Another round of the NBA playoffs has come and gone leaving just four teams fighting for this year’s NBA championship. The second round saw both top seeds as well as some of the other top teams in the NBA being eliminated and forced to look forward into the offseason.
Here’s a look at what each team that got knocked out this round should focus on these next few months.
Let’s start out with one of those top seeds. This may have been the best shot for this era of the Philadelphia 76ers to reach the championship but they were upset at home in a game seven loss to the Atlanta Hawks. The main question for Philly is what to do with Ben Simmons.
The former first overall pick became a non factor scoring wise during the final three games of the series scoring a combined 19 points. Simmons just finished his first year of a five year contract which has a cap hit of just over $30 million. Many teams may not want to take on that salary especially after these playoffs but his defensive abilities could prove valuable to a team such as the Warriors if he is deemed available.
The Brooklyn Nets also entered these playoffs with high expectations and like the 76ers lost in a close game seven against the Milwaukee Bucks. While there is little doubt the Nets big three will continue to shine in Brooklyn, there is still concern about everyone else.
Outside of Durant, Irving and Harden, only five other players are under contract on this Nets roster. The Nets bench proved thin during the season which was a big reason why both Blake Griffin and Lamarcus Aldridge were brought in midseason. One option could be to shop Joe Harris and DeAndre Jordan who both carry a big cap hit into next season to clear space to sign more role players. The Nets current salary cap issues make it difficult to add to the roster but come playoff time it will be a problem if Kevin Durant is forced to carry a team on his back once again.
Moving over to the Western Conference, the top seeded Utah Jazz are another team at a crossroads after losing to the Los Angeles Clippers in six games. With the potential loss of Mike Conley in free agency, all options are open to add a third star in Utah.
Conley made the most money of any player on the Jazz roster after making over $34 million last season. Despite having an All-Star season for the first time in his career, Conley’s age and injury problems the past two seasons may make it tough for the Jazz to offer him an extension. With the newly added cap space, the Jazz can afford to go after a big name such as Damian Lillard or possibly even the previously mentioned Ben Simmons.
It was a quick exit for the Denver Nuggets who couldn’t manage a single win against the Phoenix Suns. With the potential return of Jamaal Murray at the start of next season, it may be smart to provide him with a better partner in the lineup.
The Nuggets haven’t been able to find a quality shooting guard since Gary Harris dealt with injuries which prevented him from returning to his 2017-18 form. Nikola Jokic’s numbers dropped at a noticeable rate when all the attention was on him during the Nuggets series against the Suns. Trading for a star shooting guard such as Bradley Beal could give the Nuggets the third star they’ve been looking for and one they failed to get when they traded for Aaron Gordon.
Logan Bourandas is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.