NBA Teams With the Biggest Questions This Offseason

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(Courtesy Flickr)

By Ethan Pearce, Assistant Sports Editor

 

While the NBA Playoffs are just beginning, the offseason is underway for nearly half of the league. This has been a wide-open, exciting season of basketball, where nearly every team had something to play for until the final buzzer sounded. Among the teams who ended up not making the cut for the postseason, who has the most questions to answer regarding their future? Here are five teams that need to figure out their direction, and fast.

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers lost in the play-in tournament, marking only the second time they’ve missed the playoffs since 2010. Prior to this year, they had lost in the first round of the playoffs for the previous five seasons in a row. This is a team that has been pretty good for about ten years but has never been able to break through and achieve the greatest heights. The roster is pretty good, and they dealt with a lot of injuries this year, but it’s clear to everyone that this is not a title-contending group.

With reported tension between the players and first-year head coach Nate Bjorkgren, they may swap coaches this offseason as well. If Indiana is content with being, at best, a first-round playoff exit for the next five years, by all means, keep this roster together. If they want to attempt something more than that, moves need to be made.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings own the longest playoff drought in the history of the NBA at 15 seasons, tied with the Clippers, who didn’t make it from 1977 to 1991. The Kings haven’t played in the postseason since 2006, and that’s enough to force any team to go back to the drawing board after another disappointing finish.

Sacramento is reportedly keeping coach Luke Walton for another year, a move that has baffled many fans after he disappointed for a second straight season. The Kings have some solid pieces, specifically young guards De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, but there is still so much work to do in order to turn this team around.

They’ve changed players, coaches, management, and ownership during the playoff drought and there has still not been any progress. Perhaps this offseason will be the one where the Kings can finally breakthrough and return to the postseason for the first time in 15 years.

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls made a huge trade at the deadline this year, shipping out some young players and draft picks in exchange for All-Star center Nikola Vučević. Things didn’t quite go as expected after the trade, and they found themselves on the outside of the play-in tournament and the playoffs for a fourth straight season.

All-Star guard Zach LaVine will be a free agent after this coming season, so the team needs to put together a competent roster, and fast, before LaVine looks for greener pastures elsewhere. The Bulls appear solid on paper, but after another disappointing season, especially given the expectations after the Vučević trade, they need to look themselves in the mirror and figure out what’s holding this squad back. Another year of missing the playoffs would certainly prompt major turnover across the franchise.

Houston Rockets

The Rockets finished with the worst record in the league this year, thanks to a mismanaged James Harden trade and a whole lot of tanking. Rockets ownership has made it clear that they’re not willing to foot the bill for a competitive roster for the time being and have left the front office with few options to improve the state of the team.

There are a few young bright spots on the roster, but this is the worst state the Rockets have been in in a very long time. Plus, if their draft pick falls out of the top four, they give it away to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and will likely pick much later in the draft, missing out on a top four prospect.

They need to cross their fingers and toes, grab a lucky rabbit’s foot, wear their favorite pair of underpants, and hope with everything they have that the pick lands in the top four because if it doesn’t, there will be a long road back to contention for the Houston Rockets.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers have been absolutely horrendous ever since LeBron James left for Los Angeles, and with the lack of progress made over the past three years, it’s time to get this rebuild moving a little faster. Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and Isaac Okoro are all nice young players, but this team needs to get the veterans out of there, trade for some more draft picks, and continue to add to their stable of young talent.

Why is Kevin Love still on this team? He’s made it clear that it’s the last place he wants to be, and it’s messing up the chemistry for the young guys. Cut ties with Love however you can, move some of the other pieces that don’t fit the timeline, pick up high potential guys off the bargain bin, and get this thing moving forward.

It’s time for Cleveland to at least attempt to begin winning again, and that starts with committing to a direction and identifying players who fit the way this team wants to play. Sexton, Garland, and Okoro are a start, and it’s time to add to that group.

Every team in the league has moves to make, especially those who failed to make the postseason. These five should be active in the trade and free agency markets this offseason, which will only add to the intrigue of an already crazy NBA summer.

 

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