Bobby Marks' Offseason Guide for all 30 NBA teams [1296x729]
Bobby Marks' Offseason Guide for all 30 NBA teams [1296x729] (Credit: ESPN)

Red Bull Verstappen rage not due to lack of sleep

Now that the 2023-24 NBA season is over, we're turning our attention to how each of the 30 teams should approach the offseason, including through the draft and free agency.

On the draft side, the Atlanta Hawks, 36-46 this season for a 10th-place finish in the Eastern Conference, rocketed up the lottery board to grab the No. 1 pick in this year's NBA draft. And with the official start of free agency opening June 29 at 6 p.m. ET, there's a lot to download on each team.

We're breaking down the potential moves for each eliminated franchise, including a look at the state of each roster, finances, priorities for each front office, extension candidates to watch, team needs and future draft assets.

Key: ETO = Early Termination Option | P = Player Option | R = Restricted | T = Team Option

Jump to a team:

ATL | BOS | BKN | CHA | CHI | CLE DAL | DEN | DET | GS | HOU | IND LAC | LAL | MEM | MIA | MIL | MIN NO | NY | OKC | ORL | PHI | PHX POR | SAC | SA | TOR | UTAH | WSH

Won NBA title Boston Celtics

2023-24 record: 64-18

Draft picks, June 26-27: No. 30 (own) and No. 54 (via DAL)

Free agents: Xavier Tillman, Luke Kornet, Svi Mykhailiuk, Oshae Brissett (P), Sam Hauser (T), Neemias Queta (T), Drew Peterson (R) and JD Davison (R)

State of the roster: NBA champions. There is a question of whether finances will break up this team, and the answer is an unequivocal no. The Celtics, at least for now and next season, have negated the spending rules that are supposed to scare teams in how rosters are built. Boston is the prohibited favorite next season despite its large payroll. Boston is built for sustainable success not just because of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, but because of a deep roster that returns 12 players, including its starting five.

The Celtics are different from high-spending teams such as Phoenix, Milwaukee, Minnesota and the LA Clippers in that they have access to their own first-round pick in seven out of the next eight years. They owe one (yes, that is not a typo) future first, and that will not happen until 2029. The Celtics' depth will be tested in 2025, when Derrick White, Al Horford and Sam Hauser are free agents. The 2025-26 season is also when Brown, Tatum, Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis are set to earn a combined $170 million. But that's a problem for ownership and the front office to navigate next offseason -- not now.

Offseason finances: The Celtics have $194.5 million in salary and are projected to be over the luxury tax and second apron. This is the third consecutive year Boston is a tax-paying team. Because of the apron restrictions, Boston now and starting on July 1 is not allowed to aggregate contracts in a trade, take back more money or send out cash. They also cannot acquire a player in a sign-and-trade or access the $5.2 million tax midlevel exception. The Celtics have until June 29 to exercise the Hauser ($2.1 million) and Queta ($2.2 million) team options. Brissett has until June 23 to exercise his $2.5 million player option.

Top front office priority: A new contract for White. The quarterback of a defense that ranked second in efficiency this season, White led all players in field goal percentage allowed as the contesting defender (a minimum of 800 shots) and ranked first in blocks among guards. He has missed only six regular-season games since the Celtics acquired him in February 2022.

Extension talks with White will come down to three things. Is White willing to take guaranteed money now? Because extension rules allow a 140% increase off the prior season, White is eligible starting on July 6 to sign a four-year, $126 million extension. Both sides will have until June 30 of next year to reach a new contract. Second, is White willing to bet on himself next season in free agency? If White plays out the season, he is eligible to sign a $200 million contract with teams that have cap space and an additional $70 million in Boston. ESPN is projecting at least half of the NBA's teams to have cap space in 2025. The Celtics could offer $270 million but would now see Brown, Tatum and White earning over $150 million per season.

And finally, is Boston comfortable paying over $100 million in luxury tax penalties? The Celtics are not only a repeater tax team in 2025 but are also set to face more punitive penalties because of a change in the CBA. What happens if White elects to play out the season? Nothing. Even if there is a threat of White leaving next season for more money, the best chance for Boston to repeat is with the guard on the roster.

Extension candidate to watch: The Celtics get a one-year reprieve before a Tatum supermax extension is set to begin. Tatum reached the supermax criteria last offseason (All-NBA in 2022 and 2023) but needs to wait until this July when he reaches seven years of service. The five-year, $315 million extension would be the largest in NBA history and wouldn't begin until 2025-26. In the unlikely scenario that no extension is reached by Oct. 21, Tatum again is eligible to sign the same contract with Boston next summer but this time as a free agent. Hauser is also extension eligible if the Celtics exercise the $2 million team option for next season. The Celtics can add an additional four seasons and up to $78 million in new money.

Since the All-Star break, Hauser averaged 11 points and shot 44.4% on 3-pointers. He had scored in double figures twice off the bench in the playoffs, including a career-high 17 points in the series-clinching win against Miami. One direction Boston could go is to decline the team option and then sign the forward to a new contract in July. This eliminates the possibility of Hauser becoming an unrestricted free agent next July. A new contract, however, would increase the Celtics' payroll and add to their luxury tax penalty in 2024-25.

Other extension candidates: Jaden Springer

Team needs: Shooting off the bench and frontcourt depth.

Future draft assets: Including their first the night of the draft, Boston is allowed to trade up to four first-round picks (2025, 2027 and 2031). The Celtics can also trade their 2026 first but not combined with either 2025 or 2027. San Antonio has the right to swap firsts in 2028 (top-one protected). Boston will also send Portland an unprotected 2029 first. It has five second-round picks available to trade.

Eliminated in the Finals Dallas Mavericks

2023-24 record: 50-32

Draft picks, June 26-27: No. 58 (via BOS)

Free agents: Derrick Jones Jr., Markieff Morris, Brandon Williams (R) and Greg Brown III (R)

State of the roster: Do not expect Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison to be content with just reaching the NBA Finals. Dallas returns 13 players from a roster that won the West, but Harrison and his front office have shown an aggressiveness to continue identifying players who complement Luka Doncic. One example: There are only five players who were on the 2022 conference finals team and are on the current roster. Since taking over in June 2021, Harrison has orchestrated 11 trades, including acquiring Kyrie Irving, Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington -- at a cost of three first-round picks.

"It wasn't really about winning right now," Harrison told ESPN before the playoffs started. "It was just about continuing to build it. It's like every step is, how do we continue to get better? And we're not built for just right now; we're built for the next three playoff runs."

The Mavericks are built for the future, with Doncic and Irving along with their supporting cast (Washington, Gafford and Dereck Lively II) under contract for at least the next two seasons. Next summer, Doncic is eligible to sign a five-year, $346 million supermax extension that would begin in 2026-27. And despite still owing Charlotte and Brooklyn first-round picks in 2027 and 2029, the Mavericks have the ability to trade two future firsts (2025 and 2031) and three years of pick swaps (2025, 2026 and 2031) if the right deal presents itself. Outside of Doncic and Irving, Dallas has 11 players earning between $2 million and $16 million, including the expiring contract of Tim Hardaway Jr.

Offseason finances: Roster continuity will impact the Mavericks' bottom line. Dallas has 13 players under contract and as a result is $1.8 million over the luxury tax and $3.6 million below the first apron. Dallas is hard-capped at the $178.7 million first apron if it takes back more money in a trade. Their $4.0 million and $4.9 million trade exceptions are not available if the acquiring salary exceeds the first apron. Dallas has three players -- Dante Exum, Jaden Hardy and A.J. Lawson -- who have non-guaranteed salaries. Exum's $3.1 million salary becomes guaranteed June 29 and Hardy's $2 million contract the next day. The Mavericks will have the $5.2 million tax midlevel exception available.

Top front office priority: After stops in Phoenix, Miami, Portland, Chicago and now Dallas, Jones has found stability, at least for the past nine months. Jones started each postseason game and a career high 76 games in the regular season. He ranked in the top 10 in total defensive half-court matchups vs. 2024 All-Stars and effective field goal percentage allowed vs. 2024 All-Stars to defend 150-plus shots per Second Spectrum. He also recorded at least 50 blocks and 50 steals in a season for the first time in his career. The question is not whether Dallas wants to sign Jones Jr. but whether they can afford to. Because he signed a one-year contract and the Mavericks are a projected luxury tax team, the maximum salary Dallas can start with in the first year is $5.2 million. If the Mavericks traded the $11 million Maxi Kleber salary, for example, they would be allowed to offer a contract starting at $12.9 million. Jones could sacrifice a bigger payday with another team now if he signed a two-year, $10.8 million contract with a player option to remain in Dallas. He would then have early Bird rights next year, allowing the Mavericks to sign him to a lucrative long-term contract. But would Jones be willing to wait another season? The 27-year-old journeyman has earned $28 million in his career.

Extension candidate to watch: Doncic reached the supermax criteria when he was named All-NBA for a second consecutive season. However, because he is one year short of the seven years' service criterion, Doncic will need to wait until the 2025 offseason to sign a new contract. The five-year, $346.3 million contract is the largest in NBA history and starts in 2026-27.

The playoffs were indicative of Hardy's second year with the Mavs. The 2022 second-round pick played 25 more games than his rookie season but continued to struggle cracking the Mavericks' rotation. He played 57 minutes in two late January games, scoring 35 points. The next game, Hardy played 10 minutes. In the playoffs, Hardy averaged 2.8, 7.8, 10.4 and 5.7 minutes in each round. He averaged 7.4 points and shot 60% from deep in the conference finals. Hardy is eligible starting in July to sign a four-year contract if his $2 million contract for next season is guaranteed.

Other extension candidates: Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber

Team needs: Another playmaking guard to create shots for others. Floor-spacing bigs and perimeter depth.

Future draft assets: Besides sending their own first to New York this year, the Mavericks owe Charlotte a top-two-protected first in 2027 and Brooklyn an unprotected first in 2029. The Thunder and Spurs have the right to swap firsts with the Mavericks in 2028 and 2030. Dallas is allowed to trade its own 2025 and 2031 firsts starting on the night of the draft. The Mavs are also allowed to swap firsts in 2025, 2026 and 2031. They have four seconds available.

Eliminated in the conference finals Minnesota Timberwolves

2023-24 record: 56-26

Draft picks in June: No. 27 (own) and No. 37 (via MEM)

Free agents: Kyle Anderson, Jordan McLaughlin, Monte Morris, T.J. Warren, Luka Garza (R) and Daishen Nix

State of the roster: Do not let the embarrassing Game 5 loss to Dallas change the narrative on this season. There is a strong foundation to build on considering Minnesota won 56 games (the second most in franchise history) and reached the conference finals for the first time since 2004. The Timberwolves return the same starting five, NBA Sixth Man of the Year Naz Reid and key reserve Nickeil Alexander-Walker. All-NBA and future MVP candidate Anthony Edwards is set to begin Year 1 of a five-year contract and is not a free agent until 2029. The same goes for 23-year-old Jaden McDaniels, who is on a five-year deal, while All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns and NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert have four years and two years left on their contracts, respectively.

The top-five roster that president of basketball operations Tim Connelly inherited and then added to is overshadowed by the biggest question in franchise history: Which ownership group will be in charge when next season starts? Will it be current owner Glen Taylor or minority owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez? The two sides are headed to arbitration over a disagreement in ownership control.

The resolution could play a significant role in how Connelly conducts business moving forward.

The Timberwolves are projected to exceed $200 million in salary, the largest in franchise history and are expected to pay the luxury tax for only the second time since 2007-08. The penalty is expected to exceed $75 million. They are one of three teams (Denver and Phoenix are the others) to have three players on max contracts. Minnesota is also in the second apron and restricted in how it can address the roster outside of retaining its own free agents and two draft picks. The cost, however, justifies the product on the court considering Minnesota ranked first in defensive efficiency and its starting five were a plus-9.5 points per 100 possessions this season. The Timberwolves return 10 players from this year's roster, including seven who are 26 years old or younger. Even in the scenario in which Minnesota wanted to make a roster change, trading the $221 million owed to Towns for example is extremely difficult under the current CBA. His $49.4 million salary next season is one of the largest in the NBA and would trigger the first apron hard cap for teams looking to acquire the forward. Towns was benched for the last nine minutes in the Game 2 loss to Dallas and shot 27.8% from the field in the first three games.

As one team executive told ESPN, "only dysfunctional ownership can break up this team."

Offseason finances: The Timberwolves are operating as a team below both aprons but must take into consideration their 2024-25 finances if they make any trades. Minnesota currently is allowed to take back more money or send cash in a trade, and aggregate contracts sent out. However, using any of the three strategies starting prior to July 1 triggers the second apron restriction for next season. Because of the Towns, Edwards, McDaniels and Mike Conley extensions, Minnesota -- starting on July 1 -- is $6.7 million over the second apron. Despite a payroll of $205 million in 2025-26, Minnesota is expected to receive a financial boost. The luxury tax and apron levels are expected to increase by 10%, the maximum allowed, according to ESPN's sources.

Top front office priority: Minnesota can get away with playing an eight-man rotation in the playoffs, but will need to address its regular-season depth in the offseason. Not including Alexander-Walker and Reid, the Timberwolves' reserves are Wendell Moore Jr., Leonard Miller and Josh Minott. The three former draft picks played a total of 219 minutes this season. Minnesota does have two draft picks in the top 40 and Bird rights on free agents Anderson, Morris and McLaughlin. The Timberwolves are allowed to exceed the luxury tax and apron to re-sign each but would pay a significant financial penalty if the contract is for more than the veteran minimum exception. Anderson had his minutes decrease in the postseason (from 22.6 to 14.2) and averaged only 3.8 points. He was productive, however, in the conference finals, averaging 20 minutes, 7.5 points and 3.5 assists.

Extension candidate to watch: The Timberwolves were active since last June, signing four players (Reid, Edwards, McDaniels and Conley) to extensions. The two players to focus on this offseason are Gobert and Morris. Gobert was named Defensive Player of the Year for the fourth time in his career. According to Second Spectrum, 21.6% of shots the Timberwolves defend are in the restricted area when Gobert is on the floor. That would be the lowest percentage faced in the NBA. The percentage jumped to 26.8% when Gobert was off the court, sixth highest in the NBA. Gobert has two years left on his contract and can become a free agent next offseason if he declines his player option. While it is unlikely Minnesota would sign him to a four-year, $243 million extension, Gobert could decline the $46.6 million player option and then extend for a lower salary but with more years attached. Morris is a free agent in July, but is eligible to extend for an additional two seasons until June 30. Minnesota acquired Morris with the goal of providing a playoff-tested bench presence. Morris played 12 minutes in the Game 5 loss to Denver but averaged only 8.7 minutes in the postseason.

Other extension candidates: McLaughlin (through June 30) and Minott (as of July 22)

Team needs: Backup point guard, wing depth and players who can create their own shot.

Future draft assets: The Timberwolves are allowed to trade their 2024 and 2031 firsts, starting the night of the draft. From the Gobert trade, Minnesota owes Utah a 2025 and 2027 unprotected first. It will also send a 2029 top-five protected first to Utah. The Jazz also have the right to swap firsts in 2026. Minnesota has three second-round picks available.

Indiana Pacers

2023-24 record: 47-35

Draft picks in June: No. 36 (via TOR), No. 49 (via CLE) and No. 50 (via NOP)

Free agents: Pascal Siakam, Doug McDermott, Jalen Smith (P), Obi Toppin (R), James Johnson, Oscar Tshiebwe (R), Isaiah Wong (R) and Quenton Jackson (R)

State of the roster: Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard tipped his hand last season on building the roster around Tyrese Haliburton: "I think we'll be pretty aggressive in the marketplace. We made some big offers at the trade deadline. Quite frankly, I'm a little itchy. We have this unique player in Tyrese who has maybe put us way ahead of schedule." While no trade materialized, the statement served as a reminder that Indiana was not content in the lottery a third straight season. Six months after Pritchard declared they were open for business, the Pacers traded for Siakam, a two-time All-Star.

Re-signing Siakam is the priority this offseason, but Indiana cannot be satisfied with avoiding the play-in the last game of the season, winning 47 games and then reaching the conference finals. Taking the next step and building a sustainable roster is based on two factors. The first is improving a defense that ranked 24th in efficiency and gave up 118.9 points per 100 possessions during the regular season. Indiana was the only playoff team that ranked in the bottom 10 in defensive efficiency. The Pacers also ranked 26th in rebounding efficiency. The second is the continued development of their former draft picks. Teams ESPN talked to during the season pointed to how the Pacers constructed their roster next season as a blueprint under the new CBA: two players on max contracts (Haliburton and Siakam) followed by nine players earning between $2 million to $19.9 million. Five of those players (Bennedict Mathurin, Jarace Walker, Isaiah Jackson, Ben Sheppard and Andrew Nembhard) are on rookie contracts. Mathurin was named All-Rookie last season and was averaging 14.5 points before a season-ending torn right labrum in March. The only player who did not play extended minutes in the playoffs was Walker.

Offseason finances: The Pacers' payroll is expected to increase significantly this offseason. A cap-space team in five of the previous seven offseasons, the Pacers project to have two max players next season: Haliburton and Siakam. A new Siakam contract starting at $42.3 million and the first-year Haliburton rookie extension could see the Pacers with $155 million in salary. The team salary includes Smith opting in to his $5.4 million contract by June 29. Expect Indiana to guarantee the $9.3 million salary of T.J. McConnell the day after the draft. There is $5 million protected for 2024-25. The Pacers could have the $12.9 million non-tax midlevel exception, but only if Toppin, a restricted free agent, is not retained.

Top front office priority: Do not expect the free agency of Siakam to be a drawn-out process. Siakam was acquired in mid-January not for the remaining six months of the season but for the foreseeable future. "His future looks bright there," Siakam's agent Todd Ramasar told ESPN after the trade. In his 41 games during the regular season, Siakam shot a career-high 54.9% from the field, 38.6% on 3-pointers and had a 58% effective field goal percentage. For the fifth straight season, he averaged at least 20 points per game. Both sides are eligible starting on the first day after the Finals to negotiate a five-year contract that could reach $245 million. Outside of LeBron James and Paul George (if both decline their options), Siakam is the top unrestricted free agent.

The Siakam max contract could put Toppin's future in jeopardy. The Pacers will likely extend Toppin a $7.7 million qualifying offer by June 29, but a new contract could put Indiana in the luxury tax for the first time since 2005-06. Toppin averaged a career-high 10.3 points and is one of 17 players this season to appear in all 82 games. Indiana selected Walker last June, and he could be a replacement if the price to retain Toppin is too expensive.

Extension candidate to watch: No reserve played a bigger role in the postseason than McConnell. In his first playoffs since 2020, McConnell averaged career highs in points (11.5) and assists (5.1). He became the first player to have 10 assists off the bench in multiple games in a single postseason since Lou Williams did it in 2019, according to ESPN Stats & Information. McConnell is entering the last year of a four-year, $33 million contract signed in 2021 and is extension eligible once his salary for next season is guaranteed (he technically cannot sign until July 6). Indiana is allowed to add four years to his expiring contract, and although it is unlikely he will receive $78.7 million, the maximum amount allowed, McConnell should receive a significant pay increase. His $8.7 million salary this season ranked 33rd among point guards and 172nd overall.

Other extension candidates: Andrew Nembhard (as of July 22), Jalen Smith, Isaiah Jackson and Doug McDermott (through June 30)

Team needs: Defensive paint presence and rim protector. The Pacers ranked last in points in the paint allowed during the regular season.

Future draft assets: Indiana sent Toronto three first-round picks as part of the Siakam deal, including a 2026 top-4 protected first. The first is top-4 protected in 2027 if not conveyed. The Pacers can trade a future first, but only two years after the draft consideration to the Raptors is met. They have eight seconds available.

Eliminated in the conference semifinals Denver Nuggets

2023-24 record: 57-25

Draft picks in June: No. 28 (own)

Free agents: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (P), Justin Holiday, Reggie Jackson (P), DeAndre Jordan, Vlatko Cancar (T), Braxton Key (R), Jay Huff (R) and Collin Gillespie (R)

State of the roster: It is naive to think that the championship window for Denver has closed despite losing to Minnesota in the second round. Three-time MVP Nikola Jokic is under contract for the next four seasons, and the core of the roster that won a championship in 2023 and then 57 games this season are under contract in 2024-25. For the first time since the 2007-08 and 2008-09 Boston Celtics, the Nuggets' starting five led the league in point differential in consecutive seasons. The same starting five were -6.9 points per 100 possessions during the postseason.

For a second consecutive summer, the Nuggets are faced with decisions in free agency. Unlike last offseason when the focus was on reserves Bruce Brown Jr. and Jeff Green, this year is starters Caldwell-Pope, Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon. Caldwell-Pope has a player option while Murray and Gordon are extension eligible.

Losing in the playoffs will also test the patience of general manager Calvin Booth and coach Michael Malone as it relates to their bench. Jackson has a $5.1 million player option and Holiday is an unrestricted free agent. Because of the apron rules that restrict player movement, Denver prioritized building its bench with recent draft picks Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, Julian Strawther, Jalen Pickett, Hunter Tyson and Zeke Nnaji. The controllable contracts of the six players allowed Denver to avoid signing a multitude of minimum salary free agents. However, after averaging 15.8 minutes during the regular season, Denver ranked last in minutes played by its bench players (10.2) during the playoffs. The reserves shot 35.4% from the field and 30.3% on 3-pointers. They were -4.5 in bench points compared to last season. Denver ranked 25th in points per game during the regular season. It will add another young player if they keep their first in this year's draft.

Offseason finances: From now until June 30, Denver is a first-apron team. It is not allowed to take back more money in a trade. If it aggregates contracts or sends cash in a trade, then the $189.6 million second apron for next season will get triggered. What flexibility the Nuggets have in the offseason is determined by the player options for Caldwell-Pope ($15.4 million) and Jackson ($5.3 million). Including both players and their first-round pick, the Nuggets have $193.4 million in salary. They will exceed the second apron if the current roster remains in place. Jackson has until June 25 to opt-in, and Caldwell-Pope June 29. Denver is still over the $171 million luxury tax if both players decline their option. It would have the $5.1 million tax midlevel, first-round pick and the veteran minimum exception to replace each player. Denver has until June 23 to exercise the $2.4 million team option of Cancar.

Top front office priority: Caldwell-Pope is one of the more durable and best wing defenders in the NBA. He is also an unrestricted free agent if the player option for next season is declined. Since the 2013-14 season, Caldwell-Pope has played in 96% of regular-season games. He has never missed more than four consecutive games. During the regular season, opponents shot 40.6% when Caldwell-Pope was the closest defender, per Second Spectrum. That led the NBA among players to defend 500-plus shots. Because he was acquired in a trade from Washington, Denver inherited his Bird rights, allowing it to pay up to 30% of the salary cap in the first year. He would be eligible to sign a four-year, $96.8 million extension starting July 16 if he exercises the player option. Teams with cap space include Detroit, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Philadelphia and Utah. San Antonio and Toronto could also create room. Denver has the $5.1 million tax midlevel if Caldwell-Pope does not return.

Extension candidate to watch: Murray will have a decision to make with regard to his next contract. Because he did not play 59 games this season, the maximum extension Denver could offer is four years and $208.5 million. The $46.5 million contract would begin in 2025-26 and have Murray earning $57.7 million in the last year. He could also bet on himself, play out the season and then sign a five-year contract next offseason. The extra year could earn him an additional $61 million. He would also sign for a super max contract if he was named All-NBA next year, an achievement he has never met. Bypassing guaranteed money comes at a significant risk. Since tearing his left ACL in April 2021, Murray missed 150 regular-season games. Starting Sept. 27, Gordon is eligible to sign up to a four-year, $149.5 million extension. Gordon could become an unrestricted free agent in 2025 if a new contract is not reached and he elects to decline his $23.8 million player option.

Other extension candidates: Caldwell-Pope (if he opts-in to his contract), Cancar, Michael Porter Jr. (as of Sept. 29) and Gordon (as of Sept. 27)

Team needs: A big step in development in Pickett and Strawther. Selected in the 2023 draft, both players could be a replacement if Jackson and Holiday leave in free agency.

Future draft assets: The Nuggets are limited with draft assets and have their 2024 first, starting the night of the draft, available to move. From the Gordon trade, Denver will send a 2025 top-5 protected first. The pick is top-5 protected in 2026 if not conveyed. Two years after the conditions to the Magic are met, Denver will send Oklahoma City a top-5 protected first. The pick is top-5 protected in the next two years (2028 and 2029). And finally, the Nuggets will send another first, top-5 protected, two years after the original first is sent. An example is Denver sending its 2025 first to Orlando, 2027 and 2029 first to the Thunder. The Nuggets could trade their 2031 first but there is no guarantee the receiving team receives it because of the pick protection in the pre-existing years. Denver has three seconds available.

New York Knicks

2023-24 record: 50-32

Draft picks in June: No. 24 (via DAL), No. 25 (own) and No. 38 (via UTA)

Free agents: OG Anunoby (P), Isaiah Hartenstein, Alec Burks, Shake Milton, Precious Achiuwa (R), Jericho Sims (T), Charlie Brown Jr. (R), Jacob Toppin (R) and Duane Washington Jr. (R)

State of the roster: There is a sense of disappointment in how this season ended. Not only because New York lost a Game 7 at home, but also because of the unknown: whether a healthy roster could have reached the conference finals -- and perhaps the NBA Finals. New York had the fourth-best record at 33-17 since Jan. 1 despite losing Julius Randle, Anunoby, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mitchell Robinson and Anunoby again over a course of five months. The four players averaged a combined 54 points and 21 rebounds per game. To make matters worse, Brunson fractured his left hand in Game 7. If there is a silver lining to the Knicks' future, it is that New York found an identity with the addition of Anunoby. Since Jan. 1, New York ranked third in defensive efficiency, ninth in deflections per game and third in points per possession allowed in the half court, per Second Spectrum. The strong play since early January should also dispel the notion that New York ought to chase the next disgruntled All-Star if he were to become available this summer. The Knicks have a top-five player in Jalen Brunson and a roster that can compete with any team -- when healthy.

This offseason, New York has 10 players under contract, including Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Hart and Randle, and the goal is to retain its own free agents, starting with Anunoby and Hartenstein. Anunoby has a $19.9 million player option he will likely decline, while Hartenstein is an unrestricted free agent. Signing both players, however, could hurt the Knicks' depth. New York could be not only a luxury tax team for the first time since 2013-14, but also an apron team.

The Knicks join New Orleans as the only playoff teams to have multiple first-round picks in this year's draft. New York ranks behind only Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Utah in tradable firsts over the next seven years.

Offseason finances: Including the Anunoby $19.9 million player option and its first-round picks, New York has $154 million in salary. It is $17 million below the luxury tax and $23 million under the first apron. Anunoby has until June 24 to exercise his player option. New York could gain $17 million in financial flexibility, but that would require waiving Bogdanovic by June 28. Bogdanovic's $19 million salary is guaranteed for $2 million next season. The price tag of its own free agents will dictate whether New York has the $12.9 million non-tax midlevel, $5.1 million tax midlevel or veteran minimum exception. The Knicks have a second-round pick exception available to sign their own draft choice. They also have three trade exceptions: $6.8 million, $5.2 million and $3.8 million. The exceptions become frozen if the Knicks are in the apron.

Top front office priority: There is no denying how valuable Anunoby and Hartenstein have been this season. In the 31 regular-season and postseason games Anunoby played, New York was 26-5. It was slightly below .500 in the 27 regular-season games he missed with an elbow injury. Since the trade in late December, Anunoby ranked first by holding opponents to 35.7% shooting as the closest defender, per Second Spectrum. The impact on the court, however, is watered down by Anunoby's lack of availability. He has played an average of 50 games in the past four seasons. Anunoby is an All-NBA defender and should see a significant pay increase from his $19.9 million player option. The question is how much. The Knicks have meticulously structured their finances, with no player earning more than $30 million next season. Could Anunoby be the first? And would New York risk drawing a line in the sand financially, with teams like Detroit, Orlando, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia and Utah all projected to have at least $30 million in room? New York does not have the ability to replace him if he leaves in free agency. One thing to consider on a new Anunoby deal is the growth in the salary cap over its life. Because of a new television contract that begins in 2025-26, teams expect to see the cap increase annually by 10%.

Hartenstein's two-year, $16 million contract signed in 2022 proved to be one of the better-value deals in the NBA. Playing a career high in minutes, Hartenstein joined Anthony Davis and Victor Wembanyama as the only players with 85 blocks and 85 steals in a season. He became the first player since Moses Malone in 1982 to record 12 offensive rebounds and five assists in a playoff game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Hartenstein is a priority because of not only what he contributes on the court, but also the continual health concerns about Robinson, who tied a career low with 31 games played this season and underwent surgery twice on the same left ankle. Because Hartenstein has early Bird rights, the maximum New York can offer in a new contract is four years, $72.5 million. The other top free agent centers include Nic Claxton and Jonas Valanciunas.

Extension candidate to watch: Brunson has outplayed the four-year, $104 million contract he signed in 2022. Beginning July 12, he is eligible to sign a four-year, $156.5 million extension. The $34.9 million first year would replace the $24.9 million player option in 2025-26. Brunson averaged a career-high 28.6 points and had five games of 45 points or more. He had the best plus-minus of any player during the regular season since Jan. 1. From a financial sense, Brunson is better off to wait until the 2025 offseason and then sign a new contract. If he declines his option for 2025-26, he will become eligible to sign a five-year, $270 million contract. Randle is in a similar position, as the forward has two years but with a player option left on his contract. Starting Aug. 3, Randle is eligible to sign a four-year, $181.5 million extension if the option is declined, or a three-year $140.3 million extension if he opts in. Before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury, Randle averaged 23.9 points and 9.2 rebounds. He was named an All-Star for the third time in four years.

Other extension candidates: Anunoby (through June 30), Sims, Robinson (as of July 12), Burks (through June 30) and Bogdanovic (as of Oct. 30)

Team needs: Health and bench scoring if Bogdanovic and Burks are not brought back.

Future draft assets: Besides its own first, New York has firsts in 2025 from Detroit, Milwaukee and Washington. The Pistons' first is top-13 protected, top-11 protected in 2026 and top-9 protected in 2027. The Knicks will receive the Bucks' first if it falls outside of the top four. And finally, Washington will send its first top-10 protected and top-8 protected in 2026. New York has seven seconds available.

Oklahoma City Thunder

2023-24 record: 57-25

Draft picks in June: No. 12 (via HOU)

Free agents: Gordon Hayward, Bismack Biyombo, Mike Muscala, Isaiah Joe (T), Lindy Waters III (T), Aaron Wiggins (T), Olivier Sarr (R) and Keyontae Johnson (R)

State of the roster: "Not skipping steps." Those three words have been the mantra in Oklahoma City since the retooling of the roster started in the 2019 offseason. "As they say, shortcuts cut long runs short, and we're going to do everything in our power not to allow that to happen," president of basketball operations Sam Presti said after Oklahoma City went 22-50 in 2020-21. Three years later, there is no team set up better for sustainable success than the Thunder.

A roster with 11 players under the age of 26 won the third most games in franchise history and now enter the offseason with 12 players under contract for next year, including the starting five. The Thunder are the only playoff team with a lottery pick in the draft. Oklahoma City also has 13 first-round and 22 second-round picks over the next seven years. They are one of three playoff teams (Orlando and Philadelphia) to have a minimum of $30 million in cap space.

Offseason finances: Including the lottery pick from the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City has $107.8 million in salary and a projected $33 million in room. The minimum salary rules require Oklahoma City to spend at least $126.9 million by the first day of the regular season. The Thunder have up until June 29 to exercise the team option of Isaiah Joe ($2.2 million), Aaron Wiggins ($2 million) and Lindy Waters III ($2 million). Oklahoma City has the $8 million room midlevel exception if it acts as a room team.

Top front office priority: The direction with cap space. Because of future extensions with Jalen Williams, Chet Holmgren and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, there is a two-year window to maximize financial flexibility. New contracts with a significant raise for Williams and Holmgren would begin in 2026, and for Gilgeous-Alexander the following year. Having flexibility, however, does not mean Presti and his front office are set to go on a spending spree in free agency. The Thunder have prioritized building their roster through the draft, trades and low-risk free agent signings. The five players on the roster who signed as free agents -- Luguentz Dort, Isaiah Joe, Lindy Waters III, Bismack Biyombo and Mike Muscala -- earned no more than $2 million at the time they signed. The cautious approach in free agency, however, is not an indication Oklahoma City will be dormant. For example, last summer the Thunder used cap space to take back the contract of Davis Bertans, but with the incentive to move up two spots in the draft's first round and add Cason Wallace.

One approach Oklahoma City could take is to decline the Aaron Wiggins and Isaiah Joe team options and then reward both players with new contracts. Because of their low free agent holds, the Thunder can target teams in the apron and utilize cap space first (in a trade for example), then sign both players. Oklahoma City was plus-10.4 per 100 possessions during the playoffs with Wiggins on the floor. He averaged 6.9 points and shot a career 56.2% from the field in the regular season. Wiggins is an unrestricted free agent next offseason if the option is exercised. Joe shot a career-high 41.6% from 3 in the regular season and 45.8% in the playoffs. Because he would be an unrestricted free agent if the option is declined, both sides would need to work out an agreement before the start of free agency. Under the current CBA, a team and a player can begin negotiations on a new contract starting on the first day after the Finals conclude.

Extension candidate to watch: The big question this offseason is not what direction the Thunder take with cap space, but Josh Giddey's future. Giddey is the first of a long list of Thunder players who are extension-eligible now and in the future. For a third straight season, Giddey averaged at least 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4.5 assists. He became the fourth player in Seattle/Oklahoma City history with double-digit triple-doubles. There is a three-year body of work (he started 210 regular-season games since 2021) that shows Giddey is one of the league's top starters. What Oklahoma City needs to decide is whether that future is with the current roster or another team. In the second round of the playoffs, Giddey struggled on both ends of the court, and he came off the bench for the first time in his career in Game 5. Prior to Game 6, the Mavericks shot 60% (15-for-25) when Giddey was the primary defender. Dallas was 7-for-7 from the field in Game 2 when Giddey was the primary defender. Offensively, Giddey's struggles from the perimeter (he shot 21.4% from 3) allowed Dallas to use centers Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II to guard him. He has gotten 8.4 feet of separation between himself and the closest defender when taking a 3-pointer this postseason, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That is the fourth-largest separation among players with 25-plus 3-point attempts.

Other extension candidates: Jaylin Williams (as of July 19) and Gordon Hayward (through June 30)

Team needs: A rebounding rim-protector who can play alongside Chet Holmgren for stretches. The Thunder allowed the third-most second-chance points in the regular season and fourth most in the postseason.

Future draft assets: The Thunder have 33 future draft picks at their disposal, 13 first-rounders and 20 second-rounders. They also have the right to swap firsts in four separate years.

Below is the breakdown of first-round picks starting in 2025: All seven of their own Top-10 protected from Utah (2025, top-8 protected in 2026) Top-14 protected from Miami (2025, unprotected in 2026) Top-6 protected from Philadelphia (2025, top-4 protected in 2026 and 2027) *Unprotected from LA Clippers (2026) *Top-4 protected from Houston (2026) **Top-5 protected from Denver (2027, 2028 and 2029) Top-5 protected from Denver (2029 and 2030) **Swap rights: LA Clippers (2025 and 2027) Swap rights: Houston (2025, top-10 protected) Swap rights: Dallas (2028)

* In 2026, Oklahoma City will send the least favorable of their own, Houston or the LA Clippers to Philadelphia. ** In 2027, Oklahoma City has the right to swap their own first and Denver (if 5-30) for the LA Clippers.

Cleveland Cavaliers

2023-24 record: 48-34

Draft picks in June: No. 20 (own)

Free agents: Isaac Okoro (R), Damian Jones, Tristan Thompson, Isaiah Mobley (R), Emoni Bates (R) and Pete Nance (R)

State of the roster: The Cavaliers reached the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2017 and won 99 games the past two seasons, the fifth most of any team. The accomplishments of both, however, are short-lived as Cleveland enters one of the most important offseasons in franchise history. While the Cavaliers return 11 players, including the starting five, there are roster questions to what the future holds. Will All-Star Donovan Mitchell agree to a four-year, $208 million extension on the first day of free agency? And if not, can Cleveland afford to play out the season with Mitchell in the last year of his contract (he has a player option in 2025-26)? The likely answer is no, which would then force Cleveland to look for trade suitors. The Cavaliers still owe Utah three unprotected firsts (2025, 2027 and 2029) plus two years of pick swaps (2026 and 2028) from the 2022 Mitchell trade. There is also the conversation centered on the Mitchell and Darius Garland backcourt. The Cavaliers went 15-4 in the regular season when Mitchell started at point guard in the absence of Garland. They had a net efficiency of plus-8.6 in the regular season when Mitchell did not play with Garland. The efficiency dropped to plus-4.4 when both players shared the court. Prior to Game 5 of the second round, the Cavs were at minus-3.8 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs with both players on the court.

Mitchell isn't the only decision this offseason. Cleveland's starting frontcourt of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen is extension eligible. Isaac Okoro, a 2020 lottery pick, is a restricted free agent.

One thing for certain is that the benchmark of reaching the second round is not good enough. "Obviously, you're judged by conference finals and Finals," Mitchell told Cleveland.com before the playoffs. "That's my mindset."

Offseason finances: The Cavaliers balanced their cap ledger this season, staying below the luxury tax threshold by $1.3 million. Next year will present the same challenge. The Cavaliers have a decision with restricted free agent Isaac Okoro, and signing the forward could put them in the luxury tax for the first time since 2017-18, the last season LeBron James was on the roster. Okoro started 216 out of 279 games the past four seasons and shot a career-high 39.1% from 3. In a Game 7 win against Orlando, Okoro held Paolo Banchero to 4-13 from the field and 14 points. The Cavaliers have until June 29 to tender him a $11.8 million qualifying offer. Including their own first-round pick and the non/partial guaranteed contracts of Sam Merrill and Craig Porter, Cleveland is $10.5 million below the luxury tax. The use of the $12.9 million non-tax midlevel exception is dependent on the decision to sign Okoro, or if the Cavaliers create additional flexibility.

Top front office priority: The Mitchell extension talks will dictate the Cavaliers' offseason. "We've been talking to him, sure, for the last couple of years about extending this contract," owner Dan Gilbert told The Associated Press in late March. "We think he will extend. I think if you listen to him talk, he loves the city. He loves the situation in Cleveland because our players are very young and we're just kind of putting the core together that he's clearly the biggest part of." Mitchell has two years left on his contract ($34.9 million and $37.1 million) and is eligible to sign a four-year, $208 million extension starting on July 6. The 2025-26 player option is replaced with a starting salary of $46.5 million. He could earn an additional $61 million by signing in the 2025 offseason, when Cleveland could add a fifth season. There is significant risk not only to the Cavaliers but also to Mitchell by waiting. Mitchell played in the second-fewest games in his career this season (55) and dealt with a left knee injury after the All-Star break. He got a platelet-rich plasma injection on March 4 to treat a left knee bone bruise. Per Second Spectrum Sports, Mitchell averaged 3.2 fewer shots on layups and dunks after the All-Star break, shooting 44%. Before the break, Mitchell shot 64%.

Extension candidates to watch: Can Cleveland afford to sign Evan Mobley to a five-year, $215 million rookie max extension, and is that smart business considering the CBA limitations on how rosters are constructed? Cleveland would join Boston, Denver, Minnesota and Phoenix as the only teams with three players on max contracts. That is if Mitchell extends this season. Mobley earned All-NBA Defensive first team honors in 2023 and continues to play a big role in Cleveland's ranking in the top 10 of defensive efficiency the past two seasons. The Cavaliers gave up 112.5 points per 100 possessions when Mobley was on the court this season and 110.5 when he played center. Mobley improved from 32% his first two seasons to 36% this year on jump shots. He shot 46% from 3 in the final 12 games of the regular season. A five-year, $166 million extension is comparable to the 2021 contract Jaren Jackson Jr. signed with Memphis, but based on the salary cap increasing and an extra year. He is eligible to extend until Oct. 21. Jarrett Allen has two years left ($20 million in each season) and is eligible until Oct. 21 to sign a three-year, $90.7 million extension. For the third time in his career, Allen averaged a double-double in points and rebounds. According to Cleaning the Glass, Cleveland ranked in the 38th percentile in points per 100 possessions when Mobley and Allen played together.

Other extension candidates: Dean Wade (as of Sept. 27)

Team needs: Consistency from the bench and backup big who can roll and shoot. The Cleveland reserves shot 33% from the field and 24.6% on 3-pointers.

Future draft assets: The Cavaliers can trade their 2024 and 2031 firsts, starting the night of the draft. From the Mitchell trade, they will send Utah a 2025, 2027 and 2029 unprotected first. The Jazz also have the right to swap firsts with Cleveland in 2028. The Cavaliers can swap their own first in 2026, 2030 and 2031. Cleveland has eight seconds available.

Eliminated in first round Orlando Magic

2023-24 record: 47-35

Draft picks in June: No. 18 (own) and No. 47 (own)

Free agents: Goga Bitadze, Markelle Fultz, Joe Ingles (T), Chuma Okeke (R), Moritz Wagner (T), Kevon Harris (R), Trevelin Queen (R) and Admiral Schofield (R)

State of the roster: The Magic exceeded expectations this season by winning 47 games, a 13-win improvement from last season and a 25-win jump from the 2021-22 season. The fourth-youngest roster during the regular season ranked third in defensive efficiency and seventh in winning percentage in games decided in the clutch. The regular-season accomplishments, however, are overshadowed by losing in the first round, at least in the short term. Orlando now has to evaluate if its playoff shortcomings were a result of playoff inexperience, the offensive struggles that carried over from the regular season or a combination of both. The Magic ranked 22nd in offensive efficiency and 24th in 3-point shooting in the regular season. They were the only playoff team that ranked in the bottom 10 in shooting from deep.

"We have to be very cautious and very targeted in the way that we build out our next steps," Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said on the "Open Mike" podcast before the playoffs started. "But I will say, we definitely feel we'd be able to attract players we would not have been a couple of years ago. I don't think there is any reason we can't be thinking about how that can be a part of our planning moving forward to attract players from other teams."

The Magic have 11 players under contract including All-Star Paolo Banchero, and are one of three playoff teams (Oklahoma City and Philadelphia) that will have significant cap space this summer. Besides the financial flexibility to add in free agency (or a possible trade), the Magic have five tradable firsts and no player earning more than $17 million.

Offseason finances: The Magic ranked in the bottom three in payroll the past three seasons, building the roster through the draft and low-cost acquisitions in free agency. Even with 11 players under contract and the addition of a first-round pick, Orlando could create up to $35 million in room. The projection takes into consideration picking up the team options of Ingles and Moritz Wagner and not waiving Jonathan Isaac, whose $17.4 million salary is non-guaranteed. Orlando has until June 29 to pick up the Ingles and Wagner options for next season. The Magic will likely have the $8 million room midlevel exception and the second-round exception available this summer.

Top front office priority: Besides extension talks with Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs, the Magic will need to figure out how to improve the offense without taking away their identity on defense or impeding the development of their young players, all while maintaining their financial flexibility in the future. Would it make sense to offer lucrative contracts to free agents Tyus Jones and Klay Thompson? The Magic's payroll is expected to increase in 2025 because of possible extensions for Suggs and Franz Wagner, then again the following season with Banchero's extension. Reshaping the offense starts with finding a facilitator to create easier shots for Banchero and Franz Wagner. The Magic ranked 28th in assists this season with Suggs, Anthony Black and Markelle Fultz each starting at point guard. Banchero and Franz Wagner led Orlando in assists. Per Cleaning the Glass, Suggs and Black ranked in the bottom 25th percentile in assist-to-usage rate at their position, while Jones ranked in the 95th percentile with the Washington Wizards. The Magic also need to address a lack of shooters on the roster. Orlando continued to rank as one the worst 3-point shooting teams, evident by the loss to the Cavaliers. No player on the roster shot greater than 40% from deep and starting shooting guard Gary Harris is a free agent. The list of available shooting guards includes Thompson, Malik Monk, Buddy Hield, Gary Trent Jr. and Luke Kennard (if his $14.5 million team option is declined).

Extension candidates to watch: The Magic have prioritized drafting, developing and then retaining their own players. In recent offseasons, Orlando re-signed Fultz, Isaac, Wendell Carter Jr. and Cole Anthony. Suggs and Franz Wagner are next in line. Wagner averaged a career-high 19.7 points, and had 11 games this season with 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. In the Game 3 win, Wagner scored 34 points and missed only four shots. But he struggled shooting the basketball this season and had a rapid decline after the All-Star break. Wagner shot 29.1% on all jumpers (29.5% on catch-and-shoot jumpers) and ranked last among players with at least 100 attempts per Second Spectrum. After the All-Star break he shot 18.5% on 3-pointers. Suggs is the quarterback of a defense that ranked in the top three this season. He tied for eighth in steals and ranked in the top 10 in defensive estimated plus-minus. Suggs shot a career-high 47.1% from the field and 39.7% on 3-pointers.

Other extension candidates: Fultz (through June 30), Harris (through June 30), Isaac, Carter (as of Oct. 1) and Caleb Houstan (as of July 10)

Team needs: Facilitator on offense, 3-point shooting and depth at center.

Future draft assets: The Magic are one of seven teams that control their own first-round pick over the next seven years. They can also trade swap rights in each year. The Nuggets owe the Magic a first-round pick. It is top-5 protected in 2025, 2026 and 2027. Orlando has the right to swap its 2026 first for the less favorable of Phoenix and Washington. Orlando has 12 second-round picks available.

LA Clippers

2023-24 record: 51-31

Draft picks in June: No. 46 (via IND)

Free agents: Paul George (P), James Harden, Mason Plumlee, P.J. Tucker (P), Daniel Theis, Russell Westbrook (P), Moussa Diabate (R), Brandon Boston Jr. (R) and Xavier Moon (R)

State of the roster: The 35-14 record prior to Feb. 6 gave a glimpse to what the Clippers could accomplish when healthy. LA was 44-24 during the regular season when Harden, George and Kawhi Leonard were on the court together. The first-round loss to the Mavericks, however, provided a stark reminder of how fragile the current roster is. For a third time in four postseasons, the Clippers were eliminated with Leonard on the sideline because of an injury. Since tearing his ACL in Game 4 of the 2021 West semifinals, Leonard has played in only four of 19 playoff games. The second-most expensive roster in NBA history enters the offseason with the same durability questions from years past. This summer however is different. George has a player option and could become a free agent if an extension is not worked out prior to June 30. Harden is an unrestricted free agent. Re-signing both players would put the Clippers over the second apron. Leonard's three-year, $150 million extension did show the Clippers are comfortable being in the apron next season. If both players are not signed, the Clippers would open their new arena, the Intuit Dome, with the oft-injured Leonard and a collection of reserves. LA would still be over the salary cap if George leaves.

Offseason finances: The Clippers' current salaries have them in the second apron. From now until June 30, LA is not allowed to send out cash in a trade, take back more money than it receives in a trade, or aggregate contracts sent out. George's $48.8 million player option for next season will determine if the Clippers remain above the $189.6 million second apron. If George signs for a comparable starting salary and Harden returns, the Clippers will likely exceed $200 million in payroll. LA is also a repeater tax team and will once again pay a significant luxury tax penalty. In the scenario where George and Harden do not return, the Clippers would have the $12.9 million non-taxpayer midlevel exception and the $4.7 million biannual exception. George, Tucker ($11.5 million) and Westbrook ($4.5 million) have until June 29 to opt in to their contracts. Despite their finances, the Clippers are allowed to use the second-round exception to sign their draft choice to a contract of three or four seasons.

Top front office priority: There are three questions the Clippers will need to ask regarding the futures of George and Harden: (1) Who are we bidding against? (2) Is there a walk away number if the price is too rich? (3) What is the option to replace either player? The Clippers cannot afford to lose George and Harden. However, considering their finances and the players' ages (both are 34), there has to be a compromise on the next contract. There is also the question of whether Leonard's three-year, $150 million extension set the bar on a new contract for George, who played his most games (74) since 2018-19 and shot a career-high 41% on 3-pointers. He and Leonard were the only players to average 20 points and 1.5 steals and shoot 40% on 3-pointers this season. But George is 34 years old and, like Leonard, had not been durable prior to this year. He played a total of 87 regular-season games in 2021-22 and 2022-23. He is eligible to sign up to a four-year, $221 million extension through June 30. The extension is the same contract the Clippers can offer if George becomes a free agent in July. There is only a $9 million difference between what the Clippers could offer and what George could get from another team.

Playoff teams such as the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers have significant cap space to offer a lucrative contract to George. However, the Magic and Thunder are facing a financial crunch in the near future. Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs and Josh Giddey are eligible to sign extensions this offseason and then Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, Jalen Williams and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could do the same the following year. The 76ers, on the other hand, have the cap space to sign George outright. There are also lottery teams (Detroit, San Antonio and Utah) with cap space.

Harden, who will turn 35 on Aug. 26, played a big role in the Clippers having the second-best record in the NBA prior to Feb. 6. In 48 games prior to the All-Star break, Harden averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 assists and 2.5 turnovers. The turnovers were his fewest since the 2011-12 season in Oklahoma City. However, as the Clippers struggled down the stretch, so did Harden. In the last 16 games of the regular season, Harden averaged 12.7 points and shot 36% from the field. He averaged 26 points and 7 assists in the first four games of the first round, before a 2-for-12 from the field, 7-point and 0-assist dud in Game 5. It was his 13th career playoff game of shooting 20% or worse from the field while taking at least 10 shots, the most such games in the shot clock era.

Considering that a return to Philadelphia or Oklahoma City is unlikely, Harden's options are limited. Both players could look at sign-and-trade options but that would require the cooperation of the Clippers.

Extension candidate to watch: Including George, the Clippers have eight players eligible to sign an extension this offseason. Sixth man Norman Powell ranked fifth in the NBA in 3-point percentage during the regular season, shooting a career high 43.5% from deep. He has two years left ($19.2 and $20.5 million) and the Clippers can extend for an additional three seasons starting in 2026-27. Terance Mann averaged 9.9 points, shooting 58% from the field and 44% on 3-pointers after Jan. 1. He started a career-high 71 games and the Clippers had a net rating of plus-11.5 points per 100 possessions with the lineup of Mann, Harden, George, Leonard and Ivica Zubac. Mann is eligible to sign a four-year, $78.7 million extension. He has one year left on his contract and is an unrestricted free agent in 2025.

Other extension candidates: Bones Hyland, Boston (through June 30), Zubac, Amir Coffey and Tucker.

Team needs: Depth at power forward and center. A floor-spacer to limit double-teams on Leonard and George.

Future draft assets: The George and Harden trades have left the Clippers thin with tradable first-round picks. They can trade their 2030 or 2031 first-round pick, but not both (they could also trade swap rights on those picks). The Thunder have the right to swap firsts in 2025 and 2027. They also have an unprotected Clippers first in 2026. LA will send an unprotected 2028 first to Philadelphia. The 76ers also have the right to swap firsts in 2029 (top-3 protected). The Clippers have two second-round picks available.

Philadelphia 76ers

2023-24 record: 47-35

Draft picks in June: No. 16 and No. 41 (via CHI)

Free agents: Tyrese Maxey (R), Tobias Harris, De'Anthony Melton, Nicolas Batum, Kyle Lowry, Cameron Payne, Robert Covington, Buddy Hield, KJ Martin, Kelly Oubre Jr., Mo Bamba, Jeff Dowtin Jr. (T) and Terquavion Smith (R)

State of the roster: Starting with the decision not to extend Tyrese Maxey last July and the James Harden trade in early November, 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has spent the better part of the past year preserving cap space, building up Philadelphia's draft equity and waiting for the next All-Star to become available, either in a trade or free agency. The 76ers have nearly $60 million in cap space and five tradable first-round picks starting the night of the draft, plus two franchise pillars in Maxey and Joel Embiid. Philadelphia went 31-8 during the regular season when Embiid and Maxey started together. In addition to solving how to use the 76ers' cap space, Morey has to prioritize which of Philadelphia's league-high 12 free agents fit going forward.

Offseason finances: The 76ers are in the driver's seat with cap space this offseason, but creating financial flexibility does come at a significant cost. Philadelphia could create up to $65 million in space, but that would require the 76ers renounce all their free agents except Maxey, waive their nonguaranteed contracts and trade their first-round pick without taking back any salary. The contracts of Paul Reed ($7.7 million), Jeff Dowtin Jr. ($2.2 million) and Ricky Council IV ($1.9 million) are nonguaranteed.

Top front office priority: Maxey has had to wait nearly a year to sign a new contract, as Philadelphia prioritized having cap space. Because Maxey has a $13 million free agent hold and his next contract will likely start at $35 million (a projected five years, $204.5 million), Maxey will once again be in a holding pattern until Philadelphia exhausts all cap space options. Maxey averaged a career-high 25.9 points and 6.2 assists and was named Most Improved Player. In the nearly 2,000 possessions Maxey shared the court with Embiid, the 76ers scored 124.2 points per possession and had a net rating of plus-11.1. Maxey joined Wilt Chamberlain and Allen Iverson as the only players in 76ers history to average 25 points and 5 assists in a season while playing at least 50 games.

Signing Maxey to a max deal is the easy part. The creativity will come with how the 76ers' front office assembles a championship roster with a less-than-star-studded free-agent class.

LeBron James, Paul George, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam all could become free agents (James and George have player options). But history has shown All-Star-level free agents do not change teams in free agency. Plus Anunoby and Siakam were traded during the season, and their new teams (New York and Indiana) intend to re-sign them. Signing George to a max contract starting at $49 million would require the 76ers renounce all their free agents and then build out the roster with the remaining cap space, the $8 million room midlevel exception and veterans minimum exception.

Chasing an All-Star free agent is not the only option. Philadelphia could look to retain its own free agents (Lowry, Batum, Melton and Oubre for example) and then split up the near $60 million in room among a group of free agents that includes Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Klay Thompson, DeMar DeRozan, Miles Bridges, Malik Monk and Tyus Jones.

One scenario that should not be overlooked is Philadelphia targeting an All-Star in a trade. Besides cap space and the ability to use their own free agents in a sign-and-trade, the 76ers have five tradable firsts and multiple pick swaps available.

Extension candidate to watch: Signing Embiid to a three-year, $193.5 million extension on July 18 would seem like a no-brainer for the 76ers' front office. Embiid is in the prime of his career (he turned 30 in March), won an MVP in 2022-23 and has averaged double-figure points and rebounds in seven straight seasons. Embiid joined Chamberlain (1963-64) as the only players to average 35 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in a single season. However, paying to keep Embiid in a 76ers uniform through the 2028-29 season will not be an easy decision. Embiid is an MVP candidate when he is healthy, but his availability has been sporadic. Embiid underwent surgery on his left knee in February, the fifth surgery of his NBA career. He has missed 336 games since the 2014-15 season, and there should be concern paying him $59.7 million, $64.5 million and $69.3 million in three seasons on a new contract, especially when there are already three years left (the last year is a player option) on his current deal.

Other extension candidates: None

Team needs: Starters to compliment Maxey and Embiid. Bench depth.

Future draft assets: Trading James Harden to the Clippers restored some of the draft equity Philadelphia had lost in prior trades. The 76ers can trade their 2024 first-round pick starting the night of the draft. They also have the least-favorable 2026 first from Oklahoma City, Houston (if 5-30) and the Clippers. They are owed an unprotected first from the Clippers in 2028 and have the right to swap firsts with LA in 2029 (if 4-30). In total, Philadelphia can trade up to five firsts starting in late June. The 76ers owe the Thunder a first-round pick from the Al Horford trade. The pick is top-six protected in 2025 and top-four protected in 2026. Two years after the draft obligation is met to the Thunder, Philadelphia will then send a top-eight-protected first to Brooklyn. The 76ers have four second-round picks available.

Milwaukee Bucks

2023-24 record: 49-33

Draft picks in June: No. 23 (via NO) and No. 33 (via POR)

Free agents: Malik Beasley, Jae Crowder, Patrick Beverley, Danilo Gallinari, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and TyTy Washington Jr.

State of the roster: Expensive and fragile. Do not expect another knee-jerk reaction to Milwaukee losing in the first round of the playoffs. How could there be when Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the entire series against the Indiana Pacers and Damian Lillard did not play in Games 4 and 5. Anteokounmpo also missed Games 2 and 3 of the first-round loss last year to Miami. The Bucks are now left to evaluate whether a healthy version of this roster can compete at a championship level after a full training camp under Doc Rivers, who replaced Adrian Griffin as coach midseason. Milwaukee was 17-18 after Rivers took over in January, ranking 18th in offensive efficiency and 15th in defensive efficiency. The Bucks were also 5-11 in clutch games under Rivers. Antetokounmpo, Lillard and Khris Middleton played only eight games together with Rivers as head coach, going 3-5. They were 25-9 under Griffin. The three players shared the floor for 758 minutes this season, and Milwaukee had a plus-17.5 net rating in those minutes, which was the second-best net efficiency among trios to play at least 600 minutes together.

The Bucks leveraged their future with the Lillard trade and then confirmed this was a championship-or-bust season when Griffin was replaced with Rivers. Because of the trade, Milwaukee does not control its own first-round pick until 2031 (the Bucks do have two picks in the top 35 this June) and has $152 million in committed salary next season to Lillard, Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez.

Offseason finances: For a fifth straight season, Milwaukee is projected to be a luxury tax team. The Bucks have $183 million in salary and are $12 million over the tax threshold. They are over the first apron and will exceed the second once their roster is filled out. By being a second-apron team, the Bucks are not allowed to take back more salary than they send out in a trade, aggregate outgoing contracts, send cash in a trade, acquire a player in a sign-and-trade or use the $5.1 million taxpayer midlevel exception. The Bucks would be allowed to trade Lopez and his $23 million expiring contract and take back multiple players in return (as long as they make less than a combined $23 million). AJ Green's $2.1 million salary for next season will become guaranteed if he is not waived before July 8.

Top front office priority: The Bucks could lose Beasley, Crowder and Beverley to free agency, because they are over the apron and cannot offer a starting salary of $4.0 million to each player. How Milwaukee replaces the 23.5 points per game and 110 starts that group made this season will come down to two options. The first is signing players to the one-year veterans minimum. The downside of that strategy would be having to go through the same process next offseason. The second option would be making a concerted effort in developing some of their young players -- Green, MarJon Beauchamp, Chris Livingston, Andre Jackson Jr. and their two draft picks -- into 15-20 minute players. Thanks to all the injuries in the playoffs, Jackson played 25 minutes in the Game 4 loss to the Pacers. He was the only Milwaukee player to play at least five minutes and have a positive plus-minus. Green averaged 13.9 minutes after the All-Star break and finished the regular season shooting 40.8% on 3-pointers. Extension candidate to watch: Bobby Portis has outplayed the four-year, $48.6 million contract he signed in 2022. The forward finished third in Sixth Man of the Year voting and ranked second in total points off the bench this season. His $12.5 million salary next season is below the non-taxpayer midlevel exception and average player salary. For the second time in his career, Portis shot better than 50% from the field and 40% on 3-pointers. He is eligible to sign a four-year, $78.9 million extension this offseason. The total value of the extension is greater than his career earnings to date. The $17.6 million first-year salary would replace his existing $13.4 million team option in 2025-26.

Other extension candidates: Pat Connaughton

Team needs: The playoff version of Middleton and bench depth. Middleton averaged a playoff-career-high 26.2 points but played in only 55 regular-season games, averaging 27.2 minutes and 15 points.

Future draft assets: Milwaukee can trade its 2024 and 2031 first-round picks starting the night of the draft. The Bucks will send their 2025 first-round pick to New Orleans (if 1-4) or New York (if 5-30). The Pelicans also have the right to swap firsts in 2026 and have an unprotected 2027 first from Milwaukee. The Trail Blazers have the right to swap firsts in 2028 and 2030. Portland will also receive an unprotected first in 2029. The Bucks have one second-round pick available to trade, 2031.

Miami Heat

2023-24 record: 46-36

Draft picks in June: No. 15 (own) and No. 43 (own)

Free agents: Caleb Martin (P), Thomas Bryant (P), Kevin Love (P), Delon Wright, Patty Mills, Josh Richardson (P), Haywood Highsmith, Jamal Cain (R), Alondes Williams (R) and Cole Swider (R)

State of the roster: By the Heat's standards, this season should be described as a failure. How could it not be? Miami reached the NBA Finals this past June, traded a future first-round pick for Terry Rozier in January and finished the season with the NBA's seventh-highest payroll (Miami will pay a $15.7 million luxury tax penalty). But how can Heat president Pat Riley and his front office evaluate a roster that missed the fifth-most games to injuries and used 35 different starting lineups, the most in franchise history and tied for fifth most among teams this season?

Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler played 27 regular-season games and a total of 499 minutes together. Butler and Rozier missed the first-round loss to Boston. The rotating door of lineups resulted in a 22-21 record in clutch games, after finishing 10 games above .500 in the clutch last season. Despite the inconsistent lineups and unknown availability each night, the Heat still ranked second in defensive efficiency after Jan. 31. This roster's improvement depends on four factors: health, roster consistency, development of their recent picks (Nikola Jovic, Jaime Jaquez Jr., and the player they select in June) and the front office getting their cap ledger in order.

The financial element holds a higher priority this offseason. As Adrian Wojnarowski reported, Miami continues to be a destination for star players under contract who ask to be traded. However, Miami is a projected second-apron team next offseason, meaning the Heat will be at a significant disadvantage when trying to get into the conversation if that player does become available.

Offseason finances: There are two financial windows as it relates to the finances in Miami. The Heat, as currently constructed, are $5.1 million over the first apron and $5.2 million below the second. Because of the apron restrictions in the new collective bargaining agreement, Miami is not allowed to take back more money in a trade than it sends out or use its three existing trade exceptions ($9.5 million, $7.2 million and $6.5 million). If the Heat send out money or aggregate contracts as part of a trade from now until June 30, the $189.6 million second apron hard cap is triggered for next season, which will make it difficult to make a trade for the next disgruntled All-Star. Starting July 1, Miami has $189.5 million in salary and is right at the second apron when taking into account its first-round pick, the four players with player options, and Herro's unlikely bonuses. Martin ($7.1 million), Love ($4 million), Richardson ($3.1 million) and Bryant ($2.8 million) each have until June 29 to opt in to their contracts. If the Heat finish in the second apron after the 2024-25 season concludes, they will not be allowed to trade their 2032 first-round pick.

Top front office priority: Navigating Butler's future. No one can doubt what Butler has meant to the Heat. Before his arrival in 2019, Miami had missed the playoffs in two of three seasons and had not reached the Finals since 2014. With Butler, Miami has advanced to three Eastern Conference finals and two NBA Finals in the past five seasons. Butler is one of nine players to have higher career averages in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks in the playoffs compared to the regular season. This past season, Butler was one of eight players to average 20 points on 40% on 3-pointers and 85% on free throws. But for all of that, Butler will turn 35 years old in September and has failed to play more than 65 games in each of the past four seasons. Butler saw his field goal percentage drop from 54% to 50% this year, largely due to his struggles at finishing near the rim. Per Second Spectrum, Butler shot 44% on drives this season (seventh worst in the NBA among players with at least 250 field goal attempts) and 59% on layups and dunks. Last season, Butler shot 52% on drives and 63% on layups/dunks.

Butler is owed $48.8 million next season and holds a $52.4 million player option for the 2025-26 season. Starting July 7, he can sign a one-year, $58.6 million extension (keeping the current 2025-26 salary intact) or a two-year, $112.9 million extension (voiding the player option). The Heat will need to decide whether rewarding Butler with a new contract is in their best interest long term and then analyze what type of fallout comes if Butler is not extended.

Extension candidate to watch: One player who should not be in a holding pattern on a new contract is Adebayo. Expect to see his name on the All-Defensive team for a fifth straight season, Adebayo is eligible to sign a three-year, $165 million extension in July. The new deal would begin with a $51.2 million salary in 2026-27, when Adebayo will be 29 years old. Adebayo is one of seven players to defend at least 175 shots in half-court matchups against guards, forwards and centers. He held opponents to a 48% effective field goal percentage as the contesting defender, which ranked in the top 10 among players to contest at least 800 shots according to Second Spectrum. The Heat ranked second in defensive efficiency this season when Adebayo was on the court.

Other extension candidates: Martin (if option is exercised), Highsmith (through June 30), Duncan Robinson and Rozier (as of July 30)

Team needs: A facilitator at point guard and bench depth.

Future draft assets: The Heat owe Oklahoma City a top-14-protected first-round pick in 2025 but are allowed to trade their own 2024 first starting on the night of the draft. The pick owed to the Thunder will be unprotected in 2026 if not conveyed in 2025. The Heat also owe a first-round pick to Charlotte. If the pick conveys to OKC in 2025, the Hornets will get the Heat's pick in 2027 (top-14 protected). That pick would be unprotected in 2028. The Heat are allowed to trade a first-rounder two years after the conditions to Charlotte have been met (starting in 2028 or 2029). Miami has three second-round picks available.

Los Angeles Lakers

2023-24 record: 47-35

Draft picks in June: No. 17* (own) and No. 55 (via LAC)

Note: The Lakers owe a first-round pick to the Pelicans. New Orleans can take this year's pick or defer it to 2025. The deadline to defer is June 1.

Free agents: LeBron James (P), D'Angelo Russell (P), Max Christie (R), Spencer Dinwiddie, Jaxson Hayes (P), Cam Reddish (P), Taurean Prince, Christian Wood (P), Colin Castleton (R), Skylar Mays (R) and Harry Giles III

State of the roster: Inconsistent.

Let's start with the positives. The Lakers had the NBA's fifth-most wins after Feb. 1 and an offensive rating that ranked third. LeBron James and Anthony Davis played at an All-NBA level and both played more than 70 games. They had 24 wins in games decided in the clutch, tied for third most in the league. The Lakers used 20 fewer lineups than last season and the starting group of D'Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, James, Rui Hachimura and Davis had a net rating of plus-6.3 points per 100 possessions.

The positives, however, are overshadowed by a second consecutive playoff loss at the hands of the Denver Nuggets.

Where the Lakers go from here resides with the options and eventual decisions by Lakers GM Rob Pelinka.

The first decision was made when Pelinka fired coach Darvin Ham Friday. Ham is the first Lakers coach to make the playoffs and not return the following season since Phil Jackson in 2011, per ESPN Stats & Information. This is the third time in six offseasons that the Lakers will hire a new head coach.

As for the roster, Pelinka could choose the path of continuity and run back the same roster that finished 21-10 after the All-Star break. The Lakers have 12 players under contract, including James, Russell, Wood, Hayes and Reddish, all of whom hold player options for 2024-25. They will also have a first-round pick if the Pelicans elect to defer until 2025. Continuity does come at a cost considering the Lakers would exceed the luxury tax and first apron if the same roster returns. It would also mark a second straight offseason of keeping the core parts together. Before turning their season around in late February, this Lakers roster had gone 27-32 this season.

The Lakers reached the playoffs despite being tied for fourth in most games missed because of injury. Last offseason's additions of Reddish, Gabe Vincent and rookie Jalen Hood-Schifino all missed significant time this season. Jarred Vanderbilt played just 29 games.

The more realistic option is Pelinka taking an aggressive approach in the trade market.

The Lakers will go from having one tradable first-round pick (2029) to three (2024 or 2025, 2029 and 2031) starting the night of the draft, giving them more options if an All-Star becomes available. They can also trade swap rights in 2026, 2028, 2029, 2030 and 2031. Russell cannot be traded in the offseason unless he picks up his player option or works a sign-and-trade in July. If he opted out and did not return, the Lakers would have only four larger tradable contracts (outside of James and Davis): Reaves, Vincent, Hachimura and Vanderbilt.

One difficulty with the plan to find another superstar is the new collective bargaining agreement, which restricts how much high-spending teams can add to their rosters.

Offseason finances: The Lakers are currently operating as a team below both aprons but must have an eye toward their 2024-25 finances if they make any trade. Currently they are allowed to take back more money in a trade, aggregate contracts to trade for a single player making a high salary, and send cash in a trade. However, using any of the three starting on July 1 would trigger the second apron. The first apron also gets triggered if the Lakers take back more money than they send out in any trade. Including their first-round pick, Los Angeles is over the $178.7 million first apron next season and is $4.8 million below the $189.6 million second apron. The Lakers are projected to be a repeater tax team for the fourth consecutive season. If the Lakers retain their first-round pick and re-sign restricted free agent Max Christie, they will likely be a second apron team. If the Lakers finish in the second apron after the 2024-25 season concludes, their 2032 first is frozen and unavailable in a future trade. They could gain some flexibility if Wood, Hayes and Reddish decline their player options and either sign back with the Lakers at a lesser salary or with another team. For example, Wood signing for the one-year veteran minimum saves the Lakers $1 million. Those three players, along with Russell ($18.7 million) and James ($51.4 million), have until June 29 to opt in to their contracts. The Lakers will have the second-round exception available to sign their pick to a three-year or four-year contract. The Lakers will have the $12.9 million non-tax midlevel exception if Russell declines his option and signs with a new team. They do not have the $4.7 million biannual exception because it was used last offseason to sign Taurean Prince.

Top front office priority: The next contract for James and Russell's option highlight the to-do list for the Lakers' front office. James has made it clear on multiple occasions that his playing career is coming to an end.

"Not very long," James said in March on how long he sees himself playing. "Not very long. I'm on the other side, obviously, of the hill. So I'm not going to play another 21 years, that's for damn sure. But not very long."

If James opts out, he is eligible to sign a three-year, $162 million contract that would run through the 2026-27 season. The contract would be the largest in his career, and James would be allowed to negotiate a no-trade clause. A three-year max salary for a 39-year-old would normally be deemed as a toxic contract, but James just played his most games since 2017-18 and continues to defy Father Time, shooting a career-high 41.6% on 3-pointers. He will likely earn All-NBA honors for a 20th consecutive season. James could also go the short-term route and sign a two-year, $104 million contract. The second year would be a player option, allowing James to once again become a free agent next offseason.

Russell could test free agency by declining his $18.7 million option and sign with a team that has room. There is also the option of signing for less with a team that has the $12.9 million non-tax midlevel exception. With Russell not on the roster, the Lakers would have financial flexibility below the luxury tax and first apron, but they'd also have a void at starting point guard. They could use backup Gabe Vincent, last year's first-round pick Jalen Hood-Schifino or the $12.9 million non-tax midlevel exception as a replacement -- or draft one in the first round this year if the Pelicans defer the pick. The Lakers were 15-3 in games when Russell scored at least 25 points and 9-2 when he attempted 11 3-pointers or more. However, he has struggled against Denver the past two postseasons, going scoreless in the Game 3 loss this year.

Extension candidate to watch: If he picks up his player option, James will become extension eligible on Aug. 18. The maximum extension the Lakers can offer James is two years, $112.9 million. Salary in 2025-26 would be $54.3 million. Team needs: Frontcourt depth, perimeter shooting, another ball handler who can create for others and lineup consistency with the bench. Los Angeles gave up the fourth-most second-chance points, but should get a boost with a healthy Vanderbilt. Perimeter scoring from the bench continues to be a problem. The Lakers ranked 24th in 3-point shooting and 26th in scoring from their reserves.

Draft assets: The Lakers owe New Orleans an unprotected first in 2025 (if the Pelicans elect to defer) and 2027 top-4 protected first to Utah. Including the Clippers' pick in June, the Lakers have five second-round picks available to trade.

New Orleans Pelicans

2023-24 record: 49-33

Draft picks in June: No. 17 (via LAL) and No. 21 (via MIL)

Note: The Pelicans have the option to defer the Lakers pick to 2025 (deadline to make that decision is June 1). 

Free agents: Naji Marshall, Jonas Valanciunas, Jose Alvarado (T), Cody Zeller, Matt Ryan (R), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (T), and Dereon Seabron (R)

State of the roster: How do the Pelicans evaluate their roster moving forward? Is it the 49 wins during the regular season, second most in franchise history and career high 70 games played by Zion Williamson. Or is it the first-round sweep at the hands of Oklahoma City without Williamson. The decision is not easy considering the core of Williamson, CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram have never appeared in a playoff game together. The Pelicans had a minus-3.2 net rating when the trio shared the floor this season (737 minutes). New Orleans had a 111.2 offensive efficiency in those minutes, a mark lower than the 24th-place Raptors (111.8). The Pelicans also went 14-15 in clutch games and ranked bottom-seven in offensive and net efficiency in clutch time. Keeping the roster intact is set to become costly. Williamson has four years and $163 million left on his contract. McCollum is owed $64 million over the next two seasons. Meanwhile, Ingram is entering the last year of his contract and eligible to sign a four-year, $208 million max extension. New Orleans also must address the pending free agency of Valanciunas, the team's starting center, and a possible rookie extension for Trey Murphy III. The Pelicans do have draft capital to upgrade the center position outside of re-signing Valanciunas. They have a lottery pick this year, and they will likely have two first-round picks in 2025 (assuming they defer the Lakers pick). New Orleans also has an unprotected first from the Bucks in 2027.

Offseason finances: New Orleans dodged the luxury tax this season. To avoid paying it for the first time in franchise history, the Pelicans will need to either trim payroll or decline to bring back Valanciunas and Marshall. Including the two first-round picks, New Orleans has $161.5 million in salary on the books for next season, $9.8 million below the tax line. New Orleans has until June 29 to exercise the $2 million team options of Alvarado and Robinson-Earl. The free agency of Marshall and Valanciunas will dictate whether New Orleans has the $12.9 million non-taxpayer midlevel exception or the $5.1 million taxpayer midlevel. The Pelicans also have a $5.7 million trade exception.

Top front office priority: Ingram's future and filling the void at center highlight the Pelicans' to-do list. Signing Ingram to a four-year, $208 million extension on the first day of free agency should be an easy negotiation. Ingram is only 26 years old and has averaged at least 20 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in the past five seasons. He shot a career best 53% on 2-pointers this season and ranked fifth in midrange field goals per game. But the $50 million average salary on the extension comes with a significant risk. Ingram has missed 154 games since the 2016-17 season and played just 55, 45 and 64 games in the past three seasons. He shot 4-of-12 in 25 minutes and was benched for the last 7:38 of the play-in loss to the Lakers, which was only the second time Ingram played since injuring his left knee on March 21. He averaged 16.3 points and shot 41.4% from the field in the first-round. The Pelicans have to ask whether paying a combined $115 million to Ingram, Williamson and McCollum in 2025-26 is smart business. New Orleans would be top-heavy in salary, especially if Murphy is extended in the offseason. The bigger risk, however, is the distraction of Ingram coming back on an expiring contract if extension talks stall. The Pelicans are in a position to either pay Ingram or look for trade suitors. A potential trade could have a domino effect on the roster considering there is a void at center. Valanciunas has started 235 games since 2021-22, including all 82 games this season. He averaged his fewest rebounds (8.7) since 2018-19 and played only 5.9 minutes per game in the fourth quarter. New Orleans ranked 23rd in field goal percentage allowed at the rim per Second Spectrum. Last season they finished last. The options at center without Valanciunas include backup Larry Nance Jr., their own first-round pick, an Ingram trade, or using the $12.9 million non-taxpayer midlevel exception to sign a center. Valanciunas, Nicolas Claxton and Isaiah Hartenstein are the top three free agent centers. There is a considerable drop off after that.

Extension candidate to watch: The Pelicans have prioritized retaining their draft picks, including Williamson in 2022 and Herbert Jones in July. Murphy is now also eligible to sign a rookie extension. Murphy averaged a career-high 14.7 points this season and shot better than 38% on 3-pointers for the third consecutive season. He is one of two players in Pelicans history with 150-plus made 3-pointers in multiple seasons (CJ McCollum is the other). The Pelicans had a plus-7.7 net rating with Murphy on the floor this season. Extensions for Ingram and Murphy could push the Pelicans close to the luxury tax threshold in 2025-26. Alvarado continues to outplay the four-year, $6.9 million contract signed in 2022. In the play-in loss to the Lakers, Alvarado had a net rating of plus-17.5 points per 100 possessions. He finished the regular season plus-11.9. Alvarado became eligible for an extension on March 28. He has a $2 million team option for next season.

Other extension candidates: Marshall (through June 30), Valanciunas (through June 30), Nance (as of Oct. 1) and McCollum (as of Sept. 26).

Team needs: A starting center who can close games, a rim-protector and a facilitating point guard. Valanciunas averaged 5.9 minutes in the fourth quarter, last among starters. He had the worst effective field goal percentage among all centers in shots attempted between 1 and 5 feet from the rim, per Second Spectrum Sports.

Future draft assets: The Pelicans have up to six tradable firsts over the next seven years. Besides their own first, the Pelicans have either a 2024 or 2025 unprotected first from the Lakers. They have until June 1 to defer until next season. The Pelicans have the right to swap firsts with Milwaukee in 2026 and also have the Bucks' unprotected first in 2027. The Bucks will also send New Orleans their 2025 first, but only if it falls in the top four. New Orleans has two seconds available.

Phoenix Suns

2023-24 record: 49-33

Draft picks in June: No. 22 (own)

Free agents: Royce O'Neale, Bol Bol, Drew Eubanks (P), Eric Gordon (P), Damion Lee (P), Josh Okogie (P), Thaddeus Young, Udoka Azubuike, Saben Lee (R) and Ish Wainright (R)

State of the roster: Expensive and restrictive. Outside of hiring a new coach, the Suns have all but exhausted their options in how they can change the roster. For better or worse, Phoenix is married to the most expensive roster in NBA history, and for the second time in as many offseasons, will search for a new coach after firing Frank Vogel. It is unlikely that owner Mat Ishbia will do an about-face and explore breaking up the big three of Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal. The teardown roster approach would represent a shift in philosophy for Ishbia.

"Would I rather have Brad Beal, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker than just having two of those guys?" Ishbia said to Ramona Shelburne in March. "I'd rather have all three a hundred times out of a hundred, and I don't think there's another GM or owner or CEO that wouldn't say that exact same thing."

Beal has $160 million remaining on his contract and still maintains a no-trade clause. Booker's $221 million supermax extension starts in July. Durant has two years and $106 million left on the extension he signed with Brooklyn in 2021.

Doubling down on this roster would have significant consequences.

Phoenix is a second-apron team, a result of the $150 million owed next season to Booker, Beal and Durant. The salary of those three players is more than 14 teams' total payroll in 2024-25.

"I understand all the rules that come with the second apron. I understand exactly what the CBA tried to do," Ishbia told ESPN. "I read it, I know it inside and out, and we made a calculated decision that we think the team with the best players wins."

Having the best players on the court, however, only works if the offense is organized and the team has a strong supporting cast. Phoenix ranked last in fourth-quarter offensive efficiency and bench points. Suns reserves shot an NBA-low 31.9% on 3-pointers. The lack of depth in the first round exposed that Beal, Booker and Durant have to play at an All-NBA level for Phoenix to be a contender. The Suns will need to get creative to find players who complement Beal, Booker and Durant. Because of the apron restrictions, Phoenix is not allowed to take back more money in a trade than it sends out. The Suns also cannot aggregate contracts to trade for a single player who makes more. For example, combining the salaries of Grayson Allen, Jusuf Nurkic and Nassir Little in a trade is not allowed even if the Suns take back less money. Allen is also not allowed to be traded until Oct. 16 because he signed an extension. Phoenix also cannot send out cash in a trade, use the $5.1 million taxpayer midlevel exception or acquire a player in a sign-and-trade. The $6.5 million trade exception created in the Cameron Payne trade is frozen. If the Suns finish the 2024-25 season over the second apron, their 2032 first-round pick is not available in a trade.

Outside of a coaching change or the unlikely scenario of breaking up their high-priced veterans, the options to fill out the supporting cast include this year's first-round pick, re-signing O'Neale and once again signing a slew of players to the veterans minimum exception.

Offseason finances: The Suns enter the offseason with $209 million in salary, the biggest payroll of any NBA team. Allen's extension has increased the Suns' projected luxury tax penalty to $116 million. They are also $16.3 million over the second apron. Gordon, Okogie, Lee and Eubanks have until June 29 to opt in to their contracts for next season. Phoenix has the veterans minimum to use in free agency to replace each player if they leave.

Top front office priority: The draft, O'Neale and depth. The Suns are allowed to trade their first-round pick starting the night of the draft, but the smart play would be to follow the example set last June by Golden State, Miami and Denver. Those three teams were financially limited in how they could add to their roster, so they focused on adding experienced college players who could contribute this season (Brandin Podziemski, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Julian Strawther). The Suns have O'Neale's Bird rights, so they can exceed the cap and aprons to re-sign him. However, bringing him back on a $10 million deal (his salary this season was $9.5 million) would cost the Suns an additional $55 million in tax penalties. O'Neale averaged 8.1 points and shot 37.6% from 3 in 30 regular-season games with the Suns. Phoenix could also have between three and seven roster spots to fill with minimum contracts, depending on what Gordon, Okogie, Lee and Eubanks do with their player options.

Extension candidate to watch: Durant has two years left on his contract ($51.2 and $54.7 million) and is eligible to sign a one-year extension, which would pay him $59.7 million in 2026-27, when he turns 38 years old. Because of the Over-38 rule, one year is the maximum that Phoenix can offer. Durant played 75 games this season, his most since 2018-19.

Other extension candidates: Nurkic

Team needs: Starting point guard to organize the offense, high-level rotation players and defensive versatility in the backcourt.

Future draft assets: Phoenix has a pick in June and can trade both that and its 2031 pick starting the night of the draft. The Suns owe Brooklyn unprotected firsts in 2025, 2027 and 2029. The Nets also have the right to swap their own first or Philadelphia's (if 9-30) with Phoenix in 2028. The Wizards have the right to swap firsts in 2026 (if 1-8), 2028 (if 1-8) and 2030. Orlando or Memphis then have the right to swap their 2026 first with the less favorable of Phoenix's and Washington's. The Wizards also have the right to swap the least favorable of the Nets', Suns' and 76ers' first in 2028. Memphis also has the right to swap the less favorable of Phoenix's and Washington's in 2030. The Suns have two second-round picks available.

Eliminated in play-in tournament Sacramento Kings

2023-24 record: 46-36

Draft picks in June: No. 13 and No. 45

The Kings' first-round draft position will be set by the May 12 draft lottery.

Odds for the No. 1 pick: 0.8%

Free agents: Malik Monk, Alex Len, JaVale McGee, Kessler Edwards (R), Jordan Ford (R) and Jalen Slawson (R)

State of the roster: Entering the offseason, there will be questions of whether or not the current team has plateaued. The Kings returned the same starting five from last season when they were the 3-seed in the West, but lost in the play-in tournament this season. The top-ranked offense from last season finished 13th this year (the Kings did improve from 24th to 16th in defense). The counter argument is that the Kings finished two wins shy of their total from a season ago despite losing starting shooting guard Kevin Huerter and Monk, a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, to season-ending injuries in late March.

General manager Monte McNair now has a decision to make on roster continuity. The Kings would return their top six players if Monk re-signs, to go along with a bench that includes Keon Ellis, Davion Mitchell and Trey Lyles. They will also add a late lottery pick, the lone benefit of missing the playoffs. The Western Conference is projected to only get stronger next year with a healthy Memphis team and the emergence of Houston. Winning 46 games again could put the Kings in the same position they are in now or possibly out of the play-in altogether. The Kings have an established star duo in Domantas Sabonis and De'Aaron Fox, but how far this team goes without making a change is dependent on the growth of Keegan Murray, who averaged a career-high 15.2 points but saw his 3-point shooting decline from 41.1% as a rookie to 35.8% this season. Murray is extension eligible starting in the 2025 offseason. The Kings could explore trades but outside of the Sabonis-Tyrese Haliburton swap in 2022, general manager Monte McNair and his front office have been conservative. Sacramento can trade up to four first-round picks and outside of Sabonis, Fox and Murray, have nine players earning between $2.1 to $18 million. Huerter has two years left on his contract ($16.8 and $18 million) and underwent surgery in March to repair a torn labrum. He ended the season shooting a career-worst 36.1% from 3 while averaging the fewest minutes in his career. Harrison Barnes continues to be the most consistent and durable Kings player. For a second straight season, Barnes played in all 82 games, averaging 12.2 points and shooting 38.7% from 3. He has two years left on his contract ($18 and $19 million).

Offseason finances: Last offseason, the Kings elected to use cap space to extend Barnes, renegotiate the contract of Sabonis and bring back Lyles. The three decisions have Sacramento with $154 million in salary (including the first-round pick) entering the offseason -- $17.7 million below the luxury tax. If the roster stays intact, including re-signing Monk, Sacramento could exceed the tax for the first time since 2003-04. Outside of bringing back Monk, the Kings' available resources include the $12.9 million non-taxpayer midlevel exception and $4.7 million biannual exception. However, using more than $5.1 million of the midlevel exception would hard cap Sacramento at the $178.7 million first apron. The Kings also have a second-round exception available.

Top front office priority: Outside of Fox and Sabonis, no player provided as much value as Monk. Before spraining his right MCL and missing the rest of the season, Monk ranked first in points and assists and second on 3-pointers made among all reserves. His 25 games with at least 20 points off the bench this season were 11 more than any player. He ranked only behind Fox and Sabonis in fourth quarter minutes and points among Kings players. The Kings were 4-5 in the games he missed at the end of the regular season. Because Monk signed a two-year contract in 2022 and now has early Bird rights, the Kings can offer no more than a four-year, $78 million contract. His $17.4 million first-year salary would leave the Kings over the luxury tax with 13 players under contract. Teams with cap space and in need of shooting include Detroit, Orlando and Philadelphia.

Extension candidate to watch: Fox has two years left on his contract ($34.8 and $37.1 million) and Sacramento has the option to add three more seasons and up to $165 million in new money. The $51.2 million first-year salary of the extension would start in 2026-27. If Fox is named All-NBA this season, he'd be eligible for a four-year, $267.5 million extension. Fox finished the season averaging a career-high 26.6 points. If Fox does not sign an extension by Oct. 21, he would be eligible to sign a four-year, $229 million extension next offseason or a five-year, $346 supermax extension if he is named All-NBA in 2024-25.

Other extension candidates: Chris Duarte, Mitchell and Huerter (as of Oct. 1).

Team needs: Rim-protector and a defensive-minded guard to play alongside Monk. Per Second Spectrum, opponents had an effective field goal percentage of 64.3% against Sabonis on shots taken within 5 feet. That ranked in the bottom third of players who attempted more than 300 shots within 5 feet of the basket.

Future draft assets: Sacramento is allowed to trade its own first starting the night of the draft. The Kings owe Atlanta a first-round pick that is top-12 protected in 2025 and top-10 protected in 2026. Including the 2024 pick, Sacramento is allowed to trade four first-round picks. The Kings are also allowed to swap firsts in five seasons (2027 to 2031). The Kings have seven second-round picks available.

Chicago Bulls

2023-24 record: 39-43

Draft picks in June: No. 11

Odds for the No. 1 pick: 2%

Free agents: DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Williams (R), Lonzo Ball (P), Andre Drummond, Javonte Green, Torrey Craig (P), Henri Drell (R) and Adama Sanogo (R)

State of the roster: Back in February, president of basketball operations Arturas Karnišovas made the calculated decision to keep the roster together, despite Chicago staring down a play-in spot for a second straight year.

"The 'shake-up' doesn't guarantee you success," Karnišovas said after the trade deadline. "The words like rebuild are thrown around. I think this group gives you the best chance to compete. It doesn't guarantee success, but we are a competitive bunch."

The Bulls started the season 5-14, but they went 19-13 between that start and the trade deadline. But after Feb. 8, the Bulls went 14-16 and ranked 27th in defensive efficiency. Once again the Bulls enter the offseason without a playoff appearance. The front office now has hard questions to ask on how a "competitive" team can compete for more than a play-in spot. There are decisions on the future of free agents DeRozan, Drummond and Williams. The Bulls could let all three walk and embrace a full-scale rebuild. But rebuilding is not in Karnisovas' DNA.

"Since I came here to Chicago, I wanted to have a competitive team," Karnisovas said. "We came up with a formula in 2021. We had somewhat of a success, took a step back with some injuries. My objective doesn't change. I'd like to compete and I'd like to compete with the best teams."

Re-signing DeRozan and Drummond would put Chicago in the luxury tax for only the second time since 2002-03, unless the Bulls can offload the $138 million owed to Zach LaVine, who had season-ending surgery on his right foot in February.

Offseason finances: The futures of DeRozan and Williams dictate what flexibility (or lack of) the Bulls will have in the offseason. Including their first-round pick, the Bulls have $134 million in salary, well below the $171 million luxury tax threshold. The Bulls could have cap flexibility if they do not re-sign their own free agents and Ball's salary is removed. Ball, who has missed the past two seasons with knee issues, has until June 29 to opt in to his $21.9 million salary. Expect Chicago to guarantee Alex Caruso's $9.9 million salary before the June 29 deadline ($3 million is already guaranteed). Which exceptions Chicago has available ($12.9 million non-taxpayer midlevel or $5 million taxpayer midlevel) will be dependent on the salaries of their own free agents.

Top front office priority: Ball, DeRozan and LaVine. Ball's rehabilitation timeline will play a role in how much financial flexibility Chicago has going into the offseason. Ball has not played in an NBA game since January 2022 and has undergone three separate surgeries on his left knee. Coach Billy Donovan told reporters in March that Ball is working out in a controlled environment and the next step is for him to get cleared for contact. In the event that Ball does not recover and the injury is determined to be career ending, Chicago would be allowed to remove his $21.9 million salary. The Bulls have until June 30 to extend DeRozan for three additional years and up to $129 million. DeRozan will turn 35 in August but continues to be one of the league's more durable players. Since entering the league in 2009-10, DeRozan has played in 92% of regular season games, missing a total of just 17 games in his three seasons in Chicago. DeRozan continues to be one of the best closers in the NBA, ranking behind only Stephen Curry for most clutch-time points this season. LaVine told the media in March that he is ahead of schedule on returning from the foot surgery that ended his season. He averaged the second fewest points in his career (19.5) and Chicago was outscored by 12.2 points per 100 possessions when LaVine and DeRozan shared the court together per Cleaning the Glass. The market for LaVine this offseason is unpredictable, and finding a taker for his $43 million salary in 2024-25 could present a challenge. Starting April 15, the new apron rules restricts teams from taking back more money in a trade if the incoming salary would put them over either the first or second apron. Teams in the second apron are also not allowed to aggregate contracts sent out. ESPN projects at least nine teams (Celtics, Nuggets, Warriors, Clippers, Lakers, Heat, Bucks, Timberwolves and Suns) to fall in this category. The Bulls, however, could benefit if cap space teams such as Detroit miss out in free agency.

Extension candidate to watch: Caruso's $37 million contract signed in 2021 is considered one of the great value deals in the NBA. The guard is considered one of the top wing defenders in the league. He earned first team All-Defensive honors in 2023 and is a likely candidate to repeat this year. He finished the season ranked first in deflections, sixth in steals and 15th in total charges taken. The Bulls were outscored by 7.2 points per 100 possessions with Caruso off the court. He is eligible to sign a four-year, $78.8 million extension starting on July 6.

Other extension candidates: Ball.

Team needs: Frontcourt depth and perimeter defenders. The Bulls gave up the seventh-fewest offensive rebounds but could lose Drummond in free agency. The lone big on the roster is Nikola Vucevic. Chicago allowed the second-most 3-pointers made by a team after Feb. 8.

Future draft assets: The Bulls are allowed to trade their own 2024 first-round pick starting on the night of the draft. They owe a first-round pick to the Spurs that is top-10 protected in 2025 and top-8 protected in 2026 or 2027. They are owed a first-round pick from Portland that is top-14 protected over the next four years. If the first is not conveyed, the Trail Blazers will send a 2028 second. The Bulls have three second-round picks available.

Atlanta Hawks

2023-24 record: 36-46

Draft picks in June: No. 1

Odds for the No. 1 pick: 3%

Free agents: Saddiq Bey (R), Garrison Mathews (T), Wesley Matthews, Trent Forrest (R), Vit Krejci (R), Seth Lundy (R) and Dylan Windler (R)

State of the roster: There is a famous quote often misattributed to Albert Einstein: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." That would apply to the Hawks if general manager Landry Fields elects to bring back the same roster after Atlanta missed the playoffs for the first time since 2020. The Hawks can point to injuries (seventh-most missed games) to explain why the roster won five fewer games than last season, but they were 24-32 even before Trae Young's torn ligament in his left hand in late February, but Fields and the ownership group elected to keep this group together at the deadline.

"You don't ever want to get caught up in this term called 'resulting,' " Fields said right after the deadline. "And for us, a lot of times you look at results, and that's where the judgment comes in. From our standpoint, development is a key feature of who we are and we are watching players continuously grow. It may not completely cause the results today that we want, but we also know that those results are coming."

The results, however, are regressing. The Hawks are 46-56 since Quin Snyder took over last February. The $67 million backcourt of Young and Dejounte Murray continues to struggle playing together. Starting in 2025, Atlanta has no control over its first-round pick for the next three years. And the Hawks will be over the luxury tax next season if the roster stays intact. Paying the tax for a play-in team should be a nonstarter for ownership. The positive is that Atlanta is in a position to retool the roster, not rebuild completely if the objective is to move Murray or even Young. Atlanta has a young core of players in Bey, Onyeka Okongwu, AJ Griffin, Kobe Bufkin and Jalen Johnson. The Hawks also have an available roster resource, the first pick in the June draft. This is the last time Atlanta has control of their first until 2028.

Offseason finances: The Hawks avoided the luxury tax this season, electing to trade starter John Collins last offseason in a salary dump move. This summer, Atlanta once again is pressed not only against the $171 million tax threshold but also the $178.7 million first apron. Including the first pick in the draft, Atlanta has $176 million in salary. Because of the unlikely bonuses of Murray, Clint Capela and De'Andre Hunter, they are over the first apron. Barring a trade, the Hawks will exceed the second apron if they re-sign Bey, who tore his left ACL in March. Atlanta will likely tender him a one-year, $8.4 million qualifying offer by June 29, making him a restricted free agent. Atlanta does have some flexibility with the non-guaranteed contracts of Mathews and Bruno Fernando. Atlanta has until June 29 to exercise Mathews' $2.2 million team option and to guarantee Fernando's $2.7 million contract. Because of their finances, the Hawks will only have the veterans minimum exception available to use in free agency. They have a large $23 million trade exception that expires July 7.

Top front office priority: Fields was honest in February when asked about Murray and Young playing together.

"The sample size is getting larger and larger and larger and assuming you're looking at specific lineups, and defensive and offensive ratings, which can always be debated as well," he told reporters. "I can't lie to you, the numbers speak to themselves on that."

Per Cleaning the Glass, Atlanta was outscored by 6.0 per 100 possessions this season when both players were on the court together. The Hawks had a 120.7 defensive efficiency rating in their shared minutes, fifth worst among more than 225 duos to play 1,000 minutes together. The most-used lineup of Young, Murray, Bey, Johnson and Clint Capela had a net rating of minus-15.3. When both Young and Murray were off the court, Atlanta had a defensive efficiency that would have ranked second. The Hawks went 12-11 and ranked 15th in offensive and 18th in defensive efficiency in the games Young missed with his ligament injury. Murray is entering Year 1 of a four-year, $120 million extension. His $24.8 million cap hit is $20 million less than a max player. Murray had 11 games with 20 points and 10 assists, all with Young out of the lineup. Young has two years left on his contract ($43 million and $46 million) and can become a free agent in 2026.

Extension candidate to watch: The Hawks have up until Oct. 21 to extend Johnson. The forward averaged career highs in points (16.1) and 3-point percentage (35.3%). Overall, Johnson has increased his scoring average from 5.6 last season to 16.1 this season. That is the second-largest increase among players to play at least 50 games in both seasons, trailing Cam Thomas. Johnson ranked in the bottom-10 in field goal percentage on all jumpers last season but saw an increase this year, going from 29% to 39%. Since Fields joined the front office in October 2020, Atlanta has signed a player to a rookie extension in each of the past three offseasons (Young, Kevin Huerter, De'Andre Hunter and Okongwu). Young is eligible to sign a three-year, $157 million extension up until Oct. 21.

Other extension candidates: Capela, Mathews and Fernando (as of Oct. 2)

Team needs: Perimeter defenders and rim protection. The Hawks ranked 17th in 3-point percentage allowed and 25th in points in the paint allowed.

Future draft assets: The June draft is the last time that Atlanta has control over its own first-round pick until 2028. The Hawks will send their 2025 and 2027 picks to the Spurs as part of the trade that brought Murray to Atlanta in 2022. San Antonio also has the right to swap firsts in 2026. The first allowable year the Hawks can trade a first is in 2029. Atlanta has six second-round picks available.

Golden State Warriors

2023-24 record: 46-36

Draft picks in June: No. 52 (via MIL)

Note: The Warriors are sending their own first to Portland if it is 5-14. They would retain it if the pick moves into the top four in the May 12 draft lottery.

Odds to retain their own first: 3.4%

Free agents: Klay Thompson, Gary Payton II (P), Dario Saric, Usman Garuba, Lester Quinones (R) and Jerome Robinson

State of the roster: The recent four-time NBA Champions are officially at a crossroads. The only thing guaranteed is that star Stephen Curry and coach Steve Kerr will be back when the regular season tips off in late October. Curry is viewed as untouchable and has two years left on his contract. Kerr recently signed a two-year, $35 million extension.

The task now for Kerr, owner Joe Lacob and general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. is retooling what was once a championship roster while on a budget. Golden State spent a record-high $384 million in payroll, only to finish 10th in the Western Conference and lose in the play-in. Lacob has been outspoken about Golden State ducking the tax next season. "Our Plan 1, or 1A, is that we'd like to be out of the tax, and we think that we have a way to do that," Lacob said on "The TK Show" with Tim Kawakami. "That kind of is the plan, not just under the second apron. ... We don't want to be a repeater."

Since the 2013-14 season, Lacob and his ownership group have spent $677 million in penalties and have been in the tax four out of the past six seasons. Keeping the roster together is certainly doable. The Warriors have 11 players under contract, and their lone key free agent is Klay Thompson. Remaining below the $171 million tax threshold is a different story. Not including Thompson, Golden State is $2.7 million above the threshold. There could be a belief that another year of development from Jonathan Kuminga and Brandin Podziemski, along with bringing back the core three of Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green, would put Golden State back among the elite teams in the Western Conference. The Warriors had the fourth-most wins after the All-Star break (19-10) and went 10-2 to close out the regular season. But the "run it back" option could be fool's gold and also prove expensive. For only the third time since 2013-14, the Warriors finished the season ranked outside of the top 10 in points per 100 possessions allowed.

The scenario that will not happen is Golden State hitting the rebuild button.

"We're never going to bottom out, " Lacob told ESPN's Baxter Holmes in February. "I won't settle for that. We're not doing that."

Offseason finances: From now until June 30, the Warriors are not allowed to send out cash in a trade, take back more money in a trade or aggregate outgoing salary. The three restrictions would be lifted if they get under the apron. The Warriors have up until June 24 to guarantee Kevon Looney's $8 million contract (there is $3 million guaranteed) and until June 28 for the $30 million owed to Chris Paul. If both players are waived, Golden State enters July with $137 million in salary -- $34 million below the luxury tax and $54 million under the second apron. The futures of Thompson, Paul and Looney will determine which free agent exception is available. If the Warriors finish in the second apron after the 2024-25 season concludes, their 2032 first-round pick would not be allowed to be traded.

Top front office priority: If the goal is to save money, Paul and his $30 million non-guaranteed contract will likely get waived by June 28. It would be the first time Paul would become a free agent in his career. If the goal is to improve the roster, then Golden State should explore flipping the contract or even keeping the veteran. Paul led all reserves in assists per game and finished in the top-15 among all players. If Paul is traded, his salary cannot be aggregated with another contract on the roster and Golden State is not allowed to take back more money. Because the contract is non-guaranteed, the protection would need to match the salary Golden State receives.

For only the second time in his career, Thompson is set to become a free agent. But things were much different in 2019, when the Warriors were coming off a Finals loss in which Thompson tore his left ACL. There was no threat of him leaving or the Warriors going in a different direction. Thompson is 34 years old and came off the bench this season for the first time since his rookie season. He averaged 19.8 points and shot 42.8% on 3-pointers in 14 games as a reserve. Thompson ranked second on the team in points per game after the All-Star break, shooting 45.4% from the field and 41.2% on 3-pointers. Thompson is eligible for a four-year, $221 million extension, but it is not realistic to expect that. There are three options for Golden State and Thompson. They can reach a compromise on a short-term contract at considerably less money (two years and $60 million for example). Thompson could enter free agency and sign with a team that has cap space. The notable playoff teams with room include Orlando, Oklahoma City and Philadelphia. Golden State would have inexpensive options in Podziemski and Moses Moody to replace him. Or both sides could work out a sign-and-trade. However, high spending playoff teams like the Lakers and Clippers are not allowed to acquire Thompson because of the hard cap restriction.

Extension candidates to watch: Kuminga showed his potential in a March 20 win against Memphis, scoring 26 points (18 in the paint) and making an impact defensively with three deflections and holding the Grizzlies to 3-of-11 shooting as the closest defender per Second Spectrum tracking.

"I thought it was maybe the best game I've ever seen him play at both ends," Kerr said. "He was playing with intensity defensively, he got deflections, he was guarding the ball."

The Memphis game alone will likely not deliver Kuminga a five-year, $225 million rookie max extension this offseason, but the 21-year-old's overall development from a rotational player (he played a total of 61 minutes in the playoffs last season) to starting 46 games should have Golden State discussing a long-term investment. He averaged career highs in points (16.1) rebounds (4.8) assists (2.2) and field goal percentage (52.9%).

Moody started nine games, averaging 12.6 points and shooting 39.5% on 3-pointers in those starts. The Warriors were 28-18 when Moody played more than 15 minutes this season. An extension for Moody should be in the $13-14 million range. However, if Thompson leaves in free agency, Moody is best served to play out the season, considering his role will expand.

Curry is extension eligible but because of the Over-38 rule, Golden State is allowed to only add one more season. A one-year, $62.6 million extension would keep Curry in a Warriors uniform through 2026-27.

Other extension candidates: Thompson (through June 30), Paul, Payton and Looney (as of July 9).

Team needs: Backup point guard if Paul is waived, a stretch 4 who can complement Green and versatile wings who can get out and run. The Warriors ranked 20th in points off turnovers and 28th in fast-break points.

Future draft assets: The Warriors are allowed to trade their 2025 first-round pick starting on the night of the draft. They have a maximum of two firsts allowable to move (2025/2027 or 2026/2028) in the next seven years. Golden State can also trade its 2030 first but only if it falls in between 1-20. The Wizards will receive the Warriors' 2030 first if between 21-30. They are allowed to swap their own first in the next seven years. The Warriors have two second-round picks available.

Eliminated after regular season Brooklyn Nets

2023-24 record: 32-50

Draft picks in June: None

Note: Brooklyn's 2024 first-round pick belongs to Houston after the 2021 James Harden trade. Brooklyn's 2024 second-round pick belongs to Memphis (it was originally traded to Houston in a separate 2021 trade).

Free agents: Nic Claxton, Dennis Smith Jr., Lonnie Walker IV, Keita Bates-Diop (P), Trendon Watford (R) and Keon Johnson

State of the roster: While Brooklyn returns 11 players from the current roster, has the fifth-most tradable first-round picks of any team in the next seven years, and possesses cap flexibility in the future and trade exceptions to absorb salary, the Nets are searching for an identity, stuck somewhere between a rebuild and a retool.

Because of the 2021 Harden trade, they don't control their own first-round pick for the next three seasons. The Nets' 32 wins are the team's fewest since 2017-18. In 2021, the team had championship aspirations with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden. Turmoil followed -- all three are gone, and they have been replaced with a roster lacking an identity. The Nets finished the season 23rd offensive and 20th in defensive efficiency. According to NBA Advanced Stats, the Nets have taken only nine charges all season, the fewest since the NBA began tracking charges in 2016-17. Mikal Bridges, the team's best player, averaged 15.6 points and shot a career-worst 39.7% from the field after the All-Star break. Bridges had a career-high 23.8% usage rate. Additionally, Ben Simmons' $40.3 million salary next season represents 25% of the Nets payroll. Simmons has played 57 games since being acquired in 2022 and has undergone two separate back procedures. Creating that identity is now up to new head coach Jordi Fernandez. The former Kings assistant coach and current head coach of the Canadian national team will inherit the seventh-youngest roster in the NBA. However, five of the Nets highest paid players (Bridges, Simmons, Cameron Johnson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Dennis Schroder) will be at least 28 years old by the first day of the 2024-25 regular season. Fernandez is the fifth head coach hired since general manager Sean Marks took over in 2016.

Offseason finances: Because of Claxton's $16.6 million free agent hold and four trade exceptions totaling $48 million ($20.4, $11.9, $9.5 and $6.8 million), expect Brooklyn to act as a team above the cap despite having only $133 million in committed salary. The Nets will have the $12.9 million non-taxpayer midlevel and $4.7 million biannual exceptions to sign a free agent or acquire a player in a trade.

Top front office priority: Establishing a price point with Claxton, who ranked ninth in blocks per game. Claxton has taken a total of 12 shots outside of 15 feet in the past two seasons, and 74% of his shots this season were within 5 feet. Considering the center position is the weakest group among free agents, Claxton could see his $8.5 million salary from this season double. Finally, what is the Nets' appetite to get involved if the next All-Star does become available in a trade? Brooklyn can put together a package including Simmons' expiring contract, young players such as Cam Thomas, and multiple first-round picks (Brooklyn is owed four unprotected first-round picks from Phoenix and Dallas). Ten out of Brooklyn's 11 players under contract next season have salaries between $1.9 million and $24 million. The Nets could also take a conservative approach and reset the roster in the 2025 offseason. Depending on Claxton's next contract and a possible extension for Thomas, Brooklyn could have up to $90 million in cap space in summer 2025.

Extension candidate to watch: Bridges has two years left (at salaries of $23.3 million and $24.9 million), and his current contract is considered one the best values in the NBA. However, Bridges has struggled this season as the Nets' top option. He is eligible to sign a three-year, $112.9 million extension between Oct. 1 and Oct. 21. The Nets could also renegotiate Bridges' contract starting on Oct. 18 if they create cap space. The Nets also have until Oct. 21 to extend Thomas, who averaged a career high 22.5 points this season. He also improved as a passer, jumping from five games with at least four assists last season to 26 such games this season. Because Thomas was drafted late in the first round, his free agent hold is $12.1 million. Signing him to a new contract greater than his hold would see Brooklyn lose cap space in the 2025 offseason.

Other extension candidates: Simmons and Day'Ron Sharpe.

Team needs: Finding a consistent playmaker to allow Bridges, Thomas and Johnson to get easier shots. The Nets lived and died by the 3-point shot, ranking 23rd in points in the paint.

Draft assets: Brooklyn owes Houston its first-round pick this season and in 2026 (both unprotected). The Rockets also have the right to swap firsts with Brooklyn in 2025 and 2027. The Nets do have three unprotected firsts coming from Phoenix (2025, 2027 and 2029) and a 2029 unprotected first from Dallas. The Nets also have the right to swap their own first or Philadelphia's (if 9-30) with Phoenix's in 2028. Brooklyn will receive a 2027 top-eight-protected first from Philadelphia if the 76ers convey their 2025 first to Oklahoma City. If the first is not sent to the Thunder, Philadelphia will then owe its 2028 first (if 9-30) to the Nets. The Nets are allowed to trade up to seven firsts. Brooklyn also has 11 second-round picks available.

Charlotte Hornets

2023-24 record: 21-61

Draft picks in June: No. 6 (own) and No. 42 (via HOU)

Note: The Hornets' first-round draft position will be set by the May 12 draft lottery.

Odds for the No. 1 pick: 13.3%

Free agents: Miles Bridges, Davis Bertans (ETO), JT Thor (T) and Amari Bailey (R)

State of the roster: At his introductory news conference, new executive vice president of basketball Jeff Peterson laid out the vision for the roster. "Our main goal is to have sustained success," Peterson said. "We don't want to make the playoffs one year and then we're out for another three or four years. We want this to be sustainable and turn this team into a consistent winner." The sustainable part starts with identifying the right head coach for this roster and also the availability of LaMelo Ball. The Hornets have the fifth-youngest roster, with eight players under the age of 23, and there will be a heavy emphasis on player development in their head-coaching search. Ball played only 22 games this season and has missed a total of 134 since entering the NBA in 2020. The $205 million rookie extension he signed last summer begins in 2024-25. Coach Steve Clifford used 33 different starting lineups in 2023-24, 20 more than in 2021-22 when the Hornets won 43 games and reached the play-in tournament. The post trade deadline lineup of Vasilije Micic, Tre Mann, Brandon Miller, Bridges and Nick Richards was Charlotte's most-used starting group this season. Micic and Mann were acquired on Feb. 8 from Oklahoma City. Peterson enters the offseason with a likely top-four draft pick to join Miller, an All-Rookie contender, and a clean financial slate to evaluate and then build a sustainable roster. Miller led all rookies in made 3-pointers this season and finished second in points per game, only behind Victor Wembanyama. Fourteen players are under contract and outside of Ball, no player earns more than $16 million. The only committed money in 2025-26 is Ball, Miller and Grant Williams.

Offseason finances: Including a pick in the lottery, Charlotte has $105 million in guaranteed salary, well below the $141 million salary cap. However, the future of Bridges and the decision on whether to waive Bertans will dictate how much flexibility the Hornets have in the offseason. Bridges has a $15 million free-agent hold and Bertans' $16 million contract has only $5 million guaranteed. In addition to Bertans, Seth Curry ($4M), Bryce McGowens ($2M) and Aleksej Pokusevski ($2.3M) also have non-guaranteed contracts. Curry's contract becomes guaranteed on June 28.

Top front office priority: The big roster decision is the future of Bridges, who was arrested for felony domestic violence in June 2022, missed the 2022-23 season and pleaded no contest to the charge. He signed a one-year $7.9 million qualifying offer after contract negotiations stalled last July. Bridges averaged a career high 21.0 points this season but ranked in the 46th percentile at his position in effective field goal percentage and 40th percentile in 2-point percentage, per Cleaning the Glass. He also had career-highs in usage rate, rebounds and steals. Peterson has a decision on whether to reward the forward with a long-term lucrative contract or go in a different direction. The Hornets could structure a new contract similar to the one Houston gave Kevin Porter Jr., including yearly guarantee dates to protect the franchise if another off-court incident arose. There are seven teams with projected cap space, including Detroit and Utah. If there is no interest from teams with cap space and the Hornets' intention is not to sign Bridges, both sides could explore sign-and-trade options.

Extension candidate to watch: The Hornets have only two players available for an extension, Thor and Cody Martin. It is unlikely either player will get extended. Martin has two years left, and Thor has a team option in 2025-26.

Team needs: Besides health, catch-and-shoot threats on the perimeter. The Hornets ranked 21st in 3-point percentage this season. Charlotte will also get a boost with a healthy Mark Williams. Opponents ranked second in rebounding percentage and shot 66% on shots less than 5 feet from the basket. Charlotte also finished 22nd in points in the paint scored.

Draft assets: In two separate trades, the Hornets picked up 2027 first-round picks from Miami and Dallas. The first from the Heat, acquired in the Terry Rozier trade, is top-14 protected and unprotected in 2028 if not conveyed in the prior season. The Dallas first is top-two protected. The Hornets also still owe a top-14-protected first to the Spurs. If it does not convey next season, Charlotte will send San Antonio 2025 and 2026 second-round picks. Charlotte has seven second-round picks available.

Detroit Pistons

2023-24 record: 14-68

Draft picks in June: No. 5 (own) and No. 53 (via NYK)

Note: The Pistons' first-round draft position will be set by the May 12 draft lottery.

Odds for the No. 1 pick: 14%

Free agents: James Wiseman (R), Simone Fontecchio (R), Evan Fournier (T), Malachi Flynn (R), Chimezie Metu (T) and Jared Rhoden (R)

State of the roster: After winning 20, 23 and 17 wins the previous three seasons, the Pistons fell to a franchise-worst 14 wins in 2023-24. They've won a combined 74 games since Troy Weaver took over as general manager in 2020. The futility on the court, however, does not have Weaver discouraged for the future. "We have a plan in place, a young core that's showing that they're growing and have a chance to be special players," Weaver said after the February trade deadline. Weaver is expected to remain as the GM, but Detroit is expected to hire a president of basketball operations. The young core, however, looks more like that of an expansion team than a roster close to competing for a play-in spot. Of the seven players with guaranteed contracts next season, six (Cade Cunningham, Ausar Thompson, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren, Quentin Grimes and Marcus Sasser) are recent first-round picks who are still on their first contracts. The good news is the Pistons have a blank canvas to improve upon. Detroit once again will select in the top half of the lottery and is one of six teams with spending power in free agency.

Offseason finances: Detroit is in position to reshape its roster in free agency. The Pistons could have up to $66 million in cap space if Fournier's $19.9 million team option is declined and Troy Brown Jr. and Stanley Umude are waived. The room includes the draft hold for the second pick in the draft and cap hold for restricted free agent Simone Fontecchio. Detroit has until June 29 to exercise Fournier's option and until June 30 to request waivers on Brown.

Top front office priority: There has to be a conversation within the front office on what direction to take this offseason. The easy answer would be to sign veterans to complement the young players, like Houston did last summer. The Rockets added Fred VanVleet, Dillon Brooks and Jeff Green to surround Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr. and Alperen Sengun. The Rockets also hired a defensive-minded coach in Ime Udoka. Houston improved its win total from 22 to 41 wins. But what is the selling point to free agents to play in Detroit outside of having the most money to offer? The Pistons finished the season with a franchise-worst record and returned eight players who averaged 17 minutes or more. Free agency continues to show that All-Star level players do not switch teams (VanVleet was the exception). Is it prudent to overspend on non-All-Star-level players like Tobias Harris, Malik Monk, Buddy Hield or even Miles Bridges? The last player Detroit signed to a contract greater than $20 million per season was Jerami Grant, and the forward was traded to Portland two years later for a first-round pick. Detroit ranked 26th in 3-point percentage, so signing Monk or Hield would address a need, but at a cost. The other option would be re-signing Fontecchio and then utilizing cap space or even the expiring contract of Evan Fournier (if the team option is exercised) to explore trades. The lineup of Ivey, Cunningham, Fontecchio, Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren outscored opponents by 8.9 points per 100 possessions. If the Pistons brought back Fontecchio, would it make sense to trade for the expiring $40.3 million contract of Ben Simmons if Brooklyn attached a first-round pick? There are 15 teams that are close to or above the luxury tax line or in the apron and could look to shed money. The Pistons entered last offseason with $30 million in room and traded for veterans Joe Harris and Monte Morris, adding three second-round picks in the process. Keep in mind that Detroit is not allowed to preserve cap space into the regular season. As part of the CBA, Detroit is required to spend $126.9 million in salary (90% of the cap) by the first day of the regular season. Including their first-round pick and the Fournier option, the Pistons would have $97 million in salary.

Extension candidate to watch: Has Cunningham done enough this season to show that he can be a franchise-type player? The 2021 No. 1 pick is eligible to sign up to a five-year, $225 million rookie extension. The contract could increase to $269 million if All-NBA language is included. After playing only 12 games last year, Cunningham played 62 games, averaging 22.7 points and 7.5 assists. He became the first Detroit player since Isiah Thomas in 1987-88 to record four 30-point, 10 assist games in a season. He also joined Thomas as the only Pistons player to record 200 points, 50 assists and 50% shooting over a seven-game span during the regular season.

Other extension candidates: Fournier and Grimes.

Team needs: Shooting. The Pistons ranked 26th this season in 3-point shooting. This is the fourth consecutive season Detroit ranked in the bottom 10 in 3-point field goal percentage.

Draft assets: Detroit owes a first-round pick to New York that is top-12 protected in 2025, top-10 protected in 2026 and top-nine protected in 2027. The next available first-round pick the Pistons can trade is in 2029. They have no incoming first-round picks via trade. They have nine second-round picks available.

Houston Rockets

2023-24 record: 41-41

Draft picks in June: No. 3 (via BKN) and No. 44 (via GS)

Note: The Rockets will send their own first-round pick to Oklahoma City unless it lands in the top four in the lottery. The position of the pick coming in from Brooklyn will be determined by the lottery.

Odds for the No. 1 pick: 6%

Free agents: Reggie Bullock Jr., Jeff Green (T), Aaron Holiday, Boban Marjanovic, Jae'Sean Tate (T), Nate Hinton (R), Jermaine Samuels Jr. (R) and Nate Williams (R)

State of the roster: The 2024 offseason will be the most challenging for general manager Rafael Stone, because Stone now has the daunting task of taking a competitive roster and transforming it into a play-in and eventual top-six team in the Western Conference. "I do feel like we've obviously made a big jump in terms of being competitive this year. That was kind of goal one. Goal two is to take being competitive to winning more games," Stone said in February. Houston won 41 games this season, an increase of 19 from last season. The Rockets were 17-11 after the All-Star break and ranked in the top 10 in defensive efficiency (last season they were 29th for the entire season). Houston returns 12 players, including the entire starting five, and has a likely top-10 pick courtesy of the Brooklyn Nets. Houston made it a priority last offseason to develop winning habits with its young players by signing veterans Fred VanVleet, Dillon Brooks and Jeff Green. Alperen Sengun will get consideration for Most Improved Player and played like an All-Star before he was hurt in March. The Rockets' two first-round picks last year, Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore, should be in contention for All-Rookie. And finally, after struggling most of the season on offense, Jalen Green averaged 27.7 points on 49% from the field in March. All positive signs for a team stuck in the bottom of the standings since trading James Harden in 2021.

Offseason finances: The trade to acquire veteran center Steven Adams all but eliminated the Rockets' plan to have cap space. Houston will enter the offseason with $131.8 million in guaranteed salary but is over the $141 million cap because of $25 million in non-guaranteed contracts (Tate, Jeff Green and Jock Landale). Houston has until June 29 to exercise Tate's $7.5 million team option and guarantee Landale's $8 million contract. Jeff Green's $8 million salary becomes guaranteed on July 11. The Rockets will have access to the $12.9 million non-taxpayer midlevel exception and $4.7 million biannual exception to use in free agency or acquire a player in a trade. The Rockets also have a $4.5 million trade exception.

Top front office priority: Besides rookie extensions for Sengun and Jalen Green (more on that below), there has to be collaboration between the front office and coaching staff on evaluating the offense without sacrificing the team's defensive identity. Before the All-Star break, Houston ranked 24th in offensive efficiency, 26th in assists, 29th in 3-point percentage and 25th in 2-point percentage. After March 12 when Amen Thompson was inserted into the starting lineup (a result of the Sengun injury), the Rockets ranked fifth in offensive efficiency. Rockets coach Ime Udoka quickly dismissed the idea that the Rockets' winning streak and Jalen Green's offensive breakout were a result of Sengun's injury. "We wanted to really increase the pace and get the 3s up and all those things don't have anything to do with Alpi," Udoka told "The Matt Thomas Show." "When Jalen was struggling earlier in the year he had the same quality looks and Jalen started to read the game better. I think they can complement each other very well." For the Rockets to go from Phase 2 to 3 of their rebuild, their offense needs to resemble the team in March and not the one before the All-Star break.

Extension candidate to watch: Both Sengun and Jalen Green are eligible to sign rookie extensions worth up to $225 million over five years. Will the Rockets need to prioritize one over the other? Sengun averaged career highs in points (21.1), rebounds (9.3), assists (5.0) and steals (1.2). He averaged 14.7 paint points this season, fifth most in the NBA. Sengun doubled his 3-point attempts this season but took a step back with his efficiency. The last time a center signed a rookie max extension was Bam Adebayo in 2020. Before the All-Star break, Green shot 41% from the field and 30.7% on 3-pointers. During the Rockets' 11-game winning streak in March, Green averaged 30.2 points while shooting 50% from the field and 45% on 3-pointers. He was the youngest player to average 30 points over an 11-game winning streak, passing Bob McAdoo and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Stone has three years of work to evaluate Green, but during the first two years, Houston was playing out the string of games. Green has improved defensively under Udoka, holding opponents to 0.87 points per chance when defending isolations. That ranked in the top 10 among players to defend at least 175 isolations per Second Spectrum. Last season, opponents had a 1.08 points per chance when running isolations vs. Green.

Other extension candidates: Tate and Adams (as of Oct. 1).

Team needs: More playmakers. The Rockets ranked 26th this season in assists (24.7).

Future draft assets: The Russell Westbrook trade cost Houston its own first this season (unless it jumps into the top four via the lottery), but the Rockets recouped a top-10 pick from Brooklyn from the 2021 James Harden trade. The Nets will also send a 2026 unprotected first and Houston has the right to swap firsts in 2025 and 2027. Because of the Westbrook trade, Houston also owes Oklahoma City a top-four-protected 2026 first. The Thunder also have swap rights in 2025, if Houston's pick falls outside the top 10. The Rockets have five second-round picks available.

Memphis Grizzlies

2023-24 record: 25-55

Draft picks in June: No. 9 (own), No. 39 (via BKN) and No. 57 (via OKC)

Note: The Grizzlies' first-round draft position will be set by the May 12 draft lottery.

Odds for the No. 1 pick: 7.5%

Free agents: Luke Kennard (T) and Yuta Watanabe (P)

State of the roster: Memphis finished with its second-fewest wins in the past 16 seasons and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2019-20. Normally that would point to the Grizzlies taking a step back and facing a long rebuild, especially when considering 14 players from the current roster are under contract for next season. But injuries this season have put Memphis in a rare position entering the offseason. The Grizzlies led the league in games missed because of injury and ranked first with 51 different starting lineups. They set an NBA record with 33 players signed to contracts. Because of the injuries, Memphis signed 12 players to 10-day hardship exception contracts at different points of the season. Now, though, the Grizzlies will get to add a top-10 pick to a roster that returns Ja Morant, Marcus Smart, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. Those four players shared the court for just 4% of the team's total possessions this season and held opponents to 104.2 points per 100 possessions. Sixth man Brandon Clarke tore his left Achilles in the first round of the 2023 playoffs and didn't make his return until late March. All the injuries accelerated the development of Memphis' recent draft picks and two-way players. Santi Aldama, Ziaire Williams, Jake LaRavia, Vince Williams Jr. and GG Jackson started a combined 107 games. Jackson averaged 17.6 points after the All-Star break and finished fourth among all rookies in points per game. He became the second-youngest player (LeBron James) to score 40 points in a game. Williams started 33 games, averaging 10.0 PPG and shooting 37.8% on 3-pointers.

Offseason finances: The Grizzlies traded center Steven Adams (who was out for the season with a knee injury) in a financially driven move (they also picked up three second-round picks) before the deadline. Even after removing Adams' $12.6 million salary, the Grizzlies are still projected to be over the $171 million luxury tax line in 2024-25. Memphis has $160.5 million in guaranteed salary, which does not include Kennard's $14.8 million or the $5.7 million salary for its first-round pick. The Grizzlies have until June 28 to exercise Kennard's option. The contract becomes fully guaranteed on June 29. Kennard ranked second in 3-point percentage (45%) among players with four or more attempts per game. Yuta Watanabe has until June 29 to exercise his $2.7 million player option. Because of the new apron rules that start on April 15, the Grizzlies would trigger the $178.7 million hard cap in July if they take back more money in a trade than they send out.

Top front office priority: It starts with evaluating the different options leading up to the draft. The Grizzlies have a lottery pick but return a playoff-ready group of starters and a deep bench of recent draft picks. Adding $8 million in salary for a rookie would also likely send the Grizzlies into the tax. Does it make more sense for the Grizzlies to explore moving out of the lottery for a future first in another season? Or should Memphis look to attach the first to Kennard's $14.7 million salary for a starting center to complement Jaren Jackson Jr.? They could also keep the pick and select a player like Connecticut's Donovan Clingan. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Grizzlies were outscored by 7.4 per 100 points per possession this season when Jaren Jackson Jr. started at center. In the 63% possessions he spent at power forward in 2022-23, the Grizzlies were plus-10.5 points per 100 possessions.

Extension candidate to watch: Memphis is allowed to decline Kennard's team option prior to June 28 and extend him at a lower starting salary in 2024-25. Smart has two years left on his current deal ($20.1 million and $21.6 million) and Memphis can extend his contract for an additional three seasons and up to $96.8 million. Smart played just 20 games this season, and missed 21 the previous season in Boston. Starting on Oct. 1, Jaren Jackson Jr. can sign a three-year, $106.2 million extension that would start in 2026-27. If he doesn't sign an extension, he can become supermax eligible by being named All-NBA or winning Defensive Player of the Year next season. Aldama started a career-high 35 games, averaging 10.7 points and 5.7 rebounds. The deadline to extend Aldama, Smart and Jackson Jr. is Oct. 21.

Other extension candidates: Ziaire Williams

Team needs: Besides addressing the center position, the Grizzlies need a backup point guard behind Morant. Memphis could certainly stagger minutes and have Smart play point guard when Morant goes to the bench, but the Grizzlies went through the perfect storm of not having a reliable insurance policy when both players were out.

Future draft assets: The Grizzlies control their own first-round picks over the next seven years. They also have the right to swap their own 2026 first for the less favorable of Phoenix, Orlando and Washington. The Grizzlies also have the right to swap their own 2030 first for the less favorable of the Suns and Wizards. Memphis has six second-round picks available.

Portland Trail Blazers

2023-24 record: 21-61

Draft picks in June: No. 7 (own), No. 14 (via GS), No. 33/34 (via CHA) and No. 40 (via ATL)

Note: The Blazers' first-round draft position will be set by the May 12 draft lottery. The pick coming from Golden State is top-four protected and would be retained by the Warriors if it lands in one of the top four spots after the lottery.

Odds for the No. 1 pick: 13.2%

Free agents: Moses Brown, Ibou Badji (R), Dalano Banton (T) and Justin Minaya (R)

State of the roster: The Trail Blazers knew there would be growing pains in the post-Damian Lillard era. Portland entered the regular season with six rookies under contract (including third overall pick Scoot Henderson), two second-year players (Shaedon Sharpe and Jabari Walker) and three new veterans (Malcolm Brogdon, Robert Williams III and Deandre Ayton). On top of that, Portland ranked second in most games missed due to injury, which forced coach Chauncey Billups to play 40 different starting lineups, the most since he took over as coach in 2021. The lack of roster stability led to Portland's fewest wins since 2005-06. The Trail Blazers are at a critical juncture of their rebuild. It starts with the draft, where general manager Joe Cronin and his front office need to weigh if the roster is capable of taking on four draft picks. The Trail Blazers have 14 players under contract next season and have four selections in the top 40, including potentially two in the lottery. It is too early to tell if the Trail Blazers have a franchise player in Scoot Henderson or Shaedon Sharpe or if they will draft one in June. But the development of both players is critical in taking the next step. Henderson became the first Trail Blazers rookie since Lillard with multiple 30-point games. He also finished last among all players in field goal percentage on layups and dunks. Sharpe averaged a career-high 15.9 points but played only 32 games because of an adductor injury. His field goal percentage dropped from 47.2% as a rookie to 40.6%. And finally, there are financial decisions with the roster. The Trail Blazers are in a position where no lottery team should be: the luxury tax and first apron. Ayton, Brogdon, Jerami Grant and Anfernee Simons combine to earn 80% of the Trail Blazers' salary cap.

Offseason finances: Portland has $159.5 million in guaranteed salary and ranks 12th in payroll before free agency even starts. The non-guaranteed contracts of Walker and Toumani Camara plus two first-round picks push Portland over the $171 million luxury tax threshold. Walker's $2 million contract and Camara's $1.9 million contract both become guaranteed on July 20. Banton has a $1.9 million team option that is not guaranteed if exercised. Portland will have the $5.1 million taxpayer midlevel exception available. The Blazers' $8 million trade exception is not available if the acquiring salary pushes payroll above the first apron. The first apron will also get triggered if Portland takes back more money in a trade.

Top front office priority: Patience. In February, Cronin tipped his hand on the vision of the roster, saying "I want to give these guys a chance to grow and develop and not overly swing here in order to chase a playoff spot that's unrealistic or a playoff spot that's going to get us thumped right away. I want to make sure this is a quality build that's very sustainable." The Trail Blazers are in the unique position of rebuilding in the Western Conference with the fourth-youngest roster but also having veterans like Brogdon, Simons, Grant, Williams, Ayton and Matisse Thybulle under contract next season. Those six players would have trade value if Portland were to make them available. Ayton averaged 22.7 points and 12.5 rebounds after the All-Star break. Brogdon is a former Sixth Man of the Year who will be on an expiring $22.5 million contract. Williams has one of the best contracts ($12.4 million and $13.2 million) and is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate when healthy (he missed all but six games in 2023-24). Grant averaged 21 points, his most since 2020-21 and has four years and $133 million left on his contract.

Extension candidate to watch: Former second-round pick Jabari Walker doubled his minutes from 11.1 his rookie year to 23.6 this season. He scored in double digits 28 times and racked up 16 games of double-digit rebounds. Walker would be eligible to sign up to a four-year, $78.8 million extension once his $2 million contract is guaranteed on July 20.

Other extension candidates: Brogdon, Williams (as of July 30), Simons and Ayton (as of July 18)

Team needs: Shooting. The Trail Blazers ranked last in both 3-point percentage and effective field goal percentage.

Future draft assets: The Trail Blazers slowly have built back their first-round equity. Portland is owed first-round picks in 2029 from both Boston and Milwaukee. The Blazers also have the right to swap firsts with the Bucks in 2028 and 2030. Those assets, along with this year's Warriors pick (if it doesn't land in the top four) were acquired in trades that sent out Lillard and then Jrue Holiday. Portland still owes Chicago a first-round pick that has top-14 protection through 2028. The Blazers have six second-round picks available.

San Antonio Spurs

2023-24 record: 22-60

Draft picks in June: No. 5 (own), No. 8, No. 35 (own) and No. 48 (via LAL)

Note: The Spurs' first-round draft position will be set by the May 12 draft lottery. They will also get the Raptors' first-round pick if it falls outside the top six after the lottery.

Odds for the No. 1 pick: 10.5%

Free agents: Cedi Osman, Sandro Mamukelashvili (R), Dominick Barlow (R) and David Duke Jr. (R)

State of the roster: Victor Wembanyama put together one of the best rookie seasons in NBA history, but despite the emergence of a top-15 player, the Spurs finished tied for their third-fewest wins in a season in franchise history. The youngest roster in the NBA (nine players under 23) ranked ninth in the fewest number of games missed due to injury and used only 22 different starting lineups this season. For comparison, the Memphis Grizzlies used 51 different starting lineups this season. The inexperience played a role in San Antonio's 13-28 record in clutch games. The Spurs have 12 players under contract next season, and the clock to improve the roster started the night Wembanyama was drafted, not when the season ended on April 14. When Wembanyama was off the court, San Antonio allowed 117.3 points per 100 possessions compared to 111.2 when he was on the court. The Spurs were 3-8 in the games he did not play. "I don't pretend to know what we're going to do," coach Gregg Popovich said in March. "We have a lot of possibilities ahead of us, whether it's [having] money in the bank or draft picks or being creative tradewise. All those things are on the table. But aren't they for every team? I don't know why we're any different. We're just younger." But the Spurs are not like every other team. They have a 20-year-old franchise player and nine tradable firsts in the next seven years. 

Offseason finances: San Antonio is not like fellow rebuilding team Detroit when it comes to cap space. No player on the roster earns more than $30 million, but because of their high lottery picks, San Antonio has less than $20 million in room. Unless the Spurs are going to clear out significant salary, do not expect them to be a major player in free agency. If the Spurs have only their own first, the maximum room they can create is $24 million, which would mean waiving Devonte' Graham and Charles Bassey. Graham's $12.7 million contract becomes fully guaranteed on July 1. There is $2.85 million protected. Bassey ($2.5 million) becomes guaranteed on Aug. 1. The Spurs would have the $8 million room exception if they are a cap space team. If they operate above the cap, they will have the $12.9 million non-taxpayer midlevel exception and $4.7 million biannual exception.

Top front office priority: There are multiple questions the front office should ask this offseason. The first is what did this season teach us with Victor Wembanyama on the roster? San Antonio ranked in the top 10 of points allowed per 100 possessions with Wembanyama at center. Offensively, the Spurs struggled shooting the ball with Wembanyama at both power forward and center, shooting 34.7% on 3-pointers. The Spurs as a team ranked 28th in 3-point percentage and were 5-20 when they attempted at least 40 3-pointers. The second is which players on the current roster or in a trade complement him the best? The lineup of Wembanyama with Tre Jones, Devin Vassell, Jeremy Sochan and Keldon Johnson averaged 127.3 points per 100 possessions per Cleaning the Glass. Third, should San Antonio skip the steps in rebuilding and chase an All-Star type player, like Trae Young or perhaps Darius Garland, if either becomes available? That would represent a shift in philosophy in how San Antonio has constructed its roster dating back to Tim Duncan. The difference now is that San Antonio does not have another David Robinson to pair with Wembanyama. And finally, is taking a conservative approach a better strategy knowing the 2025 draft is stronger than the 2024 one? That would require buy-in from Wembanyama to be willing to spend another season at the bottom of the standings.

Extension candidate to watch: The Spurs extended Devin Vassell and Zach Collins this past year. This offseason there is no eligible player on a rookie-scale contract. The only two extension-eligible players are Osman (thru June 30) and Graham, who could be a roster casualty if the Spurs are looking to create cap space.

Team needs: Stability at point guard and perimeter shooting off the bench. The Spurs started Sochan at point guard before switching back to Jones. San Antonio was outscored by 19.2 points per 100 possessions in the games Sochan started at point guard. The Spurs ranked 20th in 3-point percentage among reserves.

Future draft assets: The Spurs rank behind only Oklahoma City (they are tied with Utah) in first-round picks over the next seven years. San Antonio is owed unprotected first-round picks from Atlanta in 2025 and 2027. The Spurs can also swap with the Hawks in 2026. If the Raptors' pick does not convey in 2024, it would remain top-6 protected in 2025 (and 2026). San Antonio is also owed a first-round pick from Charlotte (top-14 protected in 2025, else two second-round picks) and Chicago (top-8 protected in 2026 and 2027). San Antonio also has the right to swap firsts with Boston in 2028 (top-1 protected) and Dallas in 2030 (unprotected). The Spurs have 15 second-round picks available.

Toronto Raptors

2023-24 record: 25-57

Draft picks in June: No. 6 (own), No. 19 (via IND) and No. 31 (via DET)

Note: The position of the Raptors' own first-round pick will be set by the May 12 draft lottery. If it stays in the top six, they will retain it. If it falls outside the top six, they will send it to San Antonio. 

Odds for the No. 1 pick: 9%

Odds to retain the pick: 45.8%

Free agents: Bruce Brown (T), Jordan Nwora, Gary Trent Jr., Malik Williams (R), Immanuel Quickley (R), Garrett Temple and Jontay Porter (R)

State of the roster: For the third time in four years, Toronto enters the offseason out of the playoffs. The foundation of Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam no longer is on the roster. Anunoby and Siakam were replaced with Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett, Kelly Olynyk, Ochai Agbaji and future draft picks. The Raptors went 9-32 after the Siakam trade and finished with their fewest wins since 2011-12. "I don't know [whether] to call this a rebuild or a reset or however we want to put it, but a normal rebuild with other teams takes ... five, six years. Do we have the patience for that?" Raptors president Masai Ujiri said in February. A three-to-five-year rebuild starts with a stockpile of draft picks and a group of young first-round picks on their rookie contracts. The Raptors are not in that position. They are in a similar place to the Pacers retool that started in February 2022 when Domantas Sabonis was swapped for Tyrese Haliburton. Instead of the All-Star Haliburton to build around, the Raptors have a franchise player in Scottie Barnes. Barnes, Quickley, Barrett, Jakob Poeltl, Gradey Dick and Kelly Olynyk give Toronto with a foundation to work from. The Raptors also have $40 million in expiring contracts (Brown and Chris Boucher) to use in a trade either in the offseason or closer to the deadline. They could also enter free agency with close to $28 million if Brown's option is declined.

Offseason finances: The Raptors are in position to have cap space for the first time since 2015 if they decline Brown's option and renounce all their free agents except for Quickley. They have until June 29 to pick up Brown's option. If the option is declined, Toronto could create up to $28 million in room. Quickley has a $12.5 million hold, and the Raptors can use cap space before re-signing the guard, who will be a restricted free agent. Not including a new contract for Quickley, Toronto has $93 million in guaranteed salary. If the Raptors remain over the cap, they'll have the $12.9 million non-taxpayer midlevel exception and $4.7 million biannual exception. The Raptors also have two trade exceptions ($10.2 and $1.6 million). They would have the $8 million room midlevel exception if they operate as a cap space team.

Top front office priority: Do not expect the Raptors to lose their starting point guard in free agency again. Quickley is a restricted free agent and it is all but certain Toronto will tender him a one-year, $8.5 million qualifying offer by June 29. The real negotiation starts the day after the Finals end, when Quickley and the Raptors can begin discussing a new deal. In the role as full-time starter, Quickley averaged a career-high 6.8 assists and 18.6 points. The Raptors averaged 114.1 points per 100 possessions and were a plus-2.9 with Quickley sharing the court with Barrett and Barnes. A four-year, $109 million contract with a starting salary of $24.5 million would put Quickley in the middle of the pack of starting point guard salaries. The average starting point guard salary in 2024-25 is $27.8 million. The Raptors also have a decision to use Brown's $23 million salary as a trade chip or to create cap space. Brown averaged 9.6 points but shot only 31.7% on 3-pointers. Because of the minimum salary rule, the Raptors need to spend at least $126.9 million of the salary cap by the first day of the regular season.

Extension candidate to watch: Expect Barnes to join Siakam, Chris Bosh and Vince Carter as the only rookie max extensions in franchise history. Barnes is eligible to sign a five-year, $225 million contract that could possibly increase to $269 million if All-NBA language is negotiated. Before breaking his left hand on March 1, Barnes was averaging a career-high 19.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists. His 3-point shooting improved from 28.1% to 34.1%. Barnes was one of four players this season with multiple games of 30 points, 3 blocks and 3 steals, along with Anthony Davis, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Victor Wembanyama.

Other extension candidates: Trent (through June 30) and Boucher.

Team needs: Point guard depth and bench scoring on the perimeter. The Raptors could go with a combination of Liberty-Freeman and Brown (if his option is exercised) behind Quickley. Liberty-Freeman started four games in March, averaging 12.5 points. The Raptors ranked 28th in 3-point percentage from their reserves.

Future draft assets: If Toronto does send its 2024 first to San Antonio, the Raptors would then be allowed to trade their 2025 first starting on the night of the draft. If the first is retained, the next allowable year is 2027. The first owed to San Antonio is top-6 protected in 2025 and 2026. Toronto is owed a future first-round pick from Indiana (top-4 protected in 2026 and 2027). The Raptors also have four second-round picks available.

Utah Jazz

2023-24 record: 31-51

Draft picks in June: No. 10 (own), No. 29 (via OKC) and No. 32 (via WSH).

Note: The position of Utah's own first-round pick will be determined by the May 12 draft lottery. If it falls outside the top 10, it conveys to Oklahoma City.

Odds for the No. 1 pick: 6%

Free agents: Kira Lewis Jr. (R), Talen Horton-Tucker, Kris Dunn, Luka Samanic, Johnny Juzang (R) and Micah Potter (R)

State of the roster: The main principles in Utah continue to focus on patience and player development. "Our goal is to continue to develop our players," Jazz general manager Justin Zanik told "Roundball Roundup" in March. "Put them in a competitive environment. Have them experience playing meaningful games that mean something. And eventually I do not want to put a timeline on it." The Jazz have an All-Star in Lauri Markkanen along with veterans Jordan Clarkson, Collin Sexton and John Collins. But they also have the second-youngest roster in the NBA. Eight players are under the age of 23, including Keyonte George, Taylor Hendricks, Brice Sensabaugh and Walker Kessler. Zanik and the front office have fought off the temptation of accelerating the rebuild in back-to-back years. The Jazz were a .500 team heading into the trade deadline, and it would have been easy to risk future assets just to sneak into the play-in. The Jazz went 5-25 after the deadline this season, after going 8-16 after the deadline in 2022-23.

Offseason finances: The Jazz enter the offseason as the only team with both multiple first-round picks in June and more than $30 million in cap space. Last year the Jazz used room to acquire John Collins and then renegotiate the contract of Jordan Clarkson. This offseason they could have up to $40 million if all their free agents are renounced and the non-guaranteed contracts of Darius Bazley and Kenneth Lofton Jr. are waived. Both contracts increase to $400K in protection if they are on the roster past July 25. Markkanen's $18 million contract becomes guaranteed on June 28. If the Jazz stay over the cap, they will have the $8.0 million room midlevel exception.

Top front office priority: Besides the development of their own players, there is a three-step process to the offseason. The first is the June draft. Utah projects to have three picks in the top 31 and can take advantage of high-spending teams. Because second-apron teams are no longer allowed to buy draft picks with cash, Utah could flip the Clippers' first or Pistons' second for additional assets. The second is the direction with cap space. Utah could renegotiate Markkanen's contract with cap space and then use the balance in free agency or trades. However, Markkanen is not renegotiation eligible until Aug. 6. If the Jazz pass on a renegotiation, Utah would need to spend at least $21 million by the first day of the regular season to meet the minimum salary requirement. And finally, how do the Jazz's three highest-paid players -- Sexton, Clarkson and Collins -- fit in long-term? They ranked as the team's second-, third- and fourth-leading scorers, behind Markkanen.

Extension candidate to watch: The Jazz have two options when it comes to a new contract for Markkanen. The unlikely path would be for Markkanen to sign a four-year, $113 million extension starting in July, with a team-friendly $25.2 million first-year salary. That's less than what the forward could sign for as a free agent in 2025. The maximum starting salary next season is $44.4 million. The more viable option is for Utah to use available cap space to renegotiate and then extend his contract. The Jazz are allowed to increase his $18 million salary up to $42.3 million and then extend for an additional $202 million over four seasons. They are also permitted to decrease the renegotiated salary up to 40% and then extend off that number. Markkanen continues to play at an All-Star level and for a second straight season flirted with a 50/40/90 stat line.

Other extension candidates: Horton-Tucker (thru June 30), Collins and Sexton (as of Sept. 3)

Team needs: Besides an offseason of development for the recent first-round picks (George, Hendricks and Sensabaugh), consistency with the starting lineup. In the past two seasons, Utah has used 54 different starting lineups.

Future draft assets: The benefits of the Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell trades will not come to fruition until 2025. Next year, Utah will have unprotected firsts from both Cleveland and Minnesota. The Jazz are also owed 2027 and 2029 unprotected firsts from Cleveland, an unprotected 2027 first from Minnesota and a top-5-protected 2029 first from Minnesota. Utah also has the right to swap firsts with Minnesota or Cleveland (top-8 protected) in 2028. Utah is also owed a top-5-protected first from the Lakers in 2027. The Jazz are tied with San Antonio for the second-most tradable firsts in the next seven years with nine. They have three second-round picks available.

Washington Wizards

2023-24 record: 15-67

Draft picks in June: No. 2 (own), No. 26 (via LAC) and No. 51 (via PHX)

Note: The Wizards' first-round draft position will be set by the May 12 draft lottery.

Odds for the No. 1 pick: 14%

Free agents: Anthony Gill, Richaun Holmes (P), Tyus Jones, Tristan Vukcevic (T) and Jules Bernard (R)

State of the roster: Before training camp started, new president of basketball of operations Michael Winger refused to use the word "rebuild." The Wizards went on to finish with the fewest wins in franchise history, lost at least six games in a row six different times (including 16 at one point) and had a defense that ranked 28th in efficiency. But they needed to bottom out after finishing below .500 in each of the previous five seasons and making the playoffs only once in that span. "We want to build the right way," Winger told the media. "It is a very heavy lift. Hard decisions, a lot of patience, an intense focus on player development, an intense focus on research, and that's what we are going to do." The hard decisions included trading veterans Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, Chris Paul, Monte Morris and Daniel Gafford for draft compensation. The heavy lifting continues this offseason but under different circumstances. There is no $200 million Beal contract to unload. Instead the focus is on hiring a new coach, making two first-round picks, re-signing point guard Tyus Jones and the continued development of their young players, notably Bilal Coulibaly and the players selected in June.

Offseason finances: The Wizards prioritized acquiring draft assets (a first and two seconds) at the deadline in exchange for taking on salaries (Holmes and Marvin Bagley III) that extend into the 2024-25 season. Now with $115 million in guaranteed salary, $17.6 million of non-guaranteed contracts and an additional $14 million of first-round draft holds, Washington is projected to be over the salary cap. Landry Shamet's $11 million non-guaranteed deal becomes guaranteed if he is not waived by June 29. Holmes has until June 29 to opt in to his $12.9 million salary. Vukcevic's team option deadline is also June 29. The Wizards should have the flexibility to remain below the $171 million luxury tax if they re-sign Jones and use their $12.9 million non-taxpayer midlevel exception. They also have the $4.7 million biannual exception. Washington has five trade exceptions: $12.5 million, $12.4 million, $9.8 million, $5.4 million and $3.5 million.

Top front office priority: To be blunt, the hiring of the next head coach is the most important transaction in the history of the Wizards. It will define Winger's so-far short tenure. But what defines the right hire? A strong player development background? If the Wizards keep both first-round picks, they will have seven players under the age of 23. Someone with head-coaching experience? The ability to manage the locker room? The new head coach has to connect with Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole. Both players are under contract through 2026-27 and there has to be buy-in with both. We can point to the recent hirings and eventual turnarounds in Orlando, Sacramento, Minnesota, New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Houston. The difference is there is no De'Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Zion Williamson or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the Wizards' roster. Instead the selling point is patience and a partnership. The patience comes with the realization that the current roster will turn over multiple times before there is stability. The Wizards finished in the bottom three in defensive efficiency and have 12 players under contract. The partnership is a multiyear plan of creating winning habits and identity on the court. The new head coach and front office will have a decision to make with Jones. The veteran had career highs in points (12.0), assists (7.3), field goal percentage (48.9%) and 3-point shooting (41.4%). Jones averaged 1.0 turnover or less for the ninth consecutive season, but he missed the last month of the season with a back injury.

Extension candidate to watch: Expect Washington to take an aggressive approach in extension talks with Corey Kispert, who averaged a career-high 13.4 points and played in 70 or more games for the third consecutive season. His 459 3-pointers are the most in a player's first three NBA seasons in Wizards history. Per Cleaning the Glass, Kispert ranked in the 89th percentile among all forwards in points per shot attempt and effective field goal percentage. Kispert shot 76.0% in the restricted area and ranked 10th among players with at least 150 attempts.

Other extension candidates: Bagley, Shamet (as of Oct. 1) and Holmes

Team needs: Besides hiring the next head coach and finding NBA-level starters at every position except power forward, a jump in development for Coulibaly. The 19-year old averaged 8.4 points in 63 games this season. He started 15 games but shot only 26.6% on 3-pointers in those games.

Future draft assets: Give Winger credit for rebuilding the pool of draft assets. Since he took over last May, Washington has acquired two first-round picks, four years of picks swaps in the first round from Phoenix and 11 second-round picks. The first from Golden State in 2030 is top-20 protected. Washington still owes New York a first-round pick that is top-10 protected in 2025 and top-8 protected in 2026. If it hasn't conveyed by then, Washington will send the Knicks its own 2026 and 2027 second-round picks. The earliest that Washington can trade its own first is in 2028.