Poll: Which Contenders Could Panic?

April 19 at 7:32pm CDT By Cray Allred

There are a handful of teams that have built towards a window of title contention that they hope to see pay off this postseason. When expectations are high, failure can motivate ownership and management to make drastic moves to a team’s roster or coaching staff. Teams have gone from planning for the Finals to pressing the panic button before, and it’s possible again this year.

While big changes could be coming to a lot of this year’s playoff teams, some of that depends more on the players’ free agency decisions than any philosophical shifts from the team. For instance, the Heat could lose LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, or Chris Bosh in free agency, but that wouldn’t be because of a lack of commitment from Miami’s front office to their big three. We’ll focus on some of the teams that would have to incite a truly drastic change from the front office, specifically those that have been more active in both the market and rumor mill:

  1. Pacers. Indiana barely held onto the one seed in the East, going 15-13 down the stretch. The moves that resulted in the loss of Danny Granger and the addition of Evan Turner, Andrew Bynum, and Lavoy Allen have not paid off thus far. Lance Stephenson has cooled off after his breakout start to the season, and will become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. Frank Vogel has seemed like one of the more untouchable coaches in the last couple years, but a total collapse could put even his job in jeopardy.
  2. Warriors. Coach Mark Jackson might have the most riding on this postseason of any NBA professional. Loud rumblings and staff turnover have clouded Jackson’s status with a team that expected to become a contender by adding Andre Iguodala last summer. Harrison Barnes has been extremely inconsistent, and his name surfaced in trade deadline rumors. David Lee‘s contract is considered essentially untradeable, but if the Warriors wanted to radically shake things up, Klay Thompson‘s rookie deal would be a highly valued trade asset.
  3. Clippers. Los Angeles has bolstered its roster under the direction of Doc Rivers, adding rotation pieces like Granger, J.J. RedickGlen Davis, and Jared Dudley to the core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan. Any blockbuster moves would likely center around the frontcourt if the front office became convinced that the Griffin/Jordan pairing can’t hold up against the league’s best interior players.
  4. Nets. First-year coach Jason Kidd and the Hall-of-Fame-heavy roster struggled mightily early in the year before turning things around and earning the sixth seed in the East. The Nets have very limited flexibility after ballooning their salary sheet and relinquishing trade assets in a slew of splashy moves since owner Mikhail Prokhorov bought the team. Brook Lopez has frequently been the subject of trade rumors, and the team took off when Lopez was sidelined with his latest injury. There isn’t much speculation in Brooklyn at the moment, but we know Prokhorov isn’t afraid to swing for the fences.

What do you think? Which of these teams is most likely to disappoint in the playoffs, and then react with radical front office moves?

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