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SOUTHEAST
Chris Mannix
December 05, 2011
MIAMI HEAT (58--24)
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December 05, 2011

Southeast

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What they need

Orlando overpaid for Arenas and Turkoglu last season, leaving G.M. Otis Smith with little cap flexibility. But if Arenas (who makes $19.3 million) or Turkoglu ($10.6 million) is amnestied, Orlando could pursue free agents Caron Butler (Mavericks) or Mike Dunleavy (Pacers) to fill the void on the perimeter.

Bottom line

The Magic can win, but can it win enough to convince Howard to re-sign? The first month will be telling: If Orlando isn't playing like a title contender, the pressure will be on Smith to move Howard by the trade deadline rather than watch him walk as a free agent.

ATLANTA HAWKS (44--38)

What they've got

All-Star guard Joe Johnson will be eager to rebound from a poor shooting season (29.7% from three-point range). Center Al Horford, 25, had career highs in points (15.3) and field goal percentage (55.7%) while Kirk Hinrich, a midseason acquisition from the Wizards, solidified the point guard spot.

What they need

The 6'10" Horford is a better fit at power forward, so the Hawks could take a flier on free agent Aaron Gray (Hornets) or 36-year-old Erick Dampier (Heat). Free-agent supersub Jamal Crawford will be looking for big dollars, and with no suitable replacement for him on the market, Atlanta may have to pay the price to keep him.

Bottom line

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