The daily stream of transactions has slowed to a trickle, and now that Tuesday's amnesty deadline has passed, the league will change only in small increments between now and the beginning of training camp. However, there are a number of roster spots across the league still open, and several potential playoff teams still have holes to fill.
It's unlikely that any remaining moves will grab headlines, but in a league that seems to be sorted into a handful of tight groupings, you never know which acquisition will make a difference when it comes to seeding the clubs in April. Let's look at some roster shortcomings that still need to be addressed for some potential contenders.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Need: Veteran bench help
The Thunder have been notably quiet this summer, showing up in the transaction news only when Kevin Martin was signed away by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Oklahoma City remains a title contender by virtue of the powerhouse value at the top of the roster, but the reserve unit is largely unproven. Among the players occupying reserve perimeter positions on the depth chart, only Reggie Jackson and DeAndre Liggins have even two years of experience. Oklahoma City is no doubt high on Jackson after his performance in the postseason, and he is the only second-unit player who projects better than replacement level.
The key to the group is Jeremy Lamb, who inherits the off-the-bench scoring role that's been held by James Harden and Martin. Those are tough acts to follow for a player who hasn't seen much regular-season action in the NBA, and it's an awfully big role to play. Lamb flashed explosive scoring ability during the Orlando Summer League, but that's summer league. Overall, I have the Thunder second unit at just 0.3 WARP and the overall reserve contingent ranked 29th in the league. That might be underrating the bunch, but there is no doubt that the bench is longer on potential than track record.
This could depress Oklahoma City's regular-season win total, which could mean a plummeting seed in what figures to be a four- or five-team race for the home-court slots in the Western Conference. The Thunder have a tough financial picture, but I'd feel a lot better about the team if a proven bench scorer could be brought in, with San Antonio Spurs restricted free agent Gary Neal an example of one player who makes sense.
New York Knicks
Need: Backup center
The Knicks also need to replace some of their lost 3-point shooting from last season, but I see the backup center position as the biggest void on the New York roster. The Knicks ranked last in the league in shot blocking last season and are forecasted to finish 23rd in defensive efficiency. New York needs Tyson Chandler to stay healthy and play more like the 2011-12 Defensive Player of the Year than the version we saw last season. However, while most people are focused on how Mike Woodson is going to fit together Carmelo Anthony, Amar Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani on the offensive end, I'm wondering who is going to protect the rim, especially when Chandler is out of the game.
It seems likely that Bargnani and Stoudemire are going to see a lot of minutes at the 5, so the Knicks probably won't have a big-minute role to offer available big men like Kenyon Martin, Samuel Dalembert and Greg Oden. There also are teams such as Dallas that are after those kinds of players and can offer more than the veteran minimum to which the Knicks are limited. Since the Knicks don't exactly look like a juggernaut when it comes to perimeter defense -- even after signing Metta World Peace -- this has to be the No. 1 remaining item on the team's to-do list.
Need: Bench scorer
The Bulls' roster has been carefully constructed to complement Derrick Rose on offense and perform at a high level on defense. Rose can't be on the floor all the time, though, and things can bog down without his ability to open up spaces for his teammates and bail out his team on stagnant possessions. Tom Thibodeau's offense is highly structured, but it also requires a certain amount of improvisational ability from its point guards, which is why Nate Robinson played such a key role during Rose's absence in 2012-13. The already-tepid Chicago offense was 2.7 points worse per 100 possessions last season with Robinson off the floor. Even before last season, John Lucas III was a key player off the bench for many of these same reasons. Right now, the Chicago bench features steady veteran Kirk Hinrich and crafty playmaker and spot-up shooter Mike Dunleavy Jr.
These players are again more suited to complementing Rose-led lineups than carrying the water themselves. Marquis Teague looks improved, but his shot-making is not nearly where it needs to be for him to occupy a Robinson-like role. Even if the Bulls aren't serious about giving a shot to summer league invitee Andrew Goudelock, they need someone like him. Robinson is an unrestricted free agent, and while it isn't expected that he'll return to Chicago, we're well into free agency at this point and it doesn't sound like Robinson is close to landing with a team; the Bulls should keep in touch.
If that ship has sailed, D.J. Augustin is another possibility. Another longshot candidate who might be willing to sign on the cheap in an effort to win is Mo Williams.
Need: Ball handler
This is a small need for what looks like a pretty complete roster. I have the Rockets projected to finish 29th in turnover rate, and all three of the primary ball handlers -- Harden, Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley -- are potentially high-turnover players. It's possible that rookie Isaiah Canaan can help with this. It's also possible that if Houston takes the throttle off its pace with Dwight Howard on board that turnovers will decrease. Still, a combo guard-type who can serve as an occasional caretaker when things get ragged, defend and knock down open 3s might put the finishing touches on the roster.
A younger version of Derek Fisher would be perfect, but only the current version is available. I like the fit of Daniel Gibson, who isn't a pure point guard, but that shouldn't be a problem with this group.
Los Angeles Clippers
Need: Veteran big man
The Clippers have just three big men on their stacked roster, not including rookie Brandon Davies. Davies has talent, but he's not ready to play a big role on a contending team. Even if he was, it's not likely that rookie-averse coach Doc Rivers would use him anyway. As constituted, Los Angeles looks weak on the defensive glass. Rivers is a stickler for that category, so perhaps the improvement will come from within. We think of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin flying through the air to slam home missed shots on the offensive end but forget that sometimes they look to leak out on the other end and fail to block out. A veteran rebounding specialist would be good complement to the current roster.
The Clippers have been rumored to be in touch with Antawn Jamison, but that's not going to cut it. Former Clipper Lamar Odom would be fine, as would former Clipper Kenyon Martin. Here's a thought: ex-Bobcat Byron Mullens. Getting cut loose by Charlotte isn't the crown jewel of any NBA player's rsum, but Mullens is the kind of player who can fit with a good team. He's a solid defensive rebounder and has enhanced value as a 7-foot-1 player with good face-up shooting ability. That's a perfect fit for what the Clippers have already on this roster.