I can't wait for the NBA playoffs to start tomorrow. Being a Cavs fan and having to endure the treacherous play in the last four games of a LeBron-less squad has made the anticipation even more overwhelming. I'm ready to see the team that I've been following all season get back to Cavalier basketball, which means having LeBron take over and everyone else, be supporting cast members.
They better return to form or else LeBron could be gone.
The NBA playoffs this year won't only determine the fate of LeBron in Cleveland, but other superstars as well. I've never seen a playoffs in any sport that mean so much to the state of every single team in the league.
If you're a fan of the superstar on your team then you better hope they don't go out early. We've already seen some transgressions by Chris Bosh because the Toronto Raptors didn't make the playoffs. Sorry Canadian fans, but he's gone now. Bosh wants to win and after the semi-collapse of the Raptors he probably won't want to stay above the border.
We've heard for years about the 2010 free agency and one of the last selling points by all contending teams is proving it on the court this post season. It's going to be tough enough to retain these players when they have a chance to bolt to a large market team that not only has the ability to sign them to a maximum contract, but also the ability to sign another superstar as well.
"Chris Bosh, would you like to play with Jose Calderon or would you like to play with Joe Johnson?" I think the answer is apparent.
So now that Chris Bosh has one foot over the Niagara Falls Peace Bridge we need to look at the other players whose residence could depend on the playoff run.
The number one player is of course LeBron James. I wouldn't say the Cavs have to win the championship to keep LeBron, but the Cavs have to win the championship to keep LeBron. The team they have now is loaded. At least 10 guys on that team could be starters on other NBA rosters and they have enough depth at every position to match up with anyone. They are clearly the best team in the NBA and if they don't get the ring then it will put some doubt into LeBron and where he should play. The Cavs can keep going out and getting players or change coaches, but if they don't win it this year, then everyone will finally realize that the city of Cleveland is just cursed and a championship is never coming.
Other players who the playoffs will affect include Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Joe Johnson, and Amar'e Stoudemire.
For the Miami Heat to retain the services of Dwyane Wade they must beat the Celtics or at least be very competitive and then grab an all star free agent. Every since Shaq left, Wade hasn't had a supporting player that can consistently be the second go to guy. He needs that. If he doesn't feel this team has the ability to get him anywhere or if the team won't bring anyone in to help then he will leave, even if he'll lose millions from having to now pay state income taxes.
Ray Allen's next contract depends on his play in these playoffs. He hasn't been the Ray Allen of old until late in the season and a successful series by Ray Ray could mean many more millions in his pocket. I don't think the Celtics will keep him either way, but this first series against the Heat will help determine what teams will be willing to shell out the funds to grab him.
Joe Johnson is going to get a max contract no matter how the playoffs end up. The biggest factor for him will be to determine if he's going to be the first player a team wants or the alternate all star. A great playoff run by the Hawks and Double J will mean that teams like the Nets and Knicks will be knocking at his door at midnight on July 1st.
Amar'e Stoudemire's post season play is probably one of the most interesting things to pay attention too. The Suns repeatedly seem to want to ship him out, but it never happened and now the Suns are in the playoffs and playing very well as of late. A deep run could mean that Phoenix will want to keep him, but it would also mean that other teams would really want him as well. Phoenix had the chances to resign him already and never did, so now we'll just have to see how everything plays out.
The match ups in the playoffs are already interesting and we should have a few great series every round, but the superstars involved that will be free agents come July are what make these NBA playoffs the most important playoffs ever.