Well it's almost here, the summer of 2010, the summer of LeBron. The summit is in sight, just remember over every summit is a cliff so pick your steps carefully.
This has more followers then the Mayan calendar and the impact is supposed to rival December 21st 2012. If Lebron leaves the end of the world will seem tame for Cleveland sports fans and more then one team hopes to rise from the ashes.
Teams have dumped multiple seasons to get ready and it seems like half the players will be free agents. Whole teams will be remade or destroyed, billions of dollars will be spent and way too many bad contracts will be written.
The headlines will center around King James, Dwayne Wade and who will the Knicks get while the real stories could be the dozens of second and third tier players who teams refused to sign past 2010 to clear up cap space.
With some teams not having enough players under contract to play a game the action will be hot and heavy once the dam breaks. The real winners will be the vendors selling programs and of course new jersey sales.
But what if you don't care?
What if your team has a maxed out salary cap and no young stars to hang your hopes on?
Maybe there is some hope. Maybe we can't dream of LeBron or Wade but that doesn't mean a good GM can't improve his team in this offseason.
First off, forget the sign and trade scenarios, the top free agents don't want to play here and if they did by the time you worked up a trade there is nothing left to put with your new toy. With so many teams able to offer max contracts, the top free agents will be looking hard at who their running mates would be and they're not going to play with a bunch of scrubs.
So what's left?
We could see a lot of trades with teams hoping to make their team more attractive to a free agent and other teams will be hoping to recover from a free agent loss. What about a Denver or Boston. will they sit back and watch everybody else pick up key players while they don't have the cap room to respond?
If you're Pat Riley are you trying to convince Wade to stay and Bosh to sign by saying they can play with Micheal Beasley or would it make more sense to trade Beasley for an established player like Tayshaun Prince? One is a talented young rebounder who is probably three years away from making an impact while the other has been the perfect complimentary player for a NBA championship and the Olympic team.
What about the Nets? Are they really telling LeBron that he has the opportunity to play with a Derrick Favors or DeMarcus Cousins? With Manny Harris at the point and Brock Lopez down low why wouldn't they trade that No. 3 pick for a proven scorer?
Suppose the Bulls get a headline player, they'll still have a little cap space. You might think just sign another FA but with all the frenzy a lot of those second tier players will be getting way too much money. If they're looking for a player in that 6-10 milliion range they might get more value out of a trade.
This is the time for all GMs to take a hard look at their situation. Is your team really good enough to add a piece or two and compete for the championship, or is it time to take a step back and reload?
I'm a Pistons' fan so I'll use them as an example but I'm sure you can put in the names you want to see used. This plan works for all the teams sitting out this free agency.
I know it's tough if you're Joe Dumars, you cleared all that space then spent it all and you don't have enough to contend. Those young players like Stuckey and Jerebko are only pieces, not answers.
What Joe has to do is remember the first time he built a contender and find young, talented players with something to prove. Why not go after a Micheal Beasley or high draft picks? This team needs a serious infusion of top end talent and the Pistons won't get there by waiting for a ping-pong ball to fall the right way.
What the Pistons have are a lot of complimentary players, great as third or fourth options but no big threats. Maybe this team can pull it together and compete for a playoff spot next year, but that puts you in NBA purgatory, good enough to make the playoffs but too good to get a shot at a primetime player out of the draft.
Doing nothing is not an option, though that's better then pretending they just need another second tier player. Don't trade Prince just to clear up space then use it on Carlos Boozer or Amare Stoudemire. Trade Prince for some young player with some upside.
But even if you can pick up a young player or two in a trade don't stop there. Scour these free agents hard. Did some team in its haste to shed cap money allow a young player who hasn't developed yet hit the open market?
I'm not talking the big names, I'm thinking more like a Johan Petro or Patrick O'Bryant. Maybe it isn't those exact players but are there any guys in their young 20s that maybe need some playing time or are finally ready to play in the NBA?
That's what the Pistons need, a handful of hungry young players. We need the next Billups, Hamilton and Big Ben and with all the movement going on this offseason this is the time to strike. The action will be frenzied and mistakes will be made, just make sure you are on the right side of that mistake.
Championships will be built and franchises will be decimated while a lot of agents get rich. But it's the GMs who do their homework and is realistic about their teams' potential that will win in the end.