NBA Offseason: The Calm Before The Storm

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NBA Offseason: The Calm Before The Storm
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Before the "Raef LaFrentz expiring contract" era began after the Mavericks gave him the deal in 2002, teams had players that bounced back and forth from team to team more than Spencer Pratt bounces from reality show to reality show.

Teams didn't give seven-year, $70 million contracts to role players that average 13.5 points per game, but as a Bulls fan, I know all too well about getting little return on a big contract (That's right, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, and Tyson Chandler, I'm looking at you). Teams need to be smart and consider the pluses and minuses of each deal they make.

For example, Bulls guard Ben Gordon has been a bigger headcase than Joy Behar when it comes to contract negotiations. Last offseason, Gordon turned down $11 million per season. His thought of getting roughly $15 million per season is crazier than Craig Sager's personal stylist.

Not to mention, the upcoming free agency class in 2010 of James, Wade, Bosh, Nowitzki, etc. has Marc Stein, who I suspect is secretly Buster Olney during baseball season, ready to implode all over Ric Bucher's comb-over.

It's not a realistic idea for the Bulls to re-sign Gordon. Yes, his instant scoring is a rare commodity in the league these days, but at what cost does this guy become the next Trenton Hassel and have the Bulls feeling like the Timberwolves? I say nay.

Another team that has a huge dilemma is the defending Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic (Never thought I'd ever say that). Should they go after the versatile veteran Hedo Turkoglu? Personally, I think without Turkoglu, they wouldn't have beaten the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Turkoglu provides a mismatch in both size and range that a lot of forwards have trouble guarding. Apparently, his agent, Lon Babby, thought he could cash in on his time in the spot light and earn more than the $7.3 million that he was due to make next season. I could see a team, like the Detroit Pistons, panicking themselves into mediocrity, and signing Turkoglu. Unfortunately, that still wouldn't solve the Pistons' problems. Rasheed Wallace is still Rasheed Wallace, and Rodney Stuckey is still playing point. I'll pass.

Speaking of champions, the Lakers also have a few decisions to make. Both Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza are up for free agency, and Mitch Kupchak might just wet himself. He has to choose between the forward that presented matchup problems for everyone and their mothers and the swingman that can hang with the best of them.

The cynic in me keeps telling myself that it's actually between the guy that was subject to trade rumors and inconsistencies since he arrived in Los Angeles and the guy who was a part of three different teams in the span of five years. Their salaries alone are going to take them out of the LeBron sweepstakes next year, heck, Kobe's butler's salary (calling Adam Morrison) is probably going to take them out of the LeBron sweepstakes.

Personally, I would take Ariza over Odom. Ariza has a better upside that he hasn't reached yet. Odom has proven to be often injured and a sixth man at best. Ariza has the potential to be Pippen-esque if he stays consistent.

As far as the upcoming NBA draft, Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin is either in for a long career of mediocrity or is going to sink into obscurity faster than Darko Milicic. As far as the rest of the draft picks and teams, whoever ends up getting Stephon Curry is getting an underrated guard with a lot to prove and the tools needed to be successful, which brings me to my next point: New York Knicks, don't pick Curry, you'll just screw him up.

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