don't) and an aging PF. So they need a SG and a PF. You know what the SG options are, see Charlotte, so I'm not going to list them again. For PFs where there is no roof, well, time for a hot new list.

Tyson Chandler (Restricted)
I have no idea if Chicago is going to bring him back or not. If they don't, he'd be a good pickup for any team that needs a big man. He rebounds like a machine (19.8 rebound rate), blocks well (2.4 per 36) and can score a little in the post (10.5 points per 36, 49.4 FG%). I think he'd be the best and likeliest pick up for the worst team in the West in 04-05... granted, there's still a chance Chicago puts up the dough for him, but it's slight.

Samuel Dalembert (Restricted)
The chance that Philly lets him go is very, very low. As seen in the series he just played against the Pistons, he's quite talented and he won't be leaving the city he's currently in for a long time. NO should definitely inquire about him, but he won't be getting away.

Stromile Swift (Unrestricted)
Stro is similar to Chandler, just quicker and not as good on the glass or defense. Stro should definitely be their number two choice... but, only gone after if Chandler isn't available.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim (Unrestricted)
SAR's been on crappy teams all his career, I doubt he wants to come to another rebuilding effort. Thus, the Hornets shouldn't bother.

Vladimir Radmanovic (Restricted)
I'm not sure what will happen with him. Hornets could use him, but I think other teams will be bidding higher than them. Thus, he probably won't wind up here. Seattle may even match for him, so his chances of coming to New Orleans are about equivalent to the chances of Dalembert leaving Philly for anywhere.

Donyell Marshall (Unrestricted)
There are a number of better teams interested in his services and he seems to be too old for what the Hornets are trying to do, so I suggest and think they'll steer clear of the versatile gunner.

So the Hornets have a number of options at both SG and PF and the cap room to make multiple things happen. I hope they spend wisely.

New York Knicks: 33-49 - Salaries
Ugh... let's do this one quickly. The Knicks are in cap hell for years and the only deal of over $1 coming off this year is John Amaechi's (how did that get there!?). They will have a payroll of $108.5 before any additional signings next year, so they might as well sign as many guys for the next two years or so as they can. Their roster, including guys like the CBA pickups.

5 - Sundov, Butler
4 - K. Thomas, Sweetney, Rose, Taylor
3 - Ariza, T. Thomas
2 - Crawford, Houston, Hardaway
1 - Marbury, Jackson

Obviously Sundov's not the starter here, but it emphasizes a point... they have no real centre on the team. So, they need to go after a big man with the MLE. See Minnesota for what to do here. My bet is that Isiah will fall in love with the idea of turning Kwame Brown into a #1 overall after all and fight tooth and nail to pick him up. Really, that's probably the best thing he can do as well. There, that was a quick one.

Orlando Magic: 36-46 - Salaries
They're over the cap by a bunch... but really, they might be the slight exception to the rule. If they can get everybody to want to be there and get a coach who knows what he's doing, they're in a nice position. Presuming they let various waste of bench space go, their roster. Note, I know they played Francis and Nelson as the back court for a good chunk of the year, but they were sans Christie and old Hidayet for a while. Thus, I list both as PG's.

5 - Cato, Battie
4 - Howard, Garrity
3 - Hill, Turkoglu
2 - Christie, Stevenson
1 - Francis, Nelson

They're a pretty solid squad. As I said, if they can get everyone willing to contribue and a coach who can keep them doing that, they'll be fine. I wouldn't suggest they add anything to their cap, as they'll be under in a few years if they spend (or rather, don't spend) correctly.

Portland Trailblazers: 27-55 - Salaries
I recently went off on them... and the facts remain the same. They have a bunch of bad contracts and won't be under the cap for years unless Nash's general manager IQ suddenly doubles or triples. SAR and Stoudamire won't be returning, so they can be forgotten about. Van Exel may or may not retire. If he does, they'll have a bit of room, but not much more than a small addition. So, like many, they'll mainly have the MLE to use. Now, for the roster.

5 - Przybilla, Ratliff, Ha
4 - Randolph
3 - Miles, Khyrapa, Outlaw
2 - Anderson, Patterson
1 - Telfair

Not only is it unbalanced, it's low on talent in the part (the wingmen) that has the biggest chunk of the roster. They need a decent outside shooter and Glenn Robinson would be able to play both forward spots... so he'd probably be the best guy to go after. If not that, a point guard (a la the Lakers' options) would be good in case Telfair falters. Not much to say, as it's not a popular destination. We'll see what Nash does, maybe he can redeem himself.

Toronto Raptors: 33-49 - Salaries
Here's a train wreck. Front office is messed up, their centre choices are currently terrible, their second best player (Marshall) won't be returning, their best rookie (Bonner) might take off... not good. They're also over the cap. Presuming they resign Sow for cheap and let Palacio (Mitchell seems to like Cook more) go... their roster:

5 - Araujo, Woods
4 - Bosh, Sow, Aa. Williams
3 - E. Williams, Murray
2 - Rose, Peterson
1 - Alston, Cook, Al. Williams

I don't know if Alvin Williams will be back from injury or not, but it really doesn't matter at this point. I don't think they'll manage to bring Bonner back when other teams will be willing to spend more. Anyway, it's pretty clear that they need a centre... one that is talented. See Minnesota's options for details. The roster could drastically change if the front office drastically changes... so what their needs are may be completely changed. If the needs stay similar, I think Jerome James would be the best thing to go after. He's the big force that they've been trying to have with Araujo and Woods... so he'll be the best work. Kwame Brown and Songaila may be better, but James is the biggest at 7'1, 272. Thus, I think JJ ought to be a Raptor next year.

Utah Jazz: 26-56 - Salaries
This one is weird. They've got a great coach, they've got a great 6th man, they've got a great PF, they've got a spectacular SF, they've got decent guys off the bench... yet, injuries and bad point guard play doom them to 26 wins. I don't think they're going to bother with Raja Bell and his injury trouble or Howard Eisley and his lack of talent trouble. I also think they're going to dispatch Keith McLeod due to his play over the year... and scapegoats never hurt. They've over the cap, by the way. Now, for the roster.

5 - Okur, Collins, Borchardt
4 - Boozer, Humphries
3 - Kirilenko
2 - Giricek, Snyder
1 - Lopez

Yeah, they need a PG. They're slated for about the #4 spot in the draft and NBAdraft.net has them slated to pick Deron Williams... I agree completely. I think they also ought to pick up one of the PG's listed under the Lakers or one of the good SG's that falls to the MLE. Like the Magic, not a lot of movement, just getting everyone healthy and together. I think they can do good things with that frontcourt and hope they do it next year.


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