It’s official, the top four free agent candidates for the summer of 2010 are all unhappy. Each player’s team failed to live up to reasonable expectations and bowed out of the playoff picture in disgrace.
The only big free agent possibility still in the playoffs is the one not expected to be there. Really, most people didn’t believe Amare Stoudemire would still be with the Suns past the trade deadline, and no one predicted he would be playing in the Western Conference finals.
Now Stoudemire is the only potential free agent who most people believe might actually return to his current team for next season. Who knew?
Listening to what these free agents are saying, it is possible to believe that all could return to their current teams. But it is just as easy to interpret their comments as, “pencil me in elsewhere next season!”
The comments from LeBron James that “his team” (which apparently is not a reference to the Cavaliers) has been planning for his pending free agency and now it’s time to implement that plan are not really any different from what Bosh or Wade have been saying.
How did so many All-Star players become unhappy all at the same time?
Chris Bosh watched his Toronto Raptors season fall apart when he went down with an ankle sprain the first game after the All-Star break. The team went 3-4 without him but then lost five in a row upon his return.
The Raptors were six games above .500 and fifth in the East at the break but went 11-19 down the stretch. Bosh watched from the bench with a broken face for the last five games as his team missed the post-season by just one win.
In his end-of-season media “exit” interview, Bosh made in clear his priority for next season is to be on a team that can win games. One could guess that to mean winning games without him!
If there was ever an NBA super-star with a bona fide gripe about not being provided any support, it has to be Dwyane Wade.
Wade virtually carried the Miami Heat into the post-season by himself in his seventh season as Mr. Everything to his team. And D-Wade had to put up a 46-5-5 to lead the Heat to their only post-season victory over Boston in the first round.
A tired Mr. Wade left no doubt that he needs to see big changes to the Heat’s roster if there is to be any chance of his return.
LeBron James stopped playing in the final minute of the Game Six loss to Boston and couldn’t wait to pull that Cavaliers jersey off before he took one step into the tunnel.
James has made it clear that he is tired of losing in the Eastern Conference playoffs. His personal expectations are much higher than that.
Maybe after a few days or weeks, James will remember his own words that the Cavaliers are trying to put a winning team on the floor. Only a handful of teams are willing to spend like the Cavs owner is.
But for right now, LeBron James is the picture of a disgruntled employee who can’t wait to test out the job market in hopes of finding something better.
When it was reported that Joe Johnson turned down a substantial four-year contract extension from Atlanta last season, most people assumed his days as a member of the Hawks were numbered.
And after the Hawks completely fell apart at the hands of the Magic in the second round of the playoffs, everyone is anticipating major changes to the Hawks roster for next season.
In the playoffs, the usually reliable All-Star’s play plummeted and Johnson became the almost invisible man. Of course he wasn’t alone.
But when a team leader, who usually provides 20-5-5 is giving 12.8-3.8-4.5 while shooting under 30 percent, things are not likely to turn out well.
After that playoff performance, it’s hard to see the Hawks upping last year’s offer to Johnson and it’s hard to see why Johnson would want to stay. There were a lot of unhappy Hawks after this post-season’s pummeling.
The big four looking unhappy heading into free agency can only be considered as good news for those teams with big cap space this July.
But all those hopeful teams need to pay attention. None of these big name free agents want any part of a rebuilding process. They want to win now!
Teams with decimated rosters and no room to maneuver after adding a max free agent are not likely to get much interest from this group.