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NBA free agency series: Atlantic Division

Our tour through the NBA's rosters continues with the Atlantic Division, home of the mighty New York Knickerbockers and that team from Boston.

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Southeast Division

Central Division


New York Knicks 32 -50

SBN Blog: Posting and Toasting

The new look, fast paced Mike D'Antoni Knicks proved once again that a good coach can make the difference between a couple of games or perhaps be the edge in a close playoff series but in the end you need talent to win in the league.

The Knicks roster while loaded with interesting players lacked the point guard needed to drive the 7SOL system and their best players top scorers were Al Harrington and Nate Robinson.

Salary cap situation

The Knicks are still trying to dig out from under the abysmal decisions on Mr. Isiah Thomas which means carry the bloated contracts of Larry Hughes and Eddie Curry who are on the books for $13.6m and $10.5m respectively. Curry's contract actually isn't nearly as bloated as he is.

Add it all up, and the Knicks have $77m and 12 players (including the #8 pick) on their roster but that assumes quite a few things that are far from certain.

First, Cuttino Mobley and his $9.5m is included in that total. Mobley has made it clear that his heart condition will prevent him from ever playing again. This means the Knicks can petition the league to have him removed from books and they likely will. I don't believe that they can trade Mobley and then have the aquiring team apply for that waiver but they could trade his expiring contract if there's a team willing to pay the $9.5m this year in return for salary relief next summer.

Then you have restricted free agents Nate Robinson and David Lee. The qualifying offer for both are just under $3m. Even in this depressed market, it is hard to see how they guys don't command more money then that. The Knicks will likely make the qualifying offer to both but then will have to see what other teams are willing to pay and decide if they want to match an offer. The $6m on the books for these two players could be gone if the Knicks choose not to match offers or either or both could be much higher if the team decides to re-sign one or both of these young, talented players.

Assuming both Harrington and Curry pick up their player options, that leaves the Knicks with a low of $59.8 or a high of who-knows-what depending on what kind of deals Robinson and Lee command.

Off season options

All this uncertainty with the Knicks roster makes it difficult to predict what they will do. Clearly, they are focused on keeping their 2010 salary as low as possible so they can participate in the summer of LeBron.

Right now they only have 4 players ($23.5m) scheduled to be on the books come next summer and that includes two team options for Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari.

The Knicks might sit back and muddle through another season waiting for their big chance to rebuild next year or they could try and make a play now for a big name.

And the name that comes up often is Steve Nash.

For the Suns to give up Nash this summer would take some sacrifice on the part of the Knicks which could mean Lee, Robinson or Gallinari (assuming he is deemed to be recovering well from back surgery) along with a pick or picks. The Knicks could also gamble that Nash won't resign in Phoenix and wait to pick him up next summer where he would likely enjoy being reunited with D'Antoni and his NYC apartment and life style.

The obvious attraction between Nash and the Knicks will bare watching and hopefully (as a Suns fan) can be used to Phoenix's advantage.

Toronto Raptors  33 - 49

SBN Blog: None

The Raptors earn this season's award for doing less with more. This team far under performed their talent level and as a result saw their coach replaced.

They also pulled off one of the better trades of the season when they exchanged Jermain O'Neal's $23m contract in return for Shawn Marion's expiring deal. They did have to take on two more years of Marcus Banks (who was signed to that horrible contract by Mike D'Antoni during his brief stint as the Suns GM) and give up Jamario Moon but overall they are well positioned to improve their team this summer.

Salary cap situation

With only 11 players and $53m on the books the Raptors are about $5m under the cap and about $17m under the luxury tax. This makes Bryan Colangelo one of the few buyers this summer.

The only roster uncertainly they face is the restricted free agency of Joey Graham who's qualifying offer is $3.4m. That feels like a fair amount for Graham so I would guess he would be back at that amount or he might be allowed to leave freeing up even more salary space. Graham is also a nice trade piece if the Raps want to put a package together.

Off season options

The core of this Raptors team is Bosh, Calderon and Bargnani. This is a solid enough group but by not means fear inducing. Toronto could be a good home for free agent Rasheed Wallace or perhaps Colangelo will make a run at David Lee or Marcin Gortat to add some front court toughness.

The Raptors desparately need a dynamic shooting guard that can score the ball. They can certainly fill that role in the draft with DeRozan or Curry but relying on a rookie to put up big numbers is never a good way to be consistently competitive.

The two names that come to mind are Jamal Crawford and Jason Richardson. I am fairly sure that the Raptors could use a combination of draft pick(s), cap space and minor contracts to aquire either of these players.

With Bosh able to opt out at the end of next season, the Raptors need to do something this summer to show him they are serious about winning now and putting a premiere scorer in the back court might be the best option.


New Jersey Nets 34 - 48

SBN Blog: None

The Nets with Vince Carter and Devin Harris and a handful of decent young players are good enough to tease but not good enough to really win. Even in the East.

Salary cap situation

As things stand, the Nets are sitting right at the salary cap line of $60m going into this summer. They have a lot of young players on rookie scale deals to go with Devin's very reasonable $8m/yr and Carter's $16m.

Off season options

Like the Bucks, the Nets as they currently stand aren't going anywhere. Their best bet would be to unload Carter in return for whatever they can get that will expire in 2010.

The best deal I heard from Tim over at 48 Minutes of Hell would be a deal with the Spurs. The Nets would get the expiring contracts of Boner, Mason, Finley and Bowen and the Spurs would get another guy that can score the ball. I still think the the Spurs would be better off doing this deal with the Bucks for Richard Jefferson but hey, for the Nets it would be a great move.

They would basically write of next season in return for the promise of rebuilding in 2010. We saw the Pistons and Grizzlies make similar deals and they are now well positioned to take advantage of a buyers market this summer.


Philadelphia 76ers 41 - 41

SBN Blog:Liberty Ballers

After stealing Elton Brand away from the Clippers (which you could argue set in motion a chain of events that lead to Blake Griffin playing in LA) the 76ers were looking to take a step forward this season. Brand however, didn't play well in the 29 games he saw action in before going down for the season with yet another shoulder injury.

Philly fired their coach and relied on an aggressive defense to create turnovers and get fast break points. Despite being known as a running team, they were still only 21st in pace.

Salary cap situation

With Andre Miller coming off the books as an unrestricted free agent, the 76ers are hovering right around the $59m salary cap line which puts them about $13m under the luxury tax line.

They have big long term contracts for Brand, Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert and then a bunch of sub $5m deals including the rookie contract for the promising Thaddeus Young.

Off season options

Philly will have enough room to go out into the free agent market and replace Miller or perhaps will try and resign him for a contract at around $5m. They could also go after a young PG in Ramon Sessions if they feel Lou Williams is going to develop into a starter or they could replace the aging Miller with the aging Bibby. That doesn't seem like much of an upgrade. Another option might be taking a run at Bobcat restricted free agent Raymond Felton who can't run the break like Miller but is a far better offensive player.

If Philly is really high on Lou Williams, they can even just wait and use their 17th pick to see if they can grab a PG like Ty Lawson who some mock drafts have falling that far. I didn't watch Philly enough to know if Williams is ready to step up as the starter. From what I saw, I kind of doubt it.

Beyond the point guard position, chances are they will stand pat and see how things play out with Brand. They are on the hook for 4 more years with him and he'd be difficult to move at this point given his history of injuries. The best the 76ers can hope for is that he bounces back and gives them a dominant inside presence to go along with the athletic Young and AI.


Boston Celtics 62 -20

SBN Blog:Celtics Blog

What else could I possibly say about the Boston Celtics that Bill Simmons hasn't already covered in 5000 words?

Salary cap situation

11 players. $73m under contract. That's what Boston is looking at which is about $6m less then they spent in salary this season. That's about what they have to spend assuming they are willing to pay about $10m in luxury tax to get their core group competitive (and if they didn't I am fairly sure Kevin Garnett would rip out Danny Ainge's heart and eat it).

The problem in Bean town is that they are going to have to pay Big Baby, Leon Powe and Eddie House assuming he opts out to try and get an increase from his $2.8m player option.

Off season options

The options are really simple. Open the wallet and pay Powe and House which combined will likely eat up nearly all of the $6m they have to spend. That leaves nothing for Davis unless they are willing to go even deeper into the tax.

There are other bigs in this year's free agency class and as solid as Davis looked in the playoffs, with a health KG they probably don't need to over extend too far. They might instead look at a less expensive option like on of the Collins brothers or a Joel Anthony/Johan Petro type.

What the Celtics clearly need is a back up for Pierce that can give solid minutes at the 2/3. Their only hope here is to perhaps buy a draft pick or try and get lucky with a cheap free agent or a D-leaguer. Maybe Matt Barnes would take a small enough contract to be a fit here. He would actually be a solid back up on this team.



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