Since the NBA’s free-agency period began on July 1, a flood of high-profile players have moved on to greener pastures. How will these top signings affect the landscape of the NBA?
Ray Allen. Jason Terry. Jeremy Lin. Steve Nash. The Brandon Roy comeback.
All of these signings will have an impact on the league—and some already have.
Speculation during the playoffs suggested that the Miami Heat would break up its trio of stars if they failed to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy. But after beating Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Finals, they have added a star instead.
36-year-old Ray Allen opted to join the Big Three in Miami in lieu of re-signing with the Boston Celtics, perhaps because of a “cold war,” as Yahoo! Sports put it, with point guard Rajon Rondo.
The most prolific three-point shooter in league history joins a much younger, more NBA title-ready team in search of another championship, and he may just get it—and soon.
Boston was hoping to keep Allen, as they had already added 34-year-old shooting guard Jason Terry to their arsenal. Now, though, Terry is nothing but a convenient replacement for Allen.
Terry has been a solid player for many years, all with the Dallas Mavericks, and though he is but two years younger than Allen is, he is a more upbeat player on the floor. He fits in perfectly with Rondo, who is always looking to step up the tempo.
As for Dallas, they have lost their two biggest free agents in Terry and Jason Kidd (who will sign with the New York Knicks). Kidd’s minutes had dropped last year, and his 5.5 assists per game and 6.2 points per game were the lowest of his 18-year career.
He joins a Knicks squad that has all but lost sudden-star Jeremy Lin to the Houston Rockets. As of now, Kidd would likely start at the point, with Iman Shumpart at SG, Carmelo Anthony at SF, Amaré Stoudemire at PF and Tyson Chandler at C.
That looks good on paper, but how much does Kidd really have left in the tank? Aside from career-lows in many statistical categories, he missed time due to a multitude of nagging injuries.
Can his 39-year-old battered body withstand the rigors of another NBA season?
With the news from ESPN that the Knicks have sent away backup PG Toney Douglas along with two other players and two second-round picks for Houston center Marcus Camby in a sign-and-trade deal, there isn't much behind Kidd if and when he breaks down.
Houston has laid out a four-year, $28.8 million offer sheet for Lin, a restricted free agent. Reports are that the only way New York would not match a deal for him would be if a team offers him “a backloaded contract that pays him an eight-figure salary in the third and fourth years,” as Houston has done (via ESPN.com).
In a sign-and-trade deal with archrivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Phoenix Suns have acquiesced to Steve Nash’s request to remain as close to his family as possible. Suns management has repeatedly crashed the plane into the mountain in recent roster moves, also losing the aforementioned Stoudemire to free agency instead of trading the disgruntled superstar to get something for him. (See also: “Shawn Marion traded to Heat for Shaq.”)
At least owner Robert Sarver has learned from that faux pas, and has gotten four draft pick and cash for his franchise’s most popular player.
The Lakers now have two of the best players over 30 in the NBA, and though the deal seems to favor LA, you may want to think again.
Phoenix turned right around and signed PG Goran Dragic, whom they originally drafted, then traded two years later to the Rockets—who signed Lin to replace Dragic (do you get the feel that all these moves are intertwined?).
Dragic is a steadily improving player who last year set career marks in minutes per game played (26.5), FG percentage (.462), FT percentage (.805), rebounds per game (2.5), assists per game (5.3) and points per game (11.7).
He enters his first season as a likely full-time starter.
With a two-year, $10.4 million contract set to be signed Wednesday by Brandon Roy, the Minnesota Timberwolves have effectively become a threat in the West. Roy’s return to basketball following a brief injury-related retirement—though it’s not known how it will turn out—is encouraging to say the least.
The T-wolves have one of the youngest, most talented rosters in the league, and Roy’s presence on the court will only add to that. Again, it is unknown to what capacity Roy can play, but the leadership he will provide in the locker room makes him worth the money.
What do these signings mean for the landscape of the NBA?
With old faces moving to new places, the initial thought is that some teams are desperate to make a one-year push before a handful of the league’s weathered veterans call it quits.
The Steve Nash, Ray Allen and Jason Kidd deals come to mind when referring to the above sentence. All three men will sign three-year contracts to join their new teams, and the chances are good that at least two of them retire before the expiration of these deals.
It’s still too early to tell, but it seems like that favors the younger teams in the league, like Minnesota, OKC and the Los Angeles Clippers in the West.
The landscape is changing. Though it may not be immediate, the powers in both conferences are shifting. Young rosters will begin to become more prominent in the coming years as the early-20s hopefuls become the league’s new superstars.
And all it will have taken are some older players moving teams, giving them their time in the limelight.
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