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NBA Offseason 2017: Which Teams Need to Blow it All Up and Rebuild?

Paul George and Indiana
The Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers is still technically ongoing, but with the firepower on the Cavs' roster and Celtics' star Isaiah Thomas done for the rest of the postseason, it appears we are heading towards a third straight Golden State-Cleveland NBA Finals. While many may enjoy the new grand rivalry brewing, others may hate how unbalanced and uncompetitive the current league has become. No matter your opinions on the matter, there is no denying how impressive it is. Despite the fact 28 other teams are trying to take them down, the Warriors and Cavaliers have obliterated their competition, and look to add another title to the fold. It also begs a question: how, in a league with a salary cap and plenty of fresh talent entering the league every season, can two teams form such a monopoly? While people can point to the formation of super-teams as the answer, the fact of the matter is that so many teams in the league today are poorly structured and built. Some times in the NBA, the only real solution to improve is to actually get worse; get younger, more athletic and more diverse and enter a rebuilding stage that may eventually yield the pieces to finally get you over the top. For a decent chunk of the teams that made the Playoffs this year, this is almost certainly the case. Which teams should really blow up their roster and hope a rebuild can finally break a trend of Golden State-Cleveland? These teams have to be looked at as the best candidates:

Indiana Pacers
Since the LeBron-Miami days, Indiana has been a pretty consistent contender out in the Eastern Conference. Led by star Paul George and a solid crop of veterans, the Pacers have been able to be competitive, and even give the Heat some fits of their own during the infamous "Big Three" era. Yet, a sweep at the hands of none other than LeBron and the Cavs seems to indicate it is time for a makeover in Indianapolis. Paul George is as good as ever; the versatile wing has proven he can score in so many different ways and defend some of the best the league has to offer. Yet, "PG13" only has one year left on his deal, and it has become pretty common knowledge he wants to be on a winner. Without a ton of cap space or future stars to work with, the Pacers probably aren't his best chance to get a ring, so why stay? Certainly he should feel a sense of loyalty since Indiana did take a chance on the Fresno State product out of college and has helped him to develop into a star, but they have become a stagnant organization without any real direction. If you're Indiana and you think he's gone, why not get started on life after Paul George as soon-as-possible? If they traded him today, they could likely get a boatload of assets and picks to build around. Boston and the Lakers have both expressed serious interest in George, and would likely be willing to give up quite a bit to land him. Outside of Paul George's uncertain future, who do the Pacers have that really excites you? Jeff Teague is a mediocre point guard who isn't very young, Monta Ellis has to be nearing the end of his career, and Al Jefferson is a one-dimensional center that is also getting old. Versatile big man Myles Turner has emerged as a terrific developmental piece who the Pacers could realistically build around, but he isn't there yet. Why not rid themselves of Jefferson and let Turner get the bulk of the touches underneath, to see what you truly have in him? While Indiana has had a nice run of consistency under George and company, it is time to move on. Even if they don't trade George and want to take one last stab at a Finals run, the roster needs to change significantly. There just isn't enough there to win right now, especially with LeBron still at the peak of his career.

Toronto Raptors
Speaking of being consistent winners, Toronto has gone to the Playoffs four straight seasons and made the Conference Finals in 2016. However, much like the Pacers, Toronto was swept without much fight by LeBron and the Cavs, and enter a weird situation. Point guard Kyle Lowry plans to enter free agency and wants to play for a winner, but how big of a loss would Lowry really be? Lowry has always been pretty good, but has consistently disappeared in big moments for the Raptors and probably never will be a leader on a Championship team. With that in mind, it may be wise for Toronto to let him walk and develop somebody else at point guard. Unfortunately, that would leave guard DeMar DeRozan as really their lone star. DeRozan was just given a hefty contract extension this past summer and has had his moments, but suffers from the same issues Lowry does; inconsistency and poor performances in the clutch. I struggle to imagine a team being really great and challenging a Warriors or Cavaliers with DeRozan as their centerpiece. That doesn't mean the Raptors need to trade DeRozan, but it may be interesting to see what teams would offer for a guy that has put up some big numbers in his career, but hasn't really ever helped their team win the important ones. I actually don't hate what Toronto has done in their frontcourt, but that doesn't mean it couldn't use some retooling. Serge Ibaka was okay after coming over from Orlando and stretches the floor pretty well, but he has struggled with injuries over the course of his career. Meanwhile, center Jonas Valanciunas has been pretty good but still isn't an elite center and really doesn't look like he'll ever be considered one. General manager Masai Uriji seems committed to riding this current core, but it seems pointless at this juncture. This current roster has no chance of overtaking Cleveland out East any time soon, and Toronto isn't an attractive-enough destination for a stud free agent to come along. So, once again I ask, why delay the inevitable? DeRozan and Ibaka could still get plenty of assets in a trade and perhaps open up the door for some younger pieces to show what they got, such as Norman Powell and Jakob Poeltl.

Los Angeles Clippers
Back when Doc Rivers arrived from Boston, inheriting a core that included perennial All-Star Chris Paul and two stud big men, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, you'd be crazy to not think the Clippers would make at least one trip to the Western Conference Finals. But yet here we sit today in 2017, roughly five years after the Clips really started to take off, and the team's Playoff chokes have become all too common. In 2015, the Clippers beat San Antonio and then held a 3-1 lead against Houston, finally looking like the team they were destined to be. And then they fell apart, losing three in unbelievably frustrating fashion. The trend continued on to this season, when Los Angeles held the series for awhile against the Jazz but found a way to choke it away. It is pretty clear what the issue is; poor roster makeup, and lack of true chemistry. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are good, but they make a truly terrible frontcourt together. Why? Neither can stretch the floor or make the big play, and too often Los Angeles' offense gets jammed together and struggles. To make things worse, Griffin hasn't been able to stay healthy and hits free agency this summer. Chris Paul is still an All-Star-caliber guard, but he has yet to shred his reputation as a playoff-loser, still not reaching a conference finals in his wonderful career. He has all the tools to do it, but this isn't the roster. He doesn't have enough help in the backcourt and tries to make up for it by doing too much in the clutch moments, which really end up backfiring. Now 32 and still ringless (let alone zero Finals trips), Paul may feel it is time to take his talents elsewhere. I'd love the fit of him in San Antonio or something similar, where his skills could be utilized in a better-designed offense. Also sure to make things interesting is the future of J.J. Reddick and Jamal Crawford, who both could be gone soon. Reddick is a free agent this summer and could head elsewhere, which could take away a valuable shooter to this offense. I've felt this way for awhile and another early Playoff exit has confirmed it; this team is so good on paper but so poor in true execution. If either Griffin or Paul walk it should be full rebuild time in Los Angeles. And, even if it isn't, something has to change on this current roster. They don't have the right system to overtake a Golden State or San Antonio and seem forever stuck in good-but-not-great mode, which is the worst place to be as an NBA franchise.

Memphis Grizzlies
Much of these teams on this list have seen long runs of success, and that continues with Memphis. With a gritty and hard-nosed attitude, the Grizzlies have been to the postseason seven straight times, even winning 50 games for three consecutive years from '12-'13 to '14-'15. While that run has been impressive to watch and appreciate for a small-market team without a true superstar, the title picture may be closed in Memphis. The Grizzlies have been eliminated in the first round by the Spurs for two straight seasons, and are aging significantly. Zach Randolph was once a building block for this team but is now 35, and no longer a starter. Marc Gasol was a gem uncovered by the Grizz, but he isn't young anymore at 32, and has had injury issues. Mike Conley is still a fine point guard, and a true leader on and off the court. However, his massive contract will be a big hit to the Grizzlies' books for a long time and he has also dealt with injury issues. The same goes for Chandler Parsons, who was really bad this season despite earning a huge contract this past off-season. That increased age, serious money problems and lack of direction all seem to be indicating a team that needs to start looking ahead to the future. The tough part about this time is how and when to really start a rebuild. If they can stay healthy are they still a team that could make a run? If not, what do you do first? They don't really have any fantastic options to use in a trade that could lay the foundation for an overhaul. Yet, much like LA, Indiana and Toronto, you get the feeling something has to and likely will change in Memphis. It is sometimes a harsh reality for NBA teams to accept, but sometimes you have to come to the realization your current roster never is going to make it over the top, particularly in a league where super-teams are the new-normal. The quicker some of these teams accept that, the more efficient and quick a rebuild can happen.

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