6 are gone.
The Utah Jazz, New Orleans Hornets, Portland Trailblazers, Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs have all gone fishing, time on their hands.
Utah has vowed to improve defensively after falling to the Lakers. Again. The fact that Carlos Boozer is seeking out a $100 million deal probably puts team defense fairly low on team priorities.
The Jazz need to re-sign Mehmet Okur and Paul Milsap, so the possibility of matching a big time deal for the Booze must be scaring the GM up in Salt Lake something fierce.
The current economic climate and the allure of the free agent market for the next two years makes it difficult to justify such a blockbuster contract for a player who is unlikely to put you over the hump to the Finals.
Utah are not the only team with decisions to make. If much of the media is to be believed then San Antonio are either officially at the end of their title contender status or very, very close.
You can’t beat age. You can deceive it for a while, but it will catch you eventually. Charles Barkley rubbished the idea that an early rest will give Tim Duncan the time he needs to repair, and rightly so.
If their big three can get (relatively) healthy then they have a shot next year. As long as they bring in some, whisper it, youth.
The Hornets, despite their destruction by a VERY good Denver Nuggets team, cannot be too worried about their immediate future as long as they have Chris Paul and the rest of their guys get healthy.
The only team with little to worry about are the Portland Trailblazers. Brandon Roy being hailed as the best player that Ron Artest has played against must fill Oregon with confidence that their team has a player who can lead their team to the Promised Land.
They are pretty much the antithesis of the Spurs. Old versus young. The likes of Rudy Fernandez, Nicolas Batum and Greg Oden (!) are all going to get A LOT better really fast. The Blazers’ future looks pretty enviable.
Philadelphia are in much the same position as the Jazz with one of their main guys looking around for a new, and big, contract. The loss of Andre Miller to the Sixers would be a huge loss for a team who are light on leadership.
However, no team that has just exited the Playoffs has more to think about than the once great Detroit Pistons.
Allen Iverson’s contract is off the books leaving the Pistons with some maneuvering room. The question is when does Joe Dumars decide to pull the trigger: he could go after Boozer or whoever else this summer or he could tread water for a year and wait to make an assault on the fabled free agent class of 2010.
The one major plus for the Pistons is that players do want to play in Detroit. It’s not like the Memphis Grizzlies who could offer LeBron and co all the money in the world yet would still receive a big fat no in reply.
Detroit must also decide whether or not to re-sign Mr Technical Rasheed Wallace. As brilliant as he is combustible, and expensive to boot.
Wholesale changes could be the order of the day in Mo-Town as the team is broken down and rebuilt: will Tayshaun or Rip still be there next year? Or will they be traded for the All Star that the Pistons crave?
The exit from the Playoffs means that these teams have lots of time on their hands to think.
The four teams that have game 7s to look forward to will be praying that they are able to put off the inevitable change process by proceeding to the Conference Semi Finals.