While this current NBA season has been packed with great games and memories provided by the Association’s best players, many are already looking forward to the wild offseason in store.
Sure, we all realize that the NBA is certain to be a different landscape when the 2010 season gets underway—with the hugest of superstars up as free agents—but there are also many superstars and stars whose new teams are uncertain, too.
LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh—three of the finest examples of the magnificent 2003 draft class—could all be moving cities, but the movement of the multitude of others will really shake up the league.
This list not only gives the best players that your team could be getting, it is also set up by how much potential each player will bring to their new team. From Nos. 10-1, each and every one of these players has already impacted the NBA in a huge way, and there is no doubt they will continue to do so in 2011 and beyond.
A few last notes before we begin: Every one of these players are unrestricted free agents, meaning their current teams will be unable to match offers of other franchise’s offers.
Also, many of the bigger stars have an “Early Termination Option” or “Player Option” written into their contracts, meaning they can opt out of their current deal in order to test free agency. But, they would only become a free agent if they were to make that choice.
In any case, NBA fans should not be surprised if more than half of these 10 stars are in new zip codes to start the 2010-11 season.
Kenyon Martin is the only player in NBA history to have microfracture surgery on both knees, and even though he’s been injury plagued in the past, K-Mart has played the best basketball of his entire career this year.
At 12 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, Martin fills up the stat line well, but it’s his all-around game that makes him special. K-Mart is one of, if not the most physical defender, and he regularly takes it upon himself to play D on the opponent’s best defender.
Plus, Martin is a very vocal leader and accepts coaching much more regularly than in his younger days.
Boozer has already said he wants out of Utah, and his trade demands go back to 2009. As the trade deadline came and went two weeks ago, Boozer remained in a Jazz uniform and is likely counting down the days until the offseason.
Boozer is one of the most productive power forwards in the game, averaging a double-double this season (19.6 points, 11.2 rebounds), and he’s in the prime of his career.
Carlos is a low post specialist, and he also runs the pick and roll to perfection. Almost any team could find a starting spot for him in the Association next year.
Johnson is the strongest player in Atlanta, the fourth best team in the East currently, as his speed and shooting makes him a awfully dangerous threat on the offensive end.
As a two-guard, Johnson can take almost anyone off the dribble and can also spot up a jumper at will. He scores at 21.7 per game while grabbing 4.8 boards and dishing out 4.6 assists as well.
Johnson could become “the guy” in many cities as he is in Atlanta, or he could be the second best guy on a legitimate contender as well.
Sure, the news of Shaq missing the rest of the regular season is big news, but it’s due to a thumb injury, not one that involves his lower half. And even though he’s in his 17th season now, Shaq is still playing at a solid level (12 points, 6.7 rebounds per).
And unless he wins another championship this year, there’s no reason Shaq won’t play next year, too.
While where he will play remains up in the air, especially if King James skips town for New York, New Jersey, or somewhere else, Shaq diesel should be banging his big body around into 2011. If not, the possible last true big man will surely be missed.
Redd is possibly the biggest enigma on the list. Sure, he was one of the deadliest shooters in the current game, but that was already three years ago.
From 2008-10, Redd played only a measly 51 games after back-to-back knee injuries, and his numbers are in a spiral downward. At just under 12 points per game, this scoring specialist has lost his worth and may find it hard to make another team in the NBA.
He may use next season as a way to show teams he can still play, or maybe a change of scenary would suit him well.
Let’s see, who needs a shooter?
Oh, that’s right, everyone.
Speaking of shooters, Ray Allen has assured himself the role of purest shooter in the NBA for years, and he may be busting out of Boston soon; here are just a few reasons.
Allen was shopped actively by the Cs at the deadline, which could have hurt his feelings. After all, he was a major piece to their championship run a few years ago.
Ray has been carrying the Celtics lately when Kevin Garnett was injured, and even at 35 years old, he would be an asset to many an NBA team.
Pierce recently called himself one of the top 10 NBA shooters of all time. While that is somewhat of an overstatement, he’s still a great player overall.
Like his teammate Allen, Paul Pierce is on the down slope of his career, although he still plays a mean game. Pierce still averages 17.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per as he’s become more of a shooter than driving threat on offense.
Still, it seems improbable that this 11-year pro would leave the team he’s played with his entire career.
Three little words describe this magnificent player well:
Amar’e is amazing.
Stoudemire can outrun any big, his passing is on point, and his explosiveness is deadly. Amar’e can and will dunk on anyone, smiling and yelling all the while. He’s fun to watch and will put butts in the seats at the same time as affecting the outcomes of games regularly.
Stoudemire beasts 8.7 boards while dunking and baby jump-shooting in 21.7 points per contest.
This 2008 Olympic Gold medalist would be an asset to any NBA franchise.
Like Pierce and our last free agent on the list, Nowitzki has played for the Mavs since he was drafted in 1998, and it would be a huge surprise to see him opt out of his contract.
On top of that, the Mavericks brass have hooked him up with some star talent to support him in Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler. Since their arrival, Nowitzki has filled up the bucket to the tune of 28.7 points per as they demand respect as well.
Plus, Dallas is on an eight-game winning streak since the two came to town and the Mavs overtook the Nuggets for the second spot in the West tonight, meaning they might be the true contenders to the Lakers.
Kobe is a reigning champion in LA, not to mention the king of sports in the country’s biggest city west of the Mississippi.
He can still score with the best of them, even though his age and NBA experience is wearing on his body, and he is the best clutch shooter the NBA has ever seen.
There is almost no way that Kobe leaves LA, especially if they come close to or win another title this season, but stranger things have happened.
Still, can you imagine Kobe in a Spurs jersey, or Pierce in the Cavs maroon?
Who knows sports fans?
The only thing we are assured is that this offseason will be the most memorable in a long, long time.
Rich Kurtzman is the Denver Nuggets Featured Columnist on Bleacherreport.com and is a freelance sports journalist specializing in Colorado sports.
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