Free Agency 2010

With the ever-anticipated (cue the movie trailer guy’s voice) “free agent summit” quickly approaching, I figured that it was only fitting to take my NFL mock draft expertise into the realm of the NBA.  The weight of several NBA franchise’s, and their success, are relying heavily on the destination of many top free agents this off-season.  With big-time names such as Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, Carlos Boozer, Ray Allen, and oh yeah that guy James or something; underperforming teams with cap space are salivating over the possibility of luring one of these players to their lowly organization.

There are numerous teams that would love to sign any one of the aforementioned players, but there are a select number of teams that have the space (and/or players to sign-and-trade) to actually make some things happen.  Barring any unforeseen occurrences, the teams that should be big players in free agency are the New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, and the Chicago Bulls.  All of those teams have at least $18 million in cap space (with New York having a whopping $32 million and New Jersey $26 million).  Some wild card teams that could get in to the mix are the Dallas Mavericks (especially with the impending loss of Dirk Nowitzki), Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, and Los Angeles Clippers.  So, with that being said, here is how I see the summer of 2010 panning out:

Lebron James

Arguably the most coveted free agent of all-time (I actually have no idea if that is true, but he at least has to be in the conversation).  Lebron just completed his seventh NBA season and has yet to win an NBA championship (although Jordan didn’t win one until his seventh season).  James allegedly covets winning a title, but I believe that he is a bit more selfish than he lets on.  James has said that he wants to be the first billion dollar athlete, so money is obviously a driving force in James’ decision.  Unlike other players (see Dwyane Wade the last three seasons) the Cavaliers have done almost everything that they can to give Lebron players around him.  They signed Mo Williams when the Cavs didn’t have a point guard (although he is a terrible fit on that team), the traded for Antawn Jamison at the deadline this season to make that title push, and they acquired Shaq in the off-season to try and get Lebron what he wanted (although Shaq is also a terrible fit).  I expect Lebron to maybe wait for a bit when free agency begins to see what moves, if any, that the Cavaliers make.  But, I believe that the best fit for Lebron, the opportunity for him to make the most money, and where he is most welcomed by the fans is right back home in Cleveland.

Big Winner: Cleveland Cavaliers

Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade was lucky enough to win an NBA Championship in his third season in the league (2005-2006) with the assistance of the Big Shaq-tus.  But, since that season, the Miami Heat have experienced very little success.  Former second overall pick Michael Beasley hasn’t lived up to expectations…and apart from him the Heat have no other big-time players.  Mario Chalmers is a decent young point guard, but he is not nearly enough to entice D-Wade back to Miami.  Allegedly, Wade has given Pat Riley a “wish list” of players that he would like to see in Miami, and almost certainly among those names is King James.  But, with James returning to Cleveland, the chances of Wade returning to Miami are diminishing.  Just imagine this…with ten seconds left in the game, All-Star point guard Derrick Rose brings the ball up the court and dishes to D-Wade for the victory…sounds good to me.

Big Winner: Chicago Bulls

Joe Johnson

I think that Joe Johnson has made his intentions pretty clear over the past couple of weeks, he wants to get paid.  If Johnson really wanted to win, he would re-sign with the best young team in the NBA.  But, after being stuck in Atlanta over the last five seasons (three of which they were terrible) you can understand his desire to money and the spotlight.  Johnson can certainly score the basketball, but his game has developed into more one-on-one play than team basketball.  That is why Johnson, reunited with his former coach in Phoenix Mike D’Antoni, would be a great piece for the Knicks to add alongside Danilo Gallinari.  This isn’t the Lebron James or Dwayne Wade that Knicks fans (really Spike Lee considering he is one of the few faithful Knicks fans) wanted, but Johnson would certainly contribute some more wins to one of the NBA’s worst teams.

Big Winner: New York Knicks

Chris Bosh

If there is one player that I am certain will not return to his current team, it is Chris Bosh.  Bosh has been stuck in Toronto for the first seven years of his career, and with a consistently bad team I’m sure that he is sick of Canada.  Similarly to all of the free agents, I’m sure that Chris Bosh is looking to get paid, but I also gets the sense that he values winning very highly.  What better way to win (and get paid pretty well) than to put two of the top ten players in the league on one team for the next 5-7 years?  Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are perfect complementary players to each other.  Bosh doesn’t need to touch the ball every possession.  The offense does not have to go through him.  He does a great job of controlling the paint, cleaning the glass, and then when you do throw it down to him he knows what to do with the ball.  He is also a great passer for a big man.  Wow, those traits sound very similar to Shaq in 2005-2006.  Dwyane realizes his need for a skilled big man, and has been dying for it in Miami.  Now that he is in Chi-town, he will do all he can to convince Bosh to head there too.  Don’t worry about cap space either.  The Bulls have several young players that have value and are tradable (for example Kirk Heinrich and Luol Deng).

Big Winner: Chicago Bulls

Amare Stoudemire

At the conclusion of the 2009-2010 NBA regular season, I though it was a sure thing that Amare would no longer be a Phoenix Sun after they were quickly bounced from the playoffs.  But, after a run to the Western Conference Finals, I am no longer so certain.  Why leave a team that has Steve Nash running the point and a good young nucleus around you (Robin Lopez, Channing Frye, and Jared Dudley)?  I’m sure Amare will think long and hard about this decision, but it wasn’t too long ago when Amare was disgruntled at not getting a contract extension and was asking for a trade behind closed doors.  Not to mention the fact that Amare has been playing like a man possessed since the trade deadline (averaging 26 points and 9 rebounds since), who is to say that he can play like that for an entire season?  Anyway, I think Amare is ready for a change of scenery, for the spotlight to be on him, and to be reunited with former coach Mike D’Antoni and newest Knick Joe Johnson.

Big Winner: New York Knicks

Dirk Nowitzki, Carlos Boozer, and Ray Allen

Why did I just couple three free agents together?  It would be in their best interest to return to their current team.  The Dallas Mavericks (or the Dallas Mark Cuban’s) have spent the last twelve seasons dealing with Nowitzki and his inability to show up in a big game.  Lets just get this out of the way…I despise Dirk Nowitzki.  There seems to be an overwhelming problem with European players flopping all over the court, and Nowitzki is the cover boy.  He’s either fading away onto the floor, complaining to the ref about being a bitch, or doing an awkward fist pump and smiling with a mouthpiece that is about three sizes too big.  Maybe I’m being a bit harsh, but I can’t stand him.  The Mavericks have essentially invested the entire success of the team on Nowitzki, building around him for the last 6-8 years.  No other team, or fan base, would let Dirk get away with not winning a big game, and Mark Cuban knows that he needs to dole out some cash to keep the big German around.  Carlos Boozer has been rumored in trade talks over the last three seasons.  He has run into some injury problems, or has been the victim of Deron Williams being hurt and nobody being able to get him the ball.  Sadly for Carlos Boozer, I still see the Jazz being the best fit for him.  Jerry Sloan is a great coach, and knows how to work a PG-PF combination (do I even have to say it…Stockton-Malone).  Boozer will search for more money, but I fully expect him back in Utah for the 2010-2011 season.  There is no doubt in my mind that Ray Allen could get more money this off-season from a team other than the Celtics.  Consider a team like Houston that loses out on the big-name free agents, but finds it necessary to grab a player to appease their fan base.  Or maybe a team like the Los Angeles Clippers.  Anyway, if Ray wanted more money, he could certainly get it, but I still think he’ll end up back in Boston.  Ray seems comfortable in Boston, comfortable with his role in the offense, comfortable with his teammates, and most importantly comfortable with his family being here.  Expect Ray to abandon the $12 million he could pick up from a desperate franchise, and jump all over the $8-10 million that the Celts will offer him.

Big Winner: Current Team (Dallas, Utah, Boston respectively)

Big Losers: New Jersey Nets, L.A. Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, Washington Wizards (although John Wall will help with the sorrow)

Maybe next time Jay…


One Response

  1. Dirk is going to Phoenix…somehow some way.

    Id say the other picks are spot on

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