The draft is over and the NBA's summer has officially begun. And no team is yet complete. Here's a team-by-team look at Eastern Conference needs (the West is coming Monday), and three suggested free agents for each:
Primary needs: Center, reserves. The Hawks did a nice job of improving the backcourt, trading for Jamal Crawford and drafting Jeff Teague. But it would be a surprise if they re-signed both Mike Bibby and Flip Murray, so they'll still need a little help at guard. Another big man wouldn't hurt, either. Suggested targets: Anderson Varejao, Sean May, Dahntay Jones.
Primary needs: Backup guards. There's a possibility the Celtics will give second-year men Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens more of an opportunity, but that doesn't solve their backup point guard issues (especially since Stephon Marbury won't return). Yes, Gabe Pruitt is a possibility (as is second-round pick Lester Hudson), but the C's may seek someone more reliable. Suggested targets: Jason Kidd, Jacque Vaughn, Chris Quinn.
Primary needs: Shooting guard: The Bobcats may have gotten immediate help in the draft with Gerald Henderson, who can swing behind veterans Gerald Wallace at small forward and Raja Bell at shooting guard. But landing one more guy who can produce points from the perimeter would be a big plus. Suggested targets: Allen Iverson, Flip Murray, Von Wafer.
Primary needs: A little bit of help everywhere. The Bulls aren't desperate at any one position, but could definitely use an upgrade at center -- and may need help at guard if Ben Gordon signs elsewhere and Kirk Hinrich is traded (as he seems to think he might). Suggested targets: Anthony Parker, Gerald Green, Zaza Pachulia.
Primary needs: Swingmen type off bench. There are a lot of what-ifs for the team with the best regular-season record, although the Cavs are now stacked at center after trading for Shaquille O'Neal. But what if Anderson Varejao doesn't re-sign (likely will)? And what if Wally Szczerbiak isn't retained (likely won't be)? No matter, it's no secret the Cavs could use another athletic shooter who can also defend off the bench. Suggested targets: Matt Barnes, Rasheed Wallace, Trevor Ariza.
Primary needs: Power forward. Backup guards. Neither Rasheed Wallace nor Antonio McDyess is likely to return, meaning the Pistons will have a major void to fill up front. And while Will Bynum and Arron Afflalo each did a nice job, help will be needed off the bench in the backcourt. Suggested targets: Shawn Marion, Carlos Boozer, Lamar Odom.
Primary needs: Center, backcourt reserves. Mike Dunleavy's status following an injury-plagued season remains unclear and there's still no proof T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack are a viable one-two punch at point guard. But most pressing is the fact the Pacers spent too much time plodding along with the likes of Roy Hibbert and Rasho Nesterovic (and even Jeff Foster) manning the middle. Suggested targets: Andre Miller, Robert Swift, Rasheed Wallace.
Primary needs: Small forward, center, bench help everywhere. Mario Chalmers did a solid job as a rookie who directed the team, but he could use some one to push him a little (or a lot) in practice. Jermaine O'Neal is the best center on the team, and he's simply not the same player he used to be -- or a true center, for that matter. In case that's not enough, small forward Jamario Moon is probably best suited for a role off the bench. Suggested targets: Hedo Turkoglu, Anderson Varejao, Jason Kidd.
Primary needs: Forward, bench help everywhere. After unloading Richard Jefferson and drafting a point guard who's not quite ready in Brandon Jennings, the Bucks have a whole lot of work to do. On paper, they're the East's worst team. But that could change with another trade or key free-agent signing. Suggested targets: Lamar Odom, Hedo Turkoglu, Grant Hill.
New Jersey Nets
Primary needs: Proven veteran who can score. Vince Carter is out, and Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston and a whole lot of youth are in. And while Lee was a wonderful defender during his rookie year, he was a streaky shooter who may not be as effective in a different offense. Then again, he may be more effective. Either way, the suddenly young Nets need lots of help. Suggested targets: Ben Gordon, Allen Iverson, Ron Artest.
New York Knicks
Primary needs: Guards, bench help everywhere. A quick look at the roster reveals coach Mike D'Antoni truly worked miracles last season, and the Knicks could possibly spend yet another season just trying to get by as they wait on next year's free-agent bonanza. But even if that's the philosophy, immediate short-term help is available. If it's not, then a big signing and/or trade would allow them to win now. What a concept, huh? Suggested targets: Hedo Turkoglu, Andre Miller, Shawn Marion.
Primary needs: Backup guards, center. The trade for Vince Carter leads some to believe the Magic won't go over the top to re-sign Hedo Turkoglu (PBN's Tony Mejia among them). If that's the case, they can also move Mickael Pietrus into Turkoglu's starting small forward spot -- leaving a void only in the swing role off the bench Pietrus provided. So it's really to early to determine an area of need outside of a backup for Jameer Nelson. Suggested targets: Jason Kidd, Drew Gooden, Matt Barnes.
Primary needs: Center, bench help everywhere. The Sixers don't want to overpay to keep point guard Andre Miller, but they need him. At the same time, GM Ed Stefanski is trying to avoid the previous regime's tendency to give All-Star money to guys who are, at best, borderline All-Stars. The Sixers made the playoffs in each of the past two seasons despite being a completely average team, and have a new coach in Eddie Jordan. This could be their chance to turn the corner. Suggested targets: Hedo Turkoglu, Shawn Marion, Ben Gordon.
Primary needs: Center, point guard, shooting guard. Jose Calderon was solid last season, but never really took advantage of the fact the Raptors handed him the keys to the offense. But he was far from the biggest problem on a team that's inundated with role players. Hard to tell what type of move will convince Chris Bosh to stick around after the season. Trading for Shawn Marion -- who's likely to bolt -- sure didn't do it. Suggested targets: Ben Gordon, Allen Iverson, Carlos Boozer.
Primary needs: Power forward, backup center. No team improved itself as much as the Wizards since the end of the season -- and that says a lot considering how many big-time moves have been made. It's unlikely they'll be a major player in free agency, but that's OK. They don't really need to be. Suggested targets: Drew Gooden, Sean May, Steve Novak.
Sam Amico is the editor of Pro Basketball News and is a regular contributor to Sportstime Ohio and TheClevelandFan.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.