Just like the rest of the world, many NBA teams are eager to finally move on from 2020 and into a brand new year; a fresh start as the season ramps up.
Just like people have New Year’s goals — such as exercising more, writing that novel and eating healthier — all teams need to be searching for ways to improve in 2021.
Here's every NBA team's New Year's resolution for 2021.
Atlanta Hawks: Let The Kids Play
The Hawks are off to an excellent start to the season after going on a free-agency spending spree.
But amid all the fracas, they still have three highly drafted wing prospects in Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish and DeAndre Hunter. They've all shown immense promise, but they need to receive more playing time to continue developing.
Boston Celtics: Build the Depth
In the past two offseasons, the Celtics have lost a lot of talent in Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes. The merits of each decision are fair, but that’s left Boston overly reliant on young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Boston needs to get something out of its recent picks or trade them for someone who can actually help now.
Charlotte Hornets: Find A True Big Man
Everyone may say big men are a dying breed, but the Hornets would be a much better team if they had a competent one.
For what seems like an eternity, Charlotte relied on the injury-prone Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo, neither of whom provide enough offense. By swinging a deal for a quality big (perhaps the Cavs let Andre Drummond walk this summer), the Hornets can take the next step toward contention as they build their young core.
Chicago Bulls: Trade Lauri Markkanen
This might seem too extreme, but Markkanen has not made enough of an impact in Chicago.
The Bulls have a strong defender in Wendell Carter and just drafted the bouncy Patrick Williams with the 4th pick. While Markkanen is extension eligible, the Bulls would be better off by netting an asset for him and going forward with a Carter-Williams frontcourt.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Trade Kevin Love
The Cavs are off to an impressive start behind their supercharged backcourt of Colin Sexton and Darius Garland, a duo that has looked so good so far that teammate Larry Nance Jr. christened them “Sexland."
Meanwhile, Kevin Love may be a veteran on a plump contract, but with so many teams in the middle of the pack desperate to make the leap, someone should cough up for the productive, championship-winning big man.
If the Cavs can net a young player or draft pick in return while clearing future cap space, they should pounce.
Dallas Mavericks: Get A Secondary Ball Handler
Luka Doncic needs more help. Finding another initiator of the offense who can grow with Luka and ease some of the playmaking pressure off him would be the perfect gift for the Mavs.
Despite his torn ACL, a healthy Spencer Dinwiddie would be an ideal target this summer.
Denver Nuggets: Consolidate Assets
People have been begging the Nuggets to do this for ages, and their reluctance to do so has already seen Malik Beasley, Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee leave in free agency with little in return. While each of those players commanded pricy contracts the Nuggets refused to pay, losing assets for nothing eventually catches up to teams. Just ask Danny Ainge.
Detroit Pistons: Trade Blake Griffin And Derrick Rose
This is Tanking 101: trade veterans who are more valuable to other squads while improving your team for the future.
While it seemed they were preparing for a medieval war zone with the number of stone-age centers they acquired this offseason, Rockets' president of basketball operations Troy Weaver must have a plan, and it’s likely that includes building around rookie Killian Hayes.
Golden State Warriors: Play James Wiseman More
After a handful of games, it’s painfully obvious that Wiseman is the Warriors’ best big man while Draymond Green recovers from injury.
The Dubs have let the rookie get his feet wet, but they need to ramp up his minutes sooner rather than later. Not only is it good for his development and physical stamina, but he’s the rare rookie who is positively impacting his team’s on-court play.
Houston Rockets: Trade James Harden
It’s time. Whenever a superstar wants out, he eventually gets his way. This Rockets team, no matter how exciting the new additions are, is simply not good enough to win a championship this season.
The Rockets need to call around, solicit every team’s best offer, and pull the trigger. Everyone involved will feel an enormous sigh of relief, and all parties can move on.
Indiana Pacers: Trade Victor Oladipo
Watching Victor Oladipo reclaim his old form is a sight to behold. The rim-attacking, sweet-shooting guard who isn’t afraid to guard anyone is going to have teams backing up the Brinks truck this summer.
Based on numerous whispers of Oladipo and Pacers management being unable to come to an extension and his reported desire to play elsewhere next season, the Pacers should be proactive in trading their star for a boatload instead of losing him for nothing this summer.
LA Clippers: Trade For A Point Guard
The retooled Clippers look better than ever this season (let’s just forget the spanking at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks). With Luke Kennard, Serge Ibaka and Nic Batum in tow, the defense has improved while new coach Ty Lue has the necessary pieces to execute his free-flowing offense.
All that’s left is finding a point guard who can attack the defense off the dribble and create plays for others. Perhaps that’s Kyle Lowry, Terry Rozier, Ricky Rubio, George Hill or Derrick Rose, but it should be someone.
Los Angeles Lakers: Get Through The Season Healthy
The defending champs have nothing to prove until June and July. Maybe an extra big man who will protect the paint to get them through the regular season is something they could pursue, but other than that, the Lakers are resting easy.
Memphis Grizzlies: Tank
With their two young cornerstones now out of commission nursing injuries, the Grizzlies should embrace the tank and hopefully receive a high draft pick that allows them to add one more promising star to an already exciting young core.
Perhaps the possibility of a Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr and Jalen Green trio is enticing enough for Grizzlies officials to swallow another losing season. It’s not like they have a choice.
Miami Heat: Trade For James Harden Without Gutting The Team
Easier said than done, right? There is no doubt the ruthless and calculated Pat Riley isn’t trying to get the Beard in Miami without tearing down his roster.
If Houston keeps losing, perhaps they bite at whatever Riles is willing to offer.
Milwaukee Bucks: Extend Jrue Holiday
After giving up a treasure chest of assets for Holiday, the Bucks better make sure they re-sign the impending free agent. Holiday is exactly what Milwaukee needs: a strong defender who can get buckets and set up his teammates.
The trio of Holiday, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo is outscoring opponents by over seven points per 100 possessions and is expected to be their core moving forward.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Find a Frontcourt Partner For Karl-Anthony Towns
While No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards looks like an absolute stud, this team still has many question marks.
Can Malik Beasley be anything more than a talented microwave scorer?
Will Jarrett Culver string together some quality NBA games?
Can Josh Okogie improve his shooting?
But those are not nearly as important as finding a versatile big who can stretch the floor and play good defense next to Towns. Jake Layman and Juancho Hernangomez aren’t going to cut it as starters.
New Orleans Pelicans: Let The Team Develop
The Pelicans have time. They just signed Brandon Ingram to a long-term extension, and have Zion Williamson on his rookie deal for a few more years surrounded by tons of young players.
Coach Stan Van Gundy needs to see who is a keeper for the long term as this team attempts to build an identity.
New York Knicks: Cut Bait On Some Kiddos
The Knicks have one of the most unique roster compositions in the league; a team filled with journeyman veterans, promising young players and guys looking to get their careers back on the right track.
Between Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith and Frank Ntilikina, that’s a lot of draft equity that isn’t looking too peachy. Can Tom Thibodeau coach a good season out of any of them? For suffering Knicks fans’ fates, let’s hope so.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Trade The Vets
The amount of future draft picks Sam Presti has accumulated in the past year has got to be more than a Jerry Bruckheimer production budget.
By trading Al Horford, George Hill and Trevor Ariza, OKC will net even more future draft equity. This also allows rookies like Theo Maledon and Aleksej Pokusevski to play more.
Orlando Magic: Trade Evan Fournier
Despite Orlando’s impressive start to the season, this is not a championship-level roster.
Evan Fourner is a solid scorer who is set to be an unrestricted free agent, and the Magic should test out his trade market to see what they can fetch in return. With Markelle Fultz, Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and Jonathan Issac on the roster, this team has a very respectable floor. Fringe guys such as Mo Bamba, Cole Anthony and Chuma Okeke could raise this team’s ceiling.
Philadelphia 76ers: Run More Ben Simmons-Joel Embiid Pick-And-Roll
Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey came in and made some necessary changes this offseason by importing shooters such as Seth Curry and Danny Green to give this offense some breathing room after last season’s cramped mess. Despite all the murmurs and rumors of splitting their cornerstones up, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have been pretty damn good together.
The next step is using them more in pick-and-rolls to truly apply stress on a defense. Simmons’ explosive downhill attack fused with Embiid’s bruising interior dominance makes it a wonder why pick-and-rolls haven’t been a staple of their offensive diet.
Phoenix Suns: Acquire A Vetaran Big
After trading for Chris Paul and seeing Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson morph into ideal role players on a playoff squad, the Suns are looking good thus far. And while DeAndre Ayton has been solid, maybe it would be prudent to get him some help for a potential playoff run.
Maybe even bringing back old flame in Aron Baynes could help bolster a bench with no enforcer.
Portland Trail Blazers: Go Big Or Go Home
Thanks to smooth drafting from general manager Neil Olshey, Portland is the rare veteran playoff squad that has enough assets in the tank to make a big splash without decimating their current rotation.
Although they've made some truly helpful offseason signings (Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr have been as advertised), this team still has a ceiling without another true threat outside of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
From Zach Collins, Anfernee Simons, Harry Giles, Gary Trent and future draft picks, maybe a team with a disgruntled star is smitten enough to pull the trigger. Getting Dame Dolla another offensive menace would be scary news for the rest of the league.
Sacramento Kings: Trade Buddy Hield
It’s obvious Hield is not happy in Sacramento, and the Kings just drafted Tyrese Haliburton, who has displayed the exact blend of smooth shot-making and ball-handling that the Kings need.
If they can net a plus frontcourt player for Hield, that should balance out their roster as they look to build around their speedy backcourt.
San Antonio Spurs: For The Love Of All That Is Holy, Trade The Vets
The Spurs have a young roster brimming with potential in Derrick White, DeJounte Murray, Lonnie Walker, Keldon Johnson, Jakob Poeltl and Devin Vassel. But they also have four veterans in Patty Mills, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay. This team is solid, but not good enough to win a title.
The Spurs should make the prudent long-term move and trade their still-quality veterans for younger players who can grow with their current crop of exciting players. This team can be really good again in a short amount of time if they make that move.
Toronto Raptors: Trade For Harden, Or Retool
The Raptors achieved the greatest accomplishment in this league by winning the championship in 2019. After losing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, they remarkably made it to the second round of the playoffs and were one of the toughest squads in the league. But after another offseason of losing talent in Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, their status as potential contenders likely slipped.
We all know Masai Ujiri isn’t afraid of making a league-altering trade, but if he’s not able to poach James Harden, maybe it’s time to blow up the team and rebuild around Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby.
The whole league will be watching Ujiri’s next chess move.
Utah Jazz: Trade Mike Conley
The Jazz are almost capped out without Mike Conley’s impending price tag once he hits free agency this summer. The 33-year-old guard is not what he used to be, but he’s still a wise, slippery passer who can knock down 3-pointers, keep the ball moving and play respectable defense. But perhaps a team like the Clippers or someone else are willing to cough up assets for him, and the Jazz can get a piece in return that eases their books a bit.
Donovan Mitchell is a star, and Utah should be looking for younger pieces to help him out.
Washington Wizards: Blow It Up
This team has started the season 0-5, and has no realistic chance of competing for a title. It’s time to swallow some pride, and trade Bradley Beal so they can start over.
Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, Troy Brown and Thomas Bryant make up an intriguing young foursome. Combine them with a high draft pick and whatever the team can fetch for Beal, and maybe the Wizards can get back to the promised land sooner rather than later.
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