Best offseason moves for every NBA playoff team

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How sweet for the Heat if they could do a Big Three Part Two by adding Giannis Antetokounmpo (#34) to a starting five already featuring Bam Adebayo (#13) and Jimmy Butler (#22).

Following what were the craziest NBA playoffs ever, this offseason should prove to be even as exciting. Big free agents, possible blockbuster trades, and new coaches everywhere will make this hopefully shortened offseason one to remember. Here we take a look at every playoff teams’ best next move.

Orlando Magic “Go Young!”: The Magic always seem to be lingering around the bottom of the playoff seedings, just to be knocked out in the first round by a far superior team. They do possess some young talent in Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon, Mo Bamba, and Markelle Fultz, all 25 and younger. Nikola Vucevic is guaranteed another $72 million on his $100 million contract over the next 3 years, and he is also taking away minutes from Bamba who the Magic drafted with the fifth pick back in 2018. The Magic need to look for trade opportunities for Vucevic, as a contending team would value him more than their developing one, and he is only contributing to a mediocre team at best while being the best player. If it takes paying a bad contract for another team for less years with the Magic getting first round picks in the deal, so be it. Taking a step back next year might be the best thing for the Orlando Magic franchise. 

Portland Trailblazers “Run it back, again.”: The phrase “run it back” has been used so many times in the past few years by this organization. They had reason to say it, as many playoff runs had been halted by injuries. This year, they were without starting center Jusuf Nurkic until the bubble, which resulted in the Trailblazers securing only the eighth seed. They then had to face the Lakers in the first round, but even after a game one win, the Lakers took four straight to knock Portland out of the playoffs. Hassan Whiteside’s $27 million contract will be off the books, so the trailblazers can be aggressive in free agency in order to address this team’s missing piece. The reason we canl say they are “running it back” is because this will still be a guard dominated team, with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

Brooklyn Nets “Don’t mess this up.”: Nets fans, it’s finally time. You waited an entire year and a half to finally see all of your pieces on the court together. Hiring Steve Nash was the last piece to the puzzle, and all they have to do now, is win.

Dallas Mavericks “Build around Luka.”: It is clear that Luka Doncic will be a star in this league, so why not start building around him now? It is still unclear if he and Kristaps Porzingis are a fit, but the Mavericks have done a great job acquiring assets in order to trade for or develop players alongside Luka. They have made it clear that they want to be aggressive in order to compete for a title as soon as next year, so why not make a splash this offseason to add another star to fit Luka and KP. Guys like Bradley Beal, Chris Paul, and Gordon Hayward and others will be available to trade for, and just one of these guys might be enough to take the Mavs over the hump.

Philadelphia 76ers “Embiid and Simmons show”: Philly feels that newly hired head coach Doc Rivers can lead them to the promised land. With that being said, it is not likely that a move as simple as a head coaching change will turn this team around, especially when it is clear their best players don’t fit well together. It will be almost impossible to move Al Horford’s contract which guarantees him $70 million over three years, so the Sixers will be forced to play him alongside Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris who are all over 6’8”. The Sixers have recently hired former Rockets GM Daryl Morey, who in his tenure with the Rockets made the most trades in the NBA, so look for Philly to be aggressive this offseason in an effort to win now.

Utah Jazz “Take a step back”: It is clear that Donovan Mitchell can lead a team in the playoffs, and if the Jazz could have avoided injuries these past playoffs, they might have been in the Western Conference Finals with a shot to get to the finals. The Rudy Gobert situation is very tricky as he is up for a supermax extension, but seems to get played off the court in important games. He is the opposite of where the NBA is going, so Utah should look to move him to a team that thinks they are one piece away and can take on his $27 million contract. Getting more pieces and draft capital may be the way to go for Utah. 

Miami Heat “Reload for 2021”: The Heat’s postseason run was a great story, but we knew it was going to come to an end at some point. We saw their young guys shine in the bubble, but the NBA won’t be in a bubble forever. The average NBA player can score 15 points a game during the regular season, but stars are made in the big moments. This bubble experience brought us many unexpected stars such as Tyler Herro hitting big shots down the stretch against Boston. This is not at all to say that the Heat aren’t good, but we need to see them in a real hostile environment. With all that being said, Miami believes they have a real shot at landing Giannis Anteokkounmpo this offseason, and whenever a team has an opportunity like that, they have to take it. Miami needs to get off bad contracts this offseason and load up for Giannis next offseason.

Oklahoma City Thunder “Step back”: The Thunder managed to get a five seed in a weird year with teams being struck by the injury bug, not to mention the pandemic, but with the Warriors back, and up-and-coming teams like Phoenix, Dallas, and Memphis OKC might be left out of the picture. They have Chris Paul on the books for a one-plus-one with a player option, and if he accepts he’s guaranteed $85 million over those two years. Paul can also be the last piece to a title contender, so look for him to be traded to a good team. OKC would have to take in a bad contract or two, but would hopefully obtain some future assets to use with this young core.

Indiana Pacers “Get assets”: Although Indiana got the four seed this past season, it was clear that they couldn’t go toe-to-toe with the best of the East. Basically, every team in the East will get better this offseason, and Indiana is just in a strange position. Their biggest contract holder, Victor Oladipo, came off a major regular season injury only to re-injure himself  before playoff contending teams went into the bubble. The Pacers have a log jam at center with Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, so one has to be traded, most likely Turner. They have T.J. Warren and Jeremy Lamb who would spark some interest from contending teams, so, both guys should be shopped around for assets. The Pacers don’t pick until the 54th selection in the upcoming draft, so they should be looking to move guys for draft capital. This draft is full of players in the mid-first round range that can step in and make an immediate impact, while only making one-fifth of the money of several of the players they have now. Not to mention that they are in Indiana, so they already are at a disadvantage because no one wants to play there. The draft is where they have to get their stars.

Houston Rockets “Just change”: It’s clear that Houston has topped out with their current roster, highlighted by their GM stepping down to take another job. Are we ready to say a new coach can come in and change the way they play, or even if he does change it, will James Harden be on board? They have no future assets, and owe a whopping combined $240 million to Harden and Russell Westbrook for the next three years. That is also contingent on the Rockets picking up their player options, but it’s $45 million, and no one turns that down. They need to make some type of change, but it’s hard to say what that change is.

Boston Celtics “Stay the course”: Boston is in a great spot right now, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart are under contract for two more years, Jaylen Brown for four more, and Jayson Tatum is up for an extension this offseason that he will get. Hayward has his $34 million player option, which if he accepts, he will most likely result in his being traded. The Celtics also own picks 14, 26, and 30 in the draft which they may use to trade up. It is very important for Boston to hit on these picks, as they haven’t made many great mid-first round picks as of late, with the exception of Grant Williams. They need a center to pair with Daniel Theis and Robert Williams that is more of a bruiser type of guy in order to challenge Philadelphia’s Embiid in those matchups. Boston just needs to hit on picks, and just stay the course with this incredible young core.

Denver Nuggets “Get even younger”: By giving Jamaal Murray his extension, the Nuggets have made it clear that their future lies in his and Nikola Jokic’s hands. They have very tradeable contracts, such as Will Barton’s and Gary Harris’s, so they should look to gain future assets or move up in the draft this year. Denver also needs to re-sign Jerami Grant because he was a big part of their playoff success. And, Paul Millsap is finally off the books. They are in a very similar situation as Boston in the way that they are very young and sort of rebuilding but also winning at the same time.

Toronto Raptors “Regroup”: Toronto has only 4 rotation players under contract for next year in Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Norman Powell, and O.G. Anunoby. They will have money to spend, but there is not much to spend it on. Siakam proved that he can’t be the first option on a title team, so Toronto will have to find a guy that Pascal can defer to. Fred VanVleet is going to get top dollar this year, so Toronto may not value him enough to give him the money other teams are willing to. They will have to choose between Serge Ibaka or Marc Gasol because it’s unlikely they will be able to bring both back. 

Los Angeles Clippers “Go all in”: It’s now or never for the Clippers this season. They can’t blame everything on the bubble because every team was in the bubble. They need to let Montrezl Harrell walk, and they need to look into moving Lou Williams. Kawhi Leonard will be ready for next season, and Paul George is coming back with a chip on his shoulder. With that kind of talent, one never knows. Obviously something was off within their locker room, so finding the right guys for this team may be better than getting the best guys available. Kawhi’s success has come on teams that weren’t necessarily the most talented, instead well-coached and were perfectly fit. 

Milwaukee Bucks “Giannis… that’s it”: The Bucks need to do everything in their power to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo from leaving. Milwaukee, like Indiana, will never attract this type of talent in free agency, so when such a team gets it, they have to keep it. They need to give him everything in order to win a championship because then, either win or lose, it’s not on the organization. If they win, he stays, if they lose and he leaves, he’s looked at like Kevin Durant was with the Warriors. With that being said, they have to figure out how to unlock Giannis in the playoffs because we know they can do it in the regular season. Adding a few pieces here and there may help, but if they win, it will be because of what happened on the inside.

Los Angeles Lakers “Run it back”: Not much to say about the champs. LeBron James doesn’t seem to be slowing down any, and Anthony Davis took it to another level in the playoffs. They will always be a tough team to stop, and most of their guys are under contract for next season. They need a few more shooters, and if they lose Rajon Rondo, they will need a replacement to provide relief for LeBron.

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