2012 NBA Free Agency: Ray Allen and 4 Other 2013 Championship Chasers
A veteran player jumping on a championship contender’s roster late in the season has been done before, but Derek Fisher has set the new precedent.
It is common knowledge that a player of Fisher’s caliber can join a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder midseason and put himself in position to win another championship ring. A ring would be a victory much more enjoyed with the men he struggled with for the last several seasons, but veterans cannot be choosers—at least not veterans outside of their prime years.
Fisher will not be a perennial member of OKC’s lineup, and coach Scott Brooks can handle his presence in that respect. The last thing Brooks needs is someone to interrupt the guard rotation that keeps Russell Westbrook’s confidence soaring. As witnessed previously, a troubled Westbrook is no good for OKC’s run in the playoffs.
Hereby, we have established the “Fisher Rule." Veterans who are no longer amply desired by their former franchises on a quest for that last moment of greatness.
The "Fisher Rule" keeps veterans in mention or at least it perpetuates relevance. Fisher was not the first to follow this path, which had already been blazed, and he will not be the last.
As soon as this summer, we will be bombarded with reports of veterans who have spent the last several years riding on the brinks of retirement, being shuffled towards championship contending franchises for the thrill of one last parade.
The Miami Heat want a crack at Ray Allen, you say?
Hop in line, South Beach.
The Miami franchise is not the only one who wants a three-point driller like Allen to bring off of the bench, and it may be a little tough to sell him a huge pay cut and a reserve spot on their roster.
Miami’s greatest selling point comes in the names of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. When it comes to the potential for an extension of intensity in the playoffs, the Heat has the greatest chance of landing Ray Allen.
Then again, he must consider a level of anonymity that will come with being behind Miami’s starship blinders. Everyone else takes a back seat to the "Big Three," and diverting from that role may be a struggle for Allen. Remaining with the Boston Celtics seems less likely, however.
The Dallas Mavericks are not the team they were yester-year. A deep playoff run seems riddled with inconsistencies ,and Dallas’ X-factor Lamar Odom will provide no relief in the coming weeks as the league graces the regular season’s end.
Odom has been struggling the entire season, and the trade that seemingly crippled the Lakers bench has proven even more cancerous for the Mavericks’ rotation and matchups against the Western Conference’s elite.
Jason Kidd is showing no signs of relinquishing the title that he has worked so hard for as an effective and efficient point guard in the NBA. The only thing under fire persistently is his birth certificate.
Other than that, any franchise would be lucky to have a guard of Kidd’s leadership and experience, with his skill set firmly intact. The Dallas Mavericks have been thriving with him at that position, but Kidd is no fool.
While winning a championship last season may have given him the spark necessary to perform his heart out for Mark Cuban this season, free agency is dawning upon him. There are only a handful of steadily productive guards in the league, and despite his age, Kidd is far from a gamble.
Retirement is edging up fast, due in part to how Kidd plays the game, and it is time for him to start looking for the next win somewhere other than with the Mavericks.
With Deron Williams on Dallas’ radar, Kidd needs more than a trivial role in the franchise’s lineup. Bringing Williams in would push Kidd so far into the background that he would only play a random six or seven minutes per game.
Another team in the league would be happy to push him to the forefront or at least hold him at the second man-in-charge reserve role with a steady 15 minutes or so per game.
The Los Angeles Clippers started off the season right. They had their over-praised big man still embarrassing defenders, an overpaid center yet to experience the height of his potential, a disgruntled veteran guard cast out of Madison Square Garden for an overused and injured Baron Davis, a superstar guard chasing his first championship and Caron Butler.
Taking over Los Angeles was the prerogative of course, because getting to the Western Conference Finals would surely lead through he who is named "Black Mamba."
An early meeting against the LA Lakers showed a lot of promise, and a win over the Miami Heat, heavily assisted by Chauncey Billups in the clutch, was proof that things would be different for the Clippers organization.
We were wrong. The Clippers are pushing themselves into a deeper and deeper hole after alleviating the involvement of "Clipper Darrell."
The franchise is now battling with inner-roster struggles for leadership and is contemplating the removal of Vinny Del Negro (according to ESPN's Bill Simmons), who seems to have less and less to do with the problem. With players complaining of his inconsistent roation, simple play-calling and favoritism towards the franchise’s stars (according to ESPN's Chris Broussard), Del Negro may be another casualty of an offended player or a few.
Why would Chauncey Billups want to go back to that? After sustaining a season-ending injury early on, Billups was forced to watch as his team came apart after each loss. The value of his leadership may have been undervalued, and as a free agent this summer, Billups can buy his ticket out of such a tumultuous situation.
The Clippers are unraveling in front of the cameras and there is nothing that Billups can do to stop it. With age catching up to him, he has about two more seasons to be an impact player for a contender.
Antawn Jamison is looking for a ring. Jamison almost retired last year after suffering such a futile season with the Cleveland Cavaliers who he has over-performed for this season.
Although the Cavaliers will not be making it to the playoffs this year, there is a strong chance they will push for Jamison’s return.
Whether they should or not is up for debate, but it is virtually impossible to think that Cleveland is completely over Jamison after the per-game statistics (18.4 PTS, 6.7 REB, .8 BLK) he has put up in the background of Kyrie Irving’s amazing rookie season.
That will not stop the suitors from lining up at Jamison’s doorstep attempting to strip the Cavaliers of their veteran forward.
A lot of contending franchises in the league could use him. That would be the only reason as to why Jamison would think about walking away from an organization that has refused to give up on him. A championship-caliber squad could lure him in with promises of a stable role in a contending rotation.
Much like Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett is on the wrong side of history in the Boston Celtics’ franchise.
Replacing Kendrick Perkins with Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic last year only shows that Danny Ainge was not really pressed for a championship run last year as he would have liked to make it seem. The moves were not for the betterment of the organization. Getting Perkins out was exactly what it looked like.
Ainge just wanted to get Perkins out. It will not be much longer before the "Big Three" begins to feel the pinch of Ainge’s need to revamp the roster with younger, more durable talent.
Kevin Garnett does not fit in that category, and this summer’s free agency is high time for him to make a hard decision. Does he want to wait until he is booted out of the Boston locker room for a pack of Juicy Fruit and a free month of Direct TV, or does he want to make the decision himself of where he will retire?
Garnett still has strong postseason moments in him. Last year, in Game 3 against the Miami Heat (28 PTS, 18 REB), Garnett was reborn. The clock re-wound and we saw the strong defensive and offensive presence that he had been when the Boston Celtics won the championship in 2008.
The Celtics have yet to return to such a victorious state of mind, but Garnett has shown that he has the ability to revert and influence the tide of the game.
There are plenty of contenders who could use Garnett’s will and occasional defense at least for one more season.