Backup point guard
Toronto’s biggest need is for LeBron James to leave the Eastern Conference, seeing as how he consistently turns up his game and eliminates the Raptors year after year. Toronto will return its core and doesn’t have a lot of cap room with which to maneuver. Look for the Raptors to stay put and try to resign a few of their bench contributors like Lucas Nogueira and Fred VanVleet, who are free agents this summer. Toronto doesn’t have a pick in this year’s draft but Arizona’s Rawle Alkins could be a name to watch in the latter stages of the second round or as an undrafted signee. Alkins (6’5”) has position versatility and in time could be a key contributor at the next level.
Cap space: -17 million, 117 million
Free agents: Lucas Nogueira, Fred VanVleet, Lorenzo Brown
New York Knicks
The Knicks future success will be determined by the continued development of recent draft picks Frank Ntilikina and Kristaps Porzingis. Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Enes Kanter are solid pieces to build around as well. New York showed a defensive weakness along the frontcourt once Porzingis went down with an injury. Look for the Knicks to target a defensive-minded forward in either the draft or free agency. Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr. has a versatile game and could fit nicely with the Knicks at the ninth pick.
Lance Thomas and Troy Williams are under contract but New York could stand to upgrade the wing position. The Knicks could use some explosiveness from the forward position. Michigan State’s Miles Bridges is as explosive as they come and should be available at the ninth pick if New York chooses to pass on a bigger forward.
Cap space: -5 million, 105 million
Free agents: Jarrett Jack, Michael Beasley
Backup ball handler
The Celtics are as young and complete of a team as there is in the NBA, so we’re nitpicking at this point but with Shane Larkin and Marcus Smart set to hit free agency, Boston will be in need of a backup ball handler if either chooses to take their services elsewhere. I expect Boston to sign one if not both of the aforementioned guards but if they choose to use their 27th pick on a guard, West Virginia’s Jevon Carter fits the bill. He’s the type of gritty collegiate experienced guard that HC Brad Stevens has coveted in the past.
Greg Monroe and Aron Baynes gave the team key minutes all postseason long and are great candidates to return to the team in 2018. However, if Boston chooses to go the draft route, look for them to identify a versatile big who can defend either the four or five positions. Michigan’s Moe Wagner would be a project and would need to develop his game further to be counted on for big minutes, but who better to learn from than Al Horford? Wagner has all the skills to be a contributor in the NBA on both ends of the floor for the next 10 years and could be available with the 27th pick.
Cap space: -15 million, 115 million
Free agents: Greg Monroe, Shane Larkin, Marcus Smart, Aron Baynes, Jonathan Gibson
Brooklyn is still working its way back from awful trades that have kept them out of the lottery. The Nets wouldn’t turn down talent at any position but with guards D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie and Allen Crabbe already under contract, they will probably target big men during the draft. Brooklyn holds the 29th, 40th and 45th picks, so they could use their two second round picks to trade back into the first round. If Brooklyn stands pat, Villanova’s Omari Spellman (6’9”, 245 lbs) could be a choice, as he has a polished offensive game and could mesh well defensively next to Timofey Mozgov.
Cap space: $128,000, $99.9 million
Free agents: Jahlil Okafor, Nik Stauskas, Dante Cunningham, Joe Harris, Quincy Acy
The 76ers’ two best floor-spacing shooters, Marco Belinelli and J.J. Redick, are free agents. The two combined for 30 points in the postseason and were two of the top three-point shooters on the team this past season. If Philadelphia chooses to let either of them leave via free agency, then they will have to find another shooting option to accompany their outstanding young core. The 76ers hold the tenth pick in the draft and Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith is an intriguing option. The 6-foot-4 Smith has a capable jumper, 6’9” wingspan and enough bulk to switch defensively.
Cap space: $1 million, $99 million
Free agents: J.J. Redick, Amir Johnson, Marco Belinelli, Ersan Ilyasova
*The 2018-2019 NBA salary cap sits at $101 million and the luxury tax sits at $123 million.
Player stats are courtesy of ESPN.com.
Financial outlook is courtesy of Spotrac.com.
— By: Troy Jefferson, DraftNasty Staff reports, Follow him @troy_jefferson on twitter.