For most people in the United States (and the world?) it is time for the holidays. When I was growing up, December was not the holiday season for my family, but thanks to the commercialization of literally everything, I was able to use this time of year as an excuse to ask for one more gift before the New Year.
Channeling that very same spirit, let’s go holiday shopping for some of the NBA’s best and worst teams. Here’s what I would buy some NBA squads if I were in charge:
Cavaliers: One more 3–and–D guy
Cleveland has been humming along so far during the regular season, and aside from one relatively harmless three-game losing streak, the Cavs look poised to yet again dominate the East. With that in mind, the Cavs’ sole focus should be on how they match up with the Warriors in a potential Finals three-peat. One more defensive wing—who can also hit threes—would be the perfect gift for LeBron James. Cleveland will not get away with leaving Kevin Durant open the way they did with Harrison Barnes in last summer’s Finals. And the burden on James could get ridiculous if he’s asked to guard Durant for seven games in addition to being the fulcrum for everything Cleveland does. One more 3-and-D guy would add some flexibility to the Cavs roster.
Warriors: A big man
Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee have given the Warriors some decent minutes as Andrew Bogut’s replacement at center, but neither can quite live up to what Bogut gave the Dubs during the last two seasons. McGee has talent, and he plays well with the starters, but can you really trust him during a tense playoff series?
Pachulia has the veteran know-how McGee lacks, but comes nowhere close to him in terms of athleticism. Golden State doesn’t really need anything, but one more big man could come in handy by the postseason just in case they need some steady minutes at center. I’d expect Golden State to be actively poking around the buyout market later this season.
Clippers: A retro version of Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce of three years ago would be outstanding for this Clippers team, who are currently employing a Pierce that needed mock CPR from Chris Paul after blowing a dunk earlier this season. The Clips desperately need a fifth guy to put around Paul, J.J. Redick, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin who is now reportedly out 3-6 weeks with minor knee surgery. Luc Mbah a Moute is a non-factor on offense, while Jamal Crawford—bless his gunning heart—is a considerable minus on defense. Wizards Paul Pierce would have maybe filled that role perfectly for the Clippers, but right now it would be unwise for Doc Rivers to count on Pierce for serious contributions. If the Clips can find a perimeter player they can use to close games, it may not make a giant difference, but it would inch them closer to the Warriors.
Spurs: A strech four
San Antonio’s 10 most-used lineups all feature two bigs who mostly play inside the arc. LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol are the NBA’s No. 1 and No. 2 in percentage of points coming from mid-range. As a team, the Spurs are in the middle of the league in threes made per game and bottom five in threes attempted.
A stretchy big could maybe open up the offense even more for a team that already scores with relative ease. Again, it’s all about flexibility, and spacing the floor even more for Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard could bring the Spurs closer to a top-five offense.
Knicks: A chair
… because Phil Jackson needs to sit down, preferably on that oversized cushion he always had when he was coach of the Lakers. Jackson certainly struck gold by drafting KristapsPorzingis, but he’s been far from a smashing success during his tenure as Knicks president. Phil’s coaching credentials are unrivaled, sure, but in his current job, he’s in no position to be doing his condescending schtick with guys like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, and then, in the case of LeBron, offering a weak-ass apology. The Knicks have been a pleasant surprise this season, but Jackson still has a lot of work ahead in order to turn this team into a contender.
Sixers: A new joke
I’m sorry, but I’m really tired of all The Process stuff. Just let it go! Sam Hinkie is gone, but his shadow hangs over this franchise like the weird cloud bad guy from “Doctor Strange.” I think Joel Embiid is a legitimately funny dude, but surely he has more material than turning every situation back to some kind of Process reference. Let’s get this team something new to joke about for 2017.
Nets: A time machine
The Nets need something that will allow them to simulate through the next couple of seasons like your Plan B 2K franchise. After a plucky start to 2016–17, this team has become as depressing as we expected, punctuated by Larry Nance Jr. yamming over Brook Lopez on Wednesday night. If a time machine seems unrealistic, maybe someone can get this team a pony. I don’t know. They just need something nice.
Lakers: A third girlfriend for Lou Will
Does Lou Williams still have multiple girlfriends? He’s balling right now! Or maybe he’s playing so well because he doesn’t have multiple girlfriends anymore...
Pelicans: Another $130M for Anthony Davis
Because he’s doing the work of multiple superstars every night in carrying the Pelicans.