Here are 10 NBA teams that could face long roads to winning an NBA championship.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers trading Blake Griffin was the smart move. He maxed out his potential, and he gets injured too much to rely on him to sell tickets. DeAndre Jordan makes too much of money for someone who can’t shoot in today’s NBA. Danilo Gallinari, Tobias Harris, and Austin Rivers also make too much money to add free agents. All four players are immovable. They are under contract for a while, and it will take time to rebuild.
2. New York Knicks
The Knicks were struggling to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference before Kristaps Porzingis’ season ended prematurely. Now it is all but certain the Knicks will miss the playoffs. Also, the Knicks are also likely to miss out on the top picks in the NBA draft. Surprisingly, eight teams have a worse record than the Knicks. They need serious help, and with the uncertain timetable of Porzingis, it will be difficult to sell the top free agents on a winning team.
3. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies made a terrible move by firing head coach David Fizdale, who won championships as an assistant with Miami. Mike Conley is an elite player but he is an injury risk, and he’s been in the league ten years. Marc Gasol is an elite player, but he makes over $20 million, and Chandler Parsons is overpaid. The Grizzlies are already in a small market. It will be hard to add free agents. The Grizzlies will miss the playoffs after making it in seven consecutive seasons.
4. Charlotte Hornets
Despite being ten games under 500, the Hornets have a roster that on paper belongs in the top four in the Eastern Conference. But that could change quickly next season with the Hornets already out of contention this season. The health of Steve Clifford is uncertain. Dwight Howard and Kemba Walker’s contracts expire next season. The Hornets might prepare themselves for a major rebuild if they don’t get off to a great start.
5. Miami Heat
Erik Spoelstra is now the best coach at getting the most out of his roster because the Heat should not be ahead of teams like the Detroit Pistons, the Hornets or even the Chicago Bulls. Spoelstra has saved the careers of Hassan Whiteside and Wayne Ellington and pulled NBA players out of Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson. But the success will keep the Heat from getting the lottery pick they need to put them in the top four in the East, and they are unlikely to land a top free agent.
6. Washington Wizards
John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr. and Marcin Gortat are nice players, but the Wizards are giving them all the money. Ian Mahinmi is stealing the rest. The reason the Wizards struggle being a top-four team in the East is they have no bench. The Wizards’ success keeps them from adding top players in the draft. They will keep making the playoffs, but they are not winning a championship anytime soon.
7. New Orleans Pelicans
It looked like Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins were starting to develop chemistry and then that gets derailed with a season-ending injury to Cousins. Cousins could be out for a majority of next season. Cousins is also a free agent next season along with Rajon Rondo. The binding contracts are Jrue Holiday and Solomon Hill. If Cousins leaves they have no chance in the West, but the question is will Cousins be the same player if he returns?
8. Los Angeles Lakers
Isaiah Thomas will be a free agent next season. The Lakers are banking on the futures of LeBron James and Paul George. Even with Lonzo Ball, that’s still not enough to beat Golden State. They might just have enough money to outspend the Warriors, except for Luol Deng’s contract. George is more likely to come to LA than James at this point. And the more success James has with Cleveland, the more likely he will stay.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland being on this list is me assuming James leaves. The Cavaliers are a completely different team with the recent trades, but they are still vulnerable to the Boston Celtics or even teams like the Milwaukee Bucks or the Philadelphia 76ers. What will be the effectiveness of Kevin Love if he even returns healthy? They still can’t beat the Warriors. James could beat them if he went to San Antonio or Houston. If he leaves the Cavaliers, they go back to ordinary.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder’s future with George and Carmelo Anthony will depend on how they fare in the postseason. They are not better than Golden State or Houston. However, if the Thunder cannot beat San Antonio or Minnesota, then George will likely leave for the Lakers barring a trade. The critical decision for George could depend on the Thunder adding a few supporting players. The right pieces could raise the Thunder to the level of the Warriors or the Rockets. But they could quickly lose to the Spurs or the Timberwolves until then.
Be on the lookout for other articles in the next few days on teams in different leagues that have a long road ahead of them.
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Published on 2/21/18 at 1:30 PM EST.Share this post on:
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