While the Los Angeles Lakers look to close out the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the NBA Finals on Sunday, the leagues 28 other teams are already in preparation for the 2009-2010 season. Teams are nitpicking draft prospects and checking their balance sheets to see how they can improve their team (or their bottom line) going into next season.
In what could be a tumultuous off-season due to the economic climate, many free agents are going to left in the cold. There are an interesting number of lead guards available this summer. They range from a future Hall of Famer in Jason Kidd to proven veterans such as Andre Miller to an emerging young guard in Ramon Sessions.
Many indications out of Dallas are that Kidd will return next year. This seems logical for both sides. Dallas has an array of offensive weapons heading into next season, and Kidd is the perfect fit to glue them all together.
Kidd will find it difficult to find another team who can match the amount of money Dallas can pay him (although it will be a severe drop from the $21.3 million he made this past season) and the opportunity to contend.
Bibby is an interesting case. He is a veteran guard who has playoff experience. While it wouldn’t be surprising to see him return to Atlanta, word out of Portland is they want to improve at the point.
Bibby would be an excellent compliment to Brandon Roy in the back court, and would bring valuable experience to a team on the verge of breaking out in the West.
The Trailblazers are looking at roughly $7 million in cap space as of today (assuming they do not extend a qualifying offer to Channing Frye), but they may also look to find a small forward this offseason.
Miller is one of the more underrated players in the NBA. He will not make many highlight plays, but he will make the right play. Miller had comparable assist and turnover rates to Chauncey Billups for the 2008-2009 season.
Miller also is extremely durable, having played at least 80 games in every season he has been in the league. While it is likely he will return to Philadelphia, he could find a home in Atlanta if Bibby signs elsewhere.
Ramon Sessions (restricted)
Sessions is the point guard most likely to change teams this offseason. He had a breakout campaign for Milwaukee in his second year in the league.
However, Milwaukee already has nearly $65 million committed to nine players for next season, and this does not include roughly $2 million they will pay the 10th pick in the draft, assuming they keep the pick.
They would almost certainly have to go over the luxury tax threshold to resign Sessions, which they may not be willing to do. Not many teams will be in a position to give him an enormous pay day, but he could command the mid-level exception in places such as Sacramento or Minnesota, where holes at the point exist as of now.
Raymond Felton (restricted)
Felton has been a hard player to gauge since he came into the league in 2005. He seemed miscast as a shooting guard when paired with Brevin Knight at the beginning of his career, yet also seemed miscast as a point guard since he took over the reins.
His best chance to succeed in the league is probably as a first guard off the bench. While Charlotte may keep him, D.J. Augustine is waiting in the wings.
Felton could be a player who finds himself hunting for a job deep into the summer, and may have to settle for a slice of the mid-level exception from a team looking for play making off the bench such as Miami or New Orleans if the price is right.