Believe it or not, the 2021 offseason is only about a month away for some NBA teams.
While it still seems like we just wrapped up bubble play, the chase for a new champion will soon kick off. As the playoffs rage, other teams will shift their focus to the draft and free agency.
Every team will have different goals this offseason. There will be roster holes in need of plugging, contract negotiations with stars—incumbent or otherwise—and a need to identify trade targets. Even before we begin the playoffs, it's becoming clear where every team's priorities lie as soon as the offseason officially commences.
These are the most important actions every NBA team can take this summer.
Sign Trae Young to an Extension
Young will be extension eligible for the first time this offseason and negotiations shouldn't take all that long.
The 22-year-old point guard is third in the NBA in assists per game (9.5), joining James Harden as the only players handing out at least nine dimes while also scoring 25 or more points per game (25.4).
Young will almost certainly get a max deal from Atlanta, even if he's among the league's worst defenders and hasn't improved his shooting efficiency from Years 2 to 3 (59.5 percent true shooting in 2019-20 to 58.7 percent this season).
While the Hawks can push back a little bit, Sacramento Kings point guard De'Aaron Fox received a five-year, $163 million max deal last year despite never making an All-Star team. Young was a starter on the East squad in 2020.
It's probably best just to keep an elite offensive talent like Young happy and under contract, even if it means paying a little more than they'd like.
Re-Sign John Collins to Non-Max Deal
The Hawks chose to keep Collins at the trade deadline, a sign they want to keep him in restricted free agency.
In order to keep Collins, the Hawks will need to sign him to a new contract while fending off teams that may try to draw him away with a rich offer sheet. Collins will likely want a deal that exceeds the four-year, $90 million contract he turned down last offseason.
The 23-year-old power forward made his case for the Hawks to keep him in an interview with The Athletic's Chris Kirschner just before the deadline.
"I want to stay. I want my flowers here in Atlanta," Collins said. "I want to be true to Atlanta for my entire career, as corny or as cheesy as it may sound to whoever. As a basketball player and as someone who takes pride in their job, me being drafted in the organization and me living here and becoming a man and living my life in the NBA as a Hawk means something to me."
Teams like the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder should have the cap space needed to sign Collins to a max offer sheet this offseason, one the Hawks would be forced to match or lose him for nothing.
Atlanta should try to avoid this situation altogether, coming to an agreement to keep Collins around without having to max him out.
Evaluate Kemba Walker's Future
While Walker looked the alpha upon his arrival in Boston in 2019, ongoing knee problems and the emergence of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have pushed the four-time All-Star point guard to third in the pecking order.
We haven't seen Walker's shooting dip this low (53.4 percent true shooting) since he was on his rookie deal, and a 6'0", 184-pound guard in his 30s with an ailing knee doesn't project as a great defender moving forward.
Owed $36 million next year with a $37.7 million player option in 2021-22, Walker no longer lives up to his contract, at least not in Boston. The Celtics should probably explore the market while he still carries some value.
Re-Sign Evan Fournier
Fournier's Celtics career started with an 0-of-10 shooting performance, but he has since gone 16-of-27 (57.1 percent) while also cashing in 61.1 percent of his threes. He's become a valuable scoring option off the bench, though it's worth noting he can leave as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
The Celtics only had to give up second-round picks in 2025 and 2027 to acquire Fournier, but losing over $17 million of their massive trade exception was the real kicker.
It will certainly mean going into the luxury tax to re-sign Fournier, but Boston can't afford to let him go for nothing, either.
Use Remainder of Trade Exception Wisely
Boston still has just over $11 million of their trade exception remaining after the trade for Fournier, making it one of the largest still in the NBA today.
The Celtics don't have to use it this offseason—it expires on November 29—there will likely be more trade opportunities to do before next season begins.
Solidify the Center Position
After trading Jarrett Allen, the Nets have shuffled the center position around. They've used DeAndre Jordan, Nicolas Claxton, Jeff Green, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and others to fill that role next to their three superstars.
Going into next year with a defined starter would be best for everyone, especially since there's a clear leader.
Even if Brooklyn will likely chase a veteran or two in free agency, Claxton, 21, should be the answer at center. Though he still needs to add muscle, Claxton is the best switchable defensive big man on the roster, one who gives the Nets quality minutes every night.
Brooklyn is plus-11.6 points per 100 possessions with Claxton in the game this season, a massive 18.5 point improvement over Jordan (minus-6.9 points per 100 possessions).
Re-Sign Spencer Dinwiddie
Lost for the season with a torn right ACL, Dinwiddie could be a value piece off the bench for the Nets next season.
Brooklyn chose not to use his contract as trade bait at the deadline, keeping the option to re-sign him this offseason. The 28-year-old guard carries a $12.3 million player option for next season, one the Nets should be happy to see him pick up.
If Dinwiddie chooses to hit unrestricted free agency instead, the Nets should offer a fair deal, even if it means adding onto an already massive luxury tax bill.