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A Perfect Fit (06/21)

June 21, 2011
Team Needs
East Playoffs

by Dan Feldman

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Atlanta Hawks

Statistical weakness: Offensive rebounding and creating turnovers (29th)
Weakest positions: PG, SF

The Hawks have a pretty balanced team with no glaring weaknesses. Marvin Williams isn't the best small forward, but Josh Smith and Joe Johnson can also play that position. Kirk Hinrich, although solid, was never a star, but Jeff Teague played well in the playoffs and could be ready for a larger role.

Atlanta might be willing to shed Smith and his large contract, but without an immediate replacement in the starting lineup for him, the Hawks should probably keep him. He's an excellent defender and, with an improved understanding of his limitations, a solid offensive player.

To lower their payroll, the Hawks probably won't re-sign free agent Jamal Crawford or use the full mid-level exception (if it exists). They'll likely comb the bottom-rung of free agency for a new backup shooting guard.

I just don't see a lot of changes this offseason for Atlanta, which doesn't have a first-round pick.

Boston Celtics

Statistical weakness: Offensive rebounding (30th)
Weakest position: C

The Celtics likely have one year left to contend. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Jermaine O'Neal are each entering the final year of their contracts. Next summer (or perhaps, if the wheels fall off, at the trade deadline), Boston can decide between rebuilding around Rajon Rondo and keeping its aging core intact. For now, the Celtics should attempt to slide through their closing window of contention.

After trading Kendrick Perkins, the Celtics need a center who can make an immediate impact. With the 25th pick, they have a slim chance of drafting that player. Maybe Jeremy Tyler, Jordan Williams or Keith Benson could fill that role. In free agency, Boston could hope its contender status earns a discount on Yao Ming or Samuel Dalembert. Signing Joel Przybilla or Greg Oden and hoping one of them gets healthy could be intriguing, too.

The Celtics' offensive rebounding wasn't a huge problem, because they usually focus on getting back on defense rather than crashing the offensive glass. But they ranked 27th in turnover percentage, a key reason they posted their worst Offensive Rating in the Garnett-Pierce-Allen era. Boston will have to address that.

Rondo turned the ball over on a career-worst 24.3 percent of his plays, and a regression to the mean is likely. But, as insurance, Boston should add a more reliable backup point guard than Carlos Arroyo or Delonte West. Believe it or not, Tracy McGrady, whom the Pistons converted to point guard last season, would be a perfect fit. Veterans Mike Bibby and Antonio Daniels could also work, as could drafting Darius Morris, Reggie Jackson or Norris Cole.

Chicago Bulls

Statistical weakness: Avoiding turnovers (18th)
Weakest position: SG

The Bulls have one glaring weakness: shooting guard. Jamal Crawford, J.R. Smith and Jason Richardson are free agents worth pursuing with the mid-level exception. Personally, I'd make a run at Michael Redd, whose outside shooting would fit perfectly in Chicago's offense and whose defensive issues would be minimized in front of the Bulls' stingy front line.

Chicago, which has two first-round picks, could even draft two shooting guards, too. Marshon Brooks, Iman Shumpert, Tyler Honeycutt, Travis Leslie, Charles Jenkins, Nolan Smith and Shelvin Mack all make sense. I'd also consider drafting point guards Darius Morris or Reggie Jackson and playing Rose more at off guard.

The Bulls shouldn't rule out picking the best player available, because most teams would love to trade a shooting guard for a big. If the Bulls like someone like Justin Harper, they could trade Taj Gibson or Carlos Boozer for a shooting guard.

Indiana Pacers

Statistical weakness: Creating turnovers (25th)
Weakest position: SG

The Pacers have a decent all-around team that's capable of making the playoffs again if it returns intact, but they'd certainly like to win more than 37 games and advance past the first round. To do that, they could stand to upgrade at every position besides small forward, where Danny Granger is close to a star.

With the expiring contracts of Mike Dunleavy, T.J. Ford, Jeff Foster and Jamaal Tinsley, the Pacers could have considerable cap room to pursue big-name free agents Tyson Chandler, Nene, Jason Richardson, Jamal Crawford or Caron Butler. Indiana could also make a big offer to restricted free agents Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Rodney Stuckey, Thaddeus Young or Nick Young.

Paul George's future looks bright, but he might not be ready to start for a team capable of winning of a playoff series. For an immediate boost at shooting guard, restricted free agents Arron Afflalo, Marcus Thornton and Gary Forbes might be gettable if the Pacers strike out on the premier free agents and have money left to spend.

Miami Heat

Statistical weakness: Forcing turnovers (27th)
Weakest position: PG

The Heat is obviously set at shooting guard, small forward and power forward. Miami definitely needs a point guard, and another center wouldn't hurt, either.

Miami has the 31st pick in the draft, and a few point guards could be available, including Darius Morris, Reggie Jackson, Iman Shumpert, Josh Selby, Nolan Smith and Norris Cole. Tracy McGrady, a free agent, could also be a target.

To upgrade at center, the Heat could look at Yao Ming, Samuel Dalembert, Joel Przybilla and Greg Oden.

Basically, the Heat and Celtics might be competing for the same free agents. Maybe Miami's second-round win over Boston will count double, convincing free agents the Heat is closer to winning a title.

New York Knicks

Statistical weakness: Defensive rebounding (26th)
Weakest position: C

The Knicks have plenty of scoring punch in Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, but they need more grit. I suspect they won't go in that direction, though, instead aiming bigger. They're a big market looking for another star player. Dwight Howard should lead any conversation on that front, but I doubt they have the pieces to acquire him.

With Chauncey Billups aging, New York needs a point guard and will have a better chance of landing a star at that position. Steve Nash will be a free agent next summer, and Chris Paul can opt out, too. The Knicks should do whatever they can to be in position to land one of them.

That means they could go any direction in the draft. I'd focus on getting the best player available to use in a trade. A hard-nosed rebounder like Kenneth Faried also possesses great value, because he'd make the Knicks better in the short term. The better a team plays, the more value all its players have.

Orlando Magic

Statistical weakness: Avoiding turnovers (26th)
Weakest positions: SF, PF

The Magic, for whatever reason, surrounded Dwight Howard with overpaid, over-the-hill and under-productive Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu. It's difficult to see how this gets better for Orlando. Both players have three years left on their contracts, although Turkoglu's final season is only partially guaranteed.

Does the Magic continue adding salary to this team in the hope of convincing Howard to stay? That could leave Orlando in awful shape if he leaves as a free agent next summer.

Does the Magic trade Howard? That will almost assuredly make them significantly worse in the short term.

The next Collective Bargaining Agreement could play a huge part in that decision. If the mid-level exception, or something similar, doesn't exist, I can't see an avenue for the Magic to improve quickly.

If the Magic is willing to trade Howard, the Lakers are logical destination. Orlando would likely receive Andrew Bynum--a decent consolation for losing its best player since Shaq--in any scenario, but the Magic should also push for Los Angeles to take Arenas. A trade of Howard and Arenas for Bynum, Lamar Odom, Luke Walton and a minimum-salary player works. Otherwise, Orlando should at least dump Turkoglu, and a trade of Howard and Turkoglu for Bynum and Odom also works.

Philadelphia 76ers

Statistical weakness: Free throw attempts (26th)
Weakest position: C

The 76ers are exploring trading Andre Iguodala, who has three years and $44 million left on his contract. But if their young players--Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, Louis Williams, Spencer Hawes and Marreese Speights--develop as hoped, won't they be in the market for someone like Iguodala?

Iguodala is a bit overpaid and isn't a franchise-caliber player, but he's an excellent defender and has an emerging all-around offensive game. At 27, he should have more good years ahead. If Philadelphia's young core doesn't come together, I'd think the 76ers could get more for Iguodala when he's an expiring contract in two years. Is Chris Kaman really worth dumping Iguodala?

The 76ers need a dependable center, though. They can't count on Spencer Hawes, who had a surprisingly effective season, or Marreese Speights, who's probably more suited to play power forward.

Nikola Vucevic could be a great fit with the No. 16 pick, or maybe Philadelphia believes an undersized player like Tristan Thompson, Markieff Morris or Kenneth Faried can play center. Or, perhaps, if they're smitten by Jeremy Tyler's large frame, they could reach for him.

If Philadelphia trades Iguodala, then Chris Singleton, Jordan Hamilton or Marshon Brooks could fill the void at small forward. Unless the Iguodala trade lands a center, the 76ers could hope Jordan Williams, Keith Benson or Greg Smith falls to them in the second round.

Dan Feldman is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Dan by clicking here or click here to see Dan's other articles.

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