It's an annual rite of summer, just before NBA free agency starts. Like clockwork, LoseBron James' team must first be eliminated from the playoffs. With that out of the way, we can now talk about James and the Class of 2010 that everyone has anticipated.
LoseBron James- New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets
Last summer, I wrote about Caviliers-Magic How One Series Could Change the Face of the NBA" LoseBron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh all ending up in New York . I have since retracted that statement.
Sure, the Nets somehow won only 12 games this year despite a roster that included Terrance Williams, Chris Douglas Roberts, Devin Harris, Rafer Alston, and team leader Brook Lopez. I'd love to have these guys on my favorite team.
I've said it all along, someone is going to take New Jersey's money, and that was before Mikhail Prokhorov, the "Russian Billionaire," bought the team.
The NBA is an urban/hip-hop league. Why do you think the league implemented a dress code? Can you imagine all the "after parties" etc. that LoseBron or anyone else would be walking away from with minority owner-Jay-Z? For that reason alone, I knew someone would take the money, although I thought it would be Amare Stoudemire.
I now think its LoseBron for one simple fact. He's already friends with Jay-Z. The cupboard is not bare, and if James can stand two short years in Newark (hey, it sounds like 'New York' if you say it fast!) the Nets will soon occupy their new digs in Brooklyn, NY. That's as close as you can get to NYC and Madison Square Garden without having to endure the loser-taint that has plagued the once-proud, but historically overrated, franchise since 1999.
The Dodgers were once beloved in Brooklyn and proved that big-league sports can work there. Prosperous teams can "run that town," as the Bums did back in the day.
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
One of these marquee free agents has to re-sign with their original teams, right? Also, Dirk is foreign (German) and Dallas is the only place he's known.
He appears to be comfortable there, and Nowitzki has never lashed out at the media or his owner, Mark Cuban. I initially thought Dirk was headed for New Jersey, but his European culture wouldn't fit well up there. LoseBron's earlier-than- anticipated exit will change the Nets interests, anyway.
Where else would Dirk go? Chicago? New York? L.A. (Clippers)? Two out of three will probably use most of their money to sign other free agents. By default, there are only a limited number of teams that can afford Dirk. He has few options.
Nowitzki's age is also hurting his mystique. He'd be a cool fit on either San Antonio, if they could dump Parker and Jefferson's contracts to sign Dirk, but only because that team has an international flare that would appeal to Nowitzki.
For this same reason, the near-cap strapped Toronto Raptors, and their Spurs-ish roster, could be an option if they could execute a sign and trade with fellow free agent, Chris Bosh . Stay tuned on that one.
Chris Bosh, New York Knicks
Wouldn't it be funny if the Knicks tanked the last two seasons to prepare for LoseBron or Wade etc. only to come up short after all that so called effort? Still, this is NYC, on the biggest stage where the media can control perceptions. They help make New York look "cool" and that is what counts in the image conscience NBA.
You have to figure someone is going to take the money. Someone will want to be "the man" in New York. Why not Bosh?
If you think "All Kobe all the time" ESPN is fun now, just imagine what it would be like if the Knicks were relevant again. It would be the Boston Celtics (good again) X 10.
Paul Pierce/Ray Allen, Boston Celtics
I figured at least one of these, if not both, players were as good as gone in Boston. But, do to the team's recent run and resurgence, I now think they'll both stay.
From their lame "Boston Three-Party" ESPN ad to their recent success in the playoffs, there is obvious chemistry in that locker room. While they've only been teammates since 2008, it seems a lot longer (already), I think Allen and Pierce genuinely like each other. They also get along with Kevin Garnett, who they won't leave out to dry. Why mess with a good thing?
With the "Larry Bird" rules, along with the new cap, the team will have no problem exceeding the cap in order to keep their own free agents, which Allen and Pierce clearly are. This helps Boston's chances at keeping them.
Finally, they seem to love their coach. And who would be dumb enough to walk away from Rajon Rondo? Rondo makes everyone look better.
Dwayne Wade, Chicago Bulls
It seems strange that all these "mass cap teams" would land at least one player. But I now think Wade will go home. For the same reasons we hear LoseBron going here, Noah and Rose, the same can be said about Wade. Plus, he has the legit hometown factor. In the end, I think that will be too good to pass up.
Carlos Boozer, Brooklyn/New Jersey Nets
I said it last year in my "LeBron can't do it without me" piece , Boozer is the one that got away in Cleveland. Maybe Boozer and Lebron try and recapture their previous magic in another city? Of course, Cavs fans would be left wondering 'why not us' or 'what about me?'
Face it, we know LoseBron isn't signing anywhere without a solid guarantee a 'star' (and I use that term lightly on Boozer) will be joining him. Why not Boozer, AKA 'Boozer the Loozer' as I dubbed him? Come to think of it, with a name like that, maybe they should just re-unite in cLEAVEland since neither would ever win anything there anyway?
Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns (unless Boozer nixes Nets)
Just like the title says, if Boozer doesn't end up going to New Jersey if James doesn't think he can win with him seeing how he couldn't the first time, look for the possibility of a similar big man to take some of the load off LoseBron, as a pre-requsite for signing there.
I do however think the Suns deep run in the playoffs, mixed with Nash's own re-signing in Phoenix and the fact they didn't trade Amare could convince him to stay if the money's right. Its really one or the other anyway at this point. The Lakers series could cement things one way or another depending on how it goes.
Joe Johnson, New York Knicks
Johnson couldn't make it work in Atlanta. He's going to have zero say on their next head coach, unlike LoseBron. Johnson just doesn't carry that kind of weight, nor should he. He's not that kind of player.
Even so, someone is going to vastly overpay him. Might as well by the floundering Knicks.
Johnson and Bosh would give the Knicks, and their puppets at ESPN, something to build on. They would satisfy their overrated and "desperate" fan base. While it wouldn't be star caliber, just making the playoffs would have to feel great in NYC. Still, one would get the feeling they really settled for second best if this is "all" they could do when setting out for the best and having much loftier aspirations than this.
Shaq's done, despite the reports he wants to play (and thus rob) a team of two more years of salary. When you start trying to "win a ring for The King" and not yourself, you know the end is near. Shaq is nothing more than an overpaid role player/cheerleader.
Martin, J. O'Neal and Redd are not the final or "missing pieces" to anyone's team. They're all in decline and, while a change of scenery is badly needed in all cases, they simply aren't going to push anyone over the top.
I could see Redd latching on to a veteran-laden team like the Spurs and riding the bench in Michael Finley-like fashion. Coming off of a serious injury, Redd could be had at a lesser market value.
That's my best guess as to where all the major players will end up in the Greatest Free Agent Class Ever. We'll find out soon enough on July 2nd!