DECISIONS TO MAKE: EAST DIVISION
By Aitor Tilla
Brooklyn Rage: The Rage is dominating the league with an iron fist, winning 4 of the last 5 championships. But Rondall’s core is aging and they pay the astonishing quantity of 123 million in player salaries. Omar Jefferson is the oldest player and his contract runs for 4 more seasons, when his contract ends, at 36 years old, he will make more than 25 million alone. Mario Bailey has some miles in his legs too and some expect his decline to start as soon as next season, he’s owed 52 million in his next 2 seasons. Is Brooklyn in trouble? No, at least not yet, but two of their starters have an option at the end of the season. Dan Kincaide could try to exchange teams. Kincaide would receive a lot of max offers all around the league and Rondall would pay that price…if his budget can afford it. At some point, the Rage will have problems with the money they spend. Tyris Mayes has a team option, and he could be sacrificed to accommodate Kincaide’s extension. But Mayes is a hell of a player in Brooklyn’s system, a very capable defensive player who will not take shots from the stars on the other end. Does Rondall keep the team together until the end? Or should he retool trading one of his stars for some young blood accompanied by some financial relief?
Boston Massacre: Boston has done great while waiting for Brooklyn to fade. Matias Gutierrez, Michal Askins, and Frank Mattheu are under 25 and signed for the long term. They will be like 12 million under the cap, and if they decide not to exercise Wes Taylor’s team option, they will be able to sign a max player. Don’t expect a lot of changes in Boston because patience is paying, Quinten knows that Rondall’s reign will fall sooner than later. The only move Boston can make is the signing of a forward and there will be a lot available. Can you imagine Boston signing Tony Henderson? Yes, that sound was Marc falling off his chair.
New York Firestorm: New GM TJ Smith has a lot of work to do, and it won’t be an easy task. First of all, New York’s payroll is out of control. Next season they will be paying Sherman Mahara and Chad Nolan 43 M. You can argue that Mahara lives up to his contract (false), but Nolan’s is by far one of the worst contracts in the league. With no money to spend, aging players signed long term, and the absence of relevant picks in the draft, we can envision a long rebuilding effort here. One idea could be buying Nolan’s contract out without penalty, then trading Mahara for a good pick or some young blood. At least financially it has a lot of sense.
Toronto Dinos: Edgar Meyer is another new GM. Opposite to TJ Smith, Mr. Meyer will have a lot of options to choose a path to the glory. With just three players under contract, Toronto will have around 30 M in cap space to add some talent. The bad news is that not a lot of free agents will be taking turns to sign for the Dinos with that record. Sadly, Toronto has no picks in this draft, and Dickinson and Tomlin are too old to start a rebuilding process around them. Trading them, especially Dickinson, for picks would be a first step in the right direction. Mr. Mayer, as a new owner will have to fight against the desire of signing second-tier free agents to maximum contracts, yes I know that was easy to tell.
Miami Xtreme: Are they tanking? We know the answer is NO because they don’t even have their own pick. Free agency won’t help since they will have the mid-level exception. There is little room for the improvement of their players not named Omar Rozier. Hell, even Jesus Morell seems to be declining really fast. Brent Bangerter is stocking picks for 2020 draft, but once again, Miami’s pick will not be there, so, Miami should start winning some games to stay relevant and attracting players. Building around Morell and Rozier while trying to trade Coleman and Woods for picks or young players in a rookie contract should be mandatory for Miami, but we know how stubborn can be a Bangerter