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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

LOOKING AHEAD TO THE 2014-15 NBA SEASON PART 1

        LET'S LOOK AT THE STATE OF EACH NBA TEAM HEADING INTO NEXT SEASON.  LOOK AT WHICH PLAYERS WILL BE BACK, WHO'S LEAVING, FUTURE DRAFT PICK INFO, DRAFT RIGHTS HELD PLAYERS & GIVE MY OPINION ON WHERE EACH RESPECTIVE TEAM IS AT.  SORRY FOR THE ALL CAPS, IT LOOKED BETTER BEFORE I COPIED IT OVER.
     
        PART 1 PART 2 PART 3 PART 4 PART 5

ATLANTA
RETURNING PLAYERS (8)
-          AL HORFORD (F/C, 12.00, 2 YRS-24M REMAINING)
-          PAUL MILLSAP (PF, 9.50, EXPIRING)
-          JEFF TEAGUE (PG, 8.00, 3 YRS-24M)
-          KYLE KORVER (G/F, 6.25, 3 YRS-17M)
-          LOU WILLIAMS (G, 5.45)
-          DEMARRE CARROLL (SF, 2.44)
-          DENNIS SCHOEDER (PG, 1.69, TEAM OPTS NEXT 2 YRS)
-          JOHN JENKINS (SG, 1.31, TEAM OPT NEXT YR)
NON-GUARANTEED CONTRACTS (1)
-          PERO ANTIC (F/C, 1.25)
FREE AGENTS (5)
-          GUSTAVO AYON (F/C, 1.88 QUALIFYING OFFER)
-          SHELVIN MACK (PG, 1.15 QO)
-          MIKE SCOTT (PF, 1.12 QO)
-          ELTON BRAND (PF)
-          JARED CUNNINGHAM (SG)
PROJECTED 2014 DRAFT PICKS (2)
-          1ST RD – 16TH OVERALL (FROM BROOKLYN, RIGHT TO SWAP)
-          2ND RD – 48TH OVERALL (OWN)
FUTURE DRAFT PICK ASSETS (4)
-          2015 1ST RD PICK FROM BROOKLYN (RIGHT TO SWAP)
-          2015 2ND RD PICK FROM BROOKLYN
-          2017 2ND RD PICK FROM BROOKLYN
-          2017 2ND RD PICK FROM MIAMI
FUTURE DRAFT PICK DEBITS (0)
-          NONE
POSSIBLE DRAFT RIGHTS HELD PLAYERS JOINING TEAM (2)
-          MIKE MUSCALA (F/C, 2013-44) – OBRADOIRO (SPAIN), FA IN 2014
-          LUCAS NOGUEIRA (C, 2013-16) – ESTUDIANTES (SPAIN), FA IN 2015
OTHER DRAFT RIGHTS HELD PLAYERS (4)
-          CENK AKYOL (SG, 2005-59) – GALATASARAY (TURKEY), FA IN 2014
-          ALAIN DIGBEU (SG, 1997-50) – RETIRED
-          SERGII GLADYR (G/F, 2009-49) – NANTERRE (FRANCE), FA IN 2014
-          SOFOKLIS SCHORTSANITIS (C, 2003-34) – MACCABI TEL AVIV (ISRAEL), FA IN 2016
OUTLOOK
-          ATLANTA WILL HAVE 9 PLAYERS UNDER CONTRACT FOR NEXT SEASON, INCLUDING PERO ANTIC’S NON-GUARANTEED DEAL WHICH WILL LIKELY BE PICKED UP, FOR A TOTAL OF 47.89M.  THE CURRENT PROJECTION FOR THE SALARY CAP IS 62.1M WHICH WOULD LEAVE ATLANTA WITH OVER 14M TO SPEND DURING FREE AGENCY BARRING ANY FUTURE MOVES.  RESTRICTED FREE AGENT PF MIKE SCOTT HAS PLAYED WELL AND COULD RECEIVE AN OFFER WORTH MORE THAN ATLANTA WOULD LIKE TO MATCH.  IN THAT CASE, 2013 2ND RD PICK MIKE MUSCALA COULD BE BROUGHT OVER AFTER A PRODUCTIVE YEAR IN THE SPANISH ACB WHERE HE HAS AVERAGED 14.5 PTS & 8.2 REB IN 26.6 MIN PER GAME.  SHELVIN MACK HAS ALSO PLAYED WELL AFTER BEATING OUT ROOKIE DENNIS SCHROEDER FOR BACKUP POINT DUTIES & WILL ALSO ENTER RESTRICTED FREE AGENCY ALONG WITH BIG MAN GUSTAVO AYON.  EACH COULD RETURN IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT BUT ATLANTA HAS OPTIONS IF THEY DECIDE TO LET THEM WALK.  

        ELTON BRAND & JARED CUNNINGHAM ARE ALL BUT GONE.  BRAND HAS PLAYED WELL IN HIS OWN RIGHT BUT WITH ATLANTA IN SEMI-REBUILD MODE HE LIKELY WON’T BE BACK.  CUNNINGHAM’S ROOKIE SCALE OPTION WAS DECLINED AND HE’S BEEN UNABLE TO FIND ANY PLAYING TIME THIS SEASON.  LUCAS NOGUEIRA, LAST YEAR’S OTHER 1ST RD PICK, HAS ONLY PLAYED 6 GAMES SO FAR IN SPAIN DUE TO A KNEE INJURY AND WOULD BEST BE SERVED TO PLAY OUT HIS CONTRACT FOR ONE MORE YEAR BEFORE JOINING THE TEAM BUT HE’LL ALSO BE A POSSIBILITY FOR THE HAWKS NEXT SEASON.  THE HAWKS WILL HAVE THE RIGHT TO SWAP 1ST RD PICKS WITH BROOKLYN IN THIS YEAR’S DRAFT WHICH WOULD CURRENTLY SIT AT 16TH OVERALL.  THAT ALONG WITH THEIR 2ND ROUNDER, PICKING UP ANTIC’S CONTRACT & BRINGING OVER MUSCALA WOULD PUT THEM AT 12 PLAYERS WITH OVER 10M STILL TO SPEND.  SCOTT, MACK & AYON REMAIN OPTIONS TO RETURN AND SNAG ONE OF THE 3 REMAINING SPOTS WHILE THE TEAM WOULD BE BEST SERVED TO WAIT ANOTHER YEAR ON NOGUEIRA BOTH FOR HIS DEVELOPMENT & TO PRESERVE CAP SPACE.  IT’S POSSIBLE THAT THE TEAM WILL USE THEIR SECOND ROUNDER ON ANOTHER PLAYER LIKE MUSCALA WHO CAN HEAD OVERSEAS TO DEVELOP FOR A YEAR SINCE THEY WILL LIKELY BE LIMITED WITH ROSTER SPOTS.  HORFORD, TEAGUE & KORVER ARE THE ONLY PLAYERS THAT HAVE GUARANTEED MONEY AFTER NEXT SEASON SO EXPECT TO SEE GM DANNY FERRY CONTINUE TO BUILD WITH THE FUTURE IN MIND.

BOSTON
RETURNING PLAYERS (8)
-          RAJON RONDO (PG, 12.91)
-          GERALD WALLACE (G/F, 10.11, 2 YRS-20M)
-          JEFF GREEN (F, 9.20, 9.20M PLAYER OPT IN 2015)
-          BRANDON BASS (PF, 6.90)
-          JOEL ANTHONY (C, 3.80 PLAYER OPT)
-          VITOR FAVERANI (C, 2.09, 2.18 NON-GUARANTEED IN 2015)
-          KELLY OLYNYK (F/C, 2.08, TEAM OPTS NEXT 2 YRS)
-          JARED SULLINGER (F/C, 1.42, TEAM OPT NEXT YR)
NON-GUARANTEED CONTRACTS (3)
-          KEITH BOGANS (SG, 5.29)
-          CHRIS JOHNSON (SF, 0.92)
-          PHIL PRESSEY (PG, 0.82)
FREE AGENTS (3)
-          AVERY BRADLEY (G, 3.58 QO)
-          JERRYD BAYLESS (PG)
-          KRIS HUMPHRIES (F/C)
PROJECTED 2014 DRAFT PICKS (2)
-          1ST RD – 6TH OVERALL (OWN)
-          1ST RD – 18TH OVERALL (FROM ATLANTA, LESSER OF ATL/BKN PICKS)
FUTURE DRAFT PICK ASSETS (8)
-          2014 1ST RD PICK FROM PHILADELPHIA (TOP 14 PROT THROUGH 2015 THEN 15 & 16 2NDS)
-          2015 1ST RD PICK FROM L.A. CLIPPERS
-          2015 2ND RD PICK FROM SACRAMENTO (TOP 55 PROTECTED)
-          2016 1ST RD PICK FROM BROOKLYN
-          2016 2ND RD PICK FROM MIAMI
-          2017 1ST RD PICK FROM BROOKLYN (RIGHT TO SWAP)
-          2017 2ND RD PICK FROM SACRAMENTO (TOP 55 PROTECTED)
-          2018 1ST RD PICK FROM BROOKLYN
FUTURE DRAFT PICK DEBITS (3)
-          2014 2ND RD PICK TO DALLAS
-          2016 2ND RD PICK TO MEMPHIS
-          2017 2ND RD PICK TO BROOKLYN
POSSIBLE DRAFT RIGHTS HELD PLAYERS JOINING TEAM (1)
-          COLTON IVERSON (F/C, 2013-53) – BESIKTAS (TURKEY), FA IN 2014
OTHER DRAFT RIGHTS HELD PLAYERS (0)
-          NONE
OUTLOOK
-          BOSTON WILL HAVE TWO FIRST ROUND PICKS IN THIS YEAR’S DRAFT, POTENTIALLY 3 IN THE 2015 DRAFT, 2 IN 2016 & 2 MORE IN 2018.  SUFFICE TO SAY THEY ARE LOADED TO BOTH REBUILD THROUGH THE DRAFT AND TRADE SOME OF THOSE PICKS IN PACKAGES FOR STAR PLAYERS.  THE BIG QUESTION IS WHETHER OR NOT RAJON RONDO IS THE FUTURE OF THIS TEAM OR NOT.  HE WILL BE ON AN EXPIRING DEAL NEXT SEASON AND WILL LIKELY COMMAND A MAX OR NEAR-MAX DEAL.  GM DANNY AINGE WILL HAVE TO MAKE THE TOUGH DECISION OF WHETHER OR NOT TO CASH IN ON RONDO’S RECENT PRODUCTION OR MOVE FORWARD WITH HIM AT THE HELM.  IF HE DOES TO DECIDE TO MOVE RONDO, HE WILL LIKELY FORCE THE TRADING TEAM TO TAKE BACK GERALD WALLACE’S BLOATED CONTRACT.  JEFF GREEN IS PLAYING WELL BUT NOT QUITE LIVING UP TO THE EXPECTATIONS OF HIS DEAL AND COULD BE OUT TOO IN THE FUTURE.  BRANDON BASS’ NAME HAS ALSO BEEN MENTIONED IN RUMORS AND HE LIKELY WON’T BE AROUND FOR THE LONG-TERM REBUILD THAT IS UNDERWAY.  

        THE ISSUE WITH MOVING THOSE THREE GUYS FOR FUTURE ASSETS IS THAT THE CELTICS DON’T HAVE MUCH ELSE TO WORK WITH.  THEY CLEARLY HAVE ENOUGH FUTURE PICKS ALTHOUGH IF RONDO IS MOVED I WOULD EXPECT AT LEAST ANOTHER FIRST ROUNDER TO COME IN BUT WHAT THEY REALLY NEED IS YOUNG, BUDDING STARS MORE THAN DRAFT PICKS.  JARED SULLINGER HAS PLAYED GREAT THIS YEAR & KELLY OLYNYK IS ANOTHER YOUNG BIG TO MOVE FORWARD WITH BUT NEITHER HAS SUPERSTAR POTENTIAL.  AVERY BRADLEY’S IMPENDING RESTRICTED FREE AGENCY IS ANOTHER QUESTION MARK.  BRADLEY HAS PERFORMED WELL AS THE TEAM’S STARTING SHOOTING GUARD & WILL BE DUE A HEFTY RAISE.  I THINK IT’S MORE LIKELY THAT BOSTON GOES INTO FULL REBUILDING MODE AND TRADES SOME OR ALL OF RONDO, GREEN & BASS WHILE ATTACHING WALLACE’S CONTRACT TO ONE OF THOSE DEALS BUT EXPECT YOUNG TALENT TO BUILD AROUND ALONG WITH THEIR TWO 1ST ROUNDERS IN THE DRAFT.

BROOKLYN
RETURNING PLAYERS (11)
-          JOE JOHNSON (SG, 23.18, 2 YRS-28M)
-          DERON WILLIAMS (PG, 19.75, 3 YRS-63M)
-          BROOK LOPEZ (C, 15.72, 2 YRS-23M)
-          KEVIN GARNETT (F/C, 12.00)
-          JASON TERRY (SG, 5.85)
-          MIRZA TELETOVIC (PF, 3.37)
-          ANDREI KIRILENKO (F, 3.33 PLAYER OPT)
-          REGGIE EVANS (PF, 1.77)
-          ANDRAY BLATCHE (PF, 1.48 PLAYER OPT)
-          MASON PLUMLEE (F/C, 1.36, TEAM OPTS IN NEXT 2 YRS)
-          MARQUIS TEAGUE (PG, 1.12, TEAM OPT IN NEXT YR)
-          ALAN ANDERSON (G/F, 1.06 PLAYER OPT)
NON-GUARANTEED CONTRACTS (0)
-          NONE
FREE AGENTS (2)
-          SHAUN LIVINGSTON (PG)
-          PAUL PIERCE (SF)
PROJECTED 2014 DRAFT PICKS (0)
-          NONE
FUTURE DRAFT PICK ASSETS (1)
-          2017 2ND RD PICK FROM BOSTON (TOP 45 PROT, ONLY IF BOSTON SWAPS 1ST RD PICK)
FUTURE DRAFT PICK DEBITS (10)
-          2014 1ST RD PICK TO ATLANTA (RIGHT TO SWAP)
-          2014 1ST RD PICK TO BOSTON (LESSER OF ATL/BKN)
-          2014 2ND RD PICK TO PHILADELPHIA
-          2015 1ST RD PICK TO ATLANTA (RIGHT TO SWAP)
-          2015 2ND RD PICK TO ATLANTA
-          2016 1ST RD PICK TO BOSTON
-          2016 2ND RD PICK TO L.A. CLIPPERS (RIGHT TO SWAP, 56-60 PROT)
-          2017 1ST RD PICK TO BOSTON (RIGHT TO SWAP)
-          2017 2ND RD PICK TO ATLANTA
-          2018 1ST RD PICK TO BOSTON
POSSIBLE DRAFT RIGHTS HELD PLAYERS JOINING TEAM (1)
-          BOJAN BOGDANOVIC (G/F, 2011-31) – FENERBAHCE (TURKEY), FA IN 2014
OTHER DRAFT RIGHTS HELD PLAYERS (3)
-          EDIN BAVCIC (F, 2006-56) – KAOD (GREECE), FA IN 2014
-          CHRISTIAN DREJER (F, 2004-51) – RETIRED
-          ILKAN KARAMAN (F, 2012-57) – FENERBAHCE (TURKEY), FA IN 2015
OUTLOOK
-          BROOKLYN WILL BE OVER THE CAP FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE AND OWE 6 DRAFT PICKS OUTRIGHT OVER THE NEXT 5 DRAFTS PLUS ANOTHER 3 WHERE THE OTHER TEAM HAS THE RIGHT TO SWAP THEIR OWN PICKS WITH BROOKLYN’S.  JOE JOHNSON, DERON WILLIAMS & BROOK LOPEZ PUT THE NETS RIGHT AT THE SALARY CAP ALONE  & KEVIN GARNETT’S 12M PUTS THEM WELL OVER AT NEAR THE TAX LINE SO THERE WILL BE LITTLE WIGGLE ROOM TO BRING ANYTHING OF VALUE IN.  ANDREI KIRILENKO, ANDRAY BLATCHE & ALAN ANDERSON ALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO OPT OUT AND ALL LIKELY WILL BECAUSE THEY CAN COMMAND MORE MONEY ELSEWHERE.  SHAUN LIVINGSTON & PAUL PIERCE ARE ALSO UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS.  ON TOP OF THAT, THE NETS CAN’T EVEN TRADE A 1ST ROUND PICK UNTIL THE 2020 DRAFT, YIKES.  IT’S IMPERATIVE THAT BROOKLYN BRING BACK LIVINGSTON AND HOPE THAT ANY OF THE AFOREMENTIONED 3 PLAYERS OPT IN NEXT YEAR.  OTHERWISE THIS IS GOING TO BE ONE OVERPAID, UNPRODUCTIVE UNIT.  

        JOHNSON & WILLIAMS’ CONTRACTS ARE UNTRADEABLE AND LOPEZ’S VALUE IS LOW AFTER ANOTHER INJURY PLAGUED SEASON.  BROOKLYN WILL HAVE NO DRAFT PICKS THIS YEAR BUT WILL LIKELY SEE THE 1ST PICK OF THE 2ND ROUND IN 2011 COME OVER, BOJAN BOGDANOVIC.  HE’S A HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE WING PLAYER WHO COULD PLUG INTO PIERCE’S SPOT & GIVE BROOKLYN A YOUNG PLAYER WITH A LOT OF POTENTIAL.  UNLESS THE NETS CAN MOVE LOPEZ TO A TEAM WITH CAP SPACE DURING THE OFFSEASON FOR A YOUNG GUY & SOME PICKS, THEY ARE GOING TO BE IN SALARY CAP HELL FOR THE NEXT FEW YEARS AND MIGHT SEE THEIR CHAMPIONSHIP WINDOW QUICKLY EVAPORATE ALONG WITH 1ST ROUND PICKS TURNING INTO LOTTERY SELECTIONS THEY WON’T EVEN BE ABLE TO USE.  BROOKLYN MIGHT BE A DESIRABLE DESTINATION FOR FREE AGENTS BUT YOU CAN’T SIGN ANYONE IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY TO SPEND.

CHARLOTTE
RETURNING PLAYERS (8)
-          AL JEFFERSON (F/C, 13.67, 13.83M PLAYER OPT IN 2015)
-          GERALD HENDERSON (SG, 6.00, 6.00M PLAYER OPT IN 2015)
-          MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST (SF, 5.02, TEAM OPT IN NEXT YR)
-          CODY ZELLER (F/C, 4.03, TEAM OPT IN NEXT 2 YRS)
-          BISMACK BIYOMBO (F/C, 3.87)
-          KEMBA WALKER (PG, 3.27)
-          JOSH MCROBERTS (PF, 2.77 PLAYER OPT)
-          BRENDAN HAYWOOD (C, 2.21, 10.52 NON-GUARANTEED IN 2015)
NON-GUARANTEED CONTRACTS (1)
-          JEFF TAYLOR (SF, 0.92)
FREE AGENTS (6)
-          JEFF ADRIEN (PF)
-          CHRIS DOUGLAS-ROBERTS (SF)
-          BEN GORDON (SG)
-          JANNERO PARGO (PG)
-          RAMON SESSIONS (PG)
-          ANTHONY TOLLIVER (PF)
PROJECTED 2014 DRAFT PICKS (3)
-          1ST RD – 10TH OVERALL (FROM DETROIT, TOP 8 PROTECTED)
-          1ST RD – 25TH OVERALL (FROM PORTLAND, TOP 12 PROTECTED)
-          2ND RD – 45TH OVERALL (OWN)
FUTURE DRAFT PICK ASSETS (0)
-          NONE
FUTURE DRAFT PICK DEBITS (2)
-          2014 1ST RD PICK TO CHICAGO (TOP 10 PROT, TOP 8 IN 2015, UNPROTECTED IN 2016)
-          2016 2ND RD PICK TO SAN ANTONIO (TOP 55)
POSSIBLE DRAFT RIGHTS HELD PLAYERS JOINING TEAM (0)
-          NONE
OTHER DRAFT RIGHTS HELD PLAYERS (0)
-          NONE
OUTLOOK
-          KEMBA WALKER HAS PLAYED OUTSTANDING RUNNING THE POINT FOR CHARLOTTE BUT THEIR MAIN ISSUE IS THAT NONE OF THEIR OTHER 3 TOP 10 PICKS OVER THE LAST 3 DRAFTS HAS PANNED OUT.  THERE’S SEEMINGLY STILL TIME FOR CODY ZELLER BUT MANY EXPECTED HE WOULD HAVE SEIZED THE STARTING JOB FROM JOSH MCROBERTS BY NOW AND HE HAS NOT.  MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST STILL CAN’T FIND HIS SHOT WHICH SEVERELY LIMITS HIS VALUE WHILE BISMACK BIYOMBO HASN’T BEEN ABLE TO CAPITILIZE ON HIS RAW POTENTIAL WHICH MADE HIM A HIGH LOTTERY PICK 3 YEARS AGO.  AL JEFFERSON HAS BROUGHT A 20 & 10 GAME TO TOWN BUT HIS TEAM-FRIENDLY CONTRACT ALLOWS HIM TO OPT OUT IN 2015.  GERALD HENDERSON HAS BEEN A SOLID SCORER BUT NEVER QUITE REACHED THE NEXT LEVEL LIKE MANY EXPECTED OF HIM.  MCROBERTS HAS BEEN A SPECTACULAR VALUE BUT HE’LL SURELY OPT OUT IN SEARCH OF A BIGGER PAYDAY.  

        WHAT CHARLOTTE DOES HAVE GOING FOR THEM IS 2 FIRST ROUND PICKS IN THE 2014 DRAFT (AND A LIKELY 3RD IF THEY FAIL TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS) AND AROUND 22M TO WORK WITH IN FREE AGENCY.  THE FUTURE HORNETS MUST HIT ON THEIR FIRST ROUNDERS THIS YEAR OR PACKAGE THEM FOR A STAR PLUS HOPE TO ATTRACT ANOTHER 2ND TIER PLAYER LIKE THEY DID WITH JEFFERSON THIS PAST OFFSEASON.  KEMBA’S CONTRACT EXTENSION IS ON THE HORIZON AS WELL.  WITH SOME CRAFT PICKS & MOVES CHARLOTTE COULD ACTUALLY MOVE OUT OF NO MAN’S LAND AND INTO A TEAM THAT MIGHT ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO WIN A PLAYOFF SERIES.  UNFORTUNATELY THEIR RECENT TRACK RECORD DOESN’T INDICATE IT WILL BE VERY EASY.

CHICAGO
RETURNING PLAYERS (7)
-          DERRICK ROSE (PG, 18.86, 3 YRS-60M)
-          CARLOS BOOZER (PF, 16.80)
-          JOAKIM NOAH (C, 12.20, 2 YRS-26M)
-          TAJ GIBSON (PF, 8.00, 3 YRS-25M)
-          MIKE DUNLEAVY (G/F, 3.33)
-          JIMMY BUTLER (G/F, 2.01)
-          TONY SNELL (SG, 1.47, TEAM OPTS NEXT 2 YRS)
NON-GUARANTEED CONTRACTS (1)
-          ERIK MURPHY (PF, 0.82)
FREE AGENTS (4)
-          TORNIKE SHENGELIA (SF, 1.12 QO)
-          D.J. AUGUSTIN (PG)
-          KIRK HINRICH (PG)
-          NAZR MOHAMMED (C)
PROJECTED 2014 DRAFT PICKS (3)
-          1ST RD – 15TH OVERALL (FROM CHARLOTTE)
-          1ST RD – 19TH OVERALL (OWN)
-          2ND RD – 49TH OVERALL (OWN)
FUTURE DRAFT PICK ASSETS (4)
-          2014 1ST RD PICK FROM SACRAMENTO (TOP 12, TOP 10 THROUGH 2017 THEN 2017 2ND RD PICK)
-          2015 1ST RD PICK FROM CLEVELAND (RIGHT TO SWAP, TOP 14)
-          2015 2ND RD PICK FROM PORTLAND
-          2016 2ND RD PICK FROM PORTLAND
FUTURE DRAFT PICK DEBITS (0)
-          NONE
POSSIBLE DRAFT RIGHTS HELD PLAYERS JOINING TEAM (1)
-          NIKOLA MIROTIC (F, 2011-23) – REAL MADRID (SPAIN), FA IN 2017
OTHER DRAFT RIGHTS HELD PLAYERS (1)
-          VLADIMIR VEREMEENKO (F, 2006-48) – UNICS KAZAN (RUSSIA), FA IN 2014
OUTLOOK
-          DERRICK ROSE’S SECOND CONSECUTIVE SEASON-ENDING KNEE INJURY SET THE BULLS IN WHAT LOOK TO BE A SLIGHT REBUILD MODE.  LUOL DENG WAS SHIPPED TO CLEVELAND FOR A FUTURE 1ST AND THE PLEASURE TO WAIVE ANDREW BYNUM.  BUT WHAT HAPPENED IS THE BULLS KEPT WINNING DUE TO HAVING TOO MANY GOOD PLAYERS IN A WATERED DOWN EASTERN CONFERENCE.  JOAKIM NOAH CONTINUED TO ELEVATE HIS GAME.  CARLOS BOOZER HAS BEEN MORE THAN SERVICEABLE WHILE TAJ GIBSON CONTINUES TO PUSH HIM FOR MORE MINUTES.  JIMMY BUTLER CONTINUES TO EVOLVE INTO A STANDOUT 2-WAY PLAYER.  D.J. AUGUSTIN WAS PICKED OFF THE SCRAP HEAP AND FILLED IN VALIANTLY AT THE POINT.  

        LOOKING AHEAD, IT’S ALL ABOUT WHERE DERRICK ROSE’S RECOVERY IS AT AND IF THE BULLS BELIEVE HE CAN BE THE SAME MVP-CALIBER PLAYER MOVING FORWARD.  THE AMNESTY OF CARLOS BOOZER HAS SEEMED LIKE A FOREGONE CONCLUSION FOR OVER A YEAR NOW BUT RECENT REPORTS SUGGEST OTHERWISE.  OBVIOUSLY A MOVE LIKE THAT CLEARS THE WAY FOR TAJ GIBSON TO START AND GIVES CHICAGO CAP ROOM TO WORK WITH.  NIKOLA MIROTIC, THE TEAM’S 2011 1ST ROUND PICK, HAS BEEN THE CONSENSUS BEST PLAYER IN EUROPE THIS SEASON AND SEEMINGLY IS READY TO MAKE AN IMPACT IN CHICAGO.  THE QUESTION BECOMES WITH HIS MASSIVE BUYOUT AND WHETHER THE BULLS CAN OFFER HIM ENOUGH MONEY TO MAKE IT WORTH HIS WHILE.  

        THE BULLS ALSO OWN CHARLOTTE’S FIRST ROUND PICK (TOP 10 PROTECTED) THIS YEAR IN ADDITION TO THEIR OWN SO THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO ADD TWO YOUNG IMPACT PLAYERS TO THE ROSTER.  THEY ALSO HAVE SACRAMENTO’S PICK (TOP 10 PROTECTED) AND THE RIGHT TO SWAP PICKS WITH CLEVELAND IN THE 2015 DRAFT SO CHICAGO WILL BE ABLE TO ADD AN INFLUX OF TALENT TO THEIR TEAM IN THE COMING DRAFTS.  THERE WILL BE PLENTY OF QUESTIONS THIS OFFSEASON BUT CHICAGO STILL SHOULD RETURN TO A LEGITIMATE CONTENDER NEXT SEASON WITH A HEALTHY DERRICK ROSE, THE REST OF THEIR CORE & SOME YOUNG DRAFT PICKS.

CLEVELAND
RETURNING PLAYERS (8)
-          KYRIE IRVING (PG, 7.07)
-          JARRETT JACK (PG, 6.30, 2 YRS-13M)
-          ANTHONY BENNETT (F, 5.56, TEAM OPTS IN NEXT 2 YRS)
-          TRISTAN THOMPSON (PF, 5.14)
-          DION WAITERS (SG, 4.06, TEAM OPT IN NEXT YR)
-          TYLER ZELLER (C, 1.70, TEAM OPT IN NEXT YR)
-          SERGEY KARASEV (SF, 1.53, TEAM OPTS IN NEXT 2 YRS)
-          CARRICK FELIX (SF, 0.82)
NON-GUARANTEED CONTRACTS (5)
-          ANDERSON VAREJAO (F/C, 9.70)
-          EARL CLARK (F, 4.25)
-          ALONZO GEE (G/F, 3.00)
-          HENRY SIMS (PF, 0.92)
-          MATTHEW DELLAVEDOVA (PG, 0.82)
FREE AGENTS (2)
-          LUOL DENG (SF)
-          C.J. MILES (G/F)
PROJECTED 2014 DRAFT PICKS (4)
-          1ST RD – 8TH OVERALL (OWN)
-          2ND RD – 33RD OVERALL (FROM ORLANDO)
-          2ND RD – 38TH OVERALL (OWN)
-          2ND RD – 44TH OVERALL (FROM MEMPHIS)
FUTURE DRAFT PICK ASSETS (2)
-          2015 1ST RD PICK FROM MEMPHIS (TOP 5 & 15-30 PROT UNTIL 2016, TOP 5 IN 2017 & 2018, NO PROT IN 2019)
-          2015 1ST RD PICK FROM MIAMI (TOP 10 PROT THROUGH 2017)
FUTURE DRAFT PICK DEBITS (1)
-          2015 1ST RD PICK TO CHICAGO (RIGHT TO SWAP, TOP 14 PROT)
POSSIBLE DRAFT RIGHTS HELD PLAYERS JOINING TEAM (1)
-          MILAN MACVAN (F, 2011-54) – GALATASARAY (TURKEY), FA IN 2014
OTHER DRAFT RIGHTS HELD PLAYERS (2)
-          SASHA KAUN (C, 2008-56) – CSKA (RUSSIA), FA IN 2015
-          EJIKE UGBOAJA (F, 2006-55) – I.T.U. (TURKEY 2ND DIV.), FA IN 2014
OUTLOOK

-          WOW, WHERE TO START?  THIS SEASON HAS BEEN ONE OF TURMOIL AND DISAPPOINTMENTS SO FAR.  THE ANDREW BYNUM SIGNING HAD THE POTENTIAL TO BE ONE OF THE BEST OF THE OFFSEASON BUT TURNED QUICKLY INTO THE WORST.  THEY DID SNAG LUOL DENG BY GETTING RID OF BYNUM BUT HE’LL BE AN UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENT AND IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKELY THAT HE WILL RETURN.  KYRIE IRVING CONTINUES TO PUT UP BIG NUMBERS BUT STILL LOOKS ALL OF HIS 21 YEARS YOUNG IN THE LEADERSHIP DEPARTMENT.  DION WAITERS HAS BEEN IN TRADE RUMORS ALL YEAR LONG DUE TO HIS ME-FIRST ATTITUDE.  NUMBER ONE OVERALL PICK ANTHONY BENNETT HAS BOMBED COMPLETELY.  THERE’S PLENTY MORE, INCLUDING GM CHRIS GRANT BEING FIRED, BUT LET’S NOT PILE ON.  

        THE GOOD NEWS IS CLEVELAND HAS BEGUN TO WIN OF LATE AND MAYBE A PLAYOFF PUSH ALLOWS THEM TO RE-SIGN DENG.  THEIR CONSOLATION PRIZE WOULD BE A TOP 10 PICK IN A LOADED DRAFT.  ADD IN THREE PICKS IN THE TOP HALF OF THE SECOND ROUND AND CLEVELAND HAS THE POTENTIAL TO PACKAGE SOME OF THEM TO MOVE UP FOR ANOTHER 1ST ROUNDER.  BUT LIKE CHARLOTTE, CLEVELAND HAS MISSED ON TOO MANY PICKS AND FINDS IT PARTICULARLY HARD TO ATTRACT FREE AGENTS.  KYRIE IRVING & TRISTAN THOMPSON WILL BOTH BE DUE FOR EXTENSIONS BEFORE NEXT SEASON AND IT IS IMPERATIVE THEY CAN LOCK BOTH UP LONG TERM.  IF WAITERS SURVIVES WITH THE TEAM UNTIL NEXT YEAR IT MEANS HE HAS MATURED AND THE TEAM WILL BENEFIT GREATLY FROM HIS TALENT AND FUTURE POTENTIAL.  THE CAVS ALSO DESPERATELY NEED TO SEE IMPROVEMENT FROM OTHER RECENT 1ST ROUNDERS LIKE TYLER ZELLER, SERGEY KARASEV & THE AFORMENTIONED BENNETT.  A LOT OF THINGS NEED TO GO RIGHT AND PROBABLY MISSING OUT ON A LOTTERY PICK AND BEING FIRST ROUND FODDER FOR INDIANA OR MIAMI MIGHT BE THE BEST THING FOR THE ORGANIZATION AS IT MEANS THINGS HAVE TURNED AROUND AFTER A TERRIBLE FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON.

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