So your team missed out on the LeBron James sweepstakes. Now what?
Well, if you're a fan of the New York Knicks or Chicago Bulls, you're probably still wondering where Carmelo Anthony will be playing his home games next season.
If not, the odds of scoring a franchise centerpiece on the current market are looking bleak. Once James decided to take his talents back to the North Coast, via Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, and Sam Amick of USA Today reported Chris Bosh inked a max contract with the Heat, the amount of earth-shattering moves that were possible was reduced drastically.
Fortunately for those who crave the uncertainty and drama of the NBA's "off"season, next year's crop of potential free agents isn't exactly bare.
For a complete list of NBA players who are set to hit the market, check out Spotrac. Here are some of the biggest stars in the class.
We'll start with LaMarcus Aldridge, but this one comes with a caveat—it would appear there's no chance he's going to leave Portland. The 2014 All-NBA third-team selection recently told Joe Freeman of The Oregonian that his decision to hold off on re-signing before playing out the final year of his deal has nothing to do with an interest in leaving:
"I don't want it to be perceived that I'm not happy or I'm not staying on because I'm not signing a three-year deal," Aldridge said. "It's just financially smarter to wait ... and I'm looking forward to signing the five-year deal when the chance comes."
So if it's up to Aldridge, he'll be remaining the face of the Trail Blazers franchise for the foreseeable future.
In an age where stars are more and more likely to play for multiple teams, Aldridge's decision to make a legacy as one of the best players for his particular franchise is admirable. As long as the Trail Blazers don't try to take advantage of that desire, it's a virtual certainty the star forward will remain in the Northwest.
Another skilled big man, another player who will likely need a change of heart over the next 82 games if he's going to have a change of scenery. With a 2013 Defensive Player of the Year award in his trophy case and a rare skill set on the offensive end Gasol could be one of the best players on the market in 2015.
“I’ve always said Memphis is my home away from home,” Gasol said. “Robert (Pera, Grizzlies owner) knows that. I know that. My teammates know that and that’s all that matters. I live day to day but I don’t see myself anywhere else.”
Again, this is a scenario in which the ball appears to be in the team's court. At 29 years old, Gasol appears to have plenty of legs left to make him well worth a new deal, and the Grizz would be foolish to pass on re-upping with the 7-footer.
Here's where it starts to get interesting.
While Gasol and Aldridge appear to be in situations that they are comfortable with, the Celtics' 2014 offseason may ultimately result in the end of the Rajon Rondo era in Beantown. With the Celtics failing to land any major free agents and most likely behind in the Kevin Love sweepstakes, Boston's best course of action may be to deal Rondo, according to Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald via NESN.com:
I think he’s more likely to be moved. I’ve been in that camp. If you don’t get Kevin Love, then it’s not the best situation for the team, and it’s not the best situation for Rondo. ... They’re not going to become an instant playoff team unless there’s some big deal involving Rondo, I don’t see how you do that.
If the Celtics feel they can get a nice haul for the point guard, it might be best for the team to pull the trigger.
The 28-year-old is theoretically hitting the prime of his career, but he hasn't proved he can remain on the court at this point. He's played in just 68 games over the last two seasons.
However, in terms of free agency, Rondo could be the most compelling player on the market. The history of injuries opens up a debate about his valuation. For all of his talents on the floor, handing a max contract to a player with his injury history is a true gamble.
On the other hand, if a team is able to add him to the roster for anything less than the max and get the healthy version of the point guard, he would be the best value on the market.
When the Charlotte Hornets signed Al Jefferson to a three-year, $41 million deal in 2013, it hardly made waves. Now, after what the big man was able to accomplish with the team last season, it looks like the bargain of the year.
He only went on to average a double-double every night while leading the Hornets to the playoffs. He also earned All-NBA third-team honors.
Jefferson isn't necessarily gone. His contract includes a player option for the 2015-16 season. But the likelihood of Jefferson agreeing to play another season when he could be making well over his scheduled $13.5 million seems suspect.
Should Jefferson elect to opt out of his deal, he could wind up being the biggest free agent available.
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