Today, the NBA released the 2009-2010 salary cap, and as expected, it was lowered by approximately $1 million. Last year's cap was at $58 million, and next year it will drop to $57 million.
The Boston Celtics are among the many suitors bracing themselves for the 2010 free agent class.
This class features a list of the NBA's premier players: Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carlos Boozer, Ray Allen, Joe Johnson, and Tracy McGrady are the headliners.
Wade has recently said on ESPN that he is hesitant to sign an extension with Miami until they surround him with talent.
Chris Bosh exercised his early termination option (EPO) for next summer.
Carlos Boozer elected to opt-in this year and wait to ply his wares on the free agency market in 2010.
LeBron James has Cleveland swooning at his every move, and he refuses to commit. However, he was quick to shoot down a rumor that he told Trevor Ariza he would stay in an attempted recruiting effort.
Ray Allen is still a fantastic player, but at this stage in his career, the Celtics are reluctant to bring up the "E" word—extension.
Tracy McGrady's inability to stay healthy has diminished his value.
Through it all, Joe Johnson has remained quiet and waits patiently for 2010.
The core of Boston's roster is over 30, and 2010 will see the "Big Three" become the "Big Two." Therefore, the Celtics need to find a star to make the "Big Three" whole again.
Wade, James, and Bosh may be out of their price range. I wouldn't trust Boozer after he reneged on a gentlemen's agreement with the Cavaliers. And that leaves Joe Johnson.
As it stands now, Gabe Pruitt, J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker, and Lester Hudson are vying for three roster spots. The first two games of summer league has seen Hudson prove that he is more than a scorer. He can handle the ball with either hand, and his ridiculous wing span is the key to his defensive prowess.
Hudson is proving he belongs, and I am assuming from his limited summer league experience that he makes the team. That leaves only two spots for three players. I believe that Pruitt, because of his experience, will also be back.
Giddens and Walker are second-year players and barely saw the floor during the 2008-2009 season. In Walker's defense, he stayed on the active roster throughout the regular season and playoffs.
Next year is Eddie House's last year with the team, and if Lester Hudson delivers when it counts, then Hudson will replace him. A Pruitt and Hudson combination is already being used in the summer league.
Let us assume that the high-flying Walker makes the squad and becomes a spot player in the rotation to spell Paul Pierce. That is important because the Celtics will have a starting shooting guard opening next summer.
Imagine a starting five of Rondo, Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Kendrick Perkins. Other NBA teams have stars in their eyes and will make a hard run at the other top free agents. Johnson may just slip under the NBA radar, and the Celtics may be able to make an offer that he cannot refuse.
For one, if the Celtics win the 2010 championship, Johnson would have more than a passing fancy to join the "Boston Three-Party."
Second, the current Boston regime had nothing to do with his unceremonious exit from Boston during his rookie season.
Third, Johnson must surely be wary of the inept management of the Atlanta Hawks.
The Celtics have an opportunity to get a big-name player with a most-ordinary name. Joe Johnson is a three-time All-Star, and, like Allen, has a smooth stroke that leaves you in awe. At 6'7" and only 29 years of age, he is younger and taller than Ray-Ray.
Yes, the Celtics have a plan because "Trader Dan" is building for longevity. Let's hope that this plan includes him acquiring "No Ordinary" Joe Johnson.