I think Chris Grant wants to build the bench entirely from the draft and castoffs. When Oklahoma City asked if CG was still interested in trades, Grant said "If you still have draft picks, we're still open for trading". This is in spite of the fact that we have eight draft picks over the next two years.
There is, I think, good logic to this. We've done very well with castoffs, like Livingston, Ellington, and Speights. I expect next year's bench to be Livingston, Ellington, Miles, Gee, and Zeller. Even if all we do is pick up two first round picks in the draft, that's still one starter and one bench player. By doing this, we continue to be extremely cheap- I don't know how much we'll end up paying Livingston, but the other four will make $10M combined. That's a damn cheap bench.
So, if we're really going to spend so little on the bench, and so little total (we'll be about $35M after resigning Livingston), where is that money going to go? At first, I thought there was no free agent worth getting- the best was Josh Smith, and he's simply not good enough to be worth a max contract. But there is one, and I think he's gettable, and in spite of having played a million years in the NBA, is only 27.
D'Antoni's system isn't a good fit for him. The team is getting old. Kobe Bryant is considering retiring. And maybe most importantly, I don't think he's raking in the marketing dollars he thought he would. I think he's going to be on the market. And I think Chris Grant is planning to make a hard push for him. Why worry about getting Nerlins when we can just sign somebody's who's better?
Now, you may be thinking that this would keep us from getting Lebron James, but that isn't so. Varejao's contract has a team option in 2014-2015. If we think that we have a serious shot at Lebron, we can just decline Varejao's option and be under the cap. Or if not Lebron, then a different max contract.
Imagine a starting lineup of, let's say: Irving-Waiters-Porter-Thompson-Howard. With a bench of Livingston-Ellington-Gee-Varejao-Zeller plus Miles and another first round pick.
I think that's a championship team right there, if they're healthy. The max contract space and the extra draft picks in 2014 are just gravy.
The future is so bright I'm wearing shades.