This NBA offseason will prove to be the most engrossing in the history of the sport. Here’s my breakdown, by tier, of the biggest names on the market, and a look at who will go where, when it’s all said and done.
Current Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
Future Team: Chicago Bulls
James is a media pushover. He’s been milking this free agent extravaganza for two years. If he were staying in Cleveland, we’d know already. Instead, no one has a clue as to the King’s whereabouts, and free agency begins July 1.
So let’s assume James is not returning to the Cavshen what?
There are plenty of suitors ready to court James. There are the long shots with the cap room, like Oklahoma City (makes no sense for them), the Los Angeles Clippers (cursed for eternity), the Wizards (John Wall isn’t nearly enough to attract LeBron), the Kings (absolutely no chance), and the Timberwolves (David Kahn would rather draft a point guard).
Then we have the four real contenders—New York, New Jersey, Miami, and Chicago.
Miami doesn’t work because James' 100-man crew will convince him (correctly) that two superstars on one team won’t get him the full spotlight. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about James, it’s that he loves all the attention he can get.
From an actual game plan standpoint, Dwayne Wade and James would be the best duo in basketball, but Michael Beasley would likely become frustrated with his lack of touches, and the Heat still lack a legitimate point guard or center.
New York can throw max contracts at multiple players, and possibly even bring in a Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, etc., to play with James, but we’re still looking at the same situation as Miami. Duos are great, but teams are better. The Knicks would lack the firepower to contend for a title with two-and-a-half good players.
All signs point to New Jersey being out of the equation. For a while, they were the sexy James destination, but now they’ve got the ultimate hard-nosed no-excuses coach (Avery Johnson), and minority owner Jay-Z stated publicly that he won’t try to convince James to play for the Nets. If “Hova” won’t convince LeBron, good luck thinking Devin Harris and Brook Lopez will be enough to convince him.
So that leaves Chicago. Yes, Michael Jordan played in Chi Town, and James has to live under that shadow for the rest of his career. Still, Bulls fans are willing to start a new era, even if it ultimately proves to be less successful than Jordan’s.
If it means combining James with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, then Rose is the perfect compliment to James. He’s a 20-point scorer, he’s young, he’s athletic, and he has no problem being the sidekick.
Adrian Wojnarowski wrote a great piece on the Bulls new head coach (Tom Thibodau) and how his hiring means there could be much more at work than we know about.
When the dust settles, LeBron James will be a Chicago Bull.
You read it here first.
Current Team: Miami Heat
Future Team: Miami Heat
Sorryno fancy logic here.
Wade has already shown his distaste for the Chicago front office, and the Bulls were really the only other team with a shot at number three. Wade will get a max deal with the Heat, and GM Pat Riley will add a great big man to keep his superstar satisfied.
Current Team: Toronto Raptors
Future Team: Miami Heat
Chris Bosh will not return to Toronto. He’s wallowed in mediocrity for years, and desperately wants to play in the States.
The Bulls, Knicks, Nets, Heat, and Thunder are all in the conversation for Bosh’s services. Expect New York, Miami, and Oklahoma to be the final three possible destinations.
This offseason should move quickly, and without any definite pieces in New York on July 1, the Knicks fall out of the conversation. Oklahoma City has been targeting Bosh for a while, but that’s not a town Chris wants to play for. He wants the bright lights, and the chance to partner up with a good friend. The Heat offer both of those options.
Current Team: Phoenix Suns
Future Team: Phoenix Suns
If Phoenix had been knocked out of the playoffs early on, Amare Stoudemire would be as good as gone now. The Suns made an improbable run to the Western Conference Finals, however, that should be enough to keep the star power forward in town.
If Stoudemire were to leave, New York is the most likely option. I just don’t see that happening though.
Current Team: Dallas Mavericks
Future Team: Dallas Mavericks
Fear not, Mavericks fans. Mark Cuban will never let the king of Deutschland leave Dallas. Yes, Dirk opted out of his deal, but at nearly 32 years of age, it’s highly unlikely he wants to go somewhere new and start fresh.
The only possible scenario?
Something I heard on Twitter through ESPN writer Bill SimmonsAmare leaves Phoenix, opening a spot for Dirk to reunite with Steve Nash.
Talk about potential fireworks.
Current Team: Utah Jazz
Future Team: New York Knicks
Utah fans, you knew this was coming. Carlos Boozer is a restless soul. He left Cleveland right when LeBron emerged from his cocoon, and now he’s going to bolt the Jazz as Deron Williams becomes a superstar. New York will throw more money at Boozer than anyone else would even consider, and he will blindly accept.
Depressing, but true.
Current Team: Atlanta Hawks
Future Team: New York Knicks
So here’s the good news Knicks fansyou will get two max-contract free agents. The bad news?
Neither deserves all that money.
Joe Johnson was (quite literally) booed out of town after Atlanta’s poor showing in the playoffs. He will go where the cash flows most, which will be New York, after GM Donnie Walsh loses out on LeBron, Wade, and Bosh.
With Boozer and Joe Johnson, along with a few other pieces, the Knicks can be anywhere between the four and eight seed in the Eastern conference. Certainly an improvement from years past, but definitely not what Spike Lee is looking for.
Current Team: Memphis Grizzlies
Future Team: Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis made major strides as a franchise last year. Their fan base is slowly picking up, and now is not the time to lose Rudy Gay. He’s a restricted free agent, and I fully expect GM Chris Wallace to ante up whatever the necessary funds are to keep him around.
Only the Knicks would be crazy enough to offer Gay a max contract, and even they probably won’t resort to that level. If they did, that’s the only possible way Memphis could lose their budding star.
Current Team: Boston Celtics
Future Team: Boston Celtics
Boston’s improbable run to the championship makes Allen a hot commodity. Every contender could use a knockdown, veteran shooter. Still, Ray Ray will show his loyalty to the club that took a chance on him on draft day three years ago by re-signing with the Celtics.
Current Team: New York Knicks
Future Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
Caught up in the New York mess is David Lee. He’s been nothing but consistent on abysmal Knicks teams for the last few years, and now is his chance to bolt the city that never really appreciated his contributions. The Thunder would love to finally acquire a high-scoring big man, and Lee could make Oklahoma City legitimate contenders in the Western Conference.
Note: Portions of this article also appeared on www.vype.com/dfw and www.bballbabble.com
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