Derek and I batted this topic around a bit in last night's SixersBeat episode, and since there's really nothing even remotely positive to write about these days, I figured I open the discussion up to you guys as well. Take a look around the Atlantic Division, which teams would you gladly trade places with?
Here's a quick take on each team, click on the team name to see their exact cap situation (HoopData has this stuff down).
- Boston Celtics - The Celts are clearly a team in decline, with limited options this summer. Ray Allen will come off the books, they have a decision to make about Nate Robinson, and really the most they can hope to accomplish in free agency is a full MLE deal for a veteran, like they did with Rasheed last summer. Going forward, they're kind of stuck. They probably don't have the horses to bring another title home, but they also won't be bad enough to miss the playoffs. Rajon Rondo is their premiere building block, but do Rondo, Perkins and a couple of low-first round picks seem like a recipe for contention when Pierce and KG are gone?
- Toronto Raptors - The big question is will Bosh be gone or not? I'm saying yes, but you can make your own call. Other than Bosh, Toronto has a ton of defensive liabilities signed to long-term deals, and they aren't exactly cheap long term deals. Bargnani has morphed into an efficient small forward playing center, which is an improvement, but he's still not worth all that money. They have DeMar DeRozan is the only real youth they have and they won't have significant cap space for a couple of years, minimum. If Bosh leaves, I see them as probably a late lottery team for the next couple of seasons.
- New York Knicks - The Knicks are all in this summer, without a doubt. Basically, they can create enough cap space to sign two max or near max contracts, but to do so, they have sever ties with David Lee. If they keep Lee, they can afford one max contract and possibly an MLE-level deal, but they'd have to sign Lee to a decent contract before signing the third player. The Knicks traded away their #1 pick in 2009 (Jordan Hill) in the Tracy McGrady trade. They don't own their #1 pick this coming summer. Next summer, Houston has the right to swap with the Knicks, meaning that pick will probably be a mid-first rounder at best and to top things off, the Knicks traded away their 2012 #1 pick in the McGrady deal as well. To put it bluntly, the Knicks will get absolutely nothing from the draft for the foreseeable future. They could get LeBron. They could get Wade. They could get Bosh. They could get two of the three. They could get none of the three and settle for a couple of the lesser "big" names out there like Manu, Joe Johnson or Amare Stoudemire. Everything rides on what happens in free agency, and even then, they're going to have some serious work to do without the aid of any draft picks to build a roster around whoever they get.
- New Jersey Nets - First and foremost, the Nets have the best chance of anyone to get the #1 pick in the draft, and John Wall. They also have the best chance to get the #2 pick if they miss out on the #1 pick and land Evan Turner. If they can get either one of those guys, you're looking at a core of Devin Harris, Stud Draft Pick and Brook Lopez, with a couple guys who may be decent pieces on a good team in Courtney Lee and Terrence Williams. On top of that, they have about $23M in cap space to work with. That's a max salary, plus. They also broke ground on their Brooklyn stadium yesterday, they have a deep-pocketed foreign owner with a ton of rubles to throw around, looking to make a big splash. In short, the Nets are sitting pretty and they may be able to put a team on the floor next season consisting of John Wall, Joe Johnson, LeBron James, Yi and Brook Lopez. Or it could be Devin Harris, Manu Ginobili, Evan Turner, Chris Bosh and Brook Lopez. Do either of those lineups excite you with a guy like Jeff Van Gundy on the sidelines?
If you need to be reminded, here's a look at where the Sixers stand. Add in a pick somewhere between #4 and #10, most likely.
Personally, I'd swap with the Nets in a heartbeat. Probably the Celts as well, just for the chance to see playoff basketball for a season or two, and then see what I can do building around Rondo in his prime. The Knicks, I'd be hard pressed to mortgage the future of the team on a long shot. Could pay off huge, could completely blow up in their faces and the franchise could get stuck for another decade digging out from this mess. No matter what, I wouldn't trade places with Toronto, they're doomed to being a no-defense mess with very little cap space for a very, very long time.
What do you guys think?