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Team Needs: Southeast Division

Tue, 06/16/2009 - 8:09pm
Southeast Division – 2009/10 Outlook

The Southeast Division had the East's representative in the finals albeit a short finals with the Magic. With Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade, this division consists of two of the top 5 players in the game. The Southeast also consists of two of the league's struggling franchises with Charlotte and Washington. Granted the Wizards have the talent to turn things around quickly depending on the health of Agent 0.

Orlando Magic

2008-2009 Record (59-23, 3rd in Eastern Conference)

Returning Payroll - $60.9 mil

Guaranteed Contracts: SF/PF Rashard Lewis ($18.0 mil), C Dwight Howard ($14.4 mil), PG Jameer Nelson ($7.6 mil), C Tony Battie ($6.3 mil), SG/SF Mickael Pietrus ($5.3 mil), PG Rafer Alston ($5.3 mil), SG JJ Redick ($2.8 mil), SG Courtney Lee ($1.3 mil)

Restricted Free Agents: C Marcin Gortat

Player Options or Early Termination Options: SF Hedo Turkoglu ($7.4 mil)

Expiring Contracts: PG Tyronn Lue ($2.5 mil)

Team Needs: Power Forward, frontcourt depth

Draft Picks: None

Analysis:

The Eastern Conference champs have one of the deepest teams in the league. Next year, they will be returning almost all their core guys. But, their best playmaker, Hedo Turkoglu, will be opting out of his contract and looking for a long-term extension. Although the Magic proved in the playoffs that any of their guys can hurt you at any given time, they need Turkoglu. The offense runs through him. Dwight Howard is their best player and their future, but for how dominant he is, his offensive game is still very much of a work-in-progress. Rashard Lewis will give you 17-20 points a game, but he has to play off of his teammates. Turkoglu is the only Magic player who they run isolation plays for and especially the only player who is effective running pick n’ rolls. Signing Turkoglu, who is 30 years old, will be the number one priority for the Magic in the offseason. But, other teams will be looking to sign Turkoglu after his playoff performance this year.

In order to sign Turkoglu, the Magic will have to either move another player or two to try and create some cap space, or head into luxury tax territory, something that general manager Otis Smith has said they do not plan on doing. Assuming that the Magic create the space to re-sign Turkoglu, the other coveted free agent center Marcin Gortat is probably all but gone from Orlando. The backup center has made a name for himself during the playoffs. Most notably, an 11 point, 15 rebound game vs. Philadelphia in the 1st round when Dwight Howard was out on suspension. Considering his age (25) and size (7-0, 245 lbs), Gortat should see plenty of offers in the summer that the Magic likely will not be able to match.

The draft will not be helpful for the Orlando Magic. They traded for Rafer Alston in February for their 1st round pick in this June’s draft. Alston has filled in nicely for the injured All-Star Jameer Nelson, and he is signed through next season at $5.25 million.

Five rotation players for the Orlando Magic are under the age of 27. They will be in the mix of things in the Eastern Conference for the next few years as long as Dwight Howard is healthy. But, if they want to get back to the finals and compete for a title next year, then Hedo Turkoglu will have to be resigned this summer.

Atlanta Hawks

2008-2009 Record (47-35, 4th in Eastern Conference)

Returning Payroll - $40.0 mil

Guaranteed Contracts: SG Joe Johnson ($14.9 mil), Josh Smith SF/PF ($10.8 mil), PG Speedy Claxton ($5.2 mil), C Al Horford ($4.3 mil), SG Maurice Evans ($2.5 mil), PG Acie Law IV ($2.2 mil)

Restricted Free Agents: SF Marvin Williams ($7.4 mil)

Player Options or Early Termination Options: None

Expiring Contracts: PG Mike Bibby ($14.9 mil), C Zaza Pachulia ($4.0), G Ronald Murray ($1.5 mil)

Team needs: PG?, C, outside shooting

Draft Picks: 19th pick (1st round), 49th (2nd round)

Analysis:

It has been 11 years since the Hawks won as many games as this season. The success was expected because of their strong finish in the previous season when they took the eventual champion Boston Celtics to 7 games (further than anyone) in the 1st round of the playoffs. That series got fans in Atlanta excited again and the Hawks didn’t let them down with a 47-win campaign and an appearance in the 2nd round of the Eastern Conference playoffs this year, where they were finished off quite easily by the top ranked Cleveland Cavaliers.

There is a common denominator with last season’s run to make the playoffs, the 1st round battle with the Celtics, and this year’s successful season: and it’s Mike Bibby. Since Bibby was traded for during mid-season last year, the Hawks have taken their game to another level with back-to-back playoff appearances for a franchise that hadn’t been there since 1999. Now, the Hawks have to decide just how much Bibby is worth to their franchise because he is an unrestricted free agent. Bibby has expressed that he would love to stay in Atlanta and coach Mike Woodson has stated that he would love to have him back.

The other dilemma that the Hawks face is in restricted free agent Marvin Williams. He started in 59 out of the 61 games that he played last year, averaging 13.9 ppg and 6.3 rpg. Williams is still only 22 years old after completing his 4th season in the NBA. Williams played sparingly during the playoffs because of a wrist injury.
Re-signing both Bibby and Williams may be tough for the Hawks this summer. They may have to decide between Bibby’s leadership and Williams’ potential. Bibby has proven his worth in Atlanta and will not cost the Hawks as much as signing the younger Williams. Williams has proven only that he wasn’t worth the #2 overall pick in 2005. The Hawks will be better served signing Bibby to a reasonable 3 year contract and drafting a wing player with the 19th pick for insurance in case Williams gets a large contract offer from an outside team like expected. The Hawks already have at least 20 million coming off the books for the big 2010 free agent class, and if they let Williams go elsewhere then they could be even bigger players in the summer of 2010.

The Hawks didn’t have any draft picks last year to help bolster their roster. This year, with the 19th pick they could get a quality guy to replace Williams’ role. Wake Forest’s James Johnson would be a steal at 19. North Carolina’s Wayne Ellington should be able to come in right away and score points. Louisville’s Terrence Williams or Xavier’s Derrick Brown could also be good fits.

This summer will be busy for the Hawks front office as center Zaza Pachulia and guard Ronald Murray are both unrestricted free agents. Both were also part of the rotation during the playoffs. Pachulia was the first and only big-man to come off the bench. He shouldn’t command many offers from other NBA teams because he is limited in what he can do. He is a good fit in Atlanta and he will most likely be back for about the same money ($4.0 mil). Murray could be another story. He showed in the playoffs that he can still fill it up off the bench with the best of them, as he did in game 5 of the 1st round vs. the Miami Heat when he scored 23 points. At age 29 and never signing a big contract or staying put with the same team for an extended period of time, Murray could be looking to do both, and more than likely somewhere other than Atlanta.

Miami Heat

2008-2009 Record (43-39, 5th in Eastern Conference)

Returning Payroll - $60.0 mil

Guaranteed Contracts: PF/C Jermaine O’Neal ($23.0 mil), G Dwayne Wade ($15.8 mil), PF Udonis Haslem ($7.1 mil), F Michael Beasley ($4.6 mil), SG/SF James Jones ($4.3 mil), SF Dorrell Wright ($2.9 mil), SG Daequan Cook ($1.4 mil), PG Mario Chalmers ($756,000)

Restricted Free Agents: None

Player Options or Early Termination Options: C Mark Blount ($7.9 mil), PG Chris Quinn ($1.1 mil)
Expiring Contracts: C Jamaal Magloire ($1.1 mil)

Team needs:
Veteran point guard

Draft Picks: 43rd (2nd round), 60th (2nd round)

Analysis:

The Miami Heat lost a tough 7 game series to the Atlanta Hawks in the 1st round. Much improved from last year’s 15-win campaign. Dwayne Wade played in 79 games this season compared to his 51 games in 2007-2008. Wade’s health was the biggest reason for the boost in wins, but it wasn’t the only difference. Rookies were key for the Heat this season. Michael Beasley was drafted 2nd overall and helped out offensively (13.9 ppg), especially down the stretch of the season (20.6 ppg in the month of March). Mario Chalmers proved to be a steal with the 32nd pick, starting 81 of 82 games, averaging 10.0 ppg and 4.9 apg.

During this summer, the Heat won’t be big players, because everything is geared for the summer of 2010. Extending Dwayne Wade before next summer will be crucial. It will do two things: the obvious benefit is that they are locking up one of the best players in the NBA which alone should keep them competitive. Second, it will make the Heat much more attractive for the high-profile players to sign with the Heat next summer. With Jermaine O’Neal’s contract coming off the books at the end of next season, the Heat will have cap space regardless if Wade is already signed or not. O’Neal had the 3rd highest salary in the NBA this season ($21.6 mil) and it goes up next year ($23.0 mil).

Last year the draft was vital for the Heat, and they cashed in big-time with Beasley and Chalmers. This year is a different story, they don’t draft until the 43rd pick, so anything out of the draft will be a bonus for next year. However, they do have some patchwork to do to the roster that will help them stay competitive. Jamario Moon came over in the trade when they dealt Shawn Marion to the Toronto Raptors for Jermaine O’Neal. Moon started 21 games for the Heat before his season was slowed by a groin injury. Resigning Moon gives the Heat a defensive minded player that they would lack if he signed with another club.

Chalmers did a great job at the point for the Heat, but starting the whole season wil be a huge task for a 2nd rounder. The Heat could desperately use a veteran point guard to help Chalmers with point guard duties for next year. Free Agent Stephon Marbury has a lot of baggage, but could see Miami as a good fit, and the Heat could use him and his experience.

The Heat are not going to be contenders next year because O’Neal is old and broken down and Beasley won’t be ready to help Wade out consistently. But, if the Heat can extend Wade before the summer of 2010 and Beasley continues to grow into a legit scorer, the stars will be aligned to sign a big-time free agent after O’Neal’s contract expires and make Dwayne Wade and the Heat once again contenders for the NBA title.


Charlotte Bobcats

2008-2009 Record (35-47, 10th in Eastern Conference)

Returning Payroll - $57.0 mil

Guaranteed Contracts: C Emeka Okafor ($10.5 mil), SF Gerald Wallace ($9.5 mil), F Boris Diaw ($9.0 mil), C Nazr Mohammed ($6.5 mil), SF Vladimir Radmanovic ($6.5 mil), C DeSagana Diop ($6.0 mil), SG Raja Bell ($5.3 mil), PG DJ Augustin ($2.4 mil), C Alexis Ajinca ($1.4 mil)

Restricted Free Agents: PG Raymond Felton ($5.5 mil), PF Sean May ($3.7 mil)

Player Options or Early Termination Options:


Expiring Contracts: C Juwan Howard ($1.1 mil)

Team needs: SG, PF

Draft Picks: 12th pick (1st round), 40th pick (2nd round), 54th (2nd round)

Analysis:

The Bobcats won 35 games this season and missed the playoffs by 4 games. The core of guys that they played with this year will have to improve in the future or the roster will have to be blown up because most of the contracts are long-term. Despite never making the playoffs before, the Bobcats are actually built to win now.

The Bobcats really only have two decisions to make this summer. They have to bring back point guard Raymond Felton who is a restricted free agent. He logged the bulk of the minutes (37.6) at the point last year and was one of the more productive players on the team (14.2 ppg, 6.7 apg). Bringing Felton back is most likely going to happen, but if Felton has another team that is a big fan, then coach Larry Brown won’t hesitate to give point guard duties to DJ Augustin, who was the 9th pick in the draft last year.

The other decision is to resign Sean May who is also a restricted free agent. Taken in the lottery, May has been a disappointment thus far in his career. He is out of shape and always getting injured. Looking at Charlotte’s current situation of big-men, it’s obvious that they have a full stable. Okafor is locked in for long-term. Diaw will eat up some minutes at power forward. Then Mohammed, Diop, and Ajinca (last year’s other 1st round pick at 20) will all be fighting for minutes. There isn’t much room for May, and this is why all indications point towards the Bobcats letting him walk into free agency.

The 12th pick could be used to find a big-sized two-guard. After Raja Bell, the Bobcats do not have much at shooting guard. Last year, Augustin played in the backcourt with Felton, but they were extremely small. USC’s Demar DeRozan or Duke’s Gerald Henderson both would be good fits. They would give the Bobcats much needed size at the two spot and another scoring option.

The Bobcats future plans are for next season. They are a team that is expected to win now and with a full season of the veterans they have, along with hall of famer coach Larry Brown, expect next season to be the first playoff appearance in franchise history.

Washington Wizards


2008-2009 Record (19-63, 15th in Eastern Conference)

Returning Payroll - $68.8 mil

Guaranteed Contracts: G Gilbert Arenas ($16.2 mil), F Antawn Jamison ($11.6 mil), SF Caron Butler ($10.0 mil), PG Mike James ($6.5 mil), C Brendan Haywood ($6.0 mil), PF Darius Songaila ($4.5 mil), SG/SF DeShawn Stevenson ($3.9 mil), C/PF Andray Blatche ($3.0 mil), SG Nick Young ($1.7 mil), C Oleksiy Pecherov ($1.5 mil), C JaVale McGee ($1.5 mil), G Javaris Crittenton ($1.5 mil)

Restricted Free Agents: None

Player Options or Early Termination Options: PF/C Etan Thomas ($7.4 mil)

Expiring Contracts: G Juan Dixon ($998,398)

Team needs:
PF, low-block scorer

Draft Picks: 5th pick (1st round), 32nd pick (2nd round)

Analysis:

This year was a lost season for the Washington Wizards. Franchise player Gilbert Arenas was injured all year and only played 2 games. As a result, the Wizards won only 19 games and finished last in the Eastern Conference. The last place finish was a surprise for a team that had made the playoffs the previous four seasons.

Next year, barring injuries, the Wizards will be expected to be right back in the thick of things. The big 3 (Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison) have proven they can get them to the playoffs without much help. And because of the fallen season, they have the 5th pick to add to their veteran core. The Wizards will most likely use their pick on a big-man, most plausible pick is Arizona’s Jordan Hill. Hill, along with last year’s first round pick JaVale McGee would give the Wizards young and energetic big-men to go along with their great perimeter players. But Washington apparently may go in another direction.

Rumors have swirled lately about the Wizards trading the 5th pick to add a veteran. The Dallas Mavericks have shown interest and are possibly offering up Jason Terry or Josh Howard, which would give the Wizards insurance in case Arenas has a knee injury again. At this point, Arenas re-injuring the knee again has to be a serious concern for the Wizards.

The Ace in the hole for the Wizards next season may be the expiring contracts of both Etan Thomas and Mike James. Neither player will be a big factor in any success that Washington has next year, but they will still be desirable commodities for teams out of the playoff race and looking to dump salaries for the 2010 summer. The Wizards should be competitive with their current roster, adding a veteran before the trade deadline next year could make the Wizards competitive in the East.

DeLaQuest
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Joined: 06/05/2009
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Good job with Charlotte

Brian, that was a good analysis of the Bobcats, in my humble opinion. Thanks from a fan in Charlotte. We'd do well to replace Sean May with a PF draft pick if we don't go the SG route.

Portugoose
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Joined: 06/19/2009
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Fran Vasquez

The Magic probably could've used him during the Finals. When does his contract with Barcelona expire?

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