NLL | NBA | WNBA | NBA 2k17 | NLSC
Username :

NLL Insider - What's Next? Central Division

by wizkid, updated on Saturday, July 01 2017, 08:39 pm EST

Blue = Possible trade / Free agency candidates

The Central Division

Chicago Bulls

Approx Cap Situation: $103,000,000

GM Points: 62

Record: 42-40

Incoming Rookies:


Key Players Returning:

Robin Lopez, Buddy Hield, Joakim Noah, Dragan Bender, Seth Currry, Garrett Temple, Jameer Nelson


Unrestricted Free Agents:

Dirk Nowitzki, Stephen Curry, Thabo Sefolosha

Restricted Free Agents:



After being famously burned by Dirk a few years ago, Daz is making sure to lock up his two stars. He tried to get everything he could in exchange for the free agents that won’t be back this coming season and had some success doing so.


Unless Dirk gives the Bulls a huge discount as an apology note for last time – they aren’t going to have much cap space. Curry is likely due for a raise that will wipe out any hope at getting under the cap. The wings are their weakest area and likely letting Thabo go only makes that worse – they should go after a small forward if they can get one good enough to supplant Garrett Temple in the starting lineup.


The last time the Bulls won more than 30 games was 2009-2010. Their 23 win improvement in order to rise to the 7th seed in a stacked Eastern Conference was very impressive and a much needed breath of fresh air in Chicago. Daz is going to have to step up in new ways to get his team to an even higher level – most of the teams in front of the Bulls in the playoff seedings are multiple star players ahead of them. But with Curry, a couple of talented prospects, and savvy veterans – many of the pieces are there. The struggle is really that outside of internal improvement, they don’t have a lot of levers to pull and there are a few younger teams breathing down the back of their necks – it will be a tough task to make the playoffs again, but the Curry and Dazman combo has finally clicked so the spot is theirs to lose.

Possible Line-up

·         PG – Stephen Curry

·         SG – Buddy Hield

·         SF – Garrett Temple

·         PF – Dirk Nowitzki

·         C – Robin Lopez

·         6th Man – Seth Curry


Cleveland Cavaliers

Approx Cap Situation $86,000,000

GM Points: 93

Record: 61-21

Picks: Kadeem Allen

Key Players Returning:

Lebron James, Andre Drummond, Terrence Ross, Robert Covington


Unrestricted Free Agents:

Serge Ibaka, Brandon Jennings, Jason Terry, Michael Carter-Williams, Mike Muscala, Luis Scola

Restricted Free Agents:



PistolPK spent a good portion of the season trying to find value for Serge Ibaka – he’ll spend the offseason trying to convince Ibaka that he was just joking, so that he’ll resign and then try to turn around and trade him during the season.

After trading away part of the Cavs dynasty team (Tony Parker) for MCW, Pistol is so burnt by his falloff that he’s not even entertain bringing him back – and may try to make it so he never finds another job in this league.


Anybody that can run the point. After Parker left town it was a whirlwind of experiments – ending with Andrew Harrison running the show. But that isn’t sustainable for a team trying to win 60+ - and Lebron may not be happy at carrying the load. Other than trying to lure in that point guard without much cap space after Serge resigns, they’ll need to fill in some depth around the edges.


The feeling is that the Cavs dynasty is over – most teams would sign up for winning 3 of the last 5. However, it’s really 0 of the last 2 that matters. They’re still a 60-win team with Lebron in town and as long as Serge and Andre keep protecting the rim and grabbing boards. Bringing in Covington was a great move and gives them 4 legit starters – if they can find that 5th starter, then they’ll be feeling as dangerous as ever. This feels like one of the valid situations where it may be worth giving up something like Terrence Ross and a first round pick in order to bring in a guy that fits with the starting unit.

Possible Line-up

·         PG – Andrew Harrison

·         SG – Robert Covington

·         SF – Lebron James

·         PF – Serge Ibaka

·         C – Andre Drummond

·         6th Man – Terrence Ross


Detroit Pistons

Approx Cap Situation $72,000,000

GM Points: 67

Record: 29-53

Picks: DeAaron Fox, Donovan Mitchell, Vlatko Cancar

Key Players Returning:

     Kenneth Faried, Ben Simmons, Jerryd Bayless, Luol Deng


Unrestricted Free Agents:

Bryn Forbes, Pat Connaughton, Sheldon McClellan

Restricted Free Agents:

Gorgui Dieng, Victor Oladipo


Point guard immediately went from a huge strength to a weakness in the Chris Paul deal. Laddas would love to crack the playoffs this year and Bayless probably doesn’t have what it takes to be a starter if DeAaron Fox isn’t ready – where can they get one with zero picks in the next 4 years to trade and likely no cap space after Oladip and Dieng get paid?

Speaking of point guard – Ben Simmons?

Jerryd Bayless, Mirza Teletovic, Brandan Wright and Luol Deng combine to be potentially the highest paid bench quartet in the league ($42 mil) – does that sound like a good investment? Something will be done here…


GM Penny will have a ton of cap space to dispose of, and will likely look to add depth to the team in 2016/17, specifically at the point guard and power forward positions.


Laddas has done a great job over the last year of turning this into a team that could be in the playoffs at some point. He used up a lot of draft assets to pull it off, but added some solid rookies this season to go with what is now a pretty young core – so I don’t think that’s an issue. There has been enough turnover that they kind of need to see what they have. They need to figure out if they can sustain the team they’ve got with all of those salaries on the bench… they may roll off before young guys’ money kicks in and work out okay though.

Possible Line-up

·         PG – DeAaron Fox

·         SG – Victor Oladipo

·         SF – Ben Simmons

·         PF – Kenneth Faried

·         C – Gorgui Dieng

·         6th Man – Luol Deng

Indiana Pacers

Approx Cap Situation $35,000,000

GM Points: 73

Record: 29-53

Picks: Malik Monk

Key Players Returning:

Steven Adams, Tobias Harris, Tony Parker, Matthew Dellavedova, Cory Joseph


Unrestricted Free Agents:

Blake Griffin, Darrun Hilliard, Georges Niang, Okaro White, Reggie Bullock

Restricted Free Agents:



Sheed is willing to do ANYTHING to get Blake to come back! Please submit suggestions below.

Point guards… who needs one? The pacers have accumulated 3 borderline starters (Parker, Delly, and CoJo) making a combined $33 mil this coming season to go along with Raul Neto (a fan favorite) and Tyus Jones (a prospect they traded for). They can’t dedicate that much money and that many roster spots to guys that can really only play point.

Front court isn’t changing – Sheed has found the mix he wants, and after convincing Blake to stick around, Tobias and Steven will team up for years.


Shooting guards… any of them! Despite an up and down year, trading Jeremy Lamb for a much older guy at a position that you don’t really need another decent player at was an odd move. They’re currently pinning almost all of their hopes on Malik Monk. The guy looks like a good prospect, but even if he comes out of the gates looking amazing – they really don’t even have a real backup. Clear that point guard backlog and bring in a two guard!


They did a great job of solidifying the frontcourt and it looks really balanced right now. The past 4 years have been 59, 53, 44, and 29 wins. That trajectory can’t continue or they’re going to lose more than 82 games. Sheed needs to, and can, find a way to turn this around. Monk could be a great start, and if he can find the right way to shuffle around the depth he’s got to be a better fit, we could be looking at more than a 10 win improvement in the coming season.

Possible Line-up

·         PG – Tony Parker

·         SG – Malik Monk

·         SF – Tobias Harris

·         PF – Blake Griffin

·         C – Steven Adams

·         6th Man – Matthew Dellavedova


Milwaukee Bucks

Approx Cap Situation $115,000,000

GM Points: 99

Record: 64-18

Picks: Jarrett Allen

Key Players Returning:



Unrestricted Free Agents:


Restricted Free Agents:



Another trade of a veteran about to get paid for a prospect? Trading Caldwell-Pope was basically that same type of deal for the third straight year. Aaron Gordon, Jusuf Nurkic, and Zach Lavine are next up on that train – don’t be surprised to see one or more of them getting spun forward into more high-value/low-price prospects.

They wouldn’t trade Russ… right?!?


If the Bucks are really convinced that Nurkic and KAT can start together – they really need somebody in the paint off of the bench. Poeltl has been a bit of a disappointment thus far, but could turn the corner… but how much does a title contender want to bank on that uncertain bet? They’ve got a good number of future picks and some other talent that isn’t key to their immediate success – can they turn one of those into a big-time big man to prevent the falloff from the great starting frontcourt to the Skal/Thad project that backs them up?


The Bucks are up there with the best in the league. At this phase of things, it really comes down to the small adjustments to put yourself in the best seed in the playoffs and giving yourself enough tools to make adjustments and win a playoff series.

Possible Line-up

·         PG – Russell Westbrook

·         SG – Zach LaVine

·         SF – Giannis Antetokounmpo

·         PF – Karl-Anthony Towns

·         C – Jusuf Nurkic

·         6th Man – Louis Williams


Ladder Predictor 2017

This is a two-team race with a lot of intrigue behind them. I think the Bucks take the Division crown in a tight race with the Cavs for the second year in a row. The Bulls ride the talent of their star to another narrow playoff berth, the Pistons give their fans something to cheer for as they narrowly lose out on the 8th seed to the Bulls and the Pacers are still left looking around for the missing piece as they finish a strong 5th in a very tough Division. That said – the only thing that keeps this from being a possible 5 playoff team Division is the even tougher Atlantic Division, and I don’t think this is the year that the Central takes that crown.

1.      Milwaukee Bucks

2.     Cleveland Cavaliers

3.      Chicago Bulls

4.      Detroit Pistons

5.      Indiana Pacers


  Comments (3) 
07/02 10:32 am
Bucks are gonna miss KCP
07/02 07:22 am
Perfect summary. My thoughts exactly
07/02 05:46 am
Nice wizkid. Well written and a good assessment :)


· Fixing the Past: Miami Heat

· What's Next? Pacific Division

· What's Next? Central Division

· What's Next? Northwest Division

· What's Next? Southeast Division

· What's Next? Southwest Division

· What's Next? Atlantic Division

· GM of the Year!

· Merencio's Draft Grades

· Nenjabin's (too nice) Draft Grades




© 2001-2017 | All Rights Reserved | About Us | FAQ | Sign Up | Contact Us | Site Statistics