NBA Free Agency: Where the League's Best Could End Up
With an abnormal amount of highly recruited players heading into the free agency market this summer (LeBron, Wade, Bosh to name a few), the main concern as summer approaches remains where they'll end up.
All appear somewhat content staying where they are, yet the idea of a championship will undoubtedly tempt them to leave.
None of them have made public remarks about any certain desires, but hints have been thrown around, making this slide show, at the very least, plausible.
I have a slide for numerous free agents, contemplating what team would best suit them and who holds enough money to make cents and sense for these signings.
Dwyane Wade: Heat
Wade has had the greatest load to carry on his back all season long.
His second best player, Michael Beasley, has regressed, and is still sporting corn rows in a SpongeBob-covered bed.
He also has an injury-plagued former star in Jermaine O'Neal who is no longer more than a washed-up veteran.
Wade's coach has made his share of mistakes and has his own problems (Erik Spoelstra).
But, as we've seen in All-Star games and Olympics alike, Wade plays better, and best, when with other talented players.
Which is why the next slide contains the answer to why Wade will stay, and improve.
LeBron James: Heat
This slide may surprise you—a lot.
LeBron James' name has been thrown around more than any other free agent, with multiple different teams—none of them being the Heat.
Yet, if the Cavs don't win it all this year—which doesn't look so likely considering how often they choke—all James will have on his mind will be a championship.
Though his stats have cemented him as one of the greatest individual players in NBA history, he wants that second word, "individual," out of that sentence.
Which is why he'll sign with the Heat.
Both Wade and LeBron have made far more than a lifetime's worth of money in contracts and endorsements, and both are projected to make over $20 million in endorsements next year as well.
This means they could both easily sign for a much smaller contract, leaving the idea of the two together outside of the Olympics as possible.
The Heat already have plenty of cap room, meaning they could build a decent team around the two as well, much like the Lakers did successfully with Shaq and Kobe.
If LeBron walks the walk, caring more about the record than the stats, this is a decision he and Wade could definitely make.
Chris Bosh: Knicks
Bosh's main fault in this upcoming summer and his free agency standard has, unfortunately for him, had nothing to do with his game.
Bosh is today's most under-appreciated and underrated star, and putting himself in a class with players like James and Wade only hurt his chance at a maximum deal.
The other factor that will lower his prospects has been the recent choking episode the Raptors have endured. Going 3-7 in the last 10 games, 10 crucial games for a good spot in the playoffs, has classified him as a better player than leader.
Not what a team wants in today's game.
Nonetheless, many teams would love him as a big man who can easily be the best player on a championship-caliber team.
The Knicks have basically been told that they will fail in the realization of getting 'Bron or Wade, and will most likely keep McGrady, a player many stars would like to play with.
Bosh, in desperate need of fans after playing in front of a lowly fan base in Toronto, could easily be attracted to playing in NY, home to one of the largest fan bases and salary caps.
The idea of playing with D'Antoni will help, and him joining New York could easily push the team into the playoffs with a better cast than the likes of which he had in Toronto.
Bosh is hungry for appreciation, and a Big Apple could fill him up easily.
Joe Johnson: Hawks
Probably the second most under-appreciated star.
Johnson has filled in marvelously in the role of a leader, pushing Atlanta to the brink of being the next big thing. But the Hawks of now are good enough.
Johnson gets enough playing time, almost enough money, enough points, and enough wins that the Hawks are the most viable option for him to be with for seasons to come.
He has a perfect supporting cast around him featuring good players that are more than welcome to blend into his background. And because other teams aren't breaking the bank to get him, and the Hawks have the cap space, Joe will almost surely stay.
And hopefully a ring will keep him company.
Dirk Nowitzki: Mavericks
Though the window of opportunity has all but shut itself on Dirk's fingers, Dirk, Cuban and Co. remain confident that this team has the chance to win a ring in the near future.
He makes more than enough money, more than he'll find in almost any other place, and the addition of Butler and Haywood could help to keep that window open.
No other team, especially considering his age, is going to gargle over Dirk, but Cuban's man-crush carries enough weight in Dallas to make him not care about other options.
He's played his whole career in Dallas and has signaled that this is where he would like to end it, for better or for worse.
This is one of the easiest free agents to determine; he'll stay.
Amare Stoudemire: Bulls
He was nearly traded at the All-Star break, and the idea of him leaving now seems inevitable.
The Suns don't desire him fully and know his departure will free up some much-needed cap space.
Not to mention his skill level has been completely overblown. (Any decent big man playing with Nash can get Stoudemire-type stats in an instant.)
The Bulls, though, could really use him. They have a very talented young squad, yet no real good offensive big man.
Placing Joakim Noah at center, and leaving Stoudemire to do as he likes—not much defense, too much offense—could give Chicago the boost they need.
Rose won't find Amare as simply as Nash, but Deng is also a versatile, completely unselfish forward who could help out in feeding him the ball.
Stoudemire will leave, and Chicago, with no other real intentions in free agency, could really use him.
Paul Pierce: Celtics
Much like the Mavs, the Celtics window of opportunity is closing faster than Arenas can get suspended.
But, like the Mavs, they refuse to accept this. And why should they?
In their eyes they have a future Hall of Fame point guard in Rondo, three somewhat aged future HOF's, and a COY in charge.
But the East is becoming buffer than ever, leaving an injury depleted, aged team left to pick up the remains.
Garnett has to stay, based on contract, as does Rondo. That leaves the Celtics as a very respectable team, and Pierce should try to will it out and play there.
Paul will be another one of the high class of free agents not moving.
Yao Ming: Thunder
Theoretically, the Thunder should be one of the last teams making a move this summer.
They're a young team, with two young, could-be stars (Westbrook and Green), one superstar (Durant), and some decent, if not good role players.
Then again, Yao, theoretically, should be one of the last players changing teams. The Rockets got rid of the elephant in the room (T-Mac's contract) and are also exceeding expectations playing without any real star.
Adding Yao would give them extreme potential. But Yao has been under-appreciated there, and the team will be willing to move on without him.
And though the Thunder seem set, it should be somewhere in their mindset that they won't go any further without a real big man.
Yao won't ask for too much money, as history as shown us, and he will be the giant push (literally) that the Thunder will need.
He won't demand the ball much, which the Thunder wouldn't be able to afford already having Durant.
Yao will say bye to Houston, and ni hao (I think) to Oklahoma City.