After finally reaching what seems to be a small respite after the torrent series of transactions that took place during the first several days of free agency and as the Dwight Howard dust finally settles, now seems as good a place as any to reflect on every team’s status as we trudge ever deeper into this not-so-offseason.
We are standing pat, Jack:
- Cleveland -
After much hubbub about trying to ship their seemingly toxic first pick in the draft for a veteran to help the team win now, the seas have calmed in Cavsland. With oodles of cap space their options are limitless on the surface, but with the chances of landing the crown jewel free agent at less than zero percent their realistic options for a big move are reduced to overpaying for a good but flawed veteran. This is the danger of having tons of cap space on a team that hasn’t won in a while, you can get seduced by the prospect of making the playoffs without fully calculating the long term damage a crippling contract to someone like Al Jefferson can bring.
The Cavilers goal now should be to remain flexible, avoid long term contracts, and scour the market for a nice deal. If nothing arises, don’t panic. The team’s core is young and set, it would be unwise to damage the years you’ve spent building it for the sake of the seventh seed and a need to burn cap space.
- Miami -
The Heat are unlikely to do anything major in this free agency period because a) they don’t need to and b) they really don’t have the capacity to do anything even if they wanted to. Ray Allen opted back in which leaves the only real decision to be whether or not to amnesty Mike Miller and how much of a pay cut Chris Anderson is willing to take to keep the band together.
Much like seasons past, the Heat will kick the tires on anyone with upside who is willing to take the minimum. The “prize” this offseason of players who fit that billing is Greg Oden, who may or may not be outside their price range. Either way, nothing major is expected to happen as Pat Riley knows you might as well keep a team together until the winning stops.
- Orlando -
Much like Charlotte, this is a team with no real incentive to do anything major. They have acquired a crop of nice young players who can be easily turned into assets in a moments notice. The 2014 draft looms over all these rebuilding teams, demanding them to keep losing games. Even if the Magic had the erroneous desire to chase free agents, they really don’t have the cap space to do so. They are hampered with Dwight’s massive trade exception and the $4 million mid level exception they have will most likely be spread thin for the sake of filling out the roster.
- Philadelphia -
They haven’t exactly stood pat but the majority of their moves have likely already been completed. In a trade that was both inspired and perhaps the most shameless example of tanking in recent memory, Philly shipped out the only player who would have kept them above water (Jrue Holiday) and received a player who would most likely not have an impact until the following year (Nerlens Noel) as well as a pick in the coveted upcoming draft.
All signs point to tankdom for the Sixers and any and all free agency moves will likely be made only to contribute to that goal.
- Oklahoma City -
The loss of Kevin Martin will most likely be the biggest news from the Thunder this offseason as both their limited cap space and the fact that they already have their backup plan all set to go makes other moves difficult. Jeremy Lamb will most likely take over the Martin role and the rest of the gaps will be filled with something around bargain basement guys. Much like Miami this team is set and unless they can somehow dump Perkins (unlikely), this will be the squad they’ll have moving forward.
- Toronto -
Masai’s wheeling and dealing began and ended with the dumping of Bargnani in New York, a trade that would have been counted a victory for the Raptors if they had done it for nothing in return, much less the assets that New York stupidly gave them. An exciting possibility opened up of a potential taker for Rudy Gay’s horrible contract but the offer was such a low ball (we’ll get to it later) that Toronto passed, although I don’t think they should have.
It may have been nice for Masai to have started with a clean slate but it just wasn’t meant to be. The roster is pretty maxed out for the next couple of years and its ceiling isn’t much higher than a lower seeded playoff team. Bryan Colangelo handcuffed the team with some pretty toxic assets but there is hope there in some of the younger players. They can’t do much barring another miraculous, Bargnani type move but unfortunately not every team is so willing to get fleeced like the Knicks are.
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