Philadelphia, PA – A microwaved NBA "offseason" that figures to be the next installment of the Fast and Furious franchise is set to kick off Dec. 9.
The NFL's lockout earlier this year served as a bit of a precursor for what will be happening. Clearly organizations with veteran leadership in the front office, along with a solid plan, will have a leg up when teams start jockeying in what essentially will be a two-tier free agent shopping spree, with conventional restricted and unrestricted players available as well as a second group of high-priced veterans flooding the market as part of the new amnesty clause.
With that in mind, here's a capsule look at the NBA's 30 teams, the players they have locked up, and what they will be attempting to accomplish starting next week.
ATLANTA HAWKS (Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Marvin Williams, Kirk Hinrich, Zaza Pachulia, Jeff Teague) - The Hawks would like to bring back the high-scoring Jamal Crawford but he reportedly has eyes for the Big Apple again, although that hardly seems like a natural fit. Miami is a much more likely contender for Crawford's services, especially if the veteran wants to make a run at a championship. Meanwhile, Hinrich reportedly had shoulder surgery recently and could miss the beginning of the season but should be ready by early January. On the draft front, second round pick Keith Benson could help fill out the back end of the roster along with a few minimum salary deals.
BOSTON CELTICS (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Jermaine O'Neal, Avery Bradley) - The C's quickly made headlines by reportedly putting All-Star Rondo on the market in an effort to lure Chris Paul to Beantown, something that's unlikely to happen since CP3 has New York on his mind. With no cap space, Boston will have to get creative. The organization likely will not bring Glen 'Big Baby' Davis back and must make a decision on restricted free agent Jeff Green. An affordable banger like Houston's Chuck Hayes could be in the Celtics' future.
CHARLOTTE BOBCATS (Corey Maggette, Boris Diaw, Tyrus Thomas, DeSagana Diop, Matt Carroll, D.J. Augustin, Eduardo Najera, Gerald Henderson, D.J. White) - The Bobcats have a pair of first round picks, top 10 reach Bismack Biyombo and UConn superstar Kemba Walker, and they need to make a decision on restricted free agent Dante Cunningham. Since big men Kwame Brown and Joel Przybilla figure to move on, Michael Jordan needs to find some bulk with the mid-level exception. Biyombo, meanwhile, is in the middle of litigation against Fuenlabrada, the Spanish team he played for last season, for breach of contract. Joel Bell, his agent, said a civil trial is scheduled for Dec. 19 in Spain and if Biyombo wins, he could sign with the Bobcats now. If not, he won't be available until the 2012-13 campaign.
CHICAGO BULLS (Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson, Omer Asik, Keith Bogans, Taj Gibson) - The Bulls' nucleus is talented and set after they ink first round pick Jimmy Butler. Re-signing tough-minded veteran Kurt Thomas could go a long way in maintaining chemistry. The Bulls also have been sniffing around free-agent forward Caron Butler and could make a move for the sharp-shooting restricted free agent Marco Belinelli.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (Antawn Jamison, Baron Davis, Anderson Varejao, Boobie Gibson, Ramon Sessions, Ryan Hollins, Omri Casspi, Joey Graham, Christian Eyenga, Alonzo Gee, Semih Erden, Luke Harangody) - Cleveland has a ton of guaranteed deals for a rebuilding club that has two big name draft picks to sign, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. The Cavs could also be a candidate to use the amnesty provision, possibly on Davis or Jamison, and would also like to bring veteran Anthony Parker back for his leadership and defense.
DALLAS MAVERICKS (Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood, Corey Brewer, Rudy Fernandez, Roddy Beaubois, Ian Mahinmi) - The world champs need to bring back their defensive leader in the paint, Tyson Chandler, and make decisions on unrestricted free agents Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Jose Barea. Mark Cuban loves spending but the Mavs have no cap room so the mid-level exception and minimum deals will have to be utilized with the ability to go deep in the playoffs as the selling points.
Chandler doesn't believe Dallas has what it takes to bring him back. "I really think I'm going to be on a new team come training camp," Chandler told ESPN.com in a telephone interview earlier this week. "I'm really taking a hard look at all of my options, trying to see what best suits me."
DENVER NUGGETS (Andre Miller, Al Harrington, Chris Andersen, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, Kosta Koufos, Ty Lawson) - Things figure to look a lot different in the Rockies this season. The team would like to re-sign unrestricted free agent center Nene along with restricted free agents Arron Afflalo and Gary Forbes but Wilson Chandler, J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin all signed contracts in China during the lockout without any opt-out clauses. First round draft picks Kenneth Faried and Jordan Hamilton should help but re- signing Nene could be tough. New Jersey is masking the biggest push for the Brazilian star with Indiana and Houston also in the mix.
DETROIT PISTONS (Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell, Will Bynum, Greg Monroe, Ben Wallace, Austin Daye, Terrico White) - The Pistons aren't going to be big players in free agency. After signing rookie Brandon Knight the team would like to re-sign its own restricted free agents Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (David Lee, Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins, Charlie Bell, Dorell Wright, Ekpe Udoh, Stephen Curry, Louis Amundson) - A lot of moving parts here. The Warriors may amnesty Biedrins and could part with Monta Ellis in the right deal. Even Curry could be on the move in a three-way deal if New Orleans agrees to swap Chris Paul. The smaller dominos figure to be the signing of rookie Klay Thompson and bringing back restricted free agent Reggie Williams.
HOUSTON ROCKETS (Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry, Hasheem Thabeet, Jonny Flynn, Jordan Hill, Terrence Williams, Courtney Lee, Goran Dragic, Patrick Patterson, Chase Budinger) - The Rockets don't have much cap space so don't expect anything earth shattering. Rookie Marcus Morris will be around but the team's other first round pick, Lithuanian big man Donatas Motiejunas, is not expected to play in the NBA this season. The Rockets would also love to find the heir-apparent to Yao Ming but that seems like pie-in-the-sky stuff at this point.
INDIANA PACERS (Danny Granger, James Posey, Brandon Rush, Dahntay Jones, Roy Hibbert, Paul George, Tyler Hansbrough, Darren Collison, George Hill, Lance Stephenson) - The Pacers want some more bulk up front to help Hibbert and could be in play for a power forward like David West with Chuck Hayes as a possible fallback option.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (Chris Kaman, Mo Williams, Blake Griffin, Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Bledsoe, Brian Cook) - The Clips first order of business will be locking up restricted free agent big man DeAndre Jordan to keep their improving young nucleus intact. LA would then like to add a proven small forward to the mix with Dallas free agent Caron Butler the starting point.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS (Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Metta World Peace, Luke Walton, Steve Blake, Derek Fisher, Matt Barnes) - The most pressing issue in Hollywood is at the point guard position where the aging Derek Fisher and overmatched Steve Blake are Mike Brown's options opposite Kobe Bryant. The Lakers simply don't have the cap space to be a player in free agency even if they use amnesty to get rid of the former Ron Artest, now known as Metta World Peace, or Luke Walton. An interesting signing, however, could be former All-Star sharpshooter Michael Redd. Redd, who has had two major knee surgeries in recent years, is drawing interest from a lot of contenders.
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Tony Allen, Xavier Henry, Darrell Arthur, Greivis Vasquez, Sam Young) - Memphis' first and last order of business will be to keep its core intact by re-signing restricted free agent center Marc Gasol. Arguably the best free agent available, it's hard to imagine Beale Street without Gasol in 2011-12. The Grizz can match any offer and owner Michael Heisley has made it abundantly clear he will. The only fly in that ointment is Gasol's mindset. Conventional wisdom says he would like to play in a major market, opening up the theory that a large market team could enter the conversation at some point, especially if Gasol forces things with a sour attitude.
MIAMI HEAT (Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, Eddie House) - For all the criticism that the Dream Team endured last season the final tally showed that this club came up two games short of an NBA title in its first year playing together. And you could make a strong argument that if James didn't spend the fourth quarter of most Finals' games on a milk carton that the Larry O'Brien trophy would have already taken up residency in South Beach.
Much like last year Pat Riley will have to surround James, Wade and Bosh by convincing veterans to take less for a chance to play for a championship. First round pick Norris Cole will be a new face and the team could re-sign Mario Chalmers while Miller is likely going to be a victim of the amnesty clause. One candidate to come in could be center Samuel Dalembert. A natural shot-blocker, Dalembert offers the kind of weak-side defense that would be pretty imposing on the same floor as James and Wade and has already gushed about possibly playing in South Beach. "That would be fantastic," Dalembert told FOXSports Florida about the possibility of joining the Heat.
MILWAUKEE BUCKS (Andrew Bogut, Stephen Jackson, Beno Udrih, Drew Gooden, Carlos Delfino, Shaun Livingston, Ersan Ilyasova, Brandon Jennings, Keyon Dooling, Larry Sanders, Jon Brockman) - The Bucks don't have a lot of roster spots available especially with first round pick Tobias Harris arriving and the possible re-signing of defensive stalwart Luc Mbah a Moute. But, the team would like a backup center to take some wear-and-tear off Bogut with veteran Joel Przybilla, an unrestricted free agent who split last season with the Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Bobcats, a possibility.
MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (Michael Beasley, Martell Webster, Darko Milicic, Brad Miller, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Wes Johnson, Luke Ridnour, Ricky Rubio, Anthony Randolph, Anthony Tolliver, Wayne Ellington, Lazar Hayward) - Perhaps the best pure prospect in the 2011 draft, Derrick Williams, and Spanish wunderkind Ricky Rubio join Love in the Twin Cities this season. Expect little on the free agent front, the Wolves are already stockpiled with guaranteed deals.
NEW JERSEY NETS (Deron Williams, Travis Outlaw, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Brook Lopez and Damion James) - The key here is Williams. The Nets have to convince the All-Star point guard that there is a reason to stick around as the club gets ready for its new home in Brooklyn come 2012-13. However, D-Will's agent Jeff Schwartz already confirmed to the Bergen, NJ Record that the former Jazz stalwart will test the market next season. "Deron will not be signing the extension." Schwartz told newspaper. "Based on the new rules it doesn't make any sense for him to sign the extension. It has nothing to do with how much he likes New Jersey. Because of the rules, he's going to play the season out and opt out of his deal."
The Nets have significant salary cap space now and the ability to make a splash after signing first round pick Marshon Brooks. New Jersey made overtures about sending Lopez and a couple of first round picks to Orlando for Dwight Howard and may re-sign unrestricted free agent rebounder Kris Humphries. They are unlikely get Howard but other free agent pivots like Nene and Tyson Chandler are certainly in the mix. Also, Outlaw is expected to be jettisoned via the amnesty clause with the hopes a luring a new small forward such as Caron Butler, Tayshaun Prince or Andrei Kirilenko.
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS (Chris Paul, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Jarrett Jack, Quincy Pondexter and David Andersen) - Paul, who is set to become a free agent after next season, has already informed team officials that he will not sign a contract extension with the Hornets and wants to be traded to the New York Knicks. About the only thing the Knicks can do right now in a trade for CP3 is offer cap relief in the form of taking back Okafor. That means a third team would have to get involved with Golden State and Stephen Curry being speculated about. The Hornets also have a number of other significant questions. Should they bring back unrestricted free agent David West, a player that is coming off a significant knee injury? Carl Landry, Willie Green and Marco Belinelli (restricted) are other contributors on the market.
NEW YORK KNICKS (Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Chauncey Billups, Ronny Turiaf, Renaldo Balkman, Toney Douglas, Bill Walker, Andy Rautins and Landry Fields) - The Knicks simply don't have what it takes to land Chris Paul right now unless they get a third team involved (Golden State - Stephen Curry?). That said, they can simply wait until the offseason and sign Paul, who is making it very clear he wants to play in the Empire State. As for this season the Knicks are already over the cap leaving little room to do much besides signing rookie Iman Shumpert and finishing things by using the mid-level exception and some minimum deals.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (Kevin Durant, Kendrick Perkins, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Nazr Mohammed, Thabo Sefolosha, Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich, Eric Maynor, Byron Mullens, Serge Ibaka) - Perhaps the most talented young team in basketball, the Thunder won't be making any major moves since their roster is essentially set. Rookie Reggie Jackson takes the place of Nate Robinson, who is going to be bought out.
ORLANDO MAGIC (Gilbert Arenas, Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Brandon Bass, Chris Duhon, Quentin Richardson, Ryan Anderson and Daniel Orton) - It's looking more and more like a forgone conclusion that Dwight Howard will not be calling Central Florida home after the 2011-12 season with Los Angeles and New York the likely landing points for the superstar once he becomes a free agent. So, if you're Orlando do you make a deal now and bring in an Andrew Bynum or wait? The Magic are already way over the cap even if they waive goodbye to Gilbert Arenas via amnesty so the trade market is an alternative to remake things.
Orlando would like Jason Richardson back but also would like his $14.4 million 2010-2011 salary to disappear. The three-point threat still has plenty of gas left in the tank and should be able to get a big number from someone with plenty of space or go the mid-level route with a true contender.
PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala, Andres Nocioni, Lou Williams, Evan Turner, Marreese Speights, Jrue Holiday, Craig Brackins, Jodie Meeks) - The Sixers don't have a lot of salary cap space and will have even less after signing top draft pick Nikola Vucevic and bringing back restricted free agents Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes, which is the plan. Young, however, could get a big offer elsewhere meaning the trade market could be the only way for Philadelphia to improve. Players like Thad, Iguodala and Williams could be available and team president Rod Thorn is certainly not adverse to shaking things up.
PHOENIX SUNS (Steve Nash, Marcin Gortat, Josh Childress, Channing Frye, Mickael Pietrus, Jared Dudley, Hakim Warrick, Robin Lopez) - Vince Carter has a partial guarantee of $4 million and will likely be waived, while the team must sign first round pick Markieff Morris and either find a backup point guard to replace free agent Aaron Brooks or figure out a way to get him back from China. For what it's worth Nash also wants his good friend Grant Hill back. "I think he's very important to the team and the community," the former two-time MVP recently said. "I'm not sure where it stands right now, but I believe the organization recognizes his value to the team and the club, and it's a big issue for me."
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby, Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton, Wes Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Luke Babbitt, Elliot Williams, Armon Johnson) - The big storyline in Rip City concerns Roy, the former superstar that has been reduced to role player thanks to his balky knees. The Blazers are weighing whether to use the new amnesty clause on Roy, something team president Larry Miller has said boils down to two things -- whether he would be a good teammate with a greatly reduced role and whether jettisoning him would be a public-relations disaster in the Pacific Northwest.
"If Brandon were to accept mentally that 'I'm not that guy anymore, but I will do whatever I can to help the team,' it would make it easier to keep him around," Miller told The Oregonian. "We know every-so-often he is going to give us that game, and be the Brandon Roy of old, but mentally accepting where his game is, that's the bigger challenge for him. I don't know if he is there, or if he can get there."
Portland will also need to make a decision on oft-injured center Greg Oden, a restricted free agent. Meanwhile, Patty Mills signed with a Chinese team and doesn't have an opt-out clause but first rounder Nolan Smith will be around.
SACRAMENTO KINGS (John Salmons, Francisco Garcia, Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, J.J. Hickson, Donte Greene, Hassan Whiteside) - The Kings have some cap space and first round pick Jimmer Fredette coming in. They will likely let center Samuel Dalembert walk but could try to convince scorer Marcus Thornton to return. Luring a significant veteran, however, could be a problem, especially with the franchise's long-term future in Sacramento still in doubt.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Richard Jefferson, Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner, James Anderson) - A 66-game condensed schedule figures to hurt the seemingly always aging Spurs. The team will have two first round picks in Kawhi Leonard and Cory Joseph and has partial guarantees on the table for DeJuan Blair and Antonio McDyess. Jefferson is a candidate for the amnesty clause.
TORONTO RAPTORS (Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani, Leandro Barbosa, Amir Johnson, Linas Kleiza, Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis, James Johnson Solomon Alabi) - Intent on getting tougher in the middle, Toronto wants to get involved in what figures to be a competitive market for players like Nene, Tyson Chandler and restricted free agent Marc Gasol. Someday Jonas Valanciunas may end up as the best player from the 2011 draft but will remain in Europe for now.
UTAH JAZZ (Al Jefferson, Mehmet Okur, Devin Harris, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, C.J. Miles, Raja Bell, Gordon Hayward) - Changes are in store in Salt Lake City. Free agent Andrei Kirilenko likely will not be back and the team has put both Jefferson and Millsap on the trading block with the intent of handing the power forward position over to Favors. Rookie Center Enes Kanter should be the real deal and fellow freshman Alec Burks brings athleticism to the table.
WASHINGTON WIZARDS (Rashard Lewis, Andray Blatche, John Wall, JaVale McGee, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker and Jordan Crawford) - Tony Dutt, the agent for the grossly overpaid Lewis, has said the Wizards will not be using the amnesty clause on his client. Lewis counts $21.1 million against the cap this season and $22.6 next year so the Wiz are likely waiting a year. First rounders Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton will join Wall in the nation's capital this season while the team hopes to bring back restricted free agent Nick Young, leaving plenty of space to snare some veteran leadership.