With the exception of the best player in the NBA, the free agent class of 2009 is full of Robin's to next summer's much ballyhooed Batman summer of free agents.
Kobe always was a trend setter.
Assuming that Bryant does in fact remain a Laker, here are the next best 10 free agents for the summer of 2009. With all of these second options possibly changing teams, it could go a long way to set a landscape of the summer of 2010 signings.
Rasheed Wallace, Jason Kidd, Jamal Crawford, and Mike Bibby did not crack the top 10. These are players though that could definitely help any franchise close to the title.
Wallace, Kidd, and Bibby all are vets that would be role players for contending teams. Crawford is interesting, if he opts out of Golden State, because he is a proven scorer in the NBA.
Carlos Boozer is another one to mention. If he does opt out of his contract, well, I just hope he handles it better than last time he signed a new contract.
He has been injury prone in recent years and might have to adjust to a new role if he does leave Utah.
A point forward in the mold of Scottie Pippen, the perfect complement to Dwight Howard in Orlando would be the perfect complement to the alpha dog of any team he goes to.
He has a bad habit of losing to the Lakers, so he could go there. If he goes to any team in the East, that team will be strengthened while Orlando is weakened.
Look for the bidding to be high for the jewel of this year's free agents...if (and when) he opts out of his contract.
A scorer who came up clutch in this year's epic series against the Celtics, Ben Gordon would be the No. 1 prize this offseason if not for Turkoglu's playoff performance.
He has the potential of being a No. 1 guy if he chooses to go to a lower-tier team but would be better served going to a contender and being the second option.
Chicago has something going as well, so staying put should be an option.
Detroit is very interested. Their GM is a former stud two guard.
If this guy was more consistent...
Let me just say that he has a Magic Johnson skill set, plus he is an inch taller than Magic.
He has Hall of Fame talent, but it feels like he has squandered it over the course of his career.
This is another guy who could go to a lesser team and be the man. If he brought his A-game every night, he would shine for the whole league to see.
He can get some more rings, though, if he stays with what he does best and be the versatile second option for a contending team.
Turkoglu is what Odom should be every year. The only way the Lakers don't re-sign Odom is if they go after and get Hedo.
Still, he would look good in a front court with LeBron James.
That's all I'm saying.
This guy was the alpha male for years. He went to Detroit, they asked him to fit in and be a part of the team, and Iverson really struggled.
If he learned that he has a new role in the NBA, the next team that gets him will have a scorer off the bench like no other.
If Iverson still wants to be the man, there are some teams where he can do that. He won't win very much.
What Iverson decides to do could end up being the biggest story of this offseason. He is still a scorer and can add something to any team.
It can also go very badly if he cannot let go of the player he once was.
Grant Hill has learned where he fits in at this stage of his career in the NBA. He would be a valuable role player to add to any team that is close to a title.
There are others that might be better on the court than Hill, but he brings intangibles to any team that will help them improve over the course of a long season.
It will always be a shame to me that injuries robbed so much of his career. This guy is special.
Between the lines, this guy would be an asset to any team. The Rockets brought him in to help with their issues, and they finally won a playoff series.
It is the time bomb that he is that would scare me from signing this multi-dimensional player.
His best bet is to stay in Houston where he has had success and build upon what they have there.
He will probably be going to his fourth team in two years, and it is puzzling that such a dynamic talent is finding it hard to fit in somewhere.
The Matrix can do so many things well that he would make any contending team better. He still has the skill to start for any team in the league. He could log big minutes since he is as good of a defender as he is an offensive player.
The slump he has been in will be cured by a fresh start where he wants to be. He didn't want to be in Phoenix, then he was traded twice. He will finally be choosing his destination, and that will make a big difference.
He would be much higher on the list if his game had not slumped so badly over the past two years, as any GM has to worry that it is not a slump.
This guy is instant energy off of the bench. There is something to be said for a big guy that can come in and be a game changer—a momentum changer. I saw him do it often in the postseason.
Limited offensive skills are an issue, but on the defensive end he is a dynamo. Rebounding, blocking, and altering shots is what he does best.
He is an offensive-rebound guy, and that is what got the Denver crowd going so much.
He is better than the other energy free agent, Sean Marks. Both would be great pick-ups. Big-guy role players are nice to have for a playoff run.
This guy made some huge plays in the postseason for the Lakers.
He seems to have a skill set similar to that of Bryant. I used to think that about Devean George. Then George went to Dallas and regressed as a player, and I realized it was all in my head.
What I see in Ariza might be in my head, but I still see it. He might be the key to putting a team over the top or pushing a team into the playoffs that was once an also-ran.
Or he could regress if he leaves L.A.
That Phil Jackson is one heck of a coach.
Another big guy with energy, he was better coming off of the Cleveland bench. But due to injuries, he had to take Ben Wallace's starting spot.
Already missed time last year to a contract holdout, if he opts out this offseason, it could be an omen of what is to come in Cleveland.
He fits in with Cleveland very well, and it is safe to say that his game would fit in with most other teams.
It would be nice if he stopped flopping so much.
It's all I'm saying.
Charlie Villanueva, Paul Millsap, Martin Gortat, and Nate Robinson are the best of the restricted free agents. Other teams can offer them a deal, and their current team can decide to match the deal or not.
They are all valuable to their teams, so look for all of them to stay.
If one was to switch teams, I would say Nate Robinson is the one to watch.