Ideal Free Agency Targets: The Central Division

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david griffin

 

Cleveland Cavaliers: None

Cleveland, fresh off their first title in franchise history, find themselves in a predicament this offseason. LeBron James has already decided to opt out of his 1 year player option, and though it seems he is definitely going to resign, his new deal won’t come with a pay cut. Rather, James will surely get the max in another one year deal with another player option. On top of retaining James, the Cavs will need to bring back J.R. Smith. Smith’s current deal totals 5 million dollars per year. With the boost in the salary cap and the recent trend of players being wildly overpaid, J.R. will be looking to get his fair share. Once Cleveland makes certain that the framework of its championship team stays put, they’ll be left with nothing to spend on a decent role player for the upcoming year. The Cleveland brass will also need to consider bringing back fan favorite and backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova. Without taking the new deals of James, Smith, or Delly’s into account, the Cavaliers payroll sits at $105,922,813. In other words, any big name player who will be of any worth to the success of the team will be out of the price range for the NBA Champs. That said, the Cavs don’t necessarily need to make any radical adjustments to their current roster. Sure, they would love to go out and get another bench scorer; perhaps an athletic big man, but they simply can’t afford to do so. If Cleveland retains the same core pieces of their current squad, there’s no reason they won’t be able to run the East for a third consecutive season.

 

Rick Madonik, Toronto Star
Rick Madonik, Toronto Star

Indiana Pacers: Bismack Biyombo, Replacement Center

Starting center Ian Mahinmi comes off the books for the Pacers this summer. Instead of resigning the 29 year old big, Indiana should look to bring some youth into their frontcourt. The perfect replacement for Mahinmi is Toronto’s Bismack Biyombo. After generating some buzz with an impressive playoff performance, Biyombo has gotten attention as one of the more sought after centers in the association this summer. His non-scoring numbers were superb this season (8.0 RPG, 1.6 BPG) in only 22 minutes of play behind Jonas Valanciunas. As the Pacers organization looks to get back to the same level of competitiveness they enjoyed in 2010-2012, the 23 year old Biyombo looks like a great fit.

 

Rocky Widner/Getty Images
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

Detroit Pistons: Eric Gordon, Established Veteran Scorer

The Detroit Pistons have the young foundation to be very successful a few years down the road. Headlined by center Andre Drummond, forward Tobias Harris, and a backcourt featuring Reggie Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the 2004 NBA Champs are well on their way back to contention. To build around Drummond, Detroit should be looking to add veteran scoring to their squad. Eric Gordon, the 27 year old shooting guard from New Orleans, would add depth and scoring without a max level price tag. His 15.2 PPG and 38% shooting from downtown will add a go-to option for a team that lacks playmaking on the perimeter. Drummond is the face of the franchise for years to come, but as his offensive ability develops, Gordon’s shot creation and efficiency from long range will give Stan Van Gundy a reliable option next year.

 

 

 

per NBA.com
per NBA.com

Chicago Bulls: Mike Conley, D-Rose Replacement

The Derrick Rose trade has left the Bulls weak at point guard in a year of free agency where point guard talent is lacking. In an ideal world for the Bulls, they lure Mike Conley to join Jimmy Butler and form one of the league’s best backcourts. Conley stands as the lone elite point guard in the 2016 class. At 15 points and 6 assists per game, his major stats don’t give the full story on his game. An elite defender, Conley would bring a sense of pride and leadership to a team that is headed for the brutal rebuilding process. Though they may not be totally committed to the process, the Bulls organization gave the indication that they’re ready to start over by trading away Rose and letting Gasol/Noah walk. If the Bulls do look to make a big time splash in the free agent market, don’t be surprised if they put their name in the running to land Mike Conley.

 

Derozan stork 1
NBAE via Getty Images

Milwaukee Bucks: DeMar DeRozan, Perimeter Scoring

The Milwaukee Bucks are the youngest team in the NBA. Their roster boasts some of the league’s brightest young prospects, such as Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Michael Carter-Williams, Greg Monroe, and now, Thon Maker. One of the glaring needs for the Bucks and coach Jason Kidd is scoring on the wing. DeMar DeRozan doesn’t seem to be considering anywhere outside of LA or Toronto, but if the Bucks can make a run at him, they should. DeRozan would bring a 20+ PPG scoring reputation to a team that needs to be better at attacking from the outside. While their roster has no shortage of length and height, they need to develop more of threat on the wings. If not, teams will be able to focus on locking down the paint and making life miserable for the Bucks young frontcourt. DeRozan, though ideal, seems unlikely. As a backup option the Bucks could consider Arron Afflalo, Chandler Parsons, or Eric Gordon. Overall, the Bucks know what they need, and in a question of ideal targets, DeRozan takes the cake.

 

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