The rebuild is completing its 4th season in grand style and the path seems to be clear for this team. We can safely say we know what we have with John Wall and Bradley Beal, we know what the vets bring to the table, and we know we can't count on any other youngster to carry superstar responsibilities. It would be very hard to not be a consistent playoff team from this position, but make no mistake about it this is the most important period for the rebuild. The decisions made this summer (or not made) will have a direct reflect on what happens to this team in 2016, the next crucial period.
Looking at the roster, Wall and Beal alone should ensure that this team is one of the best in the league in the open floor. Their ying-yang on perimeter defense, between intelligence/tenacity that flip flops between the two of them telepathically it seems. This team is built to run, but even better they can defend and supply their own points from turnovers and tough defense leading to bad shots. In the past two seasons we've had a top 5 defense from a pretty good post defender/rim protector (Okafor) and finished top 10 with a not bad post defender and kinda good rim protector (Gortat). This is critical because the owner wrote in his own personal philosophy that it starts with defense. Both had the pleasure of Nene for ~55-60 games and he makes any defense better. The team had a chance to draft Noel, but the brass weren't sold for some reason. This means that our summer priority starts with the Center position.
Ideally you would want two players that can play with any center in the league. If Nene counts as one, you just have to get one real center and figure out what to do with your other two bigs (fingers crossed one of these guys can play center in a pinch). The team has a lot of cap space this summer ($16.7M with another $14M cushion before the tax potentially), but they also have a lot of key free agents to sign. This of course includes their own starting center Gortat ($11.5M cap hold). Another player with a high cap hold is Trevor Ariza ($11.5M) and logic would dictate that you either re-sign them or release their cap holds, but if the team can move quickly for a sign and trade there are some interesting options.
This is where the smart money is. Gortat is the incumbent, they traded the pick for him. If Ernie is retained this is definitely the move. 4/$42M (4th year partially guaranteed/team option)
The problem with a sign and trade here is that Detroit most likely doesn't want Ariza or Gortat on a new deal, nor do they probably want to go there. For this to work we have to quickly renounce cap holds to Ariza and Gortat, guaranteeing that they walk for free and then bid for Monroe since he's only a RFA. Detroit isn't matching max money but the team would be foolish to offer max money. There only takes one though so if Orlando or Dallas manages to clear enough space and offer Monroe 4/$60M then we're matching or we're stuck. Now you could play the odds and figure your 4/$50M gets him, and since there seems to be mutual interest (even with that agent), it probably will.
It would be interesting to see how the Heat finish the season and what decisions Wade and Bosh make. I'm 100% positive Wade is taking as much money as he can which would mean Bosh may be forced to opt out. If Melo is the play to go to south beach, then they will need a good big at a much discounted price than Bosh's 20M. Bosh at that price for the Wiz is very doable, especially over the course of 4 seasons (and more importantly he's always moveable). Sign and Trade Bosh for Gortat/Kev and whatever filler is necessary.
The huge elephant in the room is we don't know how good (or healthy) he'll be, even if just for 2 seasons. If you're getting Good Pau you offer him a cosmopolitan city, reduced workload, and a front court partner he'd love in Nene and you write 2/$20M on a piece of paper and pat yourself on the back. Bad Pau makes you look really foolish, like really really foolish.
This one is most intriguing to me. We all know the reasons why its far fetched, but lets go over some reasons why its not and you tell me if I'm crazy.
1. The Clippers badly need perimeter defense because Redick, Crawford, and Dudley are mediocre defenders. Can't win in this league without perimeter defense.
2. The Clippers could use another 3 point threat because they're a deadly team when they can stretch the floor with CP3 and Blake pnrs. Deadly spot up shooter that thrives on pnr looks....
3. The Clippers need to win now. Chris Paul isn't getting any younger, and all of the support players around Blake Griffin are approaching the 30 mark (if they haven't passed it). Blake isn't a young player that needs developing he's an All NBA performer thats ready to go now too.
4. Ariza is a guy that all of the players love, and Doc Rivers is the quintessential former player. He also doubles as a great motivator and seems to have the pulse of the players on his team. Ariza also is from LA and I'm sure would love to play on a contender and its a match.
5. DJ could win the DPOY one day, but he is also 25 already so there is a good chance that he is what he is. What he is however is a real center that can run the floor like a gazelle and a complete rim protector and rebounder. With athletic perimeter defenders in front of him I think he could anchor a top 3 defense easily and consistently.
Sign and Trade Gortat/Ariza for Jordan/Dudley. You would still have enough to use the MLE on another big (Hawes? Patterson?) and keep one of Kev or Book depending on who you choose.