Team Needs (Southeast)
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Check here for Central Div. Needs
Sort of tricky to read where the Southeast Division is headed next year, with 2 teams having some significant money to play with in free agency, another team with multiple lotto picks, and one aging team that has most of its money tied up in 3 players & has only 7 players under contract. Even with multiple question marks with their roster, if Miami can stay healthy, they can challenge for another division title. The Magic look like they are headed in a positive direction and if they can find some sort of scorer on the wing, they could secure another trip to the playoffs. Wizards can also make another playoff run, but if they want to seriously challenge for an East title, they have to change their defensive mentality. Hawks have to use their lottery picks wisely, and hopefully fill their voids at PG & in the frontcourt. No one has close to the cap space as the Bobcats, so they hold a ton of leverage this summer to either be the top suitor toward free agents or as a trade partner for teams looking to unload big contracts.
*--You will notice the two parentheses next to the team name. The first one will either have "MLE" or a dollar amount in it. This just states if the team has the Mid-Level Exception (which is roughly $5 mil this year) that is awarded to every team that is over the salary cap. If a dollar amount is shown that means the team is under the salary cap. There are only a handful of teams under the salary cap (which has yet to be finalized, but should be around $53-55 million). The dollar amount is a rough estimation at this point, and can change to a degree for a myriad of technical things like cap holds, renounced rights, player options and the yet undetermined exact amount of this year's salary cap. The second parentheses just states the draft picks that each team presently owns.
ATLANTA--(MLE) (#3, #11): PG; Post player; Shooter
Draft Targets: Horford; Conley; Law
The ping-pong balls shook out in their favor and the draft looks to be pretty cut & dry from the Hawks' persceptive. The #3 pick should be narrowed to 2: Al Horford or Mike Conley. If they take Horford at #3, they can still take a viable PG at #11, with Acie Law more than likely still around. If they take Conley at #3, they would want to get a big at #11, but guys like Noah or Hawes might not be around. In free agency, Atl should probably hone in on a defensive-minded center to pair with newly acquired defensive stalwart Horford. But there are slim pickings out there: maybe Magloire or Mikki Moore can be pursued. The Hawks were also dead last in 3pt. shooting, so guys like Kapono or Mo Pete could be on their radar.
CHARLOTTE--($25mil) (#8, #22): Scoring; Wing; Back-up PG
Draft Targets: Brewer; J. Green; J. Wright; N. Young
No team has more leverage in free agency or as a trading partner where teams looking to dump contracts & not take back equal money. The first step is probably to deal with their wing positions. G. Wallace can become an unrestricted FA, and it seems like Morrison might not be as potent of a scorer as first thought. But I still think you can't write off Adam this early, so maybe the Bobcats should focus on a defensive-minded wing, especially if Wallace leaves, and the perfect fit would be Brewer (if still there). Though that would not really answer the call for more offense, so guys like J. Green & N. Young should be under heavy consideration. Charlotte might need a back-up PG if Brevin Knight is not retained--a PG who has some size & can shoot would be ideal to offset Felton. When it comes to free agency it will be very interesting to see if the Bobcats go hard after Lewis or Vince, or if they sit on some of their money to make a splash next summer when the free agent crop looks great.
MIAMI--(MLE) (#20): PG; Back-up 4/5; Wing
Draft Targets: Pruitt; T. Green; Crittenton; Koponen
This team has some holes to fill, but is somewhat hamstrung by having most of their money tied up in Shaq & Wade, not to mention Ant Walker. Would say that Miami's primary concern has to be at the PG spot with JWilliams heading into his walk year, and Payton probably retiring. If they look to fill that void in the draft, at #20 Gabe Pruitt could be still around & he would be the best bet there. Other PGs like Crittenton, T. Green, & P. Koponen are other possibilities. The SF position is also a little sketchy right now with Posey, Kapono, & Ed Jones all unrestricted FAs. Also, could use an infusion of youth on their frontline, someone to groom behind Shaq would be a good idea. Plus, you can expect Shaq to miss 20-25 games because of legit injuries or just self-imposed rest.
ORLANDO--($8mil??) (#39, #44, #54): Scoring Wing; Post player
Draft Targets: A. Gray; Fazekas; G. Davis
This squad is in desperate need of scoring, period. At this point they really don't have anyone capable of averaging 20 ppg. Dwight is close to being there (and probably could if he just hit his free throws), but he's still a year or two off from being a potent scorer - still needs to polish his post game. So they need to focus on someone who's a multi-dimensional threat on the perimeter who can slash to the bucket; Redick & Hedo ain't ever gonna be living in the lane off their penetration. Even if they re-sign Darko, they could still use some more depth on the frontline. Guys like Aaron Gray. Nick Fazekas, or Glen Davis could do the trick in the 2nd round & could be available at #39 or #44. What's a little tricky to gauge about Orlando's situation right now, is exactly how much money they will have to use in free agency this summer. A lot of it hinges on what they plan to do with Darko, who is a restricted F.A. If they sign Darko to just a one-year tender or sign him to multiple years, then they will have about $6-8 mil to spend, which won't be enough for Lewis or Vince. If they choose not to match an offer sheet for Darko, then they could have the ability to go after top-notch free agent wings like Vince or Rashard. If the Magic aren't left with enough dough to go after Carter or Lewis, they will have to calibrate their sights to free agents like Bonzi, Nocioni, or G. Wallace.
WASHINGTON--(MLE) (#16, #47): Center; Rebounding; True PG
Draft Targets: Splitter; J. Smith; Crittenton; Pruitt
The Wiz need to find some sort of answer in the middle. Brendan Haywood is way too inconsistent to count on as a starter & they could possibly lose promising 7-foot Andray Blatche in free agency. It would be nice if this team could find some sort of defensive-minded role player at any position, especially if Deshawn Stevenson leaves. At #16, the Wiz should go with the best big available. A guy who can play the 4/5 would be a bonus since Jamison is in the last year of his deal. Think Splitter would be an ideal fit because he can play the 4/5 and is known for his defense & rebounding--two things the Wiz desparately need. Others to consider are McRoberts, Jason Smith, & S. Williams. They also could consider going with a PG, specifically one with some size so they can move Arenas to the 2-guard more (the roster is devoid of a pure point). You could have 2 big PGs at #16 that could fit the bill in Crittenton & G. Pruitt. Need to get Euroleague stud, Juan Navarro, over to DC as quickly as possible, but he has a big buyout.